Saturday, May 27, 2017
Via Above Top Secret: I'm watching the really good show on NatGeo called Genius about Einstein and he showed with Relativity that we live in a timeless universe and the evolution of any 3D experience isn't objective reality. He said: “Since there exists in this four dimensional structure [space-time] no longer any sections which represent ‘now’ objectively, the concepts of happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended, but yet complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence”. From his book Relativity We're looking at Plato's Cave. He also said the distinction between past, present and future is just a persistent illusion. So in this context, we can't look at our universe as any sort of objective reality. It's subjective relative to four dimensional spacetime. There's all sorts of spacetimes different than ours that are outside of our light cone. They could be in curved spaces different than ours based on their reference frame. For 3 dimensional objects, we can experince different times and different space based on our acceleration. The things that are constant are the speed of light and spacetime intervals. So an object traveling close to the speed of light will will experience time ticking more slowly and their length will contract and it will get smaller. So time is connected to spacetime intervals between events. The faster you go towards C means spacetime interval ticks between events gets slower and more stretched out. Here's a couple of videos that talk about spacetime intervals. So this raises questions about things like free will which I believe is answered by quantum randomness and things like the free will theorem which speaks to the quantum nature of consciousness. So events can be seen in different order and in different ways by observers in different reference frames. Say you have observer A and observer B. Observer A sees these 3 events in order. JFK's election The Cuban Missle Crisis JFK's death in Dallas. Observer b can be moving in a different reference frame because they're accelerating at a different speed and are at a different angle relative to observer A. So observer B sees: JFK's election The Cuban Missle Crisis He doesn't observe JFK's death though. His past light cone just contains these 2 things and not JFK's death. The question becomes, does observer B have to observe JFK's death or can JFK assassination just become an assassination attempt? JFK then serves 2 terms and lives to be 85 in the future light cone of observer B. Einstein would say, observer B would have to see JFK's death. This is because he didn't think God played dice with the universe therefore he didn't like quantum randomness or things like entanglement. If he were here today, he would probably support parallel universes because quantum mechanics doesn't lock observer B into observer A's worldline. So just because observer A saw JFK's assassination it doesn't mean observer B has to see the same thing if JFK's assassination hasn't happened for observer B yet. Richard Feynman saw time in a similar way with sum over histories which indicates the direction of our ordinary clock time is simply a path in space which is more probable than other directions. Other worlds are just other directions in space, some less probable, some equally as probable as the one direction we experience. Sometimes our world represents the the path that's unlikely. Feynman's summing of all possible histories could be described as a timeless description of a multitude of spacetime worlds all existing together in a simultaneous way. Here's Feynman talking about the universe as a glass of wine (Plato's Cave).
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Two Former Nokia Engineers Did What Google And Apple Wouldn't - Now Their Software Runs On 1.5 Billion Mobile Devices
Via Business Insider: The success story of Realm is annoyingly simple. ”We were a couple of Danish engineers with an idea but no connections to Silicon Valley whatsoever. So we contacted Y Combinator by filling out a form and then they invited us over for a meeting”. That was three years ago when Alexander Stigsen and his co-founder Bjarne Christiansen came up with the idea for a mobile database while working for Nokia in Denmark. Databases need to run on the device itself, not on some remote server. Today, Realm is running on more than 1.5 billion devices. Apps using Realm include Netflix, Starbucks, Ikea, Samsung, and BBC. ”Every interaction is moving to mobile. That means more and more data on the device, hence the need for a mobile database at the same place. The more data you can keep within the actual app the faster the app can work and respond to the user. Traditional databases run on online servers. Our database runs on the devices themselves”, Stigsen explains. The Realm Mobile Database is now the most popular third-party database in the world replacing SQLite, the default database for both Android and iOS. Too overwhelming for Google and Apple, so this startup stepped up. While the need for mobile databases is evident, the development is a complex endeavor. ”It takes a long time, three to four years, to build a modern mobile database. That is why even the big vendors like Apple and Google do not have their own mobile databases. It just seemed overwhelming and they never really got started. This is where we saw a market opportunity”. The market is about apps and getting through to the user. In order to achieve that, apps need all the speed and responsiveness they can get. ”The mobile space is extremely competitive. The average users have 20 apps on their phone while they have millions to choose from. You need a high performing app to be part of that club”. Serverless is the new black in mobile apps development. The impatient user is also the driving force behind the latest trend in mobile, serverless. That doesn’t actually imply not having servers, but a new degree of cloud computing where the app developer gets cloud functionalities such as code execution. ”Serverless is a huge trend right now because the traditional way of running apps is too slow. With a fully serverless interface, you can build an entire app on your platform in the cloud. That is why we see a move towards serverless with services like Google Cloud Functions”, Stigsen explains. The need for faster data is ever increasing as the developers are pushing new functions craving data such as Augmented Reality (AR) and collaboration. ”We see a clear move towards interactive features and AR where the user interacts with the surroundings in a digital way. There are lots of opportunities for developers but they still need the app to be fast. We also see an increase in the use of collaborative tools for the workplace such as Slack. It is a natural next step towards the mobile platform for the enterprise”. Realm has received a total of $29 million in funding to date. Investors include Y Combinator, Khosla Ventures, and Scale Venture Partner.
Monday, May 22, 2017
Via Business Insider: Frankfurter Allgemeine has taken part of documents detailing plans to introduce the euro in all member countries by 2025 – including Sweden. The leaked "reflection paper" outlines discussions between EU officials who met on Monday to prepare for an upcoming EU-commission meeting on the future of the euro on May 31st, writes SVT. According to Frankfurter Allgemeine, the officials discussed a target that would force all EU members to join the euro by 2025. The idea woule be to give the EU-parliament "democratic control" over the euro area's fiscal policy, as opposed to the current setup, where euro area finance ministers make decisions behind closed doors. But shortly after the leak became public, it was refuted by EU-commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, who took part in Monday's meeting. He claims the true purpose of the plan is to "complete" euro area cooperation, not to force member countries into the currency. "Of course we do encourage all member states to join as soon as they meet the prerequisites. But there is no specific time limit", Dombrovskis said, according to news agency Direkt. Under the current EU treaty, Denmark would have the right to opt out if a "forced" decision were to be taken. Additional EU-countries without the euro are Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Via Business Insider: The Nordics’ largest financial group, Nordea, has reportedly taken the decision to move its headquarters from Stockholm. This according to Svenska Dagbladet, which cites high-level sources. The decision will be formally taken on Nordea’s board meeting on May 30th, headed by chairman of the board Björn Wahlroos. The news of a move are not unexpected as Nordea has been in an open dispute with the Swedish government regarding its proposals for higher bank fees into the so called resolution reserves. Nordea faces up to SEK 5 billion (∽$570m) higher annual fees, if the Swedish government — which has a tougher stance on finance than most of the EU — gets its way. Earlier this year, CEO Casper von Koskull said a HQ move would be “highly, highly likely” in case the new fees would come into effect. The most likely candidates for a new HQ are Helsinki and Copenhagen. According to Svenska Dagbladet, Copenhagen has the upper hand within Nordea, in part because employees would prefer living there, and in part because the Danish government has made assurances that no new fees will be introduced in the country. Although the decision is dramatic, and will have direct consequences for thousands of employees, the bank's corporate and investor clients may not notice the move as much, says Erik Ekman, Nordea's head of Commercial & Business Banking and Swedish country manager. “These customers don’t see that big of a difference on Nordea regarding where the headquarters are located”, he said during a capital markets meeting in London recently.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Via Disclose.tv: Humankind created a protective barrier around Earth. That protects us from harmful particles found in space. Who knew that something so wondrous can be a by-product of man's waste and creations back down on Earth? Scientists believe this was created by very low frequencies(VLF), which are mostly found in military installations and engineering projects. They have discovered that VLFs interact with particles in space to influence how and where they move. VLFs can penetrate into space but are also used for deep underwater communication between submarines. Scientists are elated to unhinge this discovery as knowing how VLFs can shape and influence the spatial region surrounding Earth is the gateway to more amazing discoveries, such as better protection for our satellites in Space. The discovery was made by two space probes sent up into our Van Allen Belts back in 2012, where they had orbited at 3.200km/h for the past five years before this amazing discovery was made. The barrier is now termed the "impenetrable" barrier by Dan Baker, University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. However, scientists such as Dr. Baker are skeptical about other effects that frequencies down on Earth have on the spatial environment. After all, not all can be good. NASA has added their own explanation in this, claiming that radiation is a major problem. Now that nuclear weapons are a necessity for national defense, way up there in space, many major satellites have actually been damaged by them. To be able to create an almost indestructible space barrier seems like something out of a sci-fi movie, however, this is real life. Every single day, humankind is making miraculous discoveries at any point in time. Now that we know that not everything created by humankind is destructive, one can only hope that humankind can have more positive influences in the galaxy we live in.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
The SeaBin Was Made To Clean The Sea From Trash – And Has Found One Of Its Biggest Supporters In Finland
Via Business Insider: The first SeaBin in northern Europe was installed last Tuesday 9 May at a jetty on Uunisaari island, in Helsinki. Thus the Finnish capital became one of a select six ports where a SeaBin prototype is being tested by pilot partners before its official sales launch later this year. The Finnish technology company Wärtsilä, which has a global marine business unit, is backing the SeaBin in Finland with six to be put into the water altogether – and is supporting the project on a global level for three years. SeaBin’s concept and development has a cosmopolitan background with three Spain-based Australian friends and their Spanish mate the main driving forces. Keen water sports fans, they were only too aware of the problem of floating litter, especially plastics, visually spoiling the sea surface while doing greater damage to the general marine environment and eventually to human beings. It was Andrew Turton who came up with the idea of having a floating litter bin much like those on shore. He and his fellow co-founders have since invested around four years and lots of their own money in research and development, to finally get to the point where commercial sales are finally in sight. The basic operating principle is simple enough - rubbish is sucked into the SeaBin and held by a mesh bag inside while the seawater is pumped out. “It can clean up to ten kilos of rubbish before it needs to be emptied,” CEO Pete Ceglinksi claims, “Imagine the total for a year”. Being an environmentally friendly bunch, the four co-founders did not want any harm to come to any aquatic inhabitants. However, it has been observed that the SeaBin’s action keeps fish away from its rim. Should any happen to fall in anyway, they will remain alive in the water and can be released when the bag is emptied. In all, six SeaBin V5s will be procured by Wärtsilä for both Helsinki and Turku, where they will be installed at marinas and harbours with the results collated and analyzed after three months. Other sites chosen by the SeaBin team are in France, Montenegro, Bermuda, USA and Mallorca in Spain, where SeaBin is headquartered. On his second visit to Finland, at the setting-up ceremony of the first SeaBin, CEO Pete Ceglinski said that "The installation of the V5 SeaBin here in Helsinki marks a real turning point in the fight against plastics and littering. Wärtsilä is the first big industry entity to partner with the SeaBin Project, which is a world first. We hope that this partnership with Wärtsilä inspires other big industry players to partner with smaller businesses that have big ideas for a cleaner environment". “The floating rubbish bin has been developed by people who are passionate about solving problems. I hope that Helsinki strengthens its reputation as a place where creative people discover and experiment with solutions to the world's problems," said Helsinki's Deputy Mayor, Anni Sinnemäki, a representative of the Green Party. With the planned commercial rollout of a SeaBin, hopefully in August, a peak will have been ascended by the Aussie-Spanish outfit. Ceglinski is the first to admit it has been exhausting, “We have been running on fumes finance-wise for a while”. Being young and optimistic has helped, along with the modern trend of crowdfunding to raise much-need cash for the idea. The SeaBin team has high ethical standards too. “We could have had them made in China, but SeaBins will be made in Europe. We could have sold the idea, but we think it is important that it’s not just a product – it’s part of a holistic approach that includes education, promotion, help and action,” explains Ceglinski, “Because SeaBin is just one part of the [marine environment] solution”. Within the foreseeable future, the SeaBin will be powered in the by sustainable energy sources like solar, wave and wind, depending on the local situation. A herculean task lies ahead: over 8 million tons of plastics are dumped annually into the Earth’s oceans and can take up to 500 years to be broken down. Even then micro-plastic particles find their way into the food chain of animals and humans. But even some of these smallest particles will be caught in the SeaBins’ bags.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Google Just Teamed Up With Volvo To Take On Apple With One Of The Most Important Features In New Cars
Via Business Insider: Google has partnered with Volvo to build a next-generation infotainment system into future vehicles as part of a push to corner the rapidly growing connected car market and take on Apple CarPlay. New Volvo cars released in two years will feature Google's next-gen system that runs on Android. But unlike Android Auto, the new system won't require a smartphone to operate. That gives Google access to drivers who might use services like Google Maps in their cars, but don't own Android devices, ensuring its services and apps are in continual use. The partnership is also meant to improve the customer experience by better integrating apps and services into cars rather than shoving phone screens into car displays. Drivers will be able to access apps developed by Android, Google, and Volvo. "Google's platform and services will enhance the user experience by enabling more personalization possibilities, while Android will offer increased flexibility from a development perspective", Henrik Green, Volvo's senior vice president of research and development, wrote in a press release. Google will show off live demos of the system at its annual I/O tech show on Wednesday. Google joins several others in the race to advance the connected car experience, including Blackberry with its QNX Operating System and Apple with CarPlay. Customers have generally been reluctant to use in-vehicle systems that can be clunky and difficult to use. In fact, more than 50% of car owners never used their infotainment systems after 90 days of purchase, according to a 2016 study led by J.D. Power. That's problematic for car companies that are investing heavily in the data-generating entertainment systems. McKinsey & Co. predicts Big Data from cars will become a $750 billion industry by 2030. The Android operating system won't send any data to Google on its own, but drivers that use apps like Google Maps or Spotify can elect to share data to improve services. The move will give Google a stronger foothold in the auto tech market and the potential to use data that could be useful for its other platforms. As Bloomberg points out, it could also set the foundation for Google to introduce its artificial intelligence system Android Auto into vehicles. Apple currently has an edge of Android Auto by integrating Siri into its in-vehicle system. Meanwhile, for Volvo, the move could help encourage consumer adoption by improving the in-vehicle experience.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Via Business Insider: Four months after Finland's social-security institution Kela launched a two-year experiment in basic income, a system of wealth distribution in which people receive a salary just for being alive, some of the 2,000 recipients are already reporting lower levels of stress. The $600 they receive each month might not be much, but it's enough to put some people's anxiety at ease, Marjukka Turunen, head of Kela's legal benefits unit, told Kera News. "There was this one woman who said: 'I was afraid every time the phone would ring, that unemployment services are calling to offer me a job'", Turunen recalled of a woman who needed to care for her parents, and so couldn't work. Basic income is foremost a solution to poverty. Advocates say the system gives poor people exactly what they lack: cash. It puts money in their pocket to fix a leaky roof, buy a car to get to work, or save up for emergency funds. It's not enough to live on, but it prevents people from slipping through the cracks. With that financial security comes additional benefits, says Scott Santens, a basic income advocate and writer. Santens has been receiving a basic income for the last couple years from the crowdfunding site Patreon. He says basic income redistributes power into the middle-class — namely, to turn down unappealing jobs — and promotes trust. Basic income "says everyone should be given a minimum amount of trust, because the way we currently use pieces of paper to measure and distribute trust is fatally flawed without it", he says, offering the example of supermarkets being full of food while millions of hungry people can't access it. "Everyone is worth enough trust to enable their basic survival". Finland's program is a modified version of basic income, since most advocates claim the system must be unconditional. Finns had to have been unemployed when they applied in 2016 to receive the benefits. However, if they happened to have found a job after applying or after the experiment started, they will continue to receive the $600 each month. Turunen emphasizes that Kela won't provide any formal data on the trial's effectiveness until 2018. The participants who speak to the press may not represent the entire pool of recipients, she told Basic Income Earth Network. "The results must be very carefully analyzed according to the information we only get at the end of next year". Turunen has expressed high hopes for the trial. Experiments in Kenya and elsewhere have shown basic income can work on a small scale. As she told Business Insider in January, however, the long-term data still doesn't exist. "Some people might stay on their couches, and some might go to work". she says. "We don't know yet". If there are couch potatoes, they at least seem to be relaxed.
Wednesday, May 03, 2017
Via Disclose.tv: Baba Vanga, the blind Nostradamus of the Balkans, made some troubling predictions about World War II three that have aroused the imagination of conspiracy lovers. The prophetess, who died 85 years in 1996, is accused of having made hundreds of predictions about the future of humanity, with an accuracy rate of 85%, of her house in Sofia, Bulgaria. On an inspection of his predictions - with the permission of some creative internet sorts - it appears that Baba Vanga also warned of Syria conflict, nuclear war and the disappearance of the US President.
Tuesday, May 02, 2017
People Are Throwing Money At This Swedish Startup – With Earplugs That Shut Out Noise But Let You Continue Talking
Via Business Insider: Do you find the noise level at your workplace disturbingly high? If so, you should definitely check out Malmö-based startup Ear Labs’ new campaign on Kickstarter. The smart earplugs, called dBud, are designed to protect your ears from harmful noise – for use at the workplace, but also when clubbing or going to concerts. The company is targeting the mass market, comprising pretty much everyone except perhaps hermits living alone in the wilderness. dBud’s unique selling point is that even with the earplugs on and protecting your ears you can still have a normal conversation with your colleagues, and you don’t have to miss out on the gossip in the office. As Ear Labs exemplifies in the promotional video, the earplugs are designed to be used by anyone from a DJ to a kindergarten teacher or a copywriter to shut out noise while working in any environment. dBud has an “advanced acoustic filter” and a volume slider so you can adjust the amount of decibels to filter out. The volume slider has two positions: in the open one the noise reduction is about 15 dB and in closed position about 30 dB. “In the open position dBud reduces the perceived volume with around 65% and actual sound pressure with as much as 97%. In closed mode the perceived volume reduction is about 87.5% and actual reduction of sound pressure as much as 99.9%”. The campaign has got off to a flying start. In less than two weeks, it has secured almost $90.000 (approximately SEK 800.000). Due to the high engagement, the company has decided to raise the goal from $50.000 to $100.000 and to include an additional pair of foam tips in the offer. A single set of air plugs will cost you $54, including worldwide delivery. You’ll get a discount if you're buying two or more. Deliveries to the first customers are estimated to be made in October 2017. According to the company, as many as one billion young people are at risk of hearing loss. Elevated sound levels during a longer period of time can cause problems like "hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance and sleep disturbance”, according to the product description.
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Via Radio Sweden: Sweden celebrates Valborg or Walpurgis Eve on the last day in April every year. Like many holidays in Sweden, this traditionally Christian celebration no longer has much to do with religion, but rather is a celebration of the arrival of spring. Swedes welcome spring on Walpurgis Eve across the country with music, alcohol, and community bonfires. It is also the day when students don the traditional white captain’s hats and sing songs in university towns. Radio Sweden spoke with Jonas Engman, head of archives at Nordiska Museet, about the rituals of drinking and bonfires as well as how the holiday started. "Valborg celebrations coincided with a lot of other customs that we had. For some reason it became very popular," he said. "The Church was really concerned about Valborg...They were really upset about people going around screaming, shouting, and even drinking in the villages".
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Via The EUobserver: EU leaders are to confirm at a summit in Brussels on Saturday (28 April) that if Northern Ireland reunited with Ireland it would automatically become part of the bloc. The issue could irritate London ahead of 8 June's general election and the soon-to-begin Brexit talks. The Irish commitment, which had always been an informal understanding, will not be part of the EU 27’s negotiating guidelines, but it will be annexed to the document as part of the minutes of the discussion upon Ireland's request. The British government has a similar understanding. Brexit secretary David Davis in a leaked letter in March said: "In that event [Irish reunification] Northern Ireland would be in a position of becoming part of an existing EU member state, rather than seeking to join the EU as a new independent state". On the other hand, if Scotland broke away from the UK to become a sovereign state it would have to apply for EU membership. The Scottish government said it wants to hold a new independence referendum because Scots voted to stay in the EU in the Brexit referendum last year. The Irish pledge is the only new element that has emerged in the EU's position as it prepares for its first ever formal summit without the UK under the Article 50 exit procedure. Key elements Leaders are expected to agree on the so-called negotiating guidelines that sets out the red lines for the bloc. Upholding the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that, which brought an end to decades of violence over Northern Ireland's status, is one of the key issues. The EU wants to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, while maintaining the external borders of the EU, which will shift after Brexit. Safeguarding the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and of UK citizens residing in the EU is another key element for the EU in the Brexit talks. We need "guarantees that are effective, enforceable, non-discriminatory and comprehensive, and which should be accompanied by simple and smooth administrative procedures", European Council chef Donald Tusk said in his invitation letter to leaders. EU officials are looking for UK guarantees that the rights of EU citizens who live in Britain will accumulate until the day of withdrawal, meaning that if someone moved to the UK the day before the UK left the EU they would still be entitled to their full rights as an EU passport holder. "Assurances so far from UK government that acquired rights will be protected is not enough", one senior diplomat told EUobserver. The third key element is the "bill" the UK will have to pay when it leaves to honor its previous financial commitments. Another senior EU official quipped that he had never seen EU states, who normally fight over who foots the bill in the EU budget, work so closely together as on British prime minister Theresa May's divorce settlement. The final figure of that bill is unlikely to be clarified until the end of the process. EU countries first want to reach on understanding with the UK on the methodology of what should and should not be included in the settlement, before moving onto the next phase of talks. Phased goodbye Tusk has reiterated that, contrary to May's expectations, the talks will have to be two-phased. "We will not discuss our future relations with the UK until we have achieved sufficient progress on the main issues relating to the UK's withdrawal from the EU", he wrote in his letter on Friday. The EU-27 will decide when that "sufficient progress" has been reached, in a unanimous political decision by the EU nations. "It is not a matter of tactics, given the limited timeframe, it is the only possible approach", an EU official told this website. The divorce deal will have to be agreed and ratified by March 2019. That is when the UK automatically leaves the EU even if there is no deal in place, unless the EU-27 agree to give more time. A transitional arrangement is another possibility to bridge the time between the withdrawal and the deal on the future relations entering into force. Relocate agencies On Saturday, Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will also propose a roadmap on relocating the two EU agencies that are based in the UK - the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority. EU leaders are expected to agree on the procedure and criteria for relocations in June, and EU officials are aiming for a decision this year. Fighting for EU agencies is a toxic issue for member states. May on Thursday accused the 27 of "lining up against Britain", to which a senior EU diplomat bluntly reacted: "She is right". Officials highlighted rare unity of the 27 member states in the process so far. "It took the UK nine months to prepare the notification letter, the 27 have their position in one month", a senior EU official said. Sources said that that unity would be tested, however. "Over time it will be difficult. It will be relatively easier to keep the unity in the withdrawal part of the discussion and more challenging in the future relationship talk", said one EU official. Saturday's meeting is expected to be short and devoted only to Brexit. The negotiating directives for EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will be officially agreed by EU affairs ministers on 22 May, making the EU ready to kick off the exit talks. Officials said it was likely that the 27 leaders would have to meet on Brexit during the upcoming June, October, and December EU summits as well.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Via Business Insider: Spotify has announced that it has acquired blockchain startup Mediachain for an undisclosed amount. The New York-based startup raised $1.5 million from venture capitalists Andreesen-Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, according to Crunchbase. The startup was building a distributed database linking original creators and authors to the content they create. It started with photography, partnering with Getty Images and the Museum of Modern Art, and had the goal of expanding into all kinds of media. A blog post announcing the startup's funding round said: "Imagine being able to connect with the artist of a viral GIF you see in your feed, learn the history or origin of any image, or automatically reward a musician whenever you press play". In a press release Spotify said: "The Mediachain team will join our New York City offices and help further Spotify's journey towards a more fair, transparent and rewarding music industry for creators and rights owners". In a blog post Mediachain explained its team has past experience in the digital music industry. The startup's CTO, Arkadiy Kukarkin, was the first engineering hire at HypeMachine and co-founder Jesse Walden previously ran an artist management firm.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Via Disclose.tv: The CIA tried to decipher it and failed. The FBI tried to break the code and also failed. Academics, truly intelligent cryptologists and people all over the world have been trying for 600 years to decipher a mysterious book known as the Voynich manuscript that is written in an unbreakable code; some theorize it was written by foreigners. The chess is finally over. A team of Russian mathematicians says they solved the enigma of the manuscript. And he says … Not so fast. A breakthrough like this must be revealed slowly. The manuscript is nominated for the anti-revolutionary Polish tsarist and book dealer Wilfrid Voynich, who bought it in 1912 in a Jesuit college outside Rome. The codex was illustrated with radiocarbon datings from medieval Italy between 1404 and 1438. The photos are mostly herbs and plants, along with other pharmaceutical, astronomical or biological objects. Writing ... well, writing is gibberish. UNTIL NOW... Mathematicians of the Institute of Applied Mathematics deciphered the Voynich manuscript, now preserved at the Yale University's Beinecke Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts, with a technical code break. They first suppressed all the vowels and spaces, turning the Codex into what looked like a very long Russian name. That, obviously, was not the solution. But believe it or not, it was close.
Monday, April 24, 2017
Via Business Insider: The people of Iceland, settled by Norsemen over 1,100 years ago, have developed a unique dialect based on Old Norse. Having preserved many ancient elements that are now lost to the rest of the Nordics, Icelandic (like the Sami language in northern Scandinavia) is distinct also because of its inseparable bond with life at the edge of the Arctic. Hundslappadrifa, for example, means "heavy snowfall with large flakes occurring in calm wind", notes Egill Bjarnason at Associated Press. But as the language is spoken by fewer than 400.000 people in an increasingly globalized world, many linguistics experts have started to wonder if Icelandic can survive the widespread use of English, which is “boosted by mass tourism and voice-controlled artificial intelligence devices coming into vogue”, says Bjarnason. Former President Vigdis Finnbogadottir told The Associated Press that Icelanders must take serious steps to protect its language. "Otherwise, Icelandic will end in the Latin bin", she warned. She is not the country’s first president to champion a proactive stance to preserving the Icelandic language. In the 19th century, when the island nation belonged to Denmark, Icelandic vocabulary and syntax were heavily influenced by Danish. Since Iceland became fully independent in 1944, both presidents and other independence movements have seen language as key to preserving the national identity. But now, worries keep mounting for this very particular Viking language. "The less useful Icelandic becomes in people's daily life, the closer we as a nation get to the threshold of giving up its use", said Eirikur Rognvaldsson, a language professor at the University of Iceland to AP. Rognvaldsson has conducted the largest study to date looking into the use of Icelandic language, with 5.000 respondents. "Preliminary studies suggest children at their first-language acquisition are increasingly not exposed to enough Icelandic to foster a strong base for later years", he said. Here are the main indicators of the decline of the Icelandic language, according to AP: 1. Deteriorating Icelandic skills, starting in school “Teachers are already sensing a change among students in the scope of their Icelandic vocabulary and reading comprehension”, notes Bjarnason.Teachers are even hearing English being spoken among students, according to a local teacher. Moreover, most students are no longer assigned the Saga of Icelanders, medieval literature that chronicles the early settling of Iceland. It’s been a standard coming-of-age rite for teenagers to be able to fluently read these epic tales, originally written on calfskin. 2. The dark side of tourism In the past years, tourism has boomed and become the country’s single biggest employer. According to analysts at Arion Bank, one in two new jobs in the sector is being filled by foreign labor, which indicates that Icelandic is diminishing in importance. And unfortunately there really aren't that many expats who would be ready to learn Icelandic. 3. Digital technologies and voice-controlled devices Icelandic is among the least-supported languages in terms of digital technologies (along with Irish Gaelic, Latvian and Maltese), according to a recent report assessing 30 European languages. Asgeir Jonsson, an economics professor at the University of Iceland, says that this accentuates brain drain in the country. He sees the problem compounded by new voice-recognition devices that do not understand Icelandic, because it's too complicated. "Not being able to speak Icelandic to voice-activated fridges, interactive robots and similar devices would be yet another lost field". It would cost about 1 billion Icelandic krona, or almost $9 million, to fund an open-access database that could get Icelandic accepted as a language option, according to Iceland's Ministry of Education.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Via Business Insider: Spotify has agreed another major licensing agreement to ease its way to IPO - this time with indie label representatives Merlin. Merlin represents a bunch of smaller labels like Beggars Group, whose artists include Radiohead, and Domino Records, which looks after Arctic Monkeys. Crucially, the deal means indie artists can release new albums to Spotify's paying users first, if they want to. Free users would have access up to a fortnight later. Spotify came to a similar arrangement for its first licensing agreement with Universal, announced earlier this month. According to Spotify's press release, artists will also have "improved marketing and advertising opportunities, and enhanced access to data". Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said: "Indie music has been a huge part of our success since day one & I am super happy to say we have a new, multi-year deal with Merlin". Charles Caldas, Merlin's CEO, added: "Merlin was a launch partner to Spotify back in 2008, and our partnership has thrived ever since.This new agreement lays the path to future sustainable growth for us both, and we look forward to remaining an integral part in the service's continued success". Spotify's getting its house in order for a rumoured IPO The order in which Spotify is announcing its licensing deals is interesting. The company is trying to renegotiate its agreements with record labels ahead of a reported IPO, but has only signed two out of four main partners so far. Universal was the first to sign a deal which, controversially, would allow artists to release albums to Spotify Premium first. The other two major labels are Sony and Warner, which have yet to announce deals. Mark Mulligan, veteran analyst at Midia Resarch, told Business Insider at the time that Universal had a track record of being "the ice breaker on new deals", citing its 2006 partnership with music downloads service SpiralFrog as an example. He said Universal's Spotify deal would lead to a "domino effect" where the other labels would quickly jump on board. A key point of negotiation, Mulligan said, would be reducing the amount of revenue Spotify has to pay rightsholders, even if it's a tiny reduction. This allows it to go to potential investors and show that it still has control of its business, even though it's hugely dependent on its label partners to provide its music catalogue. In return, however, Spotify will have to demonstrate it can grow, Mulligan said. "That's the only way this [streaming] model starts to evolve", he said.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Via Business Insider: At a car exhibition in Shanghai, Volvo’s CEO Håkan Samuelsson revealed that the Volvo’s first electric car will be produced in China, Expressen reports. Considering that China is one of Volvo’s most important markets, and increasingly so, and that the country is also the world’s biggest market for electric cars, the decision does make a lot of sense. Expressen does point out, however, that Volvo’s increasingly common practice of producing models exclusively in China to export to the rest of the world could prove a costly stratagem as President Trump considers increasing tariffs on US imports from China. More surprisingly, Volvo, also announced that the EV would be built on the car-manufacturers smaller platform corresponding to the 40-series car models, which goes against previous communications about an electric SUV. Volvo has previously declared its electric ambitions to be one million EV’s and hybrids sold by 2025. The electric car to be produced at the Luqiao factory is expected to reach the market in 2019.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Via Business Insider: Today, Sweden's Minister for Finance Magdalena Andersson presented the government's spring budget at the Riksdag. The budget came with minor changes directed towards four objectives: decreasing unemployment, improving educational results, improving national security and continuing to work towards a better climate. Here are the main points of the budget according to the government's website: Reinforcement of the Swedish Police Authority, SEK 700 million Reinforcement of total defence, SEK 500 million Increased funds to maternity services and women's health, SEK 500 million Increased investment in mental health services for children and young people, SEK 100 million Reinforcement of social care for children and young people, SEK 150 million Increased funds to schools with a low percentage of students eligible for national programmes, SEK 500 million Reinforcement of the upper secondary Introduction Program, SEK 150 million Reinforcement of the Climate Leap, SEK 500 million Though economists are reacting to the budget with little surprise, the opposition has voiced critique against not pursuing more major reforms at a time when the Swedish economy is strong, employment is at record levels, and the Swedish public debt is at its lowest in 70 years, and expected to continue shrinking with the government surplus in the upcoming years.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Sweden’s Leading Department Store Had A PR Hiccup After Being Hit By Terrorist Truck — Here’s What It Should Have Said Instead
Via Business Insider: The truck that drove into crowds in central Stockholm last Friday ended its murderous journey by crashing into the corner of one of Sweden's largest department stores, Åhléns, and catching fire. The day following the attack, as Åhléns was closed for repair work, an email was sent to customers expressing the company's values of an open society. But it also said there would be a 50% discount on smoke-damaged products when the store was due to open Sunday. Instantly, this kicked of a public outcry. The announcement of a “smoke-damage” sale were met by comments questioning how Åhléns possibly could even be thinking about making profits on Friday’s tragedy. As a first reaction, Åhlens’ CEO Gustaf Öhrn responded to the comments by stating that the decision was in line with the company’s values of openness and resistance to fear and that the sale was going ahead – no matter the reactions. However, by Sunday morning they had changed their mind, and announced that they would push the opening another day. Expressing regret for the initial email, Åhléns said it had acted in a rush and that they were “deeply miserable by both the decision and the email”. Åhlens’ distanced itself from the claims that their motive would have been to make profits of the event. “People probably didn’t understand why Åhléns acted this way. It wasn’t bad itself, but it was the way in which they communicated it” explains Johan Almquist, CEO for the branding strategy company Grow, to SvD. According to Almquist, the anger arose when the terror attack got associated with money, due to an unclear message from the department store. Furthermore, he points out that the decision seemed rushed. “If they had to get rid of the damaged products fast due to practical reasons it would have been better to put them on sale, but donate the money to a cause linked to what happened” Almquist suggests. Another advice he shares with SvD, aimed at other companies that he hopes will learn from this incident, is to really think about who you are and what values underpin your business. That decreases the risk for this type of mistakes. However, Almquist thinks that neither Spendrups nor Åhléns will be hurt by the events in the long run.
Thursday, April 06, 2017
Via Xinhuanet: Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto met skaters' representatives from the two countries here Wednesday evening, with both sides pledging to enhance cooperation in winter sports. The athletes just attended the World Figure Skating Championships 2017, which ran from March 29 to April 2 in Helsinki, Finland. Xi congratulated Finland on hosting a successful sporting event and commended the athletes for their outstanding performance. He noted that sports exchange is an important bridge in promoting the China-Finland friendship, saying that China has a lot to learn from Finland as the Nordic country excels in winter sports. The two countries should take the opportunity of Beijing hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in winter sports, thus promoting their respective sports development as well as the health of both peoples. Niinisto said that Finland is willing to share experiences and deepen cooperation with China in winter sports and games preparations. He added that Finland supports China in hosting a successful Winter Olympics. The Chinese duo of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong took gold in the pairs competitions at the just-concluded World Figure Skating Championships, while Jin Boyang of China won the men's singles bronze medal.
Wednesday, April 05, 2017
Via Xinhuanet: China and Finland agreed Wednesday to establish and promote a future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership, with both sides pledging to enhance political mutual trust and deepen pragmatic cooperation. During talks between visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto, the two heads of state stressed that to build a more forward-looking and strategic bilateral relationship that keeps pace with the times is in the fundamental interests of both countries and their peoples. "China and Finland are good friends and partners who respect each other, treat each other as equals and enjoy mutually-beneficial cooperation", Xi said. "The peoples of our two countries have always cherished a friendly sentiment toward each other". Noting that the development needs of China and Finland fit well with each other, Xi called on the two sides to increase high-level exchanges, build up strategic mutual trust, explore potentials for cooperation and give support to each other in development. Niinisto expressed warm welcome to the Chinese president for his visit on the occasion of the centenary of Finland's independence. Finland highly values China's achievements in development and its important role in international affairs, he said. The Finnish side hopes to carry out more high-level contacts and exchanges in all areas with China, and deepen cooperation in economy and trade, investment, innovation, environmental protection, tourism, winter sports and the Arctic affairs, as well as within the framework of the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative, Niinisto said. Finland also wants to strengthen communication and coordination with China on major international issues and push for an even closer cooperation between the European Union and China, he said. The B&R Initiative was put forward by President Xi in 2013, aiming to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.
Tuesday, April 04, 2017
Via Business Insider: Sweden’s 44th richest person, real estate magnate Sven-Olof Johansson has aired his opinions of USA:s president Donald Trump. Johansson met Trump back in the 80’s, when buying construction services from one of his companies. While he was cautiously optimistic about Trump's ability to affect change right after the election, Johansson has since changed his views. Sven-Olof Johansson wasn’t impressed by Trump - but thinks he is “efficient” ”He is a very, very egocentric person and not at all pleasant to deal with. But he is efficient”, said Johansson to Svenska Dagbladet. He was convinced Trump would tone down his flamboyant style and boost the American economy by deregulating the financial sector and launching infrastructure programs. After 70 days of President Trump, that view has changed A few months in, the effect has been quite the opposite, according to Johansson. Consumer uncertainty has led to saving instead of spending, leading to stalling car sales and retail spending. Moreover, many of Trump's Wall Street reforms are unlikely to pass. Johansson thinks it will be interesting to see how Trump is going to react to the “political wall” he faces, considering that the American billionaire is used to getting his way, writes Veckans Affärer (VA). But Johansson doesn’t think Trump can hold onto power beyond a first term ”I think he only intends to do the changes he has commited to, and that he won’t be interested to serve another four-year term”, he told VA.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Via Business Insider: Russia's President Vladimir Putin says he would be keen to meet up with Trump in conjunction with a potential Arctic Council summit Finland, where the Nordics would participate together with fellow members U.S., Canada, and Russia. "If it happens, I would be happy to participate", Putin said in a speech in Archangelsk, according to Interfax. Finland is to take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May. It has been reported that Finland's President Sauli Niinistö is planning a summit in order to ease geopolitical tensions. If the meeting were to happen, it would be the first time Putin would meet USA:s new President Donald Trump. Putin said the two will otherwise be meeting when the G20 group of nations convene in Hamburg this summer.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Bad Air Quality Causes 430.000 Deaths A Year In Europe - But This Finnish Startup Has A Drone-Mounted Solution
Via Business Insider: Finland is well known for its beautiful, unspoiled nature. Last year the World Health Organisation announced that Pallas, in the North of the country, has the cleanest air on earth. So clean in fact that you can even buy it by the can (yes, really!). Compare that with London, for example, where 9.000 people a year die as a result of air pollution (Europe-wide it caused 430.000 deaths in 2016). Air pollution, it seems, is a serious problem. And it’s one that cleantech startup Aeromon is working on solving. The solution is to measure air quality with drones. The Finnish company is using drone-mounted sensors to change the way emissions are mapped and monitored. Their modular gas sensors and cloud analytics platform are able to provide real-time data on industrial emissions. They have sensors for 70 different gases, including sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide, methane and nitrogen dioxide (the latter alone accounts for 71,000 premature deaths a year in Europe). Measuring emissions with drones provides a unique take on this problem. It helps to locate emissions that would otherwise go unnoticed - drones can get to places near impossible to access by other means. Another key aspect is speed. These drones can map and analyse large areas a lot quicker than can be done on foot. From an environmental perspective this means that emissions and leaks can be detected much earlier on, as well as in areas where they were not previously thought to exist. This minimises the overall effect of potentially harmful (and indeed lethal) gases to both humans and the nature around us. Aeromon was founded to solve the problem of measuring maritime emissions. Aeromon was launched in 2015. It’s fully funded by its co-founders, who act as angel investors for the business, and also have a hand in the day-to-day running of things. In terms of business areas, Aeromon’s focus is currently on marine emission monitoring, industrial & environmental emissions, and health & safety. They’ve already completed several successful pilot programmes too.These include work with the oil and gas industry, an international project on shipping emissions in the Arctic, and work on Helsinki’s Ämmässuo waste treatment center. Jouko Salo, one of Aeromon’s co-founders and chairman, relates how the company came about from the fact that there was no technology available for monitoring emissions from ships sailing near coastlines. This is a crucial point given that maritime transport currently accounts for 2.5% of all CO2 emissions worldwide. The EU is looking to clamp down on this with stricter regulation on how ports report their annual emissions, which comes into force next year. Whilst increased regulation is certainly a step in the right direction, it only goes so far. Salo is acutely aware of this, and it’s also part of the reason Aeromon was founded. As he points out, “It’s obvious that environmental regulation without enforcement is void of meaning”. Access to data makes enforcement possible.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Four Things You Need To Know About Ericsson’s Crisis — And The Urgent Pivot To Catch Up With Nokia And Huawei
Via Business Insider: Ever since Ericsson’s previous CEO, Hans Vestberg, was fired last summer, questions have arisen regarding the Swedish network giant's future direction. Ericsson's latest quarterly results has confirmed that the uncertainty has translated into market share losses in core businesses. The company's new CEO, Börje Ekholm, faces the daunting task of giving new direction to a company in crisis. 1. Ericsson's first quarter results revealed major asset impairments An Ericsson presss release from Monday reveals that the Swedish network giant’s assets are looking at impairments that affect the results to the tune of 3-4 billion Swedish krona. This is caused mainly by development costs in business segments Media and IT & Cloud, and will not affect first quarter cash flow, according to Dagens Industri (Di). In total, first quarter impairments and restucturing costs will negatively affect Ericsson's assets with 12 to 15 billion Swedish krona ($1,4-1,7 bn), according to Di. 2. Nokia and Huawei are gaining speed Ericsson continues to lose market share in its Networks business to chinese Huawei; not only in China, but also internationally. Furthermore, Finnish archrival Nokia is also gaining ground on Ericsson, writes Di. Ericsson’s problems are stemming from uncertainty in its business strategy. Moreover, the company's technical capabilities are not competitive enough, says an anonymous source to Di. 3. The CEO is announcing a new strategy to counter the crisis The company’s new CEO, Börje Ekholm, has announced a "more focused business strategy", and a reshuffling of the management team. "We are going through a period of change, and we need to make some changes", Ekholm said, emphasizing that the focus will purely be on customers going forward. A new restructuring plan will cost the company some 6-8 billion SEK ($0.7 - 0.9 bn), and it will mainly focus on new investments in the Network business segment. “They are in a hurry. Creating a new change strategy is a separate thing than putting it into action and creating results”, said an anonymous industry source to Di. 4. Private investors are dumping Ericsson stock Many private investors are dumping the Ericsson stock; down more than two percent today. Ericsson investors are nervous about potential new rights issues; fears that are amplified by memories of 2002, when the company’s stock crashed 24 percent following a sizeable rights issue. Ericsson, however, has said it is not considering such move at the moment.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Via Business Insider: Going by the number of investments during 2016, Stockholm is the most entrepreneurial region of the Nordics with 247, followed by Copenhagen at 98 investments. But the region that really stands out in the statistics is the southern most part of Sweden, Skåne. The west coast cities of Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö together represent the smallest region by population, but it still manages to place third by number of investments, 78. "The fact that Skåne, and Malmö in particular, has done so well over the past year is part of a wider trend that we see across Europe at the moment. VCs are becoming a lot better at looking into opportunities beyond major hubs like London and Stockholm. What's interesting with Malmö is that it's got a solid track record on deep tech startups, which is starting to properly catch VCs' eyes", says Jeanette Andersson, investment manager at the Malmö based incubator Minc. Over the last three years the total value of the investments amount to some $300 million. While three years isn’t enough to identify a trend, it is fun to consider the trajectory. The most active investors in the region are Swedish – including Almi Invest, Industrifonden and Hampus Jakobsson, but as many as one in five funding rounds have an international investor participating. “We are already seeing a rise in visits from venture capital firms to Malmö this year, partially because our ecosystem had a high number of small investments last year”, says Jeremie Poirier, co-Head at Malmö Startups.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Via The Swedish Wire: Martin McGuinness, a former Irish Republican Army commander and Sinn Fein political leader, has died in Derry following a short illness. He was 66. McGuinness helped negotiate peace in Northern Ireland after decades of sectarian violence, and became a senior official in its power-sharing government. Sweden’s former Prime Minister Carl Bildt said in a message on Twitter that McGuinness was “truly remarkable” for turning from terror to peacemaker. “The life of Martin McGuinness was truly remarkable. From rebellion and terror to truce and reconciliation”, Bildt said. Sinn Fein said on its website on Tuesday that McGuinness had died during the night. He was reportedly suffering from a rare condition caused by the abnormal buildup of protein deposits in tissues and organs. He resigned from the Belfast government in January. Sinn Fein said it is "with deep regret and sadness that we have learnt of the death of our friend and comrade Martin McGuinness who passed away in Derry during the night. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him", the Belfast Telegraph reports. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: “Throughout his life Martin showed great determination, dignity and humility and it was no different during his short illness.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Via Business Insider: Bluetooth. It's been around for 20 years. We see the name and iconic logo on virtually every device we own — Bluetooth headphones, Bluetooth speakers, even Bluetooth-enabled toothbrushes. As is the case with most product names we encounter every day, we often take for granted that they are just called what they are called. A frappuccino is a frappuccino because it sounds tasty, right? Actually, it's a frozen cappuccino. WiFi may just seem like a funky word for the life-sustaining force that makes internet browsing possible, but it's actually short for "Wireless Fidelity". What about Bluetooth? What is the so-obvious-it's-funny explanation for the technology that made you think strangers on the bus were talking to you when in reality they were just on the phone? As it turns out, Bluetooth is named after a 10th-century Scandinavian king. Harald "Blåtand" Gormsson was a viking king who ruled Denmark and Norway from the year 958 until 985. There are many accomplishments credited to him, but greatest of all is that he united Denmark and Norway under his rule. Gormsson was also known for his dead tooth, which had a very dark blue/grey shade. It was so prominent that his nickname was Blåtand, which literally translates from Danish to "Bluetooth". But what could this possibly have to do a wireless technology that lets you use a hands-free headset while you drive? Fast-forward a little over 1.000 years to 1996, and short-range radio technology was in its very early stages — Intel had a program called Biz-RF, the Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson had MC-Link, and Nokia had Low Power RF. The three powerhouses quickly recognized that the best way to drive the technology forward within the industry and avoid fragmentation would be to create a single wireless standard. In December of that year, representatives from each group met at the Ericsson plant in Lund, Sweden to plan their industry-standard technology. Before they could get started, however, they decided that they needed a codename for the project while it was in development. Intel representative Jim Kardash suggested that the temporary name be "Bluetooth", and his reasoning was simple. "King Harald Bluetooth ... was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link", he wrote in a blog post. Later on, when the technology was nearly finalized and it was time to choose a permanent name, Kardash explained that Bluetooth wasn't even in the running. Somehow, the Bluetooth origin story doesn't end there. Once the technology had an official name, it also needed a logo. "But isn't the Bluetooth logo just a 'B' written in a tacky '90s font?" I imagine you're asking right now. No, it's not. That "B" logo is actually ol' King Blåtand's initials written in ancient Danish runes. So, there you have it. Bluetooth is called Bluetooth because its developers were big history nerds and they couldn't come up with a better idea. Who knew?
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Via Gizmodo: Daniel Boria was not the first person to see Up and think it would be a great idea to fly around in his own balloon chair. But he’ll stand as an eternal example of how thoughtless this kind of stunt can be. A judge in the Canadian city of Calgary did not find Boria’s actions to be a laughing matter when he handed down his sentence on Friday. “There was nothing fantastic, fun or exhilarating about it”, Judge Bruce Frasier said. “There is no precedent for so foolish an escapade”. Reading the full riot act, Frasier also called the stunt “unconscionably stupid”. If Boria had only put his own life in danger, that would certainly be acceptable. It is admirable that he pulled it off without killing himself. But he floated into an area where commercial airlines fly, not to mention the danger of a fully grown man falling onto the city from thousands of feet in the air. Police immediately got involved and Borgia bragged to local news, last year, about seeing a flight go right below him at one point during his journey. Now, he’ll have to pay $26.500 in fines. That’s in addition to what he says was about $20.000 that he shelled out to produce the publicity stunt. All in the name of promoting his company. Local police suggested he get a billboard next time. It would appear that Borgia is unapologetic and doesn’t see why the stunt was so misguided. In fact, he’s just doubling down on delusions of grandeur. “[They] didn’t charge the Wright brothers”, he said. That’s true, at the time the Wright brothers were inventing human flight there were no commercial flights to endanger and they performed their tests in rural areas. On the steps of the courthouse, he put on a Boston accent and recited a variation of JFK’s “We choose to go to the moon”-speech. My man, you are not inspiring anyone to the peak levels of human ingenuity. You’re a bro shilling a business by putting others in harm’s way.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Via Business Insider: Sweden is no stranger to topping global rankings, whether it's for excellence in raising kids, environmental friendliness, or doing good for others. The latest: Sweden was recently named the best country in the world for women by BAV Consulting and UPenn's Wharton School of Business. If you ask Asa Regner, Sweden's minister for gender equality, she'll say the country didn't achieve such a feat by accident. It took decades of advocating on behalf of women's rights and putting systems in place in the federal government to support women in the workplace and in life. Regner, the minister since 2014, says a few big factors have contributed to the ongoing success. Individual taxation If there's a hallmark of the Nordic model of governance, it's income tax. The rates are very high. But Regner says Sweden's success with empowering women may come largely down to how people are taxed. "A very dry and technical thing is the individual-based taxation", she tells Business Insider. Married couples in Sweden don't file joint tax returns; since 1971, they've filed separately. Regardless of whether you're single or married, individual people receive social security benefits based on their needs, she says, not their family's collective needs. "We target individuals regardless of gender to take up paid work", Regner says. "And I think that that kind of thinking, and that we did all of that in the seventies and are still very conscious of that, creates a positive cycle that gets politicians to do things". Parental leave Sweden has the most generous parental leave policy in the world. Parents get 480 days to share - paid out at 80% of their salaries - which they can use until the child turns 8. In addition, fathers get 90 of those days reserved just for them. The policy has enabled Swedes to cultivate a work-life balance like few other countries can. Families can divide their time between the office and their home with ease, and new mothers in particular enjoy having ample time with their newborns. A great deal of research says this kind of setup is ideal for bringing women into the workforce. Often, moms pay a penalty for working. They're either hired less because employers think they'll leave to have kids, or they have trouble keeping their old wages once they come back from maternity leave. Sweden eliminates those pressures - for both parents, Regner says. Lately, one of her biggest missions has been to increase how much paternity leave dads take. In 2014, they took just 25% of the 480 days, while moms took 75%. Regner's goal is to get the ratio closer to 50-50. Company audits Regner's ongoing quest is to ensure companies stick to Swedish law that mandates equal pay for equal work. In 2008, the country signed the Swedish Discrimination Act, which requires companies of 25 or more employees to issues surveys every year analyzing pay differences between men and women. Companies with big differences between genders who don't take steps to close the gap risk paying fines. This has helped to a large extent, Regner says. What's trickier is changing how work often performed by women - nursing, elderly care - is valued in society. That's the big attitudinal difference she'd like to resolve. So far, it's involved funneling government funds to those industries where women's work is undervalued relative to men. Over time, she'd like vital areas of work to get more recognition from business leaders who pay people's salaries. Regner also says immigration has become a new challenge. In 2015, an influx of Syrian and Afghani migrants entered the country, many of whom grew up learning different values about gender roles. Education - about women's rights, violence prevention, and the country's expectations of its citizens - all have helped so far, Regner says. But there is still a ways to go. But while Regner and her peers debate how to level the playing field even further, many other countries are still struggling to offer basic services, such as mandatory parental leave and equal pay. Even Sweden's problems are the best in the world.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Via Business Insider: People who use Spotify without paying may be blocked from listening to some of the hottest new music on the platform, according to a new report from The Financial Times. The music streaming service is reportedly nearing a new deal with the major music labels. And one part of that deal would - on a temporary basis - make some of the top releases on the platform available only to users who have paid for subscriptions. So the next Frank Ocean album, say, might become available on Spotify - but unless you've paid for a subscription, you'll have to wait a while before you can actually listen to it. These negotiations with labels are essential to Spotify's future plans. The Swedish company plans to go public, but first it needs certainty about the terms on which it uses the major labels' music on its platform. Spotify has been long resistant to the idea of restricting some of its music to just its paid subscribers. But according to the FT, it has received a concession in return - it will pay less to the labels in royalty fees on each song. Taylor Swift refused to put her new album on the platform in 2015 because the company would not restrict it to premium-only users, an incident that sparked heated debate over how music should be valued and whether ad-supported music streaming services pay artists properly. Competitors, like Apple Music, do not offer a free tier at all - though it does provide temporary free trials to potential subscribers. The negotiations, with Universal, Sony, and Warner, could reportedly be completed within weeks. Spotify currently has more than 50 million paid subscribers, according to its site, and over 100 million overall. There are more than 30 million songs on the platform.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Via Business Insider: Uniti is an electric urban vehicle for the future, initially developed at Lund University and since 2016 a freestanding project. Its futuristic concept car became one Sweden's most talked about crowdfunding hits last year. What makes Uniti unique is that they have chosen to completely remake the electric car concept, instead of just modifying and adjusting the concept of conventional cars. Uniti posits that conventional vehicles are uneccessarily powerful and big, and wants to provide a scaled-down and more sustainable alternative. Its futuristic car concept brings substantial efficiency and environmental gains, and a high user experience, enabled by smartphone technology amongst other things. Uniti has now announced that they will establish a fully automated factory to build the car. The first vehicles will be built in a factory in the south Swedish county of Skåne, in collaboration with Siemens. First deliveries are scheduled for 2019, and the factory should have a capacity to produce 50 000 units already during its first active year, says Di Digital. Unitis’ electric vehicle will be able to cover between 150 to 300 kilometers, weigh 400 kilograms, and come with an estimated price tag of SEK 200 000 ($24.500). When the company's crowdfunding-campaign was launched on FundedByME last year, Uniti asked for SEK 5 million to build a production-ready prototype. Two days later that goal was already surpassed. The final pledged investments amounted to just over SEK 12 million ($1.35M). Uniti's ambitions are high - new financing on the way. Already, Uniti is believed to prepare for a big financing round, to the tune of more than half a billion krona ($63M), and has the long-term goal of an IPO, according to Di Digital. But before all that can happen, many EV enthusiasts surely want to test drive the futuristic vehicle.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Sweden’s Biggest Bank Just Threatened To Leave The Country If The Government's "Shocking" Fee Goes Through
Via Business Insider: The current Swedish government is not making many friends in the private sector right now, having recently had companies like Norwegian and Spotifty threaten to move their operations from Sweden due to regulation or the lack thereof. The Swedish financial sector is now locking horns with the government as well. Earlier this year, the Swedish government put forward a controversial tax proposal, that would levy an additional 15 per cent tax on the salary costs of companies that provide financial services. The government eventually backed out, but proposed instead raised banking fees that would go into the Resolution reserve - a pool of buffer money reserved for banking crises. The banking sector is not happy about the proposal; in particular Nordea, Sweden’s largest bank, which is now saying it’s considering to move its headquarters away from the country. If the Swedish government's proposal were to become reality, the probability of a move is “highly, highly likely” says Nordea's CEO Casper von Koskull to Dagens Industri. von Koskull describes the fee proposal as “shocking”, because of the amount of fees that would be incurred on Nordea, the largest financial group in Scandinavia. According to Nordea, its payable fees would skyrocket tenfold, from today's 0.5 billion krona per year, to 5.5-6 billon ($620-670m) in 2019. Moreover, Nordea was already looking at raised fees before the current proposal. “The resolution fee alone causes Sweden to have different rules than the rest of Europe. This naturally means that we need to consider and investigate other alternatives”, von Koskull told Di. The Nordea CEO didn’t disclose where those alternatives for new headquarters might be. The government’s proposal is seen by many financial sector professionals as cutting against its commitment in 2015, to make Stockholm one of the five biggest financial centres in Europe by 2020. And if Nordea actually were to leave and remove hundreds of jobs from Sweden, the question the government surely needs to ask itself, is it all worth it?
Monday, March 13, 2017
Via The Swedish Wire: Sweden has the world’s most powerful passport, according to a new report by consulting company Nomad Capitalist. Out of 199 countries, the Scandinavian country came out on top, followed by Belgium, Italy, and Spain. The UK was ranked 16th and the US didn’t even make it into the top 30. However, the success comes with a flipped. Swedish passports are changing hands for as much as 80.000 kronor ($12.200) on the black market and being routinely used for human trafficking, prompting the government to launch an investigation into passport abuse according to other reports. The Nomad Passport Index found that Swedes can visit 176 countries without a visa, and have the ability to work abroad without having to pay tax at home. The Nordic nation also received top marks in terms of personal freedoms, with citizens enjoying free speech, a free press, and some of the lowest incarceration rates in the world.
Thursday, March 09, 2017
What we know so far is that there is probable extraterrestrial life at the fourth planet orbiting Zeta Reticuli 2, a star 37 light years away. It seems possible to travel 20 times as fast as light and thus a roundtrip from Earth to Zeta Reticuli 2 and back would take approximately 4 years. We must try to build a star ship with material harder than diamond. Our planet Earth is our cradle but not our final destination. Venus and Mars are not the best places for the exodus of humanity when our sun gets into trouble... I say we should send people to Zeta Reticuli 2. We can do it. We even need to do it to have a door open for future migration and for the future security of us earthlings.
Via The Swedish Wire: Sweden has the world’s third fasted broadband internet speed, while South Korea still leads the race with an average connection speed at 26.1 Mbps, a new study by Akamai Technologies shows. Norway was ranked second. “Internet connection speeds continued to show positive long-term trends around the world, with particularly strong year-over-year increases across all broadband adoption metrics”, said David Belson, editor of the State of the Internet Report. “When Akamai first published the report in 2008, we defined ‘high broadband’ as 5 Mbps and above, which nine years ago had an adoption rate of 16% globally. We’re now seeing a 15 Mbps adoption rate of 25% worldwide. Norway held on to the top spot for 15 Mbps broadband adoption among surveyed European countries in the fourth quarter, tying second-place Switzerland with an adoption rate of 54%. Seven other countries – Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Romania, Latvia and Belgium – had 40% or more of unique IPv4 addresses connecting to Akamai at average speeds above 15 Mbps, the report said. Sweden will be a completely online country in 2025, according to the government's new three-part broadband strategy. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has also promised that over half a million more Swedes will gain access to fast broadband Internet over the next four years.
Wednesday, March 08, 2017
Via The Swedish Wire: Two veterans of Tesla, the electric car pioneer owned by Elon Musk, has announced that they plan to build a $4 billion factory to manufacture the batteries, most likely in Sweden. Peter Carlsson and Paolo Cerruti, both ex-executives for Tesla, said a massive new factory could be producing lithium-ion batteries, the energy source for electric cars, in Europe by 2020, if plans for a Nordic “gigafactory” come to fruition. “The problem today is that batteries are very expensive. By scaling up the battery production and taking control of the entire [value] chain, from raw material extraction to the finished product, we think we achieve a competitive business model”, said Paolo Cerruti, COO at Northvolt, formerly Carlsson’s colleague at Tesla, to Swedish business daily Dagens Industri.
Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Via Business Insider: Today Volvo Cars unveiled its new SUV, the XC60, in Geneva Motor Show. The new beast will be replacing a previous bestseller the same name, and according to expert Håkan Matson at Di, it needs to become at least as big a success as its predecessor, adding that the new model is ”completely decisive for the company's future”. ”It's the perfect car for an active lifestyle, and it makes up the next step in our transition plan", adds the comany's executive chairnman Håkan Samuelsson in a press release. ”The XC60 is characterized by a genuinely Scandinavian experience", adds Volvo's Chief Designer Thomas Ingenlath. Volvo Cars's new safety goal is that nobody should be killed in a Volvo in 2020. Hence the XC60's safety features are a major USP; the City Safety-system has been developed, and the car also features the Oncoming Lane Mitigation-function, which will reduce damage in full frontal impact. Production is expected to begin in mid-April, and the XC60 will be available both as a plug-in-hybrid, diesel- and petrol car – the price tag, however, is not yet official.
Monday, March 06, 2017
Via Business Insider: Should Sweden impose an airplane tax, as its government has been considering since late last year, the Scandinavian airline SAS has threatened to move all intercontinental flights from Stockholm to Copenhagen and Helsinki. In a hearing answer, SAS informed the Swedish government that its prospective tax would lead to a 35 million kroner extra tax bill for the airline on its intercontinental flights annually. “The traffic will move from Stockholm to Copenhagen and Helsinki”, SAS warned the Swedish government. “Firstly the move will involve intercontinental traffic – an area for which the proposed Swedish taxation will be very high”. Local impact On November 30 last year, the Swedish government announced it was considering an airplane tax from 1 January 2018. The tax will aim to reduce the impact of air traffic on the climate and could net the Swedish state about 1.75 billion Swedish kroner annually (1.36 billion Danish kroner). More specifically, every flight to a European destination would be taxed 80 Swedish kroner, while flights outside Europe would be taxed 280 kroner. Longer intercontinental flights would be taxed a full 430 kroner. SAS said that aside from moving long-haul flights to Copenhagen, the tax could also force the airline to shut down local flights within Sweden. Moreover, the airline complained that larger state-owned Middle Eastern airlines, which have considerably deeper pockets and would therefore be able to absorb the tax more easily, would increase their domination in the Scandinavian market.
Thursday, March 02, 2017
Via Arutz Sheva: Headstones found toppled in Jewish cemetery in US for third time in less than two weeks. A Jewish cemetery in Rochester, New York, was vandalized, the third such incident in the United States in less than two weeks. Five headstones were found toppled Thursday morning at the Waad Hakolel Cemetery, also known as the Stone Road Cemetery, in the city in western New York, according to News 10 NBC WHEC. The president of the nonprofit managing the cemetery said he did not want to call the incident a hate crime or anti-Semitism. “I don’t want to label it a hate crime. I don’t think there’s any proof of that. I don’t want to label it anti-Semitism. I don’t think there’s any proof of that,” said Michael Phillips, president of the Britton Road Association, according to The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Police were awaiting notice from the cemetery before commencing an investigation, News 10 NBC WHEC reported. The last two weeks saw vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and St. Louis, as well as two more waves of bomb threats called into Jewish community centers, schools and institutions across the country, representing the fourth and fifth waves of such harassment this year.
Wednesday, March 01, 2017
Via The Swedish Wire: Sweden's economy continued its fast pace of growth in Q4, expanding by 1.0% quarter-on-quarter, HSBC said in a new report. This was slightly above consensus and the Riksbank's expectations, but meant that the annual pace of growth slowed to 2.3%. The slowdown in the annual growth rate was mainly base-effects, owing to the very strong growth rate in Q4 2015. The pace of growth was held back by changes in inventories (taking 0.3ppts from the qoq growth rate), but otherwise strong exports, consumption and investment all fuelled growth, suggesting that Sweden's strong growth picture continued at the end of 2016.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Via The Local: American journalist Tim Pool has spent two days seeing 'dangerous' Malmö with his own eyes. But the city did not live up to the bleak picture he had been told to expect. "If this is the worst Malmö has to offer, then don't ever come to Chicago", Pool told news agency TT after visiting Rosengård, a neighborhood with a high immigrant population. Pool met municipal council member Nils Karlsson, who gave the journalist a guided tour of Malmö neighborhoods Lindängen and Rosengård. "I want to show the true picture of Malmö - without denying that there there are problems, poverty, and challenges. But also to show that 330.000 people live in this city and most do not engage in crime or violence or kill each other", Karlsson told TT. Pool's journalistic visit came about after Paul Joseph Watson, editor of right wing website Infowars, promised to pay for a trip to Malmö for any journalist that claimed Malmö was safe. This challenge came in the wake of President Donald Trump's false claims last week that a terror attack had taken place in Sweden. The 18.800 SEK (USD 2.000) donation covers about 20 per cent of the costs of Pool's trip to Sweden and Europe. "I do not work for anyone. Nobody is paying me and I am not getting anything in exchange for this. I just want to find out the truth", said Pool. Pool told TT that he describes himself as a conflict and crisis journalist who posts his material on YouTube and Twitter. The journalist says he is not surprised by Trump's use of Sweden as a device in his rhetoric. "Many would say that Sweden's liberal policies are evidence that they work and would be of great benefit to the USA. Now Trump is using the issue of immigration to condemn that argument. The connection of crime in Sweden to immigration and refugees is an idea that has existed in the US for several years, even before Trump", said Pool. While respect the concern regarding increases in violence in Malmö, Pool said that he considered warnings that he would be robbed or attacked in Rosengård as "ridiculous". "Someone shouted at us and pointed a finger. A takeaway pizza restaurant owner did not want to let in 'some fucking journalists'. But if people are really afraid to come here, then I would recommend that you never come to Chicago. Chicago has about 750 murders each year", he said. But Pool added that he had so far received conflicting information from residents about violence in the city, and that interview subjects have often canceled or preferred to remain anonymous. Following Saturday's tour of Malmö with local Karlsson, Pool and his photographer colleague Emily Molli are scheduled to remain in the city for several days to carry out research. The pair will also visit Stockholm and Gothenburg, as well as other European cities affected by terror and highlighted as problematic by Donald Trump, such as Brussels, Paris, and Nice. Pool aims to use the material gathered during his trip to make a documentary film.