Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Google Answers on the Blogosphere

Oreilly Radar posted a story about a new Amazon service, which is also supposed to answer questions for money.

Formula One - Alonso is the new champion

To be perfectly honest, despite being a car-lover, I am not really interested in motor-sport. But this might be part of today's biggest news: Fernando Alonso (Renault) won the Formula One driver's championship, after coming in second in the final race of the season.

This is important, even if you're not a big fan of motoric sport. In 1994, Formula One was the 7th most viewed sports event in the world (answered by Rainbow). In 2003, the Grand Prix in Brazil ranked 4th. Michael Schumacher was the second best paid athlete in the world. Millions of dollars are paid by courses for the Grand Prix.

Because Formula One is big money, it also means jobs for people totally unconnected to the world of car racing. For example, being an interpreter for Russian delegation visit to TAG McLaren Formula One Team (in:
Possible jobs for Russian/English language expert, answered by Umiat); or being an engineer for Formula One (in: Find Automobile Engineers, answered by Tutuzdad) .

If you're interested in further information about the f1 economy, one of the places you'd better check out is the number of Formula One merchandise shops online - Easterangel listed only the largest ones here; there is also an F1 computer game; the industry is huge.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

UN envoy to Sudan expelled after blogging

UN envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, was expelled from the country, after he blogged information about military defeat in the Darfur conflict.

The Darfur conflict, as far as mass death of people get, gets very little attention in the world media. I've always wondered about this hypocrisy. One of Google Answers clients, apparently not a fan of the Sudanese government and its atrocious policies, has asked:
"Does a US citizen currently violate any US law or risk any possibility of arrest in the United States by actively participating in the violent overthrow of the government of the Republic of the Sudan, a country with no extradition treaty in place with the US?"
Pafalafa-ga answered this question, titled "Legality of a Coup Plot". Basically, the answer is that if you're not active in the United States itself, there are no laws that address it. If you are, though working in the US, there might be a problem.

But then again, you can alwasy be active in non-violent organisations, such as Amnesty International.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Google Answers on the Blogosphere

Memo.ria Blog features one of Pinkfreud's answers:
Who said “Those Who Forget History Are Doomed to Repeat It”?


Read XML blog writes "10 Not-So-Obvious Ways to Promote Your Website" and mentions number 4:
"Become an online expert in your field . Use your expertise to become an expert in your field and promote your Web site for free. Sign up for Yahoo Answers ( or Google Answers ( and answer questions asked by online visitors. You will have the opportunity to write your company’s URL in your profile. This is a great way to gain additional Internet exposure as well."
Frankly, I am not so sure this is such a great advice. Perhaps at Yahoo!, which acts more like a forum than an expert service, and anyone can post practically anything in the "answers". On Google Answers, professionalism rules. Comments perceieved as spamming would be removed , and if you have such great advices, a better idea might be to post an "answer" to the problem on a blog of yours (linking it to the Google Answer question). On a blog, you can write whatever you like and have as many different live rich content links to your business as you'd like. That way, everytime someone would search up for a solution, you'll come up.

Eid Mubarak !

Today is Eid Ul-Fitr, the end of the Ramadhan, for Muslims. The traditional blessing is Eid Mubarak, as Leli demonstrates in one of her answers.

Digsalot also discusses Muslim life, bringing to life a village in the Nortnwestern Province of Pakistan, but if you need introductions, perhaps Aditya2k's answer about Muslim traditions would be better for you.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Iceland Allows Whaling of the Endangered Fin Whale

In a controversial decision, Iceland's fisheries ministry has announced today that after a 21-year-ban, it will allow limited whaling of Fin Whales, an endangered species. Just a few days ago, whales on Google Answers were discussed (to commemorate the anniversary of Moby Dick) - including one particular question on obtaining real sperm whale oil.

Whales are intelligent, and a Fin Whale brain, of the type that Iceland now wants to hunt, weights something like 6.5 kg. It seems a shame that a living being would be lost - and what's worse - it seems that most Icelanders do not consume whales today. You can't even claim that fin whales skin is unique in a way that would benefit humanity, as it has been proven to be wrong (search for "fin whale" on this very long answer by Crabcakes-ga). Even without trying to, the shipping/freight industry causes enough damages to whales, as evident from an answer by Tisme about Whale-Ship accidents.

Whaling Industry gains several more referrences on Google Answers. In an interesting answer about the black "Oak Bluffs" community in Martha's Vineyard, Pinkfreud notes that the demise of the whaling industry in the area at the turn of the 20th century has led to deflation in real estate values, and later to the development of Oak Bluff. The demise of whaling, therefore, could cause interesting (and in my opinion, positive) social consequences.

The whole affair is causing a great uproar exactly among the people who are the potential visitors to Iceland as tourists. There are also calls to boycott touristic travel to Iceland. This is a shame, because this is a beautiful country; and a visit there certainly seems worthwhile.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

OT: On Technocraty now

Technorati Profile

The Oldest Holiday in the World, Today?

Today, Hindus and members of several other religions celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights. This is a celebration of life, family and relationships. And according to a Tutuzdad answer, it might as well be one of the most ancient holidays. Tutuzdad quotes a source stating that:
"Scholars say Indian people probably began celebrating New Year, or Diwali (pronounced dih-WAH-lee), about 1500 B.C. They placed torches around their houses and courtyards to purify them and keep away evil spirits".
In general, however, he concludes that the most ancient holiday, or the excuse to celebrate, is New Year's celebrations around the world (naturally, not on Jan 1st, that's new); and the Passover is probably the oldest religious holiday. Read more in this answer.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Saddam Hussein on Trial

Today is exactly one year since the beginning of the trial of Saddam Hussein before an Iraqi Special Tribunal. However, only Google Answers can answer the question

What is the purview of International Law, particularly as relates to bringing a despotic leader like Saddam Hussein to justice? Stated another way, what were George Bush's options for using International Law to go after Saddam Hussein, rather than resorting to war? What "higher authority" does International law rely on? Is it the U.N., Geneva accord, or other?
Long before Saddam was brought to trial, Easterangel explained the legal mechanisms and considerations regarding this issue.

There are also the details regarding the trial itself after he was captured. Rainbow says in one of her answers, President Bush has spoken of a fair trial to Saddam, done by the Iraqi people. Before the trial (and even now?) Saddam was held in Camp Cropper, reports Cynthia-ga.

However, you can learn a lot about the Iraq War and about Saddam from Google Answers, not only about the trial. Pafalafa-ga, for example, has written a comprehensive review of U.S.-Iraqi relationships; Google Answers also helps with small issues, Pinkfreud did an excellent detective work in finding a camp in Baghdad.

But it was a client who has written a science fiction story based loosely on Saddam's Iraq - see humangoodorevil's comment and story, "2006". Hedgie's answer, by the way, is no less sci-fi.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

155 Years Ago Today

On October 18th, 1851, Moby Dick was published in London, under the name "The Whale".

As usual, on Google Answers, you can find (among other things), the quirky side of life. Sometimes, it is not the GARs (Researchers) that bring us to the wild-side. It is rather those who ask the questions. Gnossie, for example, wants to know where he can buy "a small quantity of real sperm whale oil".

Why, you may ask?

The question was unfortunately not answered (although an interesting discussion on the comments section has developed). However, Gnossie explains himself in the comments:

I'm just nuts about Moby Dick (read it zillions of times), and thought it would be neat to closely inspect the substance on which everything in that book is based. It is more like shampoo, oil of Olay, mayonnaise, etc. Is it pure white? Translucent? Lumpy? Smelly? Etc.

Just curious.
Cynthia-ga, by the way, provided in the links a link to images of sperm whale oil, which might be helpful to someone, who wants to know more about the stuff.

Moby Dick's own birthday, according to an answer of mine, is on November 14th. And according to a
Bobbie7 answer, Melville is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.


Martina Navratilova is 50 today! Happy Birthday Martina!

And if you want to give her a present, juggler-ga mentions her as a supporter of First Strike , so a donation might be a good idea, or perhaps, a Dave Matthews CD.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

North Korea and Gambling

North Korea scares the world. It is a rogue state, with nuclear power and a dictator, who seems to avoid any policy remotely diplomatic and prefer threats as his message to the world as means of proetcting his starving people from Western invasion.

There many interesting aspects in the North Korean story. For example, online gambling. Yes, the same issue that troubled now many American gamblers, after a new bill bans internet gambling goes into force.

It seems, the the North Korean are making part of their hard foreign capital from this very human weakness of gambling, or if you will, the capitalistic vice of greed. First of all, North Korea is one of the countries appearing in Keystroke's list of countries that allow online gambling. Naturally, its own citizens are constrained with access to Internet or free information; and have no money or credit cards to gamble online anyway. Their internal gambling games are probably based on whether they'll be something for lunch today or not; and if the latter joke would bring them closer to "re-education" camps. If online gambling is allowed, but 99% of the citizens cannot use it, who's it for? Foreign capital, of course.

Another aspect of this North Korean involvement in gambling is discussed by boquinha, in her review of Pachinko in Japan. It seems that the North Korea receives a large part of the funds lost by Japanese quasi-gamblers Pachinko players (Pachinko is not exactly gambling, as one loses money in the Pinball machine and cannot win money, only balls, but the balls could be exchanged for small-time prizes). In any case, Boquinha writes that:
"North Korean business interests are involved in as many as one-third of all pachinko facilities in Japan."
She quotes an article where it says that:
"[...] pachinko money accounts for a relatively small share of North Korea's revenue—less than $100 million annually—but the isolated nation trades so little ($2.6 billion annually) that every dollar counts".

It is interesting (and maybe also ironic) to see how North Korea uses gambling and capitalism for its own means. However, back to the nuclear issue, it also uses Western hesitation, diplomacy and democratic culture for its own good.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Orhan Pamuk is (not) on Google Answers

... but other Nobel Prize laureates are.

Pamuk is now news not only because he won the prize, but also because he's a controversial author in Turkey, writing and talking about national taboos such as the Armenian Genocide - there's also a criminal case against him because of that. Is it a political Nobel Prize this year? Europe certainly tries to force the Turks face their past and admit these crimes - the French parliament also discusses a law regarding the Armenian Genocide.

Back to GA, there are other Nobel Prize winners on GA. Again, you can learn interesting facts from Pinkfreud: In the "comprehensive list of celebrities who committed suicide since 1960" (our clients do have some eccentric questions) you also have "Yasunari Kawabata (1972), Japanese writer and Nobel Prize for Literature laurate, gassed himself."

And Hummer just gave the names of English language Nobel laureates (the client thought earlier that the prize is "Nobel Prize for English literature", was he surprised to learn that there is good literature written in other languages? We shall never know...).

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th leaves much to hope for in the realm of the doom and dark. First of all, from a comment by epedia-ga on a question answered by the lovely Voila-GA, we learn that the fear of Friday the 13th is called Paraskavedekatriaphobia.

From Pinkfreud we learn another interesting(?!) Ft13th fact:
"Other characters came and went, but Jason's mother, Pamela Voorhees, returned over and over in flashbacks and dream scenes."
(answer to:
Besides Jason, what character appears in the most Friday the 13th movies?)

And our Serenata (now I am sad :-( ) managed to find out, in which months in 1948, Ft13th occurred.

Have an horrific Friday the 13th!

...Or of the week

I am not so optimistic. I know myself. I will not be able to post a daily contribution here. But I will try to put an interesting question from Google Answers everytime I remember.

Let me introduce myself: I am a Google Answers Researcher. I just love this site and the way it provides knowledge to people. However, I will not feature any answers of mine, unless it was really something interesting to talk about. Faking modesty, you know. I will try to cheer my fine colleagues instead.