Thursday, November 30, 2006

Update - Google Answers

Google Answers' Researchers are inivting anyone who would like to get updates on the development of a new site to join us at Web Owls.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bye Bye Google Answers...

Google have announced that they have decided to shut down GA.

This is a very sad day for me.

A petition has been posted online to let GA stay, you can see it and sign it here:

I am not so sure how all of this would help. I signed it anyways...

In the meanwhile, if any of the readers of this blog needs professional research service, not the crap on other so-called research sites (who would be mentioned neither by name, nor by exclamation marks!), they can contact me directly (pg-ga AT I will also try to forward your request to any other Researcher, if it is not me you're looking for.

We shall overcome.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Alexander Litvinenko, and other poisonings

Alexander Litvinenko, an ex-KGB agent and a critic of Putin regime died on November 23rd. Litvinenko suffered a sudden illness after eating at a Sushi restaurant in London. Wikipedia writes: "On 1 November 2006, Litvinenko fell suddenly ill while investigating the death of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. He had had lunch at Itsu, a sushi restaurant on Piccadilly, with an Italian acquaintance, Mario Scaramella, to whom he made the allegations regarding Prodi.[6] Scaramella, attached to the Mitrokhin Commission investigating KGB penetration of Italian politics, claimed to have information on the murder of Politkovskaya, 48, the journalist who was killed at her Moscow apartment in October 2006. He passed Litvinenko papers on the Russian journalist's fate. On 20 November, it was reported that Scaramella had gone into hiding and was in fear for his life. [...] Scotland Yard is investigating claims that Litvinenko was poisoned by thallium. ".

If Litvinenko was poisoned, it wouldn't be the first time, as Google Answers Researchers reveal. Take, for example, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho). According to a compilation of religious leaders with heart diseases (by Tutuzdad), "the Bhagwan claimed that his heart damaged was caused four years prior to his death by thallium poisoning in a failed assassination attempt by the CIA." Yes, the same thallium.

In 1978, Gregori Markov, an opponent of the Bulgarian regime, was poisoned in London by the Bulgarian Secret Service, which used an umbrella laced with ricin to insert the poison into his body. Tehuti writes about this (and other 1978 events) in her answer. The same London, playground for secret assassins.

Another person "starring" in British shadowy history is Hildegard Pongracz. No, I won't spoil your reading of answerfinder's detective work. I'll just say that this is another case of a mysterious person, although in her case, she probably caused her own death from poisoning.

Poisoning is very popular in politically motivated murder, all over the world - in the past (see the Han Feizi case) and in the present. Not only in the UK, but also in China (Feizi), the United States (according to the Bhagwan conspiracy believers), and of course, the (former) East Bloc. We cannot finish this review of answers, without discussing the poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko - to which Crabcakes provides a medical explanation (Dioxin is also known as "Agent Orange" and therefore is one of those poisons appearing quite frequently on GA questions).

Many more scary poisonings out there, as an answer by Richard-ga reveals:
"I have read several fiction books where a character is killed using an
'untraceable' poison. I was wondering if an untraceable poison exists
and if so how does it work, as after a person dies the poison could
not be processed by the body any further and therefore should still
remain in the body. "

And Richard answers:
"Apparently there was a conspiracy to assassinate Fidel Castro using
one such poison, botulinum toxin. [...] biotoxin ricin, which is made from the castor bean plant (the same plant which we get castor oil from). This poison is purportedly being made by Iraq and other terrorist nations and is supposedly

Well, the problem is, that reality surpasses every fiction...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mid Term Elections

Today, Americans go to vote (hopefully, they will show up despite the lack of trust in electronic voting machines and in politics in general). Many forcast, that the Democrats will manage to get a majority in the House of Representatives.

However, how will that affect policies? Keystroke answers a question that estimates the effect of this victory at least on the relationships with Latin America:

What effects will the results of the mid-term elections in the United States have in Latin America if the Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives. Specifically I wish to know how it will effect the recently negotiated Free Trade Agreements between PerĂº, Colombia and the United States; and how it will effect Plan Colombia.

The answer on Google Answers.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

About Executions (not only Saddam's)

On November 5th, the court sentences Saddam Hussein to death by hanging. I've already written earlier about Saddam's trial on GA. Therefore, most of the post today would deal with the idea of death penalty in general.

This is not an easy idea to live with, even with a mass murderer like Saddam (see Kriwrite's answer regarding Saddam's death toll, without counting post-1991 events!), and it is controversial in democracies, many of which have prohibited the practice.

In the United States, naturally and as well know, this is actually a well established practice. The oldest tree in New York, for example, is called The Hanging Elm, because it was used as gallows. It is currently legal in 37-39 states. However, only about 1.4% of all first degree murder cases in the US result in a death sentence; and only 10% of juries impose the death sentence when in comes to trial (see more death penality statistics gathered by Angy-ga).

There several social issues regarding this, like race (tutuzdad answered the question whether a white prisoner has ever been executed for killing a non-White person); the possibility of innocent persons being executed (sixteen such innocent persons have been executed in the United States since the 1970s). Naturally, there is also the question of coping and living with a death penality not to mention, again, the moral issue of taking another person's life. Here, it is interesting to note that 72.5% of the Americans who oppose abortions ("pro life") support the death penalty. The cost of prosecution, whether or not to ask for the death penalty or not, however, is not an issue.

It could be worse. As Keystroke notes regarding Singapore, some countries impose death penality also on crimes that are not murder.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Google Answers on the Blogosphere

Jakob Jelling writes a post titled "Expert Help from Google Answers". His bottom line:
Google Answers isn't magic. They can't answer unanswerable questions, and they won't provide medical, legal, or financial advice. But for other tough questions that you just can't find an answer for on your own, Google Answers may be, well, the answer!
More about it, at Expert Help From Google Answers

Saturday, November 04, 2006

How Can Google Answers Help Your Business

The most obvious way that Google Answers can help you business is by giving you helpful business advice or conducting business research for you. We are very good at that, and if you must not have the type of information published and sold by market research companies for thousands of dollars, you stand a good chance of getting exactly what you need, saving time and money for your business.

However, Gepby Stream blog has another interesting suggestion on how to use Google Answers to promote your business - in fact, to find an idea, a niche, for a new business. Quite honestly, it is a rather good one - I wish I had thought of that myself. Gepby's idea is to use Google Answers database in order to know what people are looking for in your field, and what kind of answers you (and your site) can address:
Next, look in Google Answers. Type one of your keywords into the search area. What questions are being asked and how much are people willing to pay for answers? If you find a group of keywords with a high number of questions then enter these words in your browser's search engine.
Read full article, "How do I Find a Niche?"

The Most Interesting Questions on GA

Knowitall asked today:

What were the most interesting questions asked in Google Answers? By this I mean those of general interest, not those of highly technical or arcane areas.

Punkfreud answered with five answers of the thousands of interesting answers out there:
* History of Marriage on TV (answered by Pinko herself)
* what a 24 hour day might have looked like over the ages (answered by Missy)
* Causes of the Halifax explosion (answered by Chromedome)
* What is the Secret of Women (answered by Robert Skelton)
* Effect of music on the brain (answered by Voila)

There are many more interesting questions and answers out there. If you have any favourite, feel free to share!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween and the Autumn

It's here. Falling leaves and children begging for candies (given the neuighbourhood I live in, I always thought it is a good thing that parents here train their children from young age to beg for food. Half of them will later have to sign in for welfare anyhow).

Most Halloween questions on GA ask for specific costumes (and where to get / how to do them) , some refer to the film series. However, theer are curious questions as well. From an answer by Tutuzdad we learn that Halloween is claimed by some to be the most ancient holiday in the world.

Hal from "Ranch Ramblins" mentions in his autumn post (with beautiful pictures!) about leaves and removing them, that:

According to this response from Google Answers, there are approximately 200,000 leaves per oak tree (Google - the ultimate authority on everything). By multiplying 200,000 leaves times the previously derived 44,880 trees, we find that each and every year, approximately 8,976,000,000 leaves are produced on our land. Based upon the casual accuracy of these calculations, let’s just say around 9 billion leaves per year!
T.L. Spiegel, the Ultimate Authority on Everything!

Google Answers on the Blogosphere

Time Saving Expert writes:

If you have a question, and can’t seem to find the answer, or would rather get someone else to do it, there are websites that can help. If Wikipedia etc can’t help you can try Google Answers. You offer them a fee, perhaps a few dollars, depending on the difficulty of the question, and they will search the internet for you. The Google Answers people often answer similar questions and therefore become specialists in that field.

Perhaps you have a wide area of research to do, you can set a fairly high fee, and rely on the Google Answers team to do a good job for you.

David Kirk reports on TechRecipes on Google's Craig Silverstein presention at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Silverstein was asked, among other things, to compare Google Answers with Yahoo! Answers:
To Craig’s credit, he said nothing bad about yahoo (or Microsoft or anybody else) through the entire talk. He praised yahoo’s service and said that it is was a free version built more around respect than google’s model of payments. He thinks the competition will make both products stronger.

Interesting to me, Craig said that many of the people on google answers are actually stay-at-home mothers who can make extra money doing research for others.

Which got the following comment from one of the 500 GARs:
About this comment “Interesting to me, Craig said that many of the people on google answers are actually stay-at-home mothers who can make extra money doing research for others.”… I am a Google Answers Researcher, and some Google researchers are stay-at-home-moms! Also web designers, career counselors, writers, published authors,software writers, geeks, scientists, health care workers, graphic artists, ministers, social and mental health workers, members of MENSA, actresses, bartenders, business owners,archeologists, teachers, pilots,chefs, law enforcement-and these are the ones I know of! We come from a wide variety of fields and interests! The quality of Google Answers FAR exceeds Yahoo Answers - just compare our well researched answers to YA!

Quite right indeed!

I will report on another GA reference in my autumn post.