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Why so many different names for Germany

posted Nov 26, 2015, 9:18 AM by Thomas Kraus   [ updated Jan 27, 2016, 4:23 PM ]

Why are there so many different names for Germany? To Americans, the European country that gave the world Volkswagens, the Scorpions and World War II is Germany. But in Germany, they call the place Deutschland. The Spanish call Germany Alemania, the Poles call it Niemcy and the Thai call it ???????.
Each of these other countries likewise has a name for itself within its own borders - an endonym - that’s different from what we call it in the U.S. and from what other countries call it - an exonym.
Why all the different names if we’re talking about the same places?
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  Some place names simply come from the people who inhabit the land. Germany, for example, was Germany to some folks long before the country united and called itself Deutschland. Germany’s central position in western Europe means that it has historically shared borders with many different groups, and many languages use the name of the first Germanic tribe its speakers came in contact with as a name for the whole region. The Romans named a chunk of land east of the Rhine River and north of the Danube River Germania after the first Germanic tribe they heard about from the nearby Gauls. The root of the name is from the Gauls, who called the tribe across the river the Germani, which might have meant “neighbor” or maybe “men of the forest.” English borrowed the name in turn and anglicized the ending to get Germany.

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Extreme isolation warps the mind

posted May 15, 2014, 10:21 AM by Infotheque Intl   [ updated Jan 27, 2016, 4:33 PM by Thomas Kraus ]

Solitude can play disturbing tricks on the mind,
Interesting report on how extreme isolation warps the mind. When people are isolated from human contact, their mind can do some truly bizarre things, says Michael Bond, the author of "The Power of Others". Why does this happen? We all want to be alone from time to time, to escape the demands of our colleagues or the hassle of crowds. But not alone alone. For most people, prolonged social isolation is all bad, particularly mentally.
We’ve known for a while that isolation is physically bad for us. Chronically lonely people have higher blood pressure, are more vulnerable to infection, and are also more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Loneliness also interferes with a whole range of everyday functioning, such as sleep patterns, attention and logical and verbal reasoning. The mechanisms behind these effects are still unclear, though what is known is that social isolation unleashes an extreme immune response – a cascade of stress hormones and inflammation.
Why does the perceptually deprived brain play such tricks? Cognitive psychologists believe that the part of the brain that deals with ongoing tasks, such as sensory perception, is accustomed to dealing with a large quantity of information, such as visual, auditory and other environmental cues. But when there is a dearth of information, says Robbins, “the various nerve systems feeding in to the brain’s central processor are still firing off, but in a way that doesn’t make sense. So after a while the brain starts to make sense of them, to make them into a pattern.” It creates whole images out of partial ones. In other words, it tries to construct a reality from the scant signals available to it, yet it ends up building a fantasy world.
This article is based on the book The Power of Others by Michael Bond and you can find the full story here on BBC

Discover how in almost every area of our lives, our behaviour is influenced far more by others than we'd like to imagine Teenage cliques, jihadist cells, army units, polar expeditions, and football hooligans - on the face of it, each of these groups might seem exceptional, but the forces that bind and drive them can affect us all


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Look Up

posted May 5, 2014, 11:08 AM by Infotheque Intl   [ updated Jan 27, 2016, 4:32 PM by Thomas Kraus ]

Social media is asocial
“This media we call social is anything but, when we open our computers and it’s our doors we shut”…
This is one of the most vital messages that everyone needs to hear.
Look Up is a spoken word for the “online” generation.
Written, performed and directed by Gary Turk, it is an extremely important life lesson for our youth.
Children are growing up in a world where they don’t play outside or communicate with their friends.
It seems today everything is done via text message or over the internet.

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Bionic Kangaroo

posted Apr 4, 2014, 3:25 PM by Infotheque Intl   [ updated Jan 27, 2016, 4:36 PM by Thomas Kraus ]

Technical implementation in the BionicKangaroo
BionicKangaroo – energy-efficient jump kinematics based on a natural model.
With the BionicKangaroo, Festo has technologically reproduced the unique way a kangaroo moves.
Like its natural model, it can recover the energy when jumping, store it and efficiently use it for the next jump.
Festo paid particular attention to the mobile energy supply on the artificial kangaroo.
For this purpose, the team even developed two different concepts – one with an integrated compressor and one with a mobile high-pressure storage device.

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On the artificial kangaroo, Festo intelligently combines pneumatic and electrical drive technology to produce a highly dynamic system. The stable jump kinematics plus the precise control technology ensure stability when jumping and landing.

Press / News Release Festo - Content and images credits © Festo - www.festo.com

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posted Feb 1, 2014, 10:01 AM by Thomas Kraus   [ updated Jan 27, 2016, 4:50 PM ]

Super Bowl XLVIII
It's time for the Super Bowl and for advertisement in the spotlight. With an expected 100 million viewers, a 30-second spot is going for a mere 4'000'000$US (4 Million$).
Advertisers are in the game to win. The Super Bowl is advertising's biggest showcase, with more than 108 million people expected to watch the game on TV.
Even though the big game is still a day away, that hasn't stopped different sources from leaking some ads that will be appearing once the Super Bowl is underway on tomorrow.
Here a few we think are pretty good!!

Audi and the Doberhuahua – a mix-breed Doberman / Chihuahua

Coca-Cola - Going All The Way
Save up to 80% at Cell Phone Shop.
Budweiser Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial -- "Puppy Love"

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The Faces of Facebook

posted Oct 1, 2013, 11:36 AM by Thomas Kraus   [ updated Oct 1, 2013, 1:55 PM ]

Facebook has so many users - more than a billion, or roughly the population of India - that squeezing them all into one Web page seems almost impossible.
And yet someone has done just that.
A new project, "The Faces of Facebook," collects more than 1.27 billion Facebook profile photos on one site, arranged in chronological order according to when the person joined the social network. Users can sign in via Facebook to pinpoint their photo on the page and see where they show up in relation to their friends.
At first glance, the site looks like colorful, pixelated white noise. But users can zoom in to see individual photos and then scroll around or click on a photo to visit that person's Facebook page. (Be warned, however: the page is experiencing heavy traffic and can be slow and buggy.)
Designed by self-dubbed creative technologist Natalia Rojas, The Faces of Facebook starts off with a running count of Facebook's growing membership, with each person represented by a tiny dot.

Facebook Faces

The URL of that app/page is http://app.thefacesoffacebook.com

For Facebook users concerned about privacy, Rojas said the site doesn't store anyone's private information, pictures, or names. Instead, she sees her project as a harmless way to show the 1.2 billion Facebook profile pictures and organize them in chronological order. Indeed, if you zoom in on the very first thumbnail, you'll catch Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as Member No. 1.
Find the whole report here on CNN
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Prism GeStaPo Intl. made in USA

posted Jun 15, 2013, 6:10 AM by Andreas Canthor   [ updated Oct 1, 2013, 10:59 AM by Thomas Kraus ]

Prism, the US GESTAPO cyber snooping program makes waves! Facebook and Microsoft revealed details of data requests.
Facebook received 9,000-10,000 requests for user data from US government entities in the second half of 2012. The social-networking site said the requests, relating to between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts, covered issues from local crime to national security.
Microsoft meanwhile said it received 6,000 and 7,000 requests for data from between 31,000 and 32,000 accounts.
Internet companies - including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Apple and Microsoft - were reported last week to have granted the National Security Agency (NSA) "direct access" to their servers under a data collection program called Prism.
The firms denied the accusations, saying they gave no such access but did comply with lawful requests.
In an effort to reassure its users, Facebook lawyer Ted Ullyot wrote on the Facebook company's blog that following discussions with the relevant authorities it could for the first time report all US national security-related requests for data.
"As of today, the government will only authorize us to communicate about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range," he said.
For the six months ending 31 December 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received was between 9,000 and 10,000, relating to between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts.

The disclosures about Prism, and related revelations about broad-based collection of telephone records, have triggered widespread concern and congressional hearings about the scope and extent of the information-gathering. The big Internet companies in particular have been torn by the need to obey U.S. laws that forbid virtually any discussion of foreign intelligence requests and the need to assuage customers.

Only one company, Yahoo, is known to have taken the highly unusual step of appealing an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The company argued in 2008 that the order violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. But U.S. District Judge Bruce Selya, who headed the FISA court's Court of Review, ruled the data collection program did not run afoul of the Bill of Rights.

Earlier this week, European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding vented her fury over the US data spying program known as Prism. The far-reaching online surveillance operation, which saw the US National Security Agency spying on users across the globe, clearly demonstrates "that a clear legal framework for the protection of personal data is not a luxury, but is a fundamental right," Reding said.

Just two days later, however, it would seem that Reding was perhaps protesting a bit too much. According to both the Financial Times and Reuters, the European Commission bowed to US lobbying in early 2012 and scrapped a data protection measure that would have significantly reduced the NSA's ability to spy on Europeans.

According to the Financial Times report, which cites EU documents and unnamed EU officials, the measure was specifically designed to ward off US efforts to eavesdrop on international phone calls and emails. It was even called the "anti-FISA clause," a reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Washington, however, launched a significant lobbying effort to get the Commission to remove the clause -- which it then did, partly in order to smooth the way ahead of talks on the trans-Atlantic free trade agreement. "We didn't want any complications on this front," an EU official told the Financial Times.
Makers of hardware and software, banks, Internet security providers, satellite telecommunications companies and many other companies also participate in the government programs.
In some cases, the information gathered may be used not just to defend the nation but to help infiltrate computers of its adversaries.
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The center-left daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung" writes:
"It may be that US citizens can defend themselves under the US Constitution. But that doesn't apply to foreigners. Facebook users in Germany have as little protection from the US Constitution as those in Afghanistan. Germany is the country in Europe whose telephone and Internet communications are being spied on the most intensely by the US. ... But even the best rulings from Germany's high court are useless because the majority of the Internet's architecture is located in the US. As a consequence, US authorities have the power of access, and this is stronger than basic German rights."

The conservative daily "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" writes:
"For years, German Internet providers have complained among themselves about the tough data protection laws to which they are subject in the European Union. At the same time, they looked enviously at their American counterparts, who are obviously subject to very flexible data protection rules. But these days could be over now. European providers should take advantage of their data protection requirements as a unique selling point."

Image Credits: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski

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