Oh fer cute!

Friday fun for you:

The researchers stationed a 2-foot-tall robot called QRIO (pronounced “curio”), and developed by Sony, in a classroom of a dozen toddlers aged between 18 months and two years.

QRIO stayed in the middle of the room using its sensors to avoid bumping the kids or the walls. It was initially programmed to giggle when the kids touched its head, to occasionally sit down, and to lie down when its batteries died. A human operator could also make the robot turn its gaze towards a child or wave as they went away. “We expected that after a few hours, the magic was going to fade,” Movellan says. “That’s what has been found with earlier robots.” But, in fact, the kids warmed to the robot over several weeks, eventually interacting with QRIO in much the same way they did with other toddlers.

Eventually, the children seemed to care about the robot’s well being. They helped it up when it fell, and played “care-taking” games with it – most commonly, when QRIO’s batteries ran out of juice and it lay down, a toddler would come up and cover it with a blanket and say “night, night”.

Go on, admit it, that’s cute, right?

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Here’s an interesting twist on the sub-prime mortgage scandal (TM) in the US. Back in the day you would take a mortgage out with a lender, and they would hold that lien on your home until you paid off the mortgage. But as mortgages were turned into commodities they were sold off to institutions all over the world. That in itself would be a minor complication. The problem comes when you bundle together many loans, and then sell a share of that bundle to several different buyers.

Financially that’s fine, until it comes time to foreclose on the house. To get your money back on a property you have to show your ownership of the mortgage for that property. And if you bought a fraction of the commodity as a security then you don’t have full ownership, and in all likelihood neither do you have a piece of paper (technically required) to show your ownership.

This could be good news, surprisingly; up to now only real people have been suffering, while banks write off theoretical profits. But now the banks are at risk of losing actual money, and that requires action.

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I worked too long yesterday, so here’s a little something from the past as a pick-me-up.

Update: If you’re having problems with this, all I can say is it worked this morning. If that’s not good enough, Jajah offer free trial phone calls, so you can call someone who cares.

Parenting Advice

I don’t normally post family stuff here, but this contains some important wisdom that I wanted to pass on. I was sat with my kids who were trying to tickle my neck. The following conversation with my six year old was the result.

Me: Can you stop that please?

Daughter: But I thought you weren’t ticklish.

Me: I’m not, but I don’t like being irritated like that.

Daughter: So why did you have kids then?

Me: …

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Funding Pakistan

It turns out the US has given something like $10 billion to Pakistan over the last 6 years. The basic plan seems to be that we give them vast pots* of cash, and then hope that they will help us out. There are a few flaws with this idea:

  1. $10 billion is a significant amount of cash
  2. We’re giving it to a military dictatorship
  3. We’re not, it appears, setting targets in return for the cash
  4. But then we’re not tracking progress anyway
  5. Which is good, because bin Laden is STILL free, and apparently living in Pakistan
  6. Did I mention that Pakistan is a military dictatorship?

The sad fact is that you don’t get to choose your friends when you lie yourself into a war, and that’s only exacerbated by the Western World’s propensity for picking its friends based on short-term expediency rather than on wishy-washy ideas like principle or morality.

(*Pots used for illustrative purposes only, actual transportation method is not publicized)

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