The Quirky Ways 7 Other Countries Celebrate Christmas


If you’ve ever considered it odd that U.S. Christmas traditions revolve around indoor trees (real and plastic) and a plump, bearded man sliding down chimneys… you’re not wrong.

In fact, our conception of Santa Claus can largely be attributed to a single 1828 poem, Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” which enshrined the nation’s image of Santa–with his “little round belly” and a beard “as white as the snow–and propagated the idea of him coming through chimneys to deliver gifts in stockings, now common knowledge to children across the country. It’s just one of the ways our Christmas traditions can be traced to quirks of history.

But odd and seemingly arbitrary Christmas traditions are not only the purview of the United States. Around the world, in countries that are majority Christian and countries that are majority not, unique practices emerge as the holiday approaches.

Here’s a look at…

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Secret Santa pays entire lounge bill at Edmonton Moxie’s

Global News

WATCH: Patrons in a south Edmonton lounge were treated to some holiday cheer Monday, but it’s not what you might think.

EDMONTON – It was an anonymous gift that had diners flabbergasted. A stranger, dining at a restaurant in south Edmonton, covered the bill for everyone in the lounge.

It was lunchtime on Monday and the Moxie’s lounge was bustling. But, when patrons from about eight or nine tables went to settle their tabs, they were told an anonymous stranger already paid.

“A man came up to me and I had been serving him, and he said to me, ‘is there any way to combine bills together of the entire lounge?’ I was taken off guard at first, but I did it for him,” recalls lounge server Brittany Anderson.

“He did it right away. A random act of kindness and left as if nothing happened. It was impressive.”

READ MORE: Random acts of…

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Well here we are… It’s the beginning of the cyber wars my friends. POTUS came out on stage and said that we would have a “proportionate response” to the hacking of Sony and that in fact the US believes that it was in fact Kim Jong Un who was behind this whole thing. Yup, time to muster the cyber troops and attack their infrastructure!


So yeah, let’s take a step back here and ponder the FBI statement today on colonel mustard in the study with the laptop before we go PEW PEW PEW ok?

FBI Statement:

Update on Sony Investigation

Washington, D.C. December 19, 2014
  • FBI National Press Office(202) 324-3691

Today, the FBI would like to provide an update on the status of our investigation into the cyber attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). In late November, SPE confirmed that it was the victim of a cyber attack…

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Deep learning now tackling autism and matching monkeys’ vision


Two studies published this week provide even more evidence that deep learning models are very good at computer vision and might be able to tackle some difficult problems.

The study on computer vision, out of MIT and published in PLOS Computational Biology, shows that deep learning models can be as good as certain primates when it comes to recognizing images during a brief glance. The researchers even suggest that deep learning could help scientists better understand how primate vision systems work.

Figure 4.eps Charts showing the relative performance of primates and deep learning models.

The genetic study, performed by a team of researchers from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and published in Science (available for a fee, but the University of Toronto has a relatively detailed article about the research), used deep learning to analyze the “code” involved in gene splicing. Focusing on mutated gene sequences in subjects with autism, the team was…

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Modulating the Permanent

Gödel's Lost Letter and P=NP


Thomas Muir coined the term “permanent” as a noun in his treatise on determinants in 1882. He took it from Augustin Cauchy’s distinction in 1815 between symmetric functions that alternate when rows of a matrix are interchanged versus ones that “stay permanent.” To emphasize that all terms of the permanent have positive sign, he modified the contemporary notation $latex {left| A right|}&fg=000000$ for the determinant of a matrix $latex {A}&fg=000000$ into

$latex displaystyle overset{+}{|} A overset{+}{|} &fg=000000$

for the permanent. Perhaps we should be glad that this notation did not become permanent.

Today Ken and I wish to highlight some interesting results on computing the permanent modulo some integer value.

Recall the permanent of a square matrix $latex {A}&fg=000000$ is the function defined as follows by summing over all permutations of $latex {{1,dots,n}}&fg=000000$, that is, over all members of the symmetric group $latex {S_n}&fg=000000$:

$latex displaystyle mathrm{perm}(A)=sum_{sigmain S_n}prod_{i=1}^n a_{i,sigma(i)}. &fg=000000$

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