Israeli sarcasm, building bike trails, avoiding Turkey

Israeli sarcasm, building bike trails, avoiding Turkey

JERUSALEM ““ Here are some stories over the past few days from Israel that you may have missed.

Israeli researchers invent sarcasm detector. Really.

It’s no joke: Hebrew University researchers have invented algorithms that can detect sarcasm in text loaded into a computer.

The sarcasm detector is about 77 percent accurate. The research was presented last week at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence conference in Washington. A patent is pending for the algorithms, called RevRank.

Israel under the radarDetecting sarcasm could help consumers assess reviews of products and political opinions. The algorithms were tested in English, German, and Chinese.

Detecting sarcasm in Arabic is complicated, Prof. Ari Rappoport of Hebrew University’s Institute of Computer Science told the Jerusalem Post. Believe it or not, Hebrew is even more complicated.

Rabbi rules on game show

The rabbi who became the first winner of Israel’s adaptation of the “1 vs. 100″ game show doesn’t even have a TV.

Moshe Abu Aziz of Or Akiva, a high school teacher, became the first winner of the million-shekel game-show prize on June 6. Contestants on the show must eliminate 100 opponents by answering trivia questions.

Created in the Netherlands, “1 vs. 100″ has been replicated in countries around the world.

Abu Aziz, wearing a large yarmulke and a plain black suit, peppered the banter between questions with Bible quotes and could be seen mumbling a prayer under his breath as he waited to find out if his answer to the final question was correct.

Asked what he would do with the prize money, Abu Aziz told host Averi Gilad, “I have eight children to marry off.”

Nix to Turkey trips

By the thousands, Israelis are canceling planned summer vacations to Turkey. All direct flights to Turkish resorts have been canceled.

The Israel Travel Agents’ Association said about 100,000 of the 150,000 Israelis who had planned to vacation in Turkey during the summer have canceled their trips.

“Even tourists who had planned to fly to other destinations via Turkey have asked to fly through other countries,” Yossi Fattal, the group’s director, told Reuters.

In 2008, 560,000 Israelis vacationed in Turkey.

Israel’s National Security Council’s counterterrorism bureau has issued a travel warning against unnecessary travel to Turkey. The Israel Defense Forces also has instructed its soldiers not to travel to Turkey for any reason.

Pedal to the metal

Thousands of miles of bike trails will be constructed across Israel as part of a multimillion-dollar five-year plan to bring more biking tourism to the Jewish state.

“The development of a national cycling infrastructure will contribute to enriching the range of tourism products in the periphery and generate momentum for small and medium businesses while creating new jobs,” said Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov.

About 80 percent of the cycling paths will be developed in the Negev and Galilee.

Lighting up less

The number of Israelis who smoke cigarettes has decreased.

Some 22.8 percent of Israeli adults polled told an Israel Centers for Disease Control survey that they smoked in 2009, down from 24.2 percent the previous year. The poll found that 31.3 percent of Israeli men smoke and 16.6 percent of Israeli women smoke.

The results were part of an annual report on Israeli smoking released by the Health Ministry in advance of World No Tobacco Day. The report is required by law.

Though smoking decreased among Israeli adults, the number of Israeli teenagers who smoke has risen, according to the report. The number of smokers in the Israel Defense Forces also has risen, according to the report.


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