It's challenge time!
Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.
Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!
Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!
Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.
Friday evening I was walking to the library with Aiko. I was on the north side of the street, heading east. I saw a couple walking toward me, but there was a break in traffic and I crossed the street before we met. On the south side of the street, Aiko was uneasy. He kept stopping and looking back. I looked back too, and saw the couple that had been on the north side of the street, going west, were now about half a block behind me, on the south side of the street, going east.
Well, people do change their minds and turn around. But Aiko would not settle down, so at the next street I turned south. The couple behind us also turned south, but I was on the east side of the street and they were on the west. I stopped and let Aiko sniff for a while, so I got to the next intersection after them. They crossed to the south side of that street. I did not. I turned east. They also turned east, and continued to walk about half a block behind me, on the other side of the street, for about seven blocks. Then we were in a well-populated area, and I didn't see them again.
I am a short fat old woman, and my hands were encumbered. I had library books in one hand, and a leash and a bag of dog poop in the other. But I was walking a German Shepherd! How did they plan to assault me without getting bit? Also without getting a bag of dog poop in the face? Though it was one of the good bags, and probably wouldn't have burst even if it had hit. Also, I didn't have any money on me, though they didn't know that. I was wearing a fanny pack, which is where my wallet would have been if I was wearing my wallet. I thought about taking my phone out and taking their picture, but they had dropped back far enough by the time I thought of it that it wouldn't have been much of a picture. The fanny pack has the kind of buckle that you squeeze to open. Probably they planned to run up beside me, grab the buckle, and run off with the fanny pack before Aiko could react. They would have got my phone and my housekeys, and could probably figure out where I live from the phone.
Anyway, I do think that there is observable, identifiable behavior that signals that one human being is looking at another human being as prey, and I think Aiko observed and correctly identified it.
Christmas at Ground Zero | One Tin Soldier | Two of Us | Threes | Wind's Four Quarters | Five Years | Six Days on the Road | Seven Year Ache | 867-5309 | 9 to 5 | At Seventeen | 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover | '65 Love Affair | 88 Lines about 44 Women | 99 Luftballons ...
Wow, there's a lot of mopey in that list. I should pick something that's a bit more perky.
( One bouncy cheerful number song, coming up. )
Sun? Beaches? Rooftop parties? Pish-posh! It's time to hide with your favorite acronyms—WASD, AC, 4K—as a discount-minded, summer-vacationing PC gamer. The annual Steam Summer Sale has returned just in time to keep you occupied and indoors.
After watching the sale kick off Thursday morning and seeing Steam's servers edge perilously toward utter meltdown, we at Ars have gotten just enough time to pick through the enormous list of games on sale (thousands already) and find guaranteed joy among the discounts. This list is, of course, just a hint at how many games are deeply discounted until July 5, and since there are no limited-time or "flash" deals this year, you have time to peruse, pick, and save. But if you can't help yourself, get started with these no-brainer Ars recommendations.
But also buying clothes off the peg is much more immediate - you see straight away whether the colour or the cut or the cloth suits you when you try it on and before you decide to buy it. By the time you've finished making a piece of clothing, you can still fiddle with it but a lot of the decisions are already behind you. I'm not saying I'm giving up on making clothes for myself, but I can see I need practice before I make something that I'm actually pleased enough with the outcome to keep wearing it happily for months and years afterwards (which is where I want to be).
Making accessories or making clothes for the kids, though - much more immediately rewarding.
Like this hat. It functions as well as the skirt I made myself (fits well, stays put where it's meant to, does the job it's supposed to) but in addition it just makes me cheerful everytime I lay my eyes on it. I need to find a balance and make sure I include plenty of these cheerful items, but also keep trying on the clothing-myself front. Because having a skirt that is really comfortable is a definite plus, so long as at the same time it is one that I positively want to wear.
Since the days of the NES, people have accused Nintendo of intentionally underproducing hardware in order to drive an artificial feeding frenzy of demand in the marketplace. With the Nintendo Switch remaining nearly impossible to find at retailers in the US, those same accusations of "false scarcity" have been bubbling up in certain corners. [Note: The Nintendo Switch is easy to find in the UK at the recommended retail price, or just above; this story is primarily from a US perspective.]
Nintendo senior director of corporate communications Charlie Scibetta wants to push back on those accusations. "It's definitely not intentional in terms of shorting the market," he told Ars in a recent interview. "We're making it as fast as we can. We want to get as many units out as we can to support all the software that's coming out right now... our job really is to get it out as quick as we can, especially for this holiday because we want to have units on shelves to support Super Mario Odyssey."
Far from intentional, Scibetta says the shortages are simply a result of Nintendo underestimating the interest in the system. "We anticipated there was going to be demand for it, but the demand has been even higher than we thought," he said. "We had a good quantity for launch, we sold 2.7 million worldwide in that first month, said we're going to have 10 million [more] by the end of the fiscal year... Unfortunately, we're in a situation right now where as quick as it's going into retail outlets it's being snapped up. It's a good problem to have, but we're working very hard to try and meet demand."
The F-35A has been cleared to operate once again from Luke Air Force Base, the primary pilot-training facility for the Air Force's newest fighter aircraft. The F-35 had been grounded at Luke since June 9, after five incidents over a month in which pilots experienced the symptoms of hypoxia (oxygen deprivation). However, that return to flight, which began June 21, comes with some caveats: pilots have been instructed to "avoid the altitudes in which the hypoxia-like incidents occurred," according to press releases by the Air Force and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO).
The F-35 JPO convened a "formal action team" to investigate the incidents after the aircraft grounding to work with the Air Force to investigate the hypoxia incidents. So far, the team has only managed to rule out a number of "specific concerns," including aircraft maintenance issues and procedures surrounding pilots' flight equipment. So while the aircraft are being returned to service, some restrictions have been placed on F-35 operations out of Luke. In addition to avoiding certain altitudes, the Air Force said that "ground procedures will be modified to mitigate physiological risks to pilots." The specifics of those changes were not mentioned in the press release.
The Air Force will also increase the minimum acceptable amount of backup oxygen aboard F-35As. And pilots will be "offered the option" of wearing sensors that will collect "human performance data" during flight to monitor for signs of hypoxia. The Air Force will also expand its physiological training for pilots to help them recognize and respond early to hypoxia symptoms.
A year ago, the US Supreme Court announced guidance to lower courts in determining whether the prevailing party in a copyright lawsuit should be awarded attorney fees. Under US law, the losing side of a copyright suit can be ordered to pay the legal costs to the winners—no matter which side originally brought the case.
The Supreme Court said that the imposition of a fee award against a copyright holder should be denied if the rights holder held an "objectively reasonable" belief that there was infringement—even if the copyright holder loses the lawsuit.
Today, we're seeing another example in practice on how that ruling is playing out. A New York federal judge on Wednesday ruled that no "reasonable attorney" would have sued news organizations for broadcasting or publishing seconds-long clips from the 45-minute live Facebook video of a childbirth. Hence, the media outlets that were on the receiving end of the lawsuit are entitled to recover what may amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs.
The rise and fall of FireWire—IEEE 1394, an interface standard boasting high-speed communications and isochronous real-time data transfer—is one of the most tragic tales in the history of computer technology. The standard was forged in the fires of collaboration. A joint effort from several competitors including Apple, IBM, and Sony, it was a triumph of design for the greater good. FireWire represented a unified standard across the whole industry, one serial bus to rule them all. Realized to the fullest, FireWire could replace SCSI and the unwieldy mess of ports and cables at the back of a desktop computer.
Yet FireWire's principal creator, Apple, nearly killed it before it could appear in a single device. And eventually the Cupertino company effectively did kill FireWire, just as it seemed poised to dominate the industry.
The story of how FireWire came to market and ultimately fell out of favor serves today as a fine reminder that no technology, however promising, well-engineered, or well-liked, is immune to inter- and intra-company politics or to our reluctance to step outside our comfort zone.
This seems to be a good week for talking about quantum memories and distributing qubits. The thing about working with quantum states, though, is that you don't have much room to avoid messing it up. And, afterwards, figuring out when you've made a mistake is difficult. Once you make a measurement on a quantum system, there is no going back to its original state.
To get around this uncertainty, you have to find some way to increase your confidence that the operation you performed has actually turned out as expected. One option for this is called entanglement distillation. And entanglement distillation is exactly what a group in the Netherlands has recently demonstrated.
Impure diamonds are the best diamonds
This is a story about generating entangled quantum states in different locations. To understand how the researchers can do that, we need to see how a qubit state can be encoded in a bit of diamond. Most diamonds have a certain amount of nitrogen. The bonding between the carbon and the nitrogen leaves a rather unhappy electron. It is still bound to carbon, but the electron doesn't really want to be. So it floats around in between the carbon and the nitrogen atom.
Mylan shareholders today did not unseat the drug maker’s board of directors, despite calls for an ouster over the EpiPen pricing scandals and remarkably large executive salaries.
In a vote during an annual meeting in Amsterdam, shareholders approved all incumbent nominees, including Chief Executive Heather Bresch, President Rajiv Malik, and Chairman Robert Coury, who earned a nearly $100 million salary last year amid intense backlash over EpiPen price hikes. The majority of shareholders did, however, reject such executive compensation plans—in a nonbinding vote.
In recent weeks, a group of shareholders had campaigned to overthrow the board for what it called “significant reputational and financial harm” and “new lows in corporate stewardship.” The disgruntled shareholders were backed by an influential advisory firm, the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), which agreed that the EpiPen price increases and eye-popping executive salaries caused “significant destruction in shareholder value” and “long-term reputational damage.”
Wish there were more people in my fandoms in multifandomdrabble fest. Sign ups open for another day!
I know people have been looking for nice Bill icons from this series of Doctor Who. Here are a bunch made by luminousdaze, along with 12, Missy, Clara and a bunch of the gang.
I really like this essay by lydy: The Rules: A Memo for Every Man in My Life.
Instead, I want to address something that comes up over and over in these conversations, and always from men. "What are the rules?" "How can I know how to behave if you won't clarify what you want?"
Dear men, please do not ask me to provide to you something that I have never had. I cannot provide you the rules. I do not know what they are, and I never have.
Pitssburgh Queer History project has some great archival material here.
ETA: For those who like Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells is doing an AMA here, and here's a quote from the next one.
My own investigations on the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age peoples of Eastern Central Asia (ECA) began essentially as a genetics cum linguistics project back in the early 90s. That was not long after the extraction of mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) from ancient human tissues and its amplification by means of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) became possible.
By the mid-90s I had grown somewhat disenchanted with ancient DNA (aDNA) studies because the data were insufficient to determine the origins and affiliations of various early groups with satisfactory precision, neither spatially nor temporally. Around the same time, I began to realize that other types of materials, such as textiles and metals, provided powerful diagnostic evidence.
By the late 90s, combining findings from all of these fields and others, I was willing to advance the hypothesis that some of the mummies of ECA, especially the earliest ones dating to around 1800 BC, may have spoken a pre-proto-form of Tocharian when they were alive (some people think it’s funny or scary to imagine that mummies once could speak). This hypothesis was presented at an international conference held at the University of Pennsylvania in April, 1996, which was attended by more than a hundred archeologists, linguists, geneticists, physical anthropologists, textile specialists, metallurgists, geographers, climatologists, historians, mythologists, and ethnologists — including more than half a dozen of the world’s most distinguished Tocharianists. It was most decidedly a multidisciplinary conference before it became fashionable to call academic endeavors by such terms (see ” Xdisciplinary” [6/14/17]). The papers from the conference were collected in this publication:
Victor H. Mair, The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Peoples of Eastern Central Asia (Washington, D.C.: Institute for the Study of Man Inc. in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Museum Publications, 1998). 2 vols.
“Early Indo-Europeans in Xinjiang” (11/19/08)
It is only very recently, within the last ten years or so, that Y-chromosome analysis has been brought into play for the study of ancient DNA. See Toomas Kivisild, “The study of human Y chromosome variation through ancient DNA“, Human Genetics, 2017; 136(5): 529–546; published online 2017 Mar 4. doi: 10.1007/s00439-017-1773-z.* Since only males carry the Y-chromosome, this has made it possible to trace the patriline of individuals. This, coupled with the massive accumulation and detailed analysis of modern DNA with increasing sophistication and the rise of the interdisciplinary (!) field referred to as genomics, has made studies on the genetics of premodern people, including their origins, migrations, and affinities, far more exacting than it was during the 90s when I did the bulk of my investigations on the early inhabitants of the Tarim Basin.
Now it is possible to draw on the results of genetics research to frame and more reliably solve questions about the development of languages from their homeland to the far-flung places where they subsequently came to be spoken. One such inquiry is described in this article:
Tony Joseph, “How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate“, The Hindu (6/16/17).
It is significant that this substantial article appeared in The Hindu, since there is a strong bias against such conclusions among Indian nationalists (see “Indigenous Aryans“). It begins thus:
New DNA evidence is solving the most fought-over question in Indian history. And you will be surprised at how sure-footed the answer is, writes Tony Joseph
The thorniest, most fought-over question in Indian history is slowly but surely getting answered: did Indo-European language speakers, who called themselves Aryans, stream into India sometime around 2,000 BC – 1,500 BC when the Indus Valley civilisation came to an end, bringing with them Sanskrit and a distinctive set of cultural practices? Genetic research based on an avalanche of new DNA evidence is making scientists around the world converge on an unambiguous answer: yes, they did.
Joseph’s paper is informed, sensitive, balanced, and nuanced. This is responsible science journalism.
The scientific paper itself, “A Genetic Chronology for the Indian Subcontinent Points to Heavily Sex-biased Dispersals” by Marina Silva, Marisa Oliveira, Daniel Vieira, Andreia Brandão, Teresa Rito, Joana B. Pereira, Ross M. Fraser, Bob Hudson, Francesca Gandini, Ceiridwen Edwards, Maria Pala, John Koch, James F. Wilson, Luísa Pereira, Martin B. Richards, and Pedro Soares, was published in BMC Evolutionary Biology (3/23/17) ( DOI: 10.1186/s12862-017-0936-9).
I’m skeptical of many of the claims put forward by geneticists concerning origins and dispersals, not just about humans, but also about horses, dogs, cats, plants, and so forth. This study, however, is both cautious and solid. Moreover, it fits well with the archeological evidence (more below).
Here are two key paragraphs from the scientific paper (numbers in square brackets are to accessible references):
Although some have argued for co-dispersal of the Indo-Aryan languages with the earliest Neolithic from the Fertile Crescent [88, 89], others have argued that, if any language family dispersed with the Neolithic into South Asia, it was more likely to have been the Dravidian family now spoken across much of central and southern India . Moreover, despite a largely imported suite of Near Eastern domesticates, there was also an indigenous component at Mehrgarh, including zebu cattle [85, 86, 90]. The more widely accepted “Steppe hypothesis” [91, 92] for the origins of Indo-European has recently received powerful support from aDNA evidence. Genome-wide, Y-chromosome and mtDNA analyses all suggest Late Neolithic dispersals into Europe, potentially originating amongst Indo-European-speaking Yamnaya pastoralists that arose in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe by ~5 ka, with expansions east and later south into Central Asia in the Bronze Age [53, 76, 93, 94, 95]. Given the difficulties with deriving the European Corded Ware directly from the Yamnaya , a plausible alternative (yet to be directly tested with genetic evidence) is an earlier Steppe origin amongst Copper Age Khavlyn, Srednij Stog and Skelya pastoralists, ~7-5.5 ka, with an infiltration of southeast European Chalcolithic Tripolye communities ~6.4 ka, giving rise to both the Corded Ware and Yamnaya when it broke up ~5.4 ka .
An influx of such migrants into South Asia would likely have contributed to the CHG component in the GW [VHM: genome-wide] analysis found across the Subcontinent, as this is seen at a high rate amongst samples from the putative Yamnaya source pool and descendant Central Asian Bronze Age groups. Archaeological evidence suggests that Middle Bronze Age Andronovo descendants of the Early Bronze Age horse-based, pastoralist and chariot-using Sintashta culture, located in the grasslands and river valleys to the east of the Southern Ural Mountains and likely speaking a proto-Indo-Iranian language, probably expanded east and south into Central Asia by ~3.8 ka. Andronovo groups, and potentially Sintashta groups before them, are thought to have infiltrated and dominated the soma-using Bactrian Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) in Turkmenistan/northern Afghanistan by 3.5 ka and possibly as early as 4 ka. The BMAC came into contact with the Indus Valley civilisation in Baluchistan from ~4 ka onwards, around the beginning of the Indus Valley decline, with pastoralist dominated groups dispersing further into South Asia by ~3.5 ka, as well as westwards across northern Iran into Syria (which came under the sway of the Indo-Iranian-speaking Mitanni) and Anatolia [12, 95, 97, 98].
The spread of R1a into South Asia had earlier been securely documented in Peter A. Underhill, et al., “The phylogenetic and geographic structure of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a“, European Journal of Human Genetics (2015) 23, 124–131; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.50; published online 26 March 2014.
The precise coalescence of R1a within South Asia was identified in Monika Karmin, et al., “A recent bottleneck of Y chromosome diversity coincides with a global change in culture“, Genome Research (2015);
This kind of male migration theory is proposed with arguments based on archeological evidence in the last pages of H.-P. Francfort, “La civilisation de l’Oxus et les Indo-Iraniens et Indo-Aryens”, in: Aryas, Aryens et Iraniens en Asie Centrale (Collège de France. Publications de l’Institut de Civilisation Indienne, vol. 72), G. Fussman, J. Kellens, H.-P. Francfort, et X. Tremblay (eds.) (Paris: Diffusion de Boccard, 2005) pp. 253-328. The complete paper is on academia website.
Michael Witzel has favored this, the (Indo-)Aryan Migration view, on linguistic and textual grounds since at least 1955 and was constantly criticized for saying so. See his papers of 1995, 2001:
“Early Indian History: Linguistic and Textual Parameters.” In: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity: The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia. Ed. G. Erdosy (Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 1995), 85-125; — Rgvedic history: poets, chieftains and politics, loc. cit. 307-352 combined pdf (uncorrected).
and the substrate paper of 1999:
“Early Sources for South Asian Substrate Languages.” Mother Tongue (1999, extra number) pdf
Some relevant Language Log posts:
“Dating Indo-European” (12/10/03)
“More on IE wheels and horses ” (1/10/09)
“Irish DNA and Indo-European origins” (12/31/15)
*For those who are interested in the development of aDNA Y-chromosome studies beginning in the 2000s, I have some additional documentation and several relevant papers that I can send to you.
[Thanks to Richard Villems, Toomas Kivisild, and Peter Underhill]