Slate on Evolution’s Third Way: The Sound of a Glacier Melting – Discovery Institute

Given climate worries, I dont mean to make light of melting glaciers. But the image is an apt one for a species of article we see in unlikely places that give evidence of the Darwin Glacier giving way to freer thoughts about evolution. Heres what an actual glacier sounds like as it melts:

Kind of musical, isnt it? Compare it to this from John Favini, writing for Slate of all places. Favini is a University of Virginia anthropology PhD student, interested in climate change, environmental politics, and science as a cultural domain. Im interested in science as a cultural domain, too. And heres a great illustration of how the culture changes. Favini thinks that solving the problem of climate change may depend on recognizing the vital place of collaboration in nature: Scientists are slowly understanding collaborations role in biology, which might just help liberate our collective imagination in time to better address the climate crisis.

Im not going to pass judgment on that, but check out this remarkable paragraph. From What if Competition Isnt As Natural As We Think?:

Put simply, life is beginning to look ever more complex and ever more collaborative. All this has fractured Western biologys consensus on Darwin. In response to all these new insights, some biologists instinctivelydefend Darwin, an ingrained impulse from years of championing his work against creationists. Others, like [Lynn] Margulis herself, feel Darwin had something to offer, at least in understanding the animal world, but argue his theories were simplified and elevated to a doctrine in the generations after his passing. Others are chartering research projects that depart from established Darwinian thinking in fundamental ways like ornithologist Richard Prum, who recently authored a book on the ways beauty, rather than any utilitarian measure of fitness,shapes evolution. Indeed, alongside the research I have explored here, works by scientists like Carl Woese onhorizontal gene transferand new insights from epigenetics have pushed some to advocate for an as-yet-unseen Third Way, a theory for life that is neither creationism nor Neo-Darwinian evolution. [Emphasis added.]

The old face of the evolution establishment is a haughty British scientist-atheist icily scolding a proponent of intelligent design on how he cant be a real scientist, simply by virtue of his entertaining the thesis of teleology in biology. In the old, ice-encased perspective, there was no fractured consensus on Darwin, no dubious ingrained impulse to defend Darwinian theory, no cause to depart from established Darwinian thinking in fundamental ways, no need for a Third Way.

If you Google Third Way, the first two entries point to the group of evolutionary dissenters themselves, led by James A. Shapiro, Denis Noble, and others. The third entry is an article here at Evolution News welcoming them to the evolution debate. So even recognizing the existence of such an alternative path, and seeing it as a serious alternative, plants you well outside the establishments orthodoxy. Further down on the search list is a representative opinion from an evolutionary iceman, atheist biologist Jerry Coyne, Should there be a Third Way of evolution? I think not.

A piece like this from Slate, not what youd think of as a publication likely to be friendly to Darwin doubting, is noteworthy. Whats that sound I hear? Is it the music of melting glacier ice?


Slate on Evolution's Third Way: The Sound of a Glacier Melting - Discovery Institute

Pop Culture May Evolve at the Same Rate as Birds and Bugs – WIRED

We like to think modern culture moves at a dizzying pace, fueled by a relentless parade of new works of music, literature, and technological design. Change in nature, by contrast, seems to follow a slower trajectory as genetic mutations over generations give animals bigger teeth, say, or a better camouflage. But maybe the opposite is true, and human culture doesnt move so fast and we consumers are less eager to embrace change than we realize.

Thats the conclusion of a new study by a group of British researchers who analyzed rates of change for popular songs, English literature, scientific papers, and car design. Using metrics designed by evolutionary biologists, they compared the rates of cultural change to the rates of biological change for finches from the Galapagos Islands, two kinds of moths, and a common British snail. The result was kind of surprising: Biology and culture move at about the same speed.

This tells you something profound about human psychology, says Armand Leroi, an evolutionary biologist at Imperial College London. We are surprisingly conservative about our choices, and what we like changes very slowly.

The idea that culture evolves like animals and plants do has been around for a few decades. Most of the prior research, however, has looked at archaeological artifacts, such as the evolution of stone tools, arrowheads, or language. Leroi and his team wanted to look at the pace of change in modern cultural artifacts instead, to see if they could see differences between today and earlier civilizations.

The researchers took 17,000 Billboard Hot 100 songs between 1960 and 2010 and picked out 100 musical characteristicswhether or not the song included guitar-driven power chords, for example, a staccato rap beat, or a swell of strings backing up a love ballad. For cars, they looked at sixteen measurements of the vehicles size and power. For 19th-century literature (2,200 English, British and Irish novels) and 20th-century scientific papers (170,000 reports from the British Medical Journal), they tagged each work with one of 500 topical references.

They compared the cultural artifacts to the evolution of animals that are iconic in the world of evolutionary biology. The finches, for example, were the subject of a famous 40-year study that showed their beaks changed shape as drought and rainfall on the remote Galapagos Islands altered the birds food supply. The moths color changed over time as black soot from industrial England turned their tree bark habitat black in the 19th century, and it changed again when air pollution laws came into effect and the tree trunks returned to their normal color.

For both groups, Lerois team calculated a value reflecting the rate of evolutionary change. Their analysis showed the rate over time was similar for both groups. He goes so far as to suggest cultural artifacts can be viewed as organisms: They grow, change, and reproduce. When we make something new, be it a scientific paper or an artwork, we take that thing and throw it into the world and it either lives or dies, Leroi says. Its success depends on whether people want it or not, just like natural selection.

The paper outlining their research publishes today in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. But not everyone agrees with the conclusions. Charles Perrault, who studies human and cultural evolution at Arizona State University, published a 2012 study based on archaeological artifacts that concluded human culture moves 50 percent faster than biological evolution. This adaptive speed, he argues, was essential to humans ability to thrive in new ecosystems and increase their life spans.

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Pop Culture May Evolve at the Same Rate as Birds and Bugs - WIRED

The evolution of food to fuel the W Aspen social scene – Aspen Times

Tuna crudo with jalapeo and yuzu.Tae Westcott

Buttermilk cauliflower bites with soy Buffalo sauce have been the sharing menu MVP item.Tae Westcott

Pan-seared shrimp in a roasted garlic-Chenin blanc sauce with grilled sourdough bread.Tae Westcott

The Living Room at the W.Courtesy of the W Aspen

CHef Jacque SiaoPhoto by Nick Tininenko

Group of dance lovers enjoying disco in nightclubGetty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

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Go-go dancers clad in candy-colored onesies unzipped gyrate above partygoers in ski gear and swimsuits. A pair of Swedish DJs in metallic spandex orchestrate futuristic ambience from a silver nugget sound booth. A freewheeling parade of costumed alter egos celebrate Aspen Halloween with shouts and fist pumps. From combat boots paired with fluffy robes to sequined jumpsuits, furry suits and wigs worn just because, crowds at the W Aspen have at times been flashy and full of energy. As anyone who has attempted to navigate through writhing bodies toward the bar or photo booth might wonder: whos even thinking about food?

Since the W Aspen opened in August, executive chef Jacque Siao has studied the vibe of the propertys various venues, including the 8,000-square-foot rooftop Wet Deck; the second-floor Living Room with its own outdoor patio; and the sunken, cave-like 39 Degrees lounge, to determine how to best feed these people. Now, as X Games kicks off its 18th season in Aspen with an official bash hosted by gold medalist Alex Ferreira on Jan. 22, Siao is prepped to serve what revelers want.

Its a socializing scene, so (mostly) appetizers to share with a group of friends, says Siao, who revamped W Aspen menus to reflect these preferences. The Living Rooms all-day menu currently features nearly a dozen plates of casual snacky stuff, including popular mainstays such as pulled chicken loaded nachos and green curry mussels.

Catching on fast: charred green beans with black garlic aioli; tuna crudo with yuzu pearls and slivered jalapeno; dips, wings and veal-pork-beef Swedish meatballs with apple butter gastrique, celery root pure, maitake mushrooms and lingonberry jam. MVP right now: buttermilk-soaked cauliflower, fried until crispy and coated in soy-Buffalo glaze. Three expansive platters of cheese and charcuterie are available on this all-day menu, as well as salads, and broccoli-cheddar soup served with artisanal sourdough bread, until 10 p.m.

Its about experiencing the scene, Siao reiterates.

Indeed, the W Aspens blowout New Years Eve bash featured mountains of crab legs, shrimp cocktail and wagyu beef skewers, but merrymakers mostly focused on the literal tower of G.H. Mumm Champagne that filled an entire corner of a room. Legendary West Hollywood watering hole and entertainment venue The Abbey Food & Bar hosted a flamboyant weekend pop-up on the Wet Deck during Aspen Gay Ski Week; mirroring the original venue, food was not the draw.

Previous restaurants at which Siao has worked were mostly ski-in, ski-out, so it was breakfast, lunch and dinner, day in day out, Siao says. Here were not in that position. We have a heavy flow in breakfastaprs and dinner. Lunch is kind of mellowsandwiches and bowls. The snow has been great, so everyone wants to be on the mountain.

Fast, nutritious, midday meals are made in bowls: Ahi tuna, shrimp tempura and avocado over rice with accouterments, called the J Bowl; warm salmon over rice noodles with raw vegetables and charred onion and miso dressing; or the Super Food Bowl with hibiscus-infused barley and quinoa, roasted beets, grapefruit vinaigrette and goat cheese fondue. Siaos new miso-ginger ramen boasts broth with charred, sweet flavor, double-aged soy, orange- and apple cider vinegar-cured pork belly, a soft poached egg, pickled carrots, scallions, chiles, the whole works.

Aside from a handful of dinner entres, everything else is sharable, including the epic FnK (fork and knife) Burger.

You literally cant eat it with your hands: double patty, double bacon, double cheese, short ribs, barbecue sauce, secret sauceit is a MONSTER! the chef says. The goal is to have healthy options and indulgence.

Siao, plus three sous chefs and a kitchen team of 20, has learned that attracting diners is largely weather-based. When a blizzard engulfs our hamlet, folks trade the Wet Deck for the cozy bubble that is the Living Room. Likewise, Hot Box specials from a Traeger smoker-grill that lives on the second-level patio will resume in summer when guests feel compelled to hang outdoors. Soon, Siao hopes to offer grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches and coffee in collaboration with Bitsy Caravan, which offered complimentary hot chocolate during the LGBT debauchery last weekend.

39 Degrees, meanwhile, has yet to draw the buzz of its namesake predecessor at the Sky Hotel. Fine, Siao says: 39 Degrees will be reimagined as a main spot for intimate culinary experiences, such as themed dinners and food and cocktail pairings, beginning in February or March.

As with any new propertyAspens first new luxury hotel construction in more than two decades, especiallyadjustments are evolving. And chef Siao is taking culinary cues to heart.

Up here is the place to be, Siao quips, perched in the Living Room on a Thursday afternoon among a blooming aprs-ski crowd. Were seeing that people are more attracted to this space. No ones really hanging out at midnight.


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The evolution of food to fuel the W Aspen social scene - Aspen Times

The Evolution of Bitcoin’s Technology Stack – Cointelegraph

Over the last 10 years, the Bitcoin ecosystem has attracted developers to dedicate thousands of hours to improve and revamp most of its underlying codebase. Yet, Bitcoin (BTC) is largely the same. The reason for this is that its core set of consensus rules that define its monetary properties, such as its algorithmic inflation and hard-coded supply, remain unchanged.

Time and time again, factions have attempted to change these core properties, but all hostile takeovers thus far have failed. Its often a painful process but one that highlights and solidifies two of Bitcoins biggest virtues: No single party can dictate how Bitcoin evolves; and the absence of centralized control protects Bitcoins monetary properties.

The values that make Bitcoin a popular phenomenon are also those that make developing software atop Bitcoin more challenging than any other digital asset. Developers are limited to what theyre able to transform in order to not undermine its apparatus as a store of value.

Nonetheless, as well see from the examples below, innovation in Bitcoin is possible. It requires creativity and patience.

Since changing Bitcoins core layer requires a quasi-political process that may infringe upon its monetary properties, innovation is often implemented as modules. This development is similar to that of the internet's protocol suite, where layers of different protocols specialize in specific functions. Emails were handled by SMTP, files by FTP, web pages by HTTP, user addressing by IP and packet routing by TCP. Each of these protocols has evolved over time to create the experience we have today.

Spencer Bogart of Blockchain Capital has captured this development succinctly: We are now witnessing the beginning of Bitcoins own protocol suite. The inflexibility of Bitcoins core layer has birthed several additional protocols that specialize in various applications, like Lightnings BOLT standard for payment channels. Innovation is both vibrant and relatively safe, as this layered approach minimizes potential risks.

The diagram below is an attempt to map all relatively new initiatives and showcases a more complete representation of Bitcoins technology stack. It is not exhaustive and does not signal any endorsement for specific initiatives. It is, nevertheless, impressive to see that innovation being pushed on all fronts from Layer 2 technologies to emerging smart contract solutions.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the rate of adoption of the Lightning Network, Bitcoins most prominent Layer 2 technology. Critics often point to an apparent decline in the number of channels and total BTC locked when evaluating Lightnings user adoption. Yet, these metrics arent the most definitive measurement of adoption.

Related: What Is Lightning Network And How It Works

One of the most underrated virtues of the Lightning Network is its straightforward privacy properties. Since Lightning does not rely on global state reconciliation i.e., its own blockchain users can transact privately over using additional techniques and network overlays, like Tor. Activity happening within private channels is not captured by popular Lightning explorers. As such, an increase in private usage of Lightning has resulted in a decrease in what can be publicly measured, leading observers to erroneously conclude that adoption is down. While it is true that Lightning must overcome substantial usability barriers before it can enjoy wide adoption, using misleading metrics to make assertions about the current state of the network serves few.

Another recent development in the field of Layer 2 privacy was the creation of WhatSat, a private messaging system atop Lightning. This project is a modification of the Lightning Network Daemon (LND) that allows the relayers of private messages, who connect the entities communicating, to be compensated for their services via micropayments. This decentralized, censorship-and-spam-resistant chat was enabled by innovations in the LND itself, such as recent improvements in the lightning-onion, Lightnings own onion routing protocol.

There are several other projects leveraging Lightnings private micropayment capabilities for numerous applications from a Lightning-powered cloud computing VPS to an image hosting service that shares ad revenue via microtransactions. More generally, we define Layer 2 as a suite of applications that can use Bitcoins base layer as a court where exogenous events are reconciled and disputes are settled. As such, the theme of data anchoring on Bitcoins blockchain goes beyond Lightning, with companies like Microsoft pioneering a decentralized ID system atop Bitcoin.

There are projects attempting to bring back expressive smart contract functionality to Bitcoin in a safe and responsible way. This is a significant development because, starting in 2010, several of the original Bitcoin opcodes the operations that determine what Bitcoin is able to compute were removed from the protocol. This came after a series of bugs were revealed, which led Satoshi to disable some of the functionality of Script, Bitcoins programming language.

Over the years, it became clear that there are non-trivial security risks that accompany highly-expressive smart contracts. The common rule of thumb is that the more functionality is introduced to a virtual machine the collective verification mechanism that processes opcodes the more unpredictable its programs will be. More recently, however, we have seen new approaches to smart contract architecture that can minimize unpredictability and also provide vast functionality.

The devise of a new approach to Bitcoin smart contracts called Merklized Abstract Syntax Trees (MAST) has since triggered a new wave of supporting technologies for Bitcoin smart contracts. Taproot is one of the most prominent implementations of the MAST structure that enables an entire application to be expressed as a Merkle Tree, whereby each branch of the tree represents a different execution outcome.

Another interesting innovation that has recently resurfaced is a new architecture for the implementation of covenants, or spend conditions, on Bitcoin transactions. Originally proposed as a thought experiment by Greg Maxwell back in 2013, covenants are an approach to limit the way balances can be spent, even as their custody changes. Although the idea has existed for nearly six years, covenants were impractical to be implemented before the advent of Taproot. Currently, a new opcode called OP_CHECKTEMPLATEVERIFY formerly known as OP_SECURETHEBAG is leveraging this new technology to potentially enable covenants to be safely implemented in Bitcoin.

At first glance, covenants are incredibly useful in the context of lending and perhaps Bitcoin-based derivatives as they enable the creation of policies, like clawbacks, to be implemented on specific BTC balances. But their potential impact on the usability of Bitcoin goes vastly beyond lending. Covenants can allow for the implementation of things like Bitcoin Vaults, which, in the context of custody, provide the equivalent of a second private key that allows someone that has been hacked to freeze stolen funds.

In essence, Schnorr signatures are the technological primitive that make all of these new approaches to smart contracts possible. And there are even edgier techniques being currently theorized, such as Scriptless Scripts, which could enable fully private and scalable Bitcoin smart contracts to be represented as digital signatures as opposed to opcodes. These new approaches may enable novel smart contract applications to be built atop Bitcoin.

There have also been some interesting developments in mining protocols, especially those used by mining pool constituents. Even though the issue of centralization in Bitcoin mining is often wildly exaggerated, it is true that there are power structures retained by mining pool operators that can be further decentralized.

Namely, pool operators can decide what transactions will be mined by all pool constituents, which grants them considerable power. Over time, some operators have abused this power by censoring transactions, mining empty blocks and reallocating hashing without the authorization of constituents.

Changes to mining protocols have aimed to subvert the control that mining pool operators can have on deciding what transactions are mined. One of the most substantial changes coming to Bitcoin mining is the second version of Stratum, the most popular protocol used in mining pools. Stratum V2 is a complete overhaul that implements BetterHash, a secondary protocol that enables mining pool constituents to decide the composition of the block they will mine not the other way around.

Another development that should contribute to more stability is reignited interest in hash rates and difficulty derivatives. These can be particularly useful for mining operations that wish to hedge against hash rate fluctuations and difficulty readjustments.

Contrary to some arguments out there, there are a host of emerging protocols that can bring optional privacy into Bitcoin. That being said, it is likely that privacy in Bitcoin will continue to be more of an art than a science for years to come.

More generally, the biggest impediment to private transactions across digital assets is that most solutions are half-baked. Privacy assets that focus on transaction-graph privacy often neglect network-level privacy, and vice versa. Both vectors suffer from a lack of maturity and usage, which makes transactions easier to de-shield via statistical traceability analysis at either the peer-to-peer (P2P) network layer or the blockchain layer.

Thankfully, there are several projects that are pushing boundaries on both fronts.

When it comes to transaction-graph privacy, solutions like P2EP and CheckTemplateVerify are interesting because privacy becomes a by-product of efficiency. As these are novel additions to CoinJoin, such solutions can increase the adoption of private transactions by users who are solely motivated by lower transaction fees. Under CoinJoin, their privacy guarantees are still suboptimal, but unshielded sent amounts can be beneficial, as they preserve the auditability of Bitcoins supply.

If lower transaction fees become a motivator and lead to an increase in Bitcoins anonymity set the percentage of UTXOs that are CoinJoin outputs de-anonymization via statistical analysis will be even more subjective than it already is.

There has also been considerable progress in the privacy of P2P communications, with protocols like Dandelion being tested across crypto networks. Another notable development is Erlay, an alternative transaction relay protocol that increases the efficiency of private communications and reduces the overhead of running a node. Erlay is an important improvement since its efficiency gains enable more users to more easily complete IBD and continuously validate the chain, especially in countries where ISPs impose caps on bandwidth.

These examples are only a handful of initiatives in play to transform the Bitcoin framework. Bitcoin, in its totality, is a constantly evolving suite of protocols.

While evolution within a relatively strict set of rules and values can be challenging for developers, the layered approach that weve seen unfold is what makes gradual, effective change possible. Minimizing politicism within Bitcoin and protecting its fundamental monetary properties are necessary parts of the process. Developers are learning how to work within these bounds in a meaningful fashion.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Lucas Nuzzi, director of technology of Digital Asset Research. He heads up DARs research arm, developing original reports and insights on all areas of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Widely regarded throughout the digital asset community as an expert on blockchain and distributed systems, Lucas has contributed to several major publications. Prior to co-founding DAR in 2017, he was a blockchain researcher and consultant for a handful of years.

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The Evolution of Bitcoin's Technology Stack - Cointelegraph

What businesses should know about the evolution of rural solar – GreenBiz

Solar panels may harness the suns energy in the same way that plants do, but while some rural residents view them as another revenue-enhancing crop, others see them more as weed-like nuisances that threaten their pastoral way of life.

Solar projects certainly are growing rapidly throughout the United States, with total installed capacity just shy of 70 gigawatts and a contracted pipeline of 27.9 GW, according to SEIA. A recent Wall Street Journal analysis of EIA data reported that solar projects occupied 258,000 acres in 2018, while NREL estimates that solar will occupy 3 million acres by 2030.

That may be a small fraction of the nearly 900 million acres of farmland in the United States (PDF), but its enough to make agricultural communities apprehensive about the advance of solar onto previously pastoral land. While landowning farmers are grateful for the steady income that comes from leasing to solar projects, others in rural areas including many state agricultural departments are still grappling with what the growth of solar will mean for their concept of rural land and role as agricultural boosters.

If we can really connect with farmers and show them that solar development has an agricultural component as well, we can get a much greater understanding and acceptance of these projects.

Whats more, low-impact solar development that harnesses co-location synergies between energy production and the environment can result in win-win opportunities for renewable energy developers and rural communities. Recognizing the increasing compatibility of solar with rural land conservation, Michigan recently amended its farmland preservation rules to allow solar development on protected farmland provided the solar project met the states pollinator-friendly standards.

Low-impact solar provides a financial hedge for farmers

The agricultural industry is defined by cycles of volatility, risk and uncertainty. This year, spring flooding combined with the impact of Chinese tariffs on U.S. farm goods squeezed already tight margins for many U.S. farmers. In 2018, less than half of U.S. growers made any revenue from their farms, and this year, futures markets for staple crops are trading at the lowest prices since 2010.

A growing number of farmers are turning to solar installations or leasing their land to developers to compensate for this financial uncertainty. Responsibly sited, low-impact solar development offers an array of additional benefits that significantly can sweeten the pot for rural communities. In North Carolina, a farmer typically will rent out an acre of cropland for $27$102 per year.

Meanwhile, in the same region, solar developers are offering farmers between $300 to $700 per acre to lease their land for solar development. Whats more, solar projects can bring long-term revenue streams to both landowners and the community at large, through the tax revenues or "payment in lieu of taxes" (PILOT) payments that developers negotiate with towns.

In addition to the financial cushion that solar can provide farmers, solar development increasingly is tapping into dual land uses that can add value to the rural environment from solar plus grazing to "agrivoltaics" (solar + crops) to pollinator-friendly solar. It is estimated that up to $577 billion of annual global food production is directly dependent on pollination.

Pollinator-friendly solar projects which incorporate perennial grasses and wildflowers throughout a project site to provide habitat for pollinators can build soil health, improve local water quality and boost agricultural yields of nearby pollinator-dependent crops thanks to the increased abundance of native pollinators. Solar paired with active agricultural land uses, while more prevalent in Europe, is increasingly cropping up in the United States, from Massachusetts cranberry bogs to an agrivoltaics learning lab at the University of Arizona.

Some large-scale developers have made it a policy to only use degraded or marginal farmland for their projects, which can be restored by the prolonged fallow period of the solar project.

As utilities and developers seek to reduce their soft costs in deploying renewable energy, the sustainability and aesthetics associated with pollinator-friendly solar help reduce community opposition to installations and attract new land lease partners.

Additionally, NREL has estimated that the co-location of solar arrays with farms or grazing can reduce installation costs by 3 percent to 8 percent per watt, driven by savings in site preparation and O&M. Though preliminary, Engie has conducted further research at their pollinator-friendly solar sites suggesting that the cooler microclimate around the panels results in higher panel efficiency, and thus increased production.

Given the potential for solar development to coexist with and complement rural land uses, it is fitting that rural electric cooperatives are some of the lead innovators in pioneering projects: Connexus Energy in Minnesota was one of the first utilities in the United States to develop a pollinator-friendly solar garden, and Indiana-based Hoosier Energy has piloted a solar plus sheep grazing community solar project that is benefitting both co-op and farmer.

Hoosier built its first solar project 5 years ago, and it didnt take long to start looking into dual land use opportunities, as the co-op took note of community concerns and potential synergies offered by its strong connection to members. When it decided to pilot sheep grazing on a 1-megawatt community solar project, it partnered with a co-op member to graze sheep on the site. The 1 MW array powers 120 homes annually while a herd of 30 sheep keep the grass well-groomed.

For Hoosier, that means reducing its mowings the largest recurring line item of the projects operations & maintenance (O&M) budget to just once a year. This is expected to save a few thousand dollars on O&M, enabling it to reduce the cost of the projects solar generation by 2 percent to 7 percent, according to Josh Cisney, a renewable energy project developer at Hoosier. For his part, the farmer has a free place to graze his sheep.

"One of our co-op principles is concern for community and environment, so what were doing fits in with that," Cisney said. "If we can really connect with farmers and show them that solar development has an agricultural component as well, we can get a much greater understanding and acceptance of these projects."

While the financial volatility faced by farmers is starting to incentivize diversification into secure income streams such as solar, the uncertainty cuts both ways: When seasonal and financial conditions align, farming presents a highly lucrative opportunity. This rollercoaster ride complicates the decision to sign a 20-year PPA.

The future for renewable energy has to include a sustainable land use component.

From a developers perspective, solar origination is already fraught with significant uncertainty and financial risk; introducing a whole new set of variables and stakeholders might be more than theyre willing to take on for a project. Furthermore, if incorporating dual land uses such as pollinator habitat or agrivoltaics engenders a higher upfront cost, that could be a deal-breaker to a developer. Education, technical assistance and incentives may be required to streamline project development and help co-located solar projects take root.

The co-location of solar and agriculture may not provide a silver bullet to challenges facing both industries, including the alarming pollinator population decline, the economic and environmental sustainability of farming and the time-intensive project development process for solar developers. However, this "companion planting" approach to solar development offers the opportunity for a new paradigm of cross-industry collaboration that mutually reinforces both industries.

And with wind and solar cropping up in more rural communities, the bar is being set higher. "The future for renewable energy has to include a sustainable land use component," Hoosier Energys Cisney said. In leveraging new partnerships and co-location opportunities among developers, farmers and local communities, rural America has the potential to assume a more active leadership role in cooperatively advancing the clean energy transition.

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What businesses should know about the evolution of rural solar - GreenBiz

Blazers, Mavericks show you what the evolution of the NBA game looks like – Yahoo Sports

If you are curious about the evolution of NBA basketball, Thursday night's game in Moda Center was for you.

Dallas' 133-125 win over the Trail Blazers was the template for what analytics have done to the game.

These days, the smart guys have figured out that the shots that carry the most value are three-pointers, free throws and layups or dunks.

Thursday's game tied the league record for most threes (43) made in a game. But the analytics go even deeper than that.

Dallas had 50 points in the paint, 15 free throws and scored 66 points on threes. In other words, that's 131 of the Mavericks' 133 points. Portland had 46 points in the paint, 63 points off threes and 12 free throws -- 121 of its 125 points.

So much for mid-range jump shots, huh?

"Never thought I'd see this many threes in a game," said Carmelo Anthony, a veteran in his 17th NBA season. "But that's the way it is."

The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead in this one, thanks to a 45-point first quarter, and never looked back. Every time the Trail Blazers mounted some sort of rally, Dallas was able to counter by shredding the Portland defense for a shot near the basket, an offensive rebound or a wide-open three.

Damian Lillard followed up his 61-point game with another big one, getting 47, thanks to 8-15 shooting from the three-point line.

But Lillard was miffed after the game. And during the game. And after the game, he talked about it -- succinctly.

Lillard was assessed a technical foul by Ray Acosta with 13 seconds to go, while Lillard was on his way to the bench after being removed from the game.

"It's just frustrating, man," Lillard said. "I mean, it's a fast game -- a tough game to call. But there was a play at the end of the game, four minutes to go and I go up for a reverse layup and guy just smacked me in the head.

"The whole game, I'm telling them, They're putting their hands in my chest. They're pushing me in the back, they're riding me. All the things we get whistled for, they're doing them to me.

"They're trying to stop me -- they're being physical, they're trying hard. Just look for the contact because it's there."

Lillard was asked what he said to draw the technical.

"Like I said, we were down 13, I was doing a reverse layup and the guy smacks me in the head, the referee is right there. And I asked him, How do you not make that call?' and he tells me, We all agreed that you leaned into him.'

"That's an insult, man. I leaned into him? He smacked me in the head. Come on, man, that's frustrating as hell when somebody smacks you in the head and you get that kind of explanation.

"I went right up to him and said, If you say you didn't see it, that's one thing. They say that all the time. But you can't tell me All three of us agree that you leaned into him and i'm doing a reverse layup. I don't have time to lean back while I'm looking at the basket. Don't insult me like that -- just say 'I didn't see it.'"

Lillard's game spoke for itself, regardless of the officiating. But Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle spoke plenty about Portland's star guard.

"I have one statement to make: Before the game I tried to pass a note to the locker room to tell Damian Lillard he had my All-Star vote, so he didn't play the game," Carlisle said. "Obviously, he didn't get the note, but he had my vote before he went for 47 against us. What an amazing player. He's virtually impossible to stop. He's got an iron will. Obviously a great leader and when he's on the floor they're hard to beat, no matter what."

Blazers, Mavericks show you what the evolution of the NBA game looks like originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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Blazers, Mavericks show you what the evolution of the NBA game looks like - Yahoo Sports

Embracing the digital evolution approach in 2020 and beyond – ComputerWeekly.com

This is a guest posted by by Marc Caltabiano, vice-president for ANZ at Mulesoft

Companies across industries have been gearing up for digital transformation, which has become a buzzword in the tech sector in recent years. But what is digital transformation? In simple terms, it is a complete shift from one digital existence to another particularly one that is more efficient and effective.

What it means to each organisation, however, differs greatly. Some define this reimagining of business as the application of software solutions that will disrupt how the business operates or earns revenue. Others perceive it to be the deployment of digital technologies to encourage a cultural shift or enhance customer experience.

Whatever it might mean for your business, its important to remember that despite what the phrase itself implies, there is no end point to digital transformation. Rather, successful digital transformation requires a reiterative and an evolutionary route or what we call: the digital evolution approach. This is particularly relevant today, at an age where the rapid rate of change means that the end state is ever changing, requiring businesses to adapt and evolve in order to keep up.

Digital evolution encourages organisations to approach the digital transformation journey at each stage with a well-considered strategy, to ensure that change ultimately creates a positive and real business impact. For organisations that embrace evolution, the process is more measured, more organic and thus more sustainable.

Now that we are in a new decade, how can companies embrace this continuous process of digital evolution, build a solid foundation and stay ahead of the curve?

One of the great benefits of going digital is the ability to unlock and analyse data, which is central to every business success. However, we still see that data silos are largely present in most organisations. According to a Mulesoft study, 83% of IT decision makers reported that data silos create immense business challenges and must be broken down a critical step for organisations to drive ahead on their journey.

Not only will breaking data silos help enable sharing of insights across the company but it also improves customer experiences, streamlines operations, and enables organisations to quickly launch new products and services.

Take, for example, the forward-thinking retailer Lane Crawford, who is using an API (application programming interface) strategy to deliver personalised, omni-channel customer experiences. The retailer exposed access to its customer relationship management and e-commerce applications through APIs in its application network, enabling it to create a data-as-a-service platform. The platform can orchestrate 360-degree views of customers and inventory, including up-to-date loyalty balances and shopping history. The same APIs are leveraged across digital channels, including its new mobile app, website and WeChat.

Companies who are putting their data to work are the ones who are able to improve customer service, streamline operations, and innovate at speed.

Customer experience (CX) is at the core of business success and delivering best standard customer service has become paramount for organisations. According to Harvard Business Review, 93% of business leaders say that delivering a relevant and reliable customer experience will be critical to their companys overall business performance two years from now.

Delivering best practice in CX depends on businesses ability to provide a seamless digital experience across multiple channels and touchpoints whether it is through mobile, desktop, a kiosk, or in-person. Without adapting to customer needs in the mediums they prefer to interact with, a company is at risk of losing valuable business.

For Service NSW (New South Wales), a government initiative delivering services like driver licenses and birth certificates through a one-stop-shop digital network, helped to increase digital service delivery by over 60%, and has led to a 97% customer satisfaction rating.

The companies that are developing mature digital strategies are earning the trust, respect and loyalty they need from their customers to give them a leading edge over their competitors.

Organisations are increasingly moving towards multi-cloud adoption in order to meet their specialised needs. It gives them the freedom to explore best-of-breed services, and enables them to achieve greater flexibility, scalability, agility and enhanced performance, all at a more competitive price.

Even though there are considerable advantages to multi-cloud environments, it does not come without its challenges. Specifically, the struggle to move application workloads from one cloud to another and how to approach its integration. With this in mind, its critical that organisations have effective multi-cloud strategies in place to realise the full benefits of the cloud.

An API-led approach is key to ensuring multi-cloud strategies are successful in delivering the desired efficiency, agility and accelerated innovation benefits. Using APIs, companies can build an integration layer that decouples on-premises data and applications from the systems they reside on. With this new integration layer, organisations can form an application network, which provides IT with an architecture of reusable building blocks that can be utilised to rapidly connect new cloud services.

HSBC, one of the worlds largest banks, used the multi-cloud application network to meet its customers growing demands. The bank published thousands of APIs that were deployed across multiple environments, using containers to unlock legacy systems and power cloud-native application development. As a result, HSBC produced customer offerings that extended beyond basic finance and insurance needs and helped them realise their customers dreams like buying a home or sending their children to college.

As technology continues to move at a breakneck pace, many companies are recognising the importance of building a wide digital ecosystem to boost their competitive strength, produce new products and services, and enhance customer experiences.

These connected ecosystems provide a combined economic opportunity of $1tn dollars in revenue to the companies investing in digital transformation, according to McKinsey Digital. This makes the role of APIs even more crucial in linking organisations and technologies in the ecosystem.

Take the example of one of the biggest ride-sharing platform in the world, Uber, which used APIs to co-create value with external stakeholders. The company exposes an open Uber API, driver API and deliveries API to the market, with the hopes of discovering new uses, such as food delivery, driver rewards, and more. This will ultimately drive new revenue streams and suggest new investments by Uber itself. The company is enabling others to create customer journeys powered by their API, rather than trying to retain complete customer ownership.

As we head full speed towards a new decade, the pace of digital transformation shows no signs of slowing down. Organisations seeking to compete in this ever-changing digital age need to reframe their approach and consider the path of digital evolution. This incremental, well-considered route to digital transformation will provide an optimal means for businesses to stay relevant, competitive and ahead of the curve in 2020 and beyond.

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Embracing the digital evolution approach in 2020 and beyond - ComputerWeekly.com

Not Well Got Frank McNally on the evolution of a Hiberno-Scottish insult – The Irish Times

Long-time reader Damien Maguire has emailed with a raised eyebrow about my suggestion that the Hiberno-English get as used by a political opponent to insult the RIC parentage of Noel Browne (Irishmans Diary January 23rd) means bastard, more or less.

Damien writes: Growing up in Meath, get was commonly used. In fact, Im sure I was called one myself, but I thought it meant something like impudent pup. I havent heard it for years . . .

Well yes, Damien, it can mean impudent pup. Im sure I too was called it in that context a few times. And it can also often be said with affection, or near enough. In fact, speaking of pups, the Oxford English Dictionary has an insult-free sense of the word: get, n. Begetting, offspring, (of animals, esp. in sporting talk).

That usage has roots in the Bible, from the famous pedigree section of the Book of Genesis wherein it is recorded who begat whom, from Adam to Noah. And somewhere in between the Bible and the OED, meanwhile, the shorter version (still as a verb) turns up in Macbeth, where the Weird Sisters tease Macduff that thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.

There was no implication of illegitimacy there, clearly. Im not sure when that meaning crept in.But its interesting that the g-word should feature in Shakespeares Scottish play, because in Scotland (like Ireland), the related insult is still pronounced get, mostly; whereas in England or at least the south of England it has long mutated to git, in the process losing any breeding connotations.

This was a subject for debate recently in, of all places, the Guardian crossword blog, where a cryptic clue for the word AGITATE was broken down as a (A) term for contemptible fool (GIT) swallowed (ATE) shake. In discussing gits meaning, as defined there, the Guardian learned it had been used in the House of Commons at least once, in 1984, when a Labour MP described a Conservative minister as a snivelling little git.

This was ruled unparliamentary language then, causing the MP to protest that such Cockney phrases should be allowed.

But while the Guardian agreed that git was a Cockney phrase, it pointed to its parentage in get, and claimed that via Scotland it had gradually shifted meaning from something you get, to a child, to an illegitimate child, to a term of abuse.

Git is given as a secondary spelling of get even in Terry Dolans Dictionary of Hiberno-English (which defines the term as brat, bastard). And no doubt there are parts of Ireland where it is so pronounced, especially in the west, although Dolans conversational example is from Mayo: You little get, come here till I catch hold of you!.

As for England, I can think of at least one Liverpudlian of recent times who also preferred get to git. Heres John Lennon, in 1968, singing about insomnia: Im so-o-o tired/Im feeling so upset/Although Im so tired/Ill have another cigarette/And curse Sir Walter Raleigh/He was such a stupid get . . .


Still on three-letter words ending in et, I have long been fascinated by the fondness of many journalists a fondness bordering on addiction for using the term set in sentences where it serves no purpose.

The context, usually, is when reporting events of the near future. How many times have you read, for example, that a man is set to appear in court today, introducing a story wherein a man is to appear in court today would have covered the situation more than adequately? The habit is especially rife among headline writers, even though its an article of their faith that space is scarce and superfluity should be avoided.

Perhaps they think it adds an element of deniability in case the event doesnt happen. Or maybe it just sounds more dramatic. It does, in fact, when combined with the other three-letter word: get set being the traditional prequel to the start of a race (a foot-race, that is, not the kind of race Adam started).

Still, I was vaguely annoyed as usual earlier this week to read a headline on the sports pages: Billy Vunipola set to miss Six Nations. My annoyance deepened as it became clear that there was no doubt about the story: he was definitely out.Here was just the sort of thing I meant.

But wait. Then I reflected upon the nature of his injury: a broken arm. Not only was he going to miss the Six Nations, he would indeed be set (we hope) while doing so.They had me on a technicality. Damn. I could only apologise to the headline writer and wish poor Billy well.

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Not Well Got Frank McNally on the evolution of a Hiberno-Scottish insult - The Irish Times

Oldest mushroom fossil discovered, will help better explain evolution of organisms – India Today

Boffins have discovered the oldest ever mushroom fossil to be identified, a finding which pushes back the time when the fungal organisms first appeared on the Earth by about 300 million years.

According to the scientists, including those from Universite Libre de Bruxelles in France, the oldest confirmed mushroom fossil until now was dated to 460 million years ago.

In the current study, published in the journal Science Advances, researchers found fossilised remains of microscopic mushroom parts called mycelium in rocks whose age is between 715 and 810 million years.

The scientists said these rocks were found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and likely formed in a lagoon or coastal lake environment.

Textures and structures observed after boffins discovered oldest mushroom fossil in Congo | Photo from Science Advances


Putting the discovery in perspective, the researchers said, this was a time in the Earth's history when life on the continents' surface was in its very infancy.

"The presence of fungi in this transitional area between water and land leads us to believe that these microscopic mushrooms were important partners of the first plants that colonised the Earth''s surface around 500 million years ago," explained Steeve Bonneville, one of the researchers part of the study from the Universite libre de Bruxelles.

"This is a major discovery, and one that prompts us to reconsider our timeline of the evolution of organisms on Earth. The next step will be to look further back in time, in even more ancient rocks, for evidence of those microorganisms that are truly at the origins of the animal kingdom," Bonneville said.


While previously discovered mushroom fossils were identified based on the morphology of organic remains found in rocks using corrosive acid compounds, Bonneville said this method damaged the chemistry of the fossils, and only allowed analysis of the microscopic structures.

He added that this may lead to incorrect interpretations as certain morphological traits are common to different branches of living organisms.

In the current study, the scientists used multiple molecular analysis techniques at a microscopic scale with which they could study the chemistry of organic remains in the site, without corrosive chemical treatment.

The technique enabled the researchers to detect traces of the complex chemical chitin -- a very tough compound found in the cell walls of fungi.

On further analysis, they also demonstrated that the fossil mushroom cells had a prominent nucleus.

"Only by cross-correlating chemical and micro-spectroscopic analyses could we demonstrate that the structures found in the old rock are indeed about 800-million-year-old fungal remains," said study co-author Liane G Benning from GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences.

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Oldest mushroom fossil discovered, will help better explain evolution of organisms - India Today

The Evolution of Pregnancy Portraits, From Tudor England to Beyonc – Smithsonian.com

In 1770, the famed English artist Joshua Reynolds began painting a full-length portrait of his good friend Theresa Parker. By the time the work was completed two years later, the sitter was heavily pregnant; as Parker noted in a letter, she posed for the painting despite being very fat. The final product shows the familys matriarch leaning on a plinth in front of a wooded backdrop, her body draped in an elaborate cascade of fabrics. Her growing belly, however, is not visible.

A mezzotint of this artwork is now on display at the Foundling Museum in London, where it features in a new exhibition exploring artistic depictions of pregnant bodies over the past 500 years. Though fashions fluctuated, pregnancies rarely appeared in portraits prior to the 20th centurythis despite the fact that [h]istorically, from puberty to menopause women would have been pretty much pregnant all the time, curator Karen Hearn, a historian at University College London who specializes in 16th- to 18th-century British art and culture, tells Rachel Campbell-Johnston of the Times.

The idea for the exhibition, titled Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media, was conceived around 20 years ago, when Hearn helped Tate Britain acquire an Elizabethan portrait of a pregnant woman. That work, though not featured in the show, set Hearn down a new path of inquiry.

I realized such portraits had not previously been studied, she says to the Art Newspapers Margaret Carrigan.

Hearn, who spent the next two decades researching the subject, has curated a diverse and evocative selection of works, the oldest of which dates back to 1526 or 1527. This delicate drawing by Hans Holbein the Younger shows Cicely Heron, daughter of philosopher and statesman Sir Thomas More, gazing off into the distance, her loosened bodice indicating that she is pregnant. A more conspicuous early example comes in the form of a 1620 portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, who painted an unknown woman resplendent in an elaborate red dress, her arm resting across her patently pregnant stomach.

From the 1560s to approximately 1630, pregnancy portraits were in fact quite common in England, explains Carrigan to the Timesbut for centuries afterwards, they were quite rare. Part of the reluctance over depicting pregnant bodies may have stemmed from conservative social mores.

Pregnancy, as Hearn tells Lucy Davies of the Telegraph, offered visible evidence that a woman was sexually active. Even in marriage, when pregnancy was desirable, it remained problematic. That was the default position for centuries.

Historical images that do exist were infused with additional tension due to the high rates of maternal death during childbirth. Per a statement, portraits like the one by Gheeraerts the Younger appeared at a time when women would write mothers legacy letters to their unborn children in case they did not survive the delivery. Theresa Parker, the subject of Reynolds painting, died soon after giving birth to a daughter in 1775, according to Davies.

An 1817 portrait by George Dawe shows yet another woman who died in childbirth: Princess Charlotte of Wales, daughter of George IV and heir to the British throne. In Dawes painting, the princess wears a loose, Russian-style dress that conceals her pregnancy. She died in November of 1817 after giving birth to a stillborn boy.

Attitudes towards pregnancy portraits began to soften in the late 20th century, as artists grew bolder in depicting both the wonders and tribulations of pregnancy. In 1984, for instance, Ghislaine Howard produced a powerful self-portrait showing the later stages of her pregnancy; the figurative artist can be seen slumped in a chair, highlighting the physical strains of her condition.

But the true shift, says the Foundling Museum, came in 1991, when Annie Leibovitzs photographic portrait of Demi Moore, naked and seven months pregnant, appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair. Shocked by the image, some retailers refused to stock the magazine.

Nevertheless, writes the museum, it marked a culture shift and initiated the trend for more visible celebrations of pregnant bodiesespecially nude ones.

The final portrait to appear in the exhibition is Awol Erizkus now-iconic photograph of Beyonc, who enlisted the artist to help announce her pregnancy. Draped in a veil, the singer kneels on an ornate flower arrangement and gazes proudly at the viewer, cradling her stomach. The image threw the internet into a tizzy and became the most-liked Instagram photo of 2017.

As Beyoncs portrait suggests, modern women are taking unprecedented agency over their pregnant bodies, celebrating this phase as a time of beauty and empowerment. But the new exhibition shows that even in the past, when womens pregnancies were often concealed, expectant mothers didnt shrink from public view.

[M]any of our current ideas about the lives and activities of women in past centuries need to be revised, Hearn tells the Art Newspaper, as we come to understand how frequently many of them were conducting active public roles while pregnant.

Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media is on view at the Foundling Museum in London from January 25 to April 26.

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The Evolution of Pregnancy Portraits, From Tudor England to Beyonc - Smithsonian.com

The Evolution of Freestyle – Flathead Beacon

On a recent Friday afternoon as the light faded on Big Mountain, members of Whitefish Mountain Resorts Freestyle Ski Team sprawled on the snow to stretch, limbering up in a semicircle and waiting for the chairlift to start spinning.

For the hordes of recreational skiers and snowboarders who converge on the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort every winter weekend, riding the chairlifts under the Friday night lights is a highly anticipated occasion, an escape from the workaday grind and the entre to a fun-filled 48 hours of play.

But for the 121 athletes who count themselves among the growing ranks of the freestyle ski team, Friday night is when training begins in earnest.

With that said, the line between play and practice blurs mightily.

Elyse Byrd hits a rail at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Jan. 17, 2020. Hunter DAntuono | Flathead Beacon

So when a power outage in town threatened to postpone the teams weekly session jibbing, sliding and sailing off the rails and jumps in the Fishbowl Terrain Parks, the skiers and snowboarders wasted no time before shouldering their skis and boards and boot-packing up the first pitch to the parks freestyle features.

They are ready to charge, Freestyle Program Supervisor and Head Coach Connie Parks said with delighted laughter. Theyve been waiting all week for this.

One by one, the athletes proceeded to hit the features with an unwavering concentration as the coaches offered support and guidance ranging from technical tips Push your boots out! to gentle post-crash affirmations.

Even with the power restored and the lifts spinning, a handful of athletes opted to continue lapping a particular rail, laying down a staircase of boot-steps as they made their way back to the top, determined to stomp the next landing.

Liam Byrd, 10, and Max Polumbus, 11, encouraged one another at the top of a waterfall rail that features a cascading series of kinks, their competitive spirits friendly but fierce as they offered assessments of their closely matched skills.

He beat me by a half-point at the New Years Eve Rail Jam, Max said of his peer. It was really close.

Liam Byrd hits a rail at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Jan. 17, 2020. Hunter DAntuono | Flathead Beacon

If there seems to be an unusually high number of talented skiers and riders under the age of 12, its because there is, in large part due to Parks.

Parks is responsible for much of the programs growth, and in particular for its ability to attract a growing segment of younger skiers and riders whose natural talents and abilities are leagues above their peers. Many of them have graduated from the resorts ski and ride schools development program and are out-skiing their parents, so their rocket-like progression on the snow bumps up against a ceiling unless another level can cater to their growth.

When Parks and her husband moved to Whitefish in 2012, the resort tapped her to step into the role of supervisor. Having previously coached youth athletes in Utah and Oregon, she turned her eye toward attracting a younger cadre of skiers and snowboarders, and has since grown the team from 39 kids during her first season to 121 athletes this year, ranging in ages between 8 and 17.

Consisting mostly of local youth, the team competes in a variety of events from traditional moguls and aerials to big air, slopestyle, superpipe, and skier/boardercross. Additionally, a growing segment of freeriders skiers and snowboarders who compete in big mountain events in which they race down steep runs, cliffs and chutes has taken hold both on national and Olympic-caliber teams as well as the one at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

To be sure, the competition is stiff among freestyle athletes in Whitefish, but it doesnt overshadow their emphasis on having fun.

Not all of our athletes are part of the team to be competitors, but we do encourage competition as I believe having experience in a competitive environment helps their growth and development, not just as an athlete but also for life, Parks said. Having the opportunity to compete in low-intensity local events is a privilege for our young athletes and helps them feel rewarded at the progress they have made as skiers and snowboarders.

Those rewards were on prominent display last weekend at the first event in the 2020 Biggie Banked Slalom Series, in which 37 freestyle ski team athletes competed, earning a mess of podium spots in an event that features a twisting, serpentine course with manmade and natural features, banked berms and notch jumps.

Brayden Jenkinson, 13, recently moved to the Flathead Valley from California, and said this winter marks his first in years where he could snowboard regularly and hone his skills. Prior to competing in the Biggie Banked Slalom, he showcased his burgeoning talent in the terrain park while trying to calm his race-eve nerves.

Im already way better than when I started, Jenkinson said. The team pushes me. Im still nervous but Im a lot more comfortable.

Whitefish Mountain Resorts Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Team boasts a growing roster of illustrious alumni, including Maggie Voisin, a current member of the U.S. Freeski Team, a two-time Olympian and X Games gold medalist. A little more than a decade ago, Voisin, now 21, was one of the youngest athletes to join the freestyle team, competing and progressing for four years while her coaches realized she could compete on the Olympic level.

Kai Golan catches air on the jump hill at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Jan. 18, 2020. Hunter DAntuono | Flathead Beacon

At age 14, Voisin left her family in Whitefish to live and train in Park City, Utah, where the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) is headquartered.

The four-time X Games participant and two-time medalist has been preparing to return to Aspen for the 2020 Games on Jan. 23-26, even as her support for the freestyle team from which she traces her roots continues to grow at home.

I want to show kids that you can achieve your wildest dreams with passion, dedication, hard work, and gratitude, Voisin said this summer when announcing a new scholarship to cover an athletes fees for joining the Whitefish Mountain Resort Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Team. Also, and most importantly, always have fun!

The scholarship also covers the cost of a season pass for the upcoming year and is awarded to one athlete, male or female, skier or snowboarder.

Voisin awards the scholarship to an athlete who, in a written essay, best portrays those traits in his or her skiing or snowboarding life.

Professional freeskier Parkin Costain, 20, also got his start on the freestyle team, and has since established himself as an elite big-mountain skier. Jack Lam is another Whitefish wunderkind who now competes internationally for the United States.

We currently have four alumni who have moved on to train in Park City, Utah to pursue their skiing careers further, and we have two that are traveling the world competing as professional athletes, Parks said. Go Maggie and Parkin!

The current slate of athletes on the Whitefish Mountain Resort Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Team includes members who travel to and compete in regional and national events for the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.

Freestyle team coaches hike up the terrain park at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Jan. 17, 2020. Hunter DAntuono | Flathead Beacon

Under Parks tutelage, the team has sharpened its competitive edge and dominated the podium at local and regional events.

Last year, Whitefish Mountain Resort hosted nine freestyle competitions with a total of 154 podium possibilities, of which members of the freestyle team occupied 114.

I was looking back on these statistics and Im just amazed, Parks said.

More than podium spots, however, Parks measures success based on progression, tracking athletes as they move from dryland training at a local gymnastics studio before moving to on-snow training and competitions.

With an emphasis on safety first, Parks says most graduates of the program wont go on to ski or snowboard professionally, but all of them leave with a reservoir of skills that will help them enjoy snow sports safely and enthusiastically as young adults.

Its really satisfying watching kids grow up through this program, she said. Thats definitely what I enjoy the most. What a great place for the local youth to spend their wintery months.

If you enjoy stories like this one, please consider joining the Flathead Beacon Editors Club. For as little as $5 per month, Editors Club members support independent local journalism and earn a pipeline to Beacon journalists. Members also gain access to http://www.beaconeditorsclub.com, where they will find exclusive content like deep dives into our biggest stories and a behind-the-scenes look at our newsroom.Join Now

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The Evolution of Freestyle - Flathead Beacon

Walking Shark Are The Most Recently Evolved Shark On Earth – Forbes

To some people, a walking shark may be their worst nightmare. Often imagining a 20-foot monster with razor-sharp teeth, they would be baffled to see that the species within Hemiscyllium are small (up to 42 inches or 107 centimeters in total length but average 28 in or 70cm) and that not much is known about them. Also known as epaulette sharks, the walking sharks are nocturnal and feed on benthic crustaceans, worms, and small bony fish. Restricted to a ring around Northern Australia, the island of New Guinea and the satellite islands of Raja Ampat, Aru and Halmahera in eastern Indonesia, there are nine currently recognized species that call this region home. The most intriguing thing is that all of these benthic sharks share a unique form of locomotion where instead of swimming, they use their highly muscular paired fins to essentially walk along the ocean floor while foraging.

A walking epaulette shark, Hemiscyllium freycineti, crawls across the seafloor in Raja Ampat, ... [+] Indonesia.

David Attenborough helped make these sharks famous a few years ago when he showcased not only these bizarre prototype legs in action but also commented on their unusual physiological adaptation to coping with hypoxic conditions during low tide periods. Having evolved the ability slow their heart rate and breathing, they can gradually limit blood flow to certain parts of the brain, so they can stay during the more extreme tides and exploit the riches of the reef without being picked off by bigger sharks. As it turns out, a new paper from Conservation International, the University of Queensland, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, the Australian CSIRO and the University of Florida, published in the journal Marine and Freshwater Research, showsthat these walking sharks are the most recently evolved shark species on Earth.

We found the sharks, which use their fins to walk around shallow reefs, only split off evolutionarily from their nearest common ancestor about 9 million years ago, and have been actively radiating into a complex of at least nine walking sharks ever since, said Dr. Mark Erdmann, Conservation International Vice President of Asia-Pacific Marine programs and co-author of the paper in a press release. That may seem like a long time ago, but sharks have ruled the oceans for more than 400 million years. This discovery proves that modern sharks have remarkable evolutionary staying power and the ability to adapt to environmental changes.In other words, this new discovery contradicts the long-held perceptions that sharks are slow to evolve.

Tissue samples were collected from wild specimens and those in museum collections and DNA was then extracted for this project. Using the DNA of these sharks, we were able to estimate when the sharks evolved as well as investigate the processes leading to speciation.We found that changes in sea levels, new reef and land formations and movements of the sharks all played a role, said the papers lead author, Dr. Christine Dudgeon, a research fellow at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland. This information is important not just for walking sharks but for understanding how species have evolved in this region of highest tropical marine biodiversity globally.

The epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum) is just one of nine described species.

The genus Hemiscyllium has been recorded from the Late Cretaceous period through to the Eocene epoch from numerous fossil deposits of teeth in Europe (Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, UK, France), North and Central America, North Africa and India. Following the Eocene epoch, there is a lack of fossil records for this genus until the Pleistocene and the study suggests this supports a recent species radiation. "The walking sharks in the genus Hemiscyllium represent the most recent radiation of sharks, which are likely still differentiating in western New Guinea. These sharks provide a rareand exciting opportunity for us to see evolution in action in a group whose origins predate dinosaurs by 200 million years," said Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History and co-author on the paper.

The authors agree that Hemiscyllium provides an interesting case study to examine speciation in the IndoAustralian Archipelago for these longtailed carpet sharks with very little dispersal throughout their life stages. Due to their isolated habitat ranges, the sharks face a number of threats including habitat degradation and overfishing and their the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assessments vary from Least Concern (LC) to Vulnerable (VU) depending on the species; only three of the nine known species are included so far. A global recognition of the need to protect walking sharks will help ensure they thrive providing benefits for marine ecosystems and to local communities through the sharks value as tourism assets. Its essential that local communities, governments, and the international public continue working to establish marine protected areas to help ensure our oceans biodiversity continues to flourish, said Erdmann.

Epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum), on reef, at night. South Pacific. (Photo by ... [+] Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Here's hoping this latest research helps these sharks take a step closer to better management.

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Walking Shark Are The Most Recently Evolved Shark On Earth - Forbes

Storks, Evolution and the Problem of Evil | Jonathan MS Pearce – Patheos

This tweet came from The Non-Alchemist and is worth dwelling on:

In YouTube form, if you cant see it:

The two-horned dilemma is spot on. Either:

Really, think of all of that pain and suffering over all those millions of years whereby animals and humans have endured pain and died merely because Adam and Eve who were knowingly created that way by God ate an apple (enter stage right apologists who claim the crime was infinite in scope and deserves appropriate punishment, but this does not really suffice).

Being punished for the sins of another is a bitter pill to swallow, especially if you are a sentient creature of another species with more limited consciousness but that can still feel pain.

There is no making sense of this scenario, there really isnt. I have set both horns out previously, which are worth looking into:

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Storks, Evolution and the Problem of Evil | Jonathan MS Pearce - Patheos

The Evolution of ‘Davos Man’ into . . . Trump Fan! – Inequality.org

The Davos annual get-together with its $10,000 hotel rooms and $43 hotdogs has always served as a reminder of the vast and growing divide that separates the worlds richest and most powerful from the rest of us. But this years gathering seems to be rubbing that reminder in.

Davos applauds while Donald Trump celebrates a roaring geyser of opportunity. But in the United States and most of the rest of the world, few people are feeling any spray from a roaring geyser. How few? One answer from the global research firm Edelman Intelligence came just before this years Davos celebration opened.

Edelman last fall surveyed over 34,000 respondents across the world and found a growing sense of inequity. In developed nations, details a new Edelman report, less than a third of families see themselves as better off five years from now. Over three-quarters see elites getting richer while regular people struggle to pay their bills.

The super rich who fly their private jets into Davos every year and most of the rest of humanity simply live in two extraordinarily different economic universes, the one a world of wealth, the other a world of work. In the world of work, people depend on their sweat and skills to put food on the table and roofs over their heads. If they want to afford more and better, they put in extra hours. They take a second job.

In the world of wealth, the rich dont have to work ever harder to see their net worth spike. They let their assets do the heavy lifting. Sitting on those assets their stocks, bonds, real estate, and businesses brings dividends, interest, rent, and profits. Selling those assets brings capital gains income.

A truly sweet deal. A perpetual wealth-generation machine that swings into motion, as Seagrams heir Edgar Bronfman once related, for anyone who can afford to enter the world of wealth.

To turn $100 into $110 is work, observed Bronfman. To turn $100 million into $110 million is inevitable.

But added millions only become dependably inevitable when government helpfully greases the skids for wealths unfettered accumulation. And governments do that all the time, by everything from taxing the rich at rates that leave them barely inconvenienced to undermining worker rights to bargain collectively for a fair share of the wealth they create.

Donald Trump has done plenty of that greasing and made himself indispensable to the Davos crowd in the process. The global mega rich once saw Trump as a great disaster, and now, says Niall Ferguson of Stanford Universitys conservative Hoover Institution, theyre all a great deal richer than they were back then. These rich dont want the Trump boom to end. As Ferguson puts it: The dirty little secret of Davos 2020 is they all need him to get re-elected.

Not all the rich, of course, feel that way, and one group of more egalitarian-minded people of means the U.S.-based Patriotic Millionaires took their message to Davos Wednesday. In an open letter entitled Millionaires Against Pitchforks, the group decried the epidemic of tax evasion by the worlds wealthiest and called extreme wealth a sign of a failing economic system.

For that reason, the Patriotic Millionaires open letter to Davos 2020-goers continued, we urge you to step forward now before its too late to demand higher and fairer taxes on millionaires and billionaires within your own countries.

Added the letters 121 signers, a cohort that included a former Unilever CEO and Disney heiress Abigail Disney: We make this request as members of the most privileged class of human beings ever to walk the Earth.

Sam Pizzigati co-edits Inequality.org. His recent books include The Case for a Maximum Wage and The Rich Dont Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970. Follow him at @Too_Much_Online.

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The Evolution of 'Davos Man' into . . . Trump Fan! - Inequality.org

The evolution of the three point game in the NBA – Pounding The Rock

During last nights game between the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans, JJ Redick hit his 1,827th three point shot, tying him with Kobe Bryant for 14th all time. Bryant played twenty seasons. Redick matched him in only his fourteenth season.

In fact, of the the top twenty all-time NBA three-point shooters, ten are active players. Stephen Curry, the three-point master, is in his eleventh season. Hes third all-time with 2,492 treys, only behind Ray Allen and Reggie Miller. And thats after playing only four games this season and another with twenty-six games in 2011-12.

Add Kyle Korver, Vince Carter, James Harden, Jamal Crawford, Joe Johnson, JR Smith, LeBron James, and fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson and one has to ask if the all-time list of top three-point shooters is bound to look entirely different every few years. The pace of NBA teams, as well as the frequency of shooting beyond the arc, means young players could be climbing their way into history with less seasons under their belts.

Out of the top 40, only Manu Ginobili exists to represent the Spurs, alluding to the resistance the silver & black have had to adding the outside shot.

The Spurs have added the three as of late, but none of their players hit with the same destructive frequency. Marco Belinelli is currently in the 69th slot and Patty Mills is 109th.

The Spurs stole Zions night, but the big man made his presence known in the final frame knocking down sixteen straight points shooting four-for-four from downtown.

Perhaps Williamson will be the next great NBA three-point shooter.

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The evolution of the three point game in the NBA - Pounding The Rock

Kristaps Porzingis is the Newest Test Case in the NBAs Evolution – Sports Illustrated

Kristaps Porzingis role in the Mavericks offense would be unthinkable just a decade ago. Standing 73 with an even longer wingspan, Porzingis would have spent much of the aughts on the low block, banging bodies with the behemoths of a previous era. And even as the game has spaced beyond the three-point line over the last ten years, it would have felt criminal not to give Porzingis at least a few post touches per game early in the 2010s. Will the former Knicks star punish defenses down low in the 2020s? Not if Rick Carlisle has anything to say about it.

The Mavericks head coach delivered perhaps the rant of the year on Dec. 26. After weeks of murmurs regarding Porzingis deployment in the Mavericks offense, Carlisle broke, going on a multiple-minute analytics lesson. Porzingis lack of post touches isnt an indictment on the Latvian forward. No player will feast in the post in Carlisles system.

The post-up just isnt a good play anymore. It just isnt a good play. Its not a good play for a 73 guy. Its a low-value situation, Carlisle said after the Mavericks defeated the Spurs. Lets get off of all this stuff that KP needs to go in the post. He doesnt. He doesnt. Im OK with him going in there once in a while, but we dont post anybody.

Carlisles comments are backed by the data. Porzingis averages a 0.91 points per possession on spot-up attempts, and 0.99 points per possession as a roll man. Neither metric is dominant (largely thanks to a shooting slump in his first ten games) but its far better than Porzingis post-up numbers. Hes averaging 0.57 points per post-up possessions this season, the worst mark of 30 players with at least 75 post-ups.

So how does Porzingis function in the Mavericks offense without a steady diet of post-ups? His role is slowly but surely becoming more well defined. Luka Doncic (rightfully) hoards possessions in Dallas, designating Porzingis as an overqualified second option. Porzingis and Doncic are still finding their rhythm in the pick-and-roll, a dance that should become more graceful as we head toward the 2020 postseason. Dallas big man may also see more time as a pure five through the rest of the season after Dwight Powells season-ending injury. Porzingis remains an elite vertical spacer. Expect his share of roll opportunities to increase with Powell out of commission.

Porzingis is presently more comfortable popping to the three-point line in two-man games with Doncic. His spacing in that role has proved critical. Not only can Porzingis connect beyond the arc, he stretches the floor well outside 25 feet. Porzingis is a unicorn of the highest caliber. He may be the most versatile big in basketball.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Porzingis got a brief taste at running the show in December as Doncic missed four games due to a sprained ankle. The 24-year-old big man acquitted himself well as the star of the show. He averaged 22.5 points and 13.8 rebounds per game on 36.7% from three, leading the Mavericks to victories over the Bucks and 76ers. Porzingis is good enough to lead a functional attack as a one-man band. But Carlisle would likely rather limit Porzingis nights as the Mavericks leading man, especially amid consistent concerns regarding his knee. Patience remains paramount as Dallas looks to lead the Western Conference for the next decade.

Porzingis role in Dallas offense may be a frustrating one. Once the focal point of the Knicks offense, Porzingis will now spend portions of games as little more than a spot-up shooter. But dont expect Carlisle and Co. to be static with their deployment of Porzingis moving forward.

The Mavericks could experiment with inverted pick-and-rolls in which Doncic screens for Porzingis, and Dallas has a slate of sets designed to create open jumpers for its talented big man. Carlisle is too smart to let such a unique asset go to waste. The Mavericks will continue to develop their playbook in the second half of 2020, attempting to wring the best out of Porzingis in April and May. Porzingis will make his presence felt in the 2020 playoffs. By 2021, he could be battling the Western Conferences elite for a shot at the Finals.

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Kristaps Porzingis is the Newest Test Case in the NBAs Evolution - Sports Illustrated

Watching Hip-Hop Evolution…with my mother – CBC.ca

Black Light is a weekly column by Governor General Award-winning writer Amanda Parris that spotlights, champions and challenges art and popular culture that is created by Black people and/or centres Black people.

The first show I ever binge-watched from beginning to end with my mum was The Wire. Watching a borrowed DVD box set that was making the rounds at my old workplace, we stayed up night after night laughing, crying and debriefing.

At the time, I was working as a community educator in a non-profit field that would probably never yield financial stability. My mum frequently expressed her doubts and misgivings about my professional choices. At one point while watching the show, she turned to me and said: "Now I get why you do the work that you do."

It was a pivotal moment. Thanks to Season 4 of The Wire (the season that kept my mum up all night worrying about Randy and Dukie), she finally understood and appreciated the importance of the work I was doing.

We've watched a bunch of shows together since then, but there's only one other series that deepened my mum's understanding and appreciation of my world: Hip-Hop Evolution.

I started watching the docu-series by myselfbut once I realized how good it was, I strategically put it on when I knew my mum would be around, hoping she would get sucked into this wide-reaching history of rap music's origins.

My mum is probably not the target audience for this show. Although she was partying at nightclubs during the years hip hop was formed, she was doing it in London by way of Grenada. Her music of choice was soca and reggae, disco with a bit of R&B. Rap was never part of the equation. When I was growing up, I had to hide my rap tapes because music with swearing was a no-no. She would watch my VHS tapes of music videos with ambivalence, unimpressed by the bravado and posturing that dominates the genre.

And yet, my plan worked. My mum was seduced into watching Hip-Hop Evolution thanks to the eye candy of Big Daddy Kane and nostalgia-inducing archival footage from the '80s. Before long, she was calling me to hurry up and sit down so that we could watch another episode.

My mum and I aren't the only fans of the show. Hip-Hop Evolution is one of the most successful Canadian music docu-series in recent memory. It has won an International Emmy, a Peabody Award and two Canadian Screen Awards. Hosted by rapper Shadrach Kabongo (a.k.a. Shad), the homegrown production initially began as a stand-alone season on HBO.

Impressive as that initial season was featuring interviews with indisputable pioneers like Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash and OGs like Marley Marl and Rakim it felt incomplete, particularly due to the absence of female voices.

12 episodes later, the show has travelled to Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Memphis, Houston, Detroit and Virginia. It's covered the rise of gangsta rap, recalled legendary venues like the Latin Quarter, immersed itself in the tragic loss of Pimp C and J Dilla,celebrated the business savvy of Master P as well as the creative genius of Missy Elliott, and outlined the industry shattering impact of the mixtape. Hip-Hop Evolution is without a doubt one of the most comprehensive documents of the culture to ever be created.

Earlier this week, my mum and I settled in to watch Season 4 of the show, which was released last Friday on Netflix. As we watched the first episode on the rise of New Orleans bounce music, her eyebrows shot to the top of her head and a smile came over her face as footage of people dancing in the second line appeared on screen.

"Eh, eh! But that's a Soca move!" she said. Watching my mom make diasporic connections between NOLA traditions and Caribbean culture was a thing of beauty as she found familiarity between her home and a place she's never been before. Of course, that didn't stop her from chastising Mannie Fresh for chewing gum while doing his interview or querying, "Do you think this boy has ever worn a pair of pants that fit?" when Lil Wayne appeared on screen.

The most recent seasons of Hip-Hop Evolution boast some of the biggest names in the industry:Diddy, T.I., Big Boi, Snoop, Lil' Kim and Timbaland. However, one of my favourite aspects of the show is the fact that these heavyweights share the spotlight with culture builders who may not be household names. It covers DJ Toomp's pivotal role in a generation's worth of down-south talent and the innovation of Houston's DJ Screw in creating a new slowed-down sound. We get the story of DJ Spanish Fly pioneering hustle and the mind-boggling freestyling talent of Supernatural. It's so fun to watch Shad geek out over these undersung legends a reminder that this is a show made by hip hop heads for those who love hip hop in honour of those who created it.

Although she's definitely not a hip hop head, at least once an episode, my mum would say something along the lines of, "Isn't it amazing how these young people taught themselves all these things?"

She may have scrunched up her nose at the description of The Dungeon as though she could smell Rico Wade's basement through the screen. But she marvelled at the discipline of these teenagers who spent every waking moment there creating a new sound for OutKast and Goodie Mob. It sounds hella corny, but I felt affirmed and validated as I watched my mum develop an appreciation for a culture that has defined so much of my life. Hip-Hop Evolution makes it impossible to deny the literal genius of individuals rarely given the title.

While watching, I tried to imagine the incredible feat it must have been to get music rights to the songs in the series. The absence of certain key acts makes me wonder about how much access to music played a part in storytelling decisions. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to get the rights to Lauryn Hill's music, for example?

It's impossible for one series to capture an entire culture, and as it evolves from the genre's earliest origins, it's clear that Hip-Hop Evolutioncould go on for years, capturing what has now become a global culture. Although there has been no word on whether there will be a Season 5, it would be a shame if this production had to end before it covers Canadian hip hop. I know that if it comes, my mum and I will be ready and waiting to watch.

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Watching Hip-Hop Evolution...with my mother - CBC.ca

The Oldest Scorpion and the Decadence of Evolutionary Science – Discovery Institute

A few days ago a new paleontological discovery hit the news headlines around the globe. The oldest fossil scorpion ever found had been described and it was said to provide clues to the evolution of life on land. Of course, I was eager to read the original paper; not at all with a malevolent intention, looking to find a fly in the ointment, but honestly interested and fascinated by this subject. Boy, was I in for a big surprise, the unpleasant sort. I am not easily shocked, but this paper shocked me. So what was wrong with it? Well, usually peer reviewers receive a check list from the editors that includes the question, Do the data support the conclusions? This paper fails miserably and it is beyond me how it could ever pass peer review. But lets not get ahead of ourselves.

Andrew Wendruff from Otterbein University in Ohio and his collaborators (Wendruff et al. 2020) published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports. Their paper is titled, A Silurian ancestral scorpion with fossilised internal anatomy illustrating a pathway to arachnid terrestrialisation. They describe two conspecific fossil specimens from the 437-million-year-old Waukesha Lagersttte in Wisconsin. These two Lower Silurian fossils are the earliest scorpions ever found and exhibit a mixture of primitive and derived characters, including preserved internal organs of the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive system. This new evidence is claimed to illuminate the transition from marine to terrestrial life in arachnids. In their press release (Ohio State University 2020) they emphasize that The discovery provides new information about how animals transitioned from living in the sea to living entirely on land. Wow, that sounds really cool.

The general media reception greeting this apparent breakthrough discovery has been enthusiastic: CNN reports that Prehistoric scorpion is earliest known animal to venture from sea onto land (Hunt 2020). The Wall Street Journal celebrates this work with the headline Ancient Scorpion Offers Clues to How Animals Moved from Sea to Land (Camero 2020). Smithsonian Magazine agrees that the Worlds Oldest Scorpions May Have Moved From Sea to Land 437 Million Years Ago (Wu 2020). Only in Ortegas (2020) piece in Science do we find a cautiously critical comment, from renowned arachnologist Paul Selden. Concerning whether the fossils had lived in water or on land, he remarked that Unfortunately, theres really no evidence at all to swing it one way or the other. Yes, that is a first hint as to where the paper goes wrong.

First let me say what is good in this paper. The two fossil specimens it describes really are the oldest known fossil scorpions, and their Lower Silurian age is remarkable. Also, this new genus and species, Parioscorpio venator, differs from all modern arachnids in still having a pair of large lateral compound eyes and a higher number of sternites (ventral plates of the exoskeleton). This is clearly more primitive than any modern scorpion. It is therefore not correct when Uncommon Descent (2020) commented that Worlds Oldest Scorpions Show No Change From 437 Million Years Ago. What hardly changed are the preserved features of the circulatory and respiratory system. The described preservation of these internal organs is highly exceptional and especially remarkable considering the ancient origin of these fossils. Great find! So far, so good.

But what about the really sexy part of the paper the illumination supposedly cast how animals moved from ocean to land? Without this grandiose evolutionary implication the paper would never have made it into a prime journal like Scientific Reports but only into a specialized paleontology journal with a much lower impact factor. That would mean less of a chance for grant renewals.

In the introduction the authors mention several characters that are commonly used to infer the aquatic or terrestrial habitat of fossil arachnids: the presence or absence of feeding structures used to liquify prey (coxapophyses or stomathecae), chemosensory organs (pectines), mechanosensory organs (trichobothria), and respiratory structures (book gills or book lungs). Surprise: The two described fossils have neither visible coxapophyses or stomathecae, nor visible pectines, nor visible trichobothria, and neither visible book gills nor book lungs. There is nothing in these fossils that could say anything about their way of life, and thus nothing that suggests how animals moved from sea to land. Actually, according to the authors the sediments are of marine origin and only yielded marine animals as fossils, but not a single terrestrial plant or terrestrial animal at all.

How on earth do the authors then arrive at their bold claim that the fossils illustrat[e] a pathway to arachnid terrestrialisation? They say in their discussion, Anatomical details preserved in P. venator suggest that the physiological changes necessary to accommodate a marine-to-terrestrial transition in arachnids occurred early in their evolutionary history. Whether P. venator was a fully terrestrial arthropod is uncertain. The close similarity of its preserved pulmonary-cardiovascular structures with those of extant scorpions and horseshoe crabs hint at the possibility of extended stays on land. What? They made very clear that the preserved pulmonary-cardiovascular structures are essentially indistinguishable from those of present-day scorpions. These identical structures show exactly nothing about how these structures or other adaptations for a life on land evolved. The similarities of these structures between extant terrestrial scorpions and marine horseshoe crabs only prove one thing, i.e. that these similarities are totally uninformative about the habitat of these animals. After all, horseshoe crabs are fully marine organisms that mate in the surf and only briefly crawl on the beach to lay their eggs either in shallow water or directly above the edge of the water and then immediately return into the ocean. The lineage of horseshoe crabs goes back 445 million years into the Ordovician era when Lunataspis aurora roamed the sea floors. We have no idea what the pulmonary-cardiovascular structures looked like in those earliest horseshoe crabs or even in their putative Cambrian ancestors. Nothing at all of what the authors describe provides any clue how organ systems changed in adaptation to a life on land. Nothing in the fossils is in any way intermediate between a marine and a terrestrial way of life. The only two primitive character states in these fossils (compound eyes and seven mesosomal sternites) have nothing to do with aquatic or terrestrial adaptation. Consequently, the main claim of the authors, which even made it into the title of this work, is totally unsupported by the data. Any decent reviewer should have recognized this at first glance, and then either requested a major revision or rejected the paper. But obviously this did not happen.

There also other minor shortcomings, such as the lack of a proper cladistic analysis and inconsistencies in the description. For example, in the discussion the authors list several characters of the new taxon, including a narrow metasoma terminating in a stinger, which they correctly consider as a derived similarity with modern scorpions. Unfortunately, the fossil has no stinger preserved. Actually, the authors themselves write further down in the same paragraph but the more terminal stinger is not evident. The authors also describe the alleged presence of a poison vesicle. This, incidentally, shows that they are not specialists, because in scorpions this structure is properly called the venom vesicle. In any event, since the terminal segment (telson), which could contain the venom vesicle, is likewise not preserved but possibly folded beneath the fifth tail segment, the curved outlines visible within this fifth metasomal segment could rather present the telson. It is quite possible that there was a venom vesicle and a stinger in the living animal, but it is not proper scientific procedure to describe unpreserved features instead of inferring them.

What do we learn from this case? In todays science world it is no longer sufficient to objectively describe some nicely preserved ancient fossils. You must overinterpret the evidence and oversell their importance with a fancy evolutionary narrative. And you do not have to hesitate to be really bold with your claims, because neither the scientific reviewers nor the popular science media will care if your claims are actually supported by the evidence. This system is broken. It was broken by the pressure to publish or perish, by the pressure of public relation departments to generate lurid headlines, and by the pressure of the idiotic paradigm that nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution. In entertainment and advertising, sex sells. In the news, it leads when it bleeds. In bioscience it rocks when it is an icon of evolution. Good science falls by the wayside.

Photo: Fossil scorpion from the Lower Cretaceous Crato Formation in Brazil, by G. Bechly.

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The Oldest Scorpion and the Decadence of Evolutionary Science - Discovery Institute

The evolution of the chief growth officer – Drapers

Hands up who can define the role of the chief growth officer (CGO)? Asoss appointment in December of Robert Birge to this position has left retailers in a state of confusion. Is it a dressed-up chief marketing officer (CMO)? A new customer-focused role? Or a strategy director?

Asos hired Birge former president of ecommerce at health company Blink Health as its first CGO to be responsible for the establishment and acceleration of current business growth and paving the way for sustained future development, the job ad said. It continued: Reporting to the CGO will be a leadership team responsible across the marketing function including brand experience and customer insights. Customer care, which employs some 1,600 staff, will also report to the CGO.

Nick Beighton, Asos chief executive, is recruiting for further senior roles

Asos chief executive Nick Beighton, who is currently recruiting for three other executives to oversee product, HR and strategy, says: Roberts proven track record in delivering high-impact marketing programmes for fast-growing ecommerce businesses means he is an ideal appointment for this new role. And, with more than half of our revenue coming from international markets, his global experience will help fuel our ability to take advantage of the growth opportunities ahead of us.

In the world of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), the position of CGO is nothing new and it can encompass marketing, sales, product development, finance and more, to drive business-wide growth. But a quick LinkedIn search under fashion retail in the UK brings up just two results: a CGO at Missguided and another at Ralph & Russo.

It makes no sense, says the managing director of one high street retailer. If it is a new CMO role, why wasnt the CMO interested in growth?

If it is a hybrid role, it sounds too nebulous: what are the other execs doing? The Asos role just sounds like a normal customer director.

Its a bit emperors new clothes nothing new, just more title confusion.

The HR director of one womenswear retailer describes it as an evolution of the traditional CMO role: Its a bit confusing, as it looks like a business development role, he says. How does it impact the chief strategy position? To me, this is an alternative name for a chief customer position and one that many companies are adding to their structure or an evolution of the older CMO role, which just focused on brand.

Fran Minogue, managing partner at executive search firm Clarity, concedes that the definition is not crystal clear, but offers a more succinct explanation: Different people have different interpretations of the CGO role, but it brings all departments together with marketing and the customer as the primary functions, she explains, citing Birges previous experience as chief marketing officer for travel company Lola. We used to have only one department focusing on the customer marketing but thats no longer the case.

Retail has transformed dramatically over the last decade. The proliferation of sales channels has created more opportunities to reach customers through marketing. Initially, this led to the creation of the multichannel director (remember them?), serving customers via web, mobile, social and bricks and mortar.

But multichannel retailing did not take into account the integration of those channels and thereby a single view of the customer. Enter the omnichannel director with a remit to create a seamless customer experience. With the customer at the forefront, a title change to chief customer officer became more appropriate.

A CGO is someone who has to wear many hats, to implement and execute a longer-term vision

HR director

So why change again? Well, what do you do once youve transformed? You grow, explains Lucy Harris, founding partner at executive search company Altrua. The CGO role is a new entity and the way forward as we move away from traditional retail structures.

Yes, its a bit like a chief customer officer but it hits all parts of the business, so they need to be an all-rounder. Everyone owns the customer now and growth will come from many channels.

The HR director says the introduction of GDPR the General Data Protection Regulation, which came into effect in May 2018 adds another level of complexity to a traditional customer director role, which a CGO may be better qualified to manage: The issue we are all facing is that brand is dead for most of the high street and pureplays. Customers are brand agnostic and searching for the best deal, wherever that may be.

But ever since GDPR landed, customer acquisition has become increasingly more difficult, as has understanding the customer as they interact with so many channels across a global market.

I think the CGO role is a hybrid of customer and marketing its not a true CMO role as it is introducing customer and business development. This is where CMO is heading across the industry: acquiring and understanding the customer.

A key difference between a traditional CMO and a CGO, believes James Hyde, director of recruitment firm Flint Hyde, is that the former lacks the hands-on experience of driving growth: A CGO is someone who has to wear many hats, to implement and execute a longer-term vision. They tend to be people with an understanding of all functions, who can drive innovation as well as sales. Its a maverick role.

And that is precisely why the traditional CMO and customer director roles have not changed much over the past few years. With so many retailers on a financial knife edge, they naturally become risk-averse.

Ultimately there is no point employing a visionary and then resisting when they want to implement change,says an international headhunter. And even if they embrace it, significant results are expected immediately, which is not realistic.

As such, he adds that not every retailer is in a position to make such a hire.

The CGO was a hybrid role created by US digital-first brands who were experiencing rapid growth and required a leader with clarity of vision across marketing, sales and product and who could also run a P&L.

It works when all channels internally are operating seamlessly with the consumer always front of mind, he says. However, the role is never going to work when you attempt to shoehorn it into retailers who are still wrestling with the challenges of overcoming legacy systems, an aging store portfolio and who simply do not have the internal mindset that champions innovation in the way a digital-first business has.

But perhaps we are all getting caught up in semantics. Altruas Harris says she is hiring CGOs left, right and centre, even if retailers do not call them that. The international headhunter refers to the CGO as an incarnation of what a modern chief executive looks like.

Minogue sums it up: Were suckers for Americanisms an HR director is now a chief people officer so, yes, we will see more CGOs.

Someone who can drive growth through a marketing function by placing the customer first and bringing all key departments together that is the definition. You choose the name.


The evolution of the chief growth officer - Drapers

Tracking the evolution of Joey and Shooby’s impossibly pure bromance on The Circle – The A.V. Club

On its surface, The Circlesounds like some shallow, bingeable trash. Stick around until the second episode, however, and youll likely be hooked. The social media competition that forms the spine of the Netflix seriesplayers communicate solely through a social media platform, trying to convey authenticity so as not to get blocked by the games influencersisnt all that gripping in a vacuum, but its reliance on the personalities and machinations of its cast is the key to its appeal. Shockingly, even the most duplicitous of the contestantssome purposely catfish their colleaguesturn out to be compelling, amiable folks, each working to convey genuine emotions through a deceptive avatar. But, as the show makes abundantly clear, ones genuine self is capable ofbleeding through a chat box. Four of the five finalists, after all, survived the entirety of the game without once masking their identity or motivations. The friendships they made really felt real.

Just look at Joey Sasso and Shubham Goel. The former is a buff, flirtatious bartender with a thick Jersey accent while the latter is a socially awkward, Marvel-loving virtual reality engineertogether, however, they formed one of the sweetest, most soul-affirming bonds on TV. Their friendship started simply, with Joey observing in the second episode that Shubhama.k.a. Shoobywas buggin last night and Shooby fretting over whether adding man to the end of a casual inquiry sounded weird. Now, with the show behind them, the pair have made it clear their bromance will persevere beyond the cameras.

In every way possible, we are different, but thats the beauty of it, Shooby recently told Cosmo. He was my day-one guy in there. Me and Joey still keep in touch....When Im back [in Los Angeles], were definitely gonna kick it. Im hoping to kick it, like, three or four times a week. With Joey, I one hundred percent know that our relationship from that Circle is going to be just as strong outside of it.

So, to ensure we never forget the exquisite nature of their union, please join us for a pictorial trek through their friendships most pivotal moments.

(Note: I will be spelling it Shooby, despite Netflixs closed captioning spelling it Shubby. It sounds like Shooby, guys.)

#FriendsTillTheEnd, indeed.

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Tracking the evolution of Joey and Shooby's impossibly pure bromance on The Circle - The A.V. Club