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From Simple Exchange To Shakedown: The Evolution Of ‘Quid Pro Quo’ – NPR

President Trump insists there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine but the phrase was not always synonymous with a shakedown. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

President Trump insists there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine but the phrase was not always synonymous with a shakedown.

A bit of Latin has been on the lips of many lately: quid pro quo.

The phrase has been broadly invoked in the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump and his interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

Trump and many of his allies deny there was a quid pro quo they say that Trump did not withhold military aid to Ukraine as part of an exchange for investigations that could help Trump politically in the 2020 campaign. (Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney admitted that link in a press briefing last week but then later walked back his comments.)

U.S. diplomat William Taylor's recent testimony to congressional investigators supports allegations that Trump withheld military assistance as part of a parallel and informal Ukraine policy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said that proving quid pro quo is not a requirement for impeachment, but the phrase has stuck.

"In Latin it just simply means something for something," says Ben Zimmer, language columnist for The Wall Street Journal. But, he notes, "I think that the political situation can't help but inform the way that we're going to understand this particular phrase, even though it's been in the language for oh, about 500 years."

An exchange not necessarily an equal one

Zimmer says the first recorded use of the phrase quid pro quo in English meant something totally different.

"In the 16th century, very often if you've got a drug from an apothecary, what you would be getting might not be exactly what you asked for," he says.

L'Etude du Procureur, The Lawyers Office, Plate III from the series The Trades, ca 1632-1633, etching by Abraham Bosse, France, 17th century. De Agostini Picture Library/De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images hide caption

L'Etude du Procureur, The Lawyers Office, Plate III from the series The Trades, ca 1632-1633, etching by Abraham Bosse, France, 17th century.

Instead of the quid you asked for, you got the quo. It sounds harmless enough, but Zimmer says it could lead to problems.

"Very often the drugs that were swapped out would lead to someone getting something that didn't work as well or could even be harmful. And so, this was a practice that people were scared of," he says.

That's where the idea of an exchange started. Fast-forward another century, and lawyers start using quid pro quo a lot.

"Lawyers love using Latin, and that was true way back in the 16th and 17th century, when quid pro quo started getting picked up to refer to an exchange of one thing for another and again, that in a legalistic context could be very neutral. It's simply one thing for another," he says.

"But this more negative connotation has always carried through that there is perhaps some sort of corrupt intents on at least one side of this mutual relationship, perhaps the motives are not so pure."

What about a favor?

If a quid pro quo by definition is something for something else, then what about the word "favor"? In his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, President Trump asked him for a "favor." Trump insists there was no pressure.

Webster's defines "favor" as a "gracious kindness." There's no mention of expecting something in return. But that is not always how it plays out in real life.

"There's a quid pro quo built into every relationship every conversation. We talk in a certain way because we expect some response," says Deborah Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University. "I want you to like me, and so then you might be friends. Or we are friends, I want to stay friends."

People don't usually attach strings to the favors they do for family, Tannen says. But the further people get outside that circle, the more complicated the favor becomes, even between peers. At times, people may not even realize their own expectations for reciprocity.

It gets infinitely messier when there's a power dynamic at play. It's natural, Zimmer says, "when we are in this type of transactional relationship to think, 'Am I really getting the something of equal value here or am I being taken advantage of?' "

Tannen adds that how the trade-off is articulated or how it is not is key. "That's what I think we're dealing with often in public situations where people are caught on tape, say, making what we all know is a demand but not in so many words, so they can say, 'Oh no, that's not what I meant.' "

There is inherent drama in the quid pro quo. It's about relationships, it's about trust and power, spoken and unspoken expectations. The idea is everywhere in popular culture, and now, because of the Ukraine scandal, quid pro quo is everywhere in our politics.

Zimmer says gone are the days when it could be descriptive, or morally neutral.

"Now it's more like a shakedown. It's more like: You have to do this for me or else."

Marc Rivers and Steve Tripoli produced and edited this story for broadcast. Heidi Glenn adapted it for the Web.

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From Simple Exchange To Shakedown: The Evolution Of 'Quid Pro Quo' - NPR

Humans May Be the Only Intelligent Life in the Universe, If Evolution Has Anything to Say – Livescience.com

Are we alone in the universe? It comes down to whether intelligence is a probable outcome of natural selection, or an improbable fluke. By definition, probable events occur frequently, improbable events occur rarely or once. Our evolutionary history shows that many key adaptations not just intelligence, but complex animals, complex cells, photosynthesis, and life itself were unique, one-off events, and therefore highly improbable. Our evolution may have been like winning the lottery only far less likely.

The universe is astonishingly vast. The Milky Way has more than 100 billion stars, and there are over a trillion galaxies in the visible universe, the tiny fraction of the universe we can see. Even if habitable worlds are rare, their sheer number there are as many planets as stars, maybe more suggests lots of life is out there. So where is everyone? This is the Fermi paradox. The universe is large, and old, with time and room for intelligence to evolve, but there's no evidence of it.

Could intelligence simply be unlikely to evolve? Unfortunately, we can't study extraterrestrial life to answer this question. But we can study some 4.5 billion years of Earth's history, looking at where evolution repeats itself, or doesn't.

Related: From Big Bang to Present: Snapshots of Our Universe Through Time

Evolution sometimes repeats, with different species independently converging on similar outcomes. If evolution frequently repeats itself, then our evolution might be probable, even inevitable.

And striking examples of convergent evolution do exist. Australia's extinct, marsupial thylacine had a kangaroo-like pouch but otherwise looked like a wolf, despite evolving from a different mammal lineage. There are also marsupial moles, marsupial anteaters and marsupial flying squirrels. Remarkably, Australia's entire evolutionary history, with mammals diversifying after the dinosaur extinction, parallels other continents.

Other striking cases of convergence include dolphins and extinct ichthyosaurs, which evolved similar shapes to glide through the water, and birds, bats and pterosaurs, which convergently evolved flight.

We also see convergence in individual organs. Eyes evolved not just in vertebrates, but in arthropods, octopi, worms and jellyfish. Vertebrates, arthropods, octopi and worms independently invented jaws. Legs evolved convergently in the arthropods, octopi and four kinds of fish (tetrapods, frogfish, skates, mudskippers).

Here's the catch. All this convergence happened within one lineage, the Eumetazoa. Eumetazoans are complex animals with symmetry, mouths, guts, muscles, a nervous system. Different eumetazoans evolved similar solutions to similar problems, but the complex body plan that made it all possible is unique. Complex animals evolved once in life's history, suggesting they're improbable.

Related: 13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Aliens

Surprisingly, many critical events in our evolutionary history are unique and, probably, improbable. One is the bony skeleton of vertebrates, which let large animals move onto land. The complex, eukaryotic cells that all animals and plants are built from, containing nuclei and mitochondria, evolved only once. Sex evolved just once. Photosynthesis, which increased the energy available to life and produced oxygen, is a one-off. For that matter, so is human-level intelligence. There are marsupial wolves and moles, but no marsupial humans.

There are places where evolution repeats, and places where it doesn't. If we only look for convergence, it creates confirmation bias. Convergence seems to be the rule, and our evolution looks probable. But when you look for non-convergence, it's everywhere, and critical, complex adaptations seem to be the least repeatable, and therefore improbable.

What's more, these events depended on one another. Humans couldn't evolve until fish evolved bones that let them crawl onto land. Bones couldn't evolve until complex animals appeared. Complex animals needed complex cells, and complex cells needed oxygen, made by photosynthesis. None of this happens without the evolution of life, a singular event among singular events. All organisms come from a single ancestor; as far as we can tell, life only happened once.

Curiously, all this takes a surprisingly long time. Photosynthesis evolved 1.5 billion years after the Earth's formation, complex cells after 2.7 billion years, complex animals after 4 billion years, and human intelligence 4.5 billion years after the Earth formed. That these innovations are so useful but took so long to evolve implies that they're exceedingly improbable.

These one-off innovations, critical flukes, may create a chain of evolutionary bottlenecks or filters. If so, our evolution wasn't like winning the lottery. It was like winning the lottery again, and again, and again. On other worlds, these critical adaptations might have evolved too late for intelligence to emerge before their suns went nova, or not at all.

Related: Greetings, Earthlings! 8 Ways Aliens Could Contact Us

Imagine that intelligence depends on a chain of seven unlikely innovations the origin of life, photosynthesis, complex cells, sex, complex animals, skeletons and intelligence itself each with a 10% chance of evolving. The odds of evolving intelligence become one in 10 million.

But complex adaptations might be even less likely. Photosynthesis required a series of adaptations in proteins, pigments and membranes. Eumetazoan animals required multiple anatomical innovations (nerves, muscles, mouths and so on). So maybe each of these seven key innovations evolve just 1% of the time. If so, intelligence will evolve on just 1 in 100 trillion habitable worlds. If habitable worlds are rare, then we might be the only intelligent life in the galaxy, or even the visible universe.

And yet, we're here. That must count for something, right? If evolution gets lucky one in 100 trillion times, what are the odds we happen to be on a planet where it happened? Actually, the odds of being on that improbable world are 100%, because we couldn't have this conversation on a world where photosynthesis, complex cells, or animals didn't evolve. That's the anthropic principle: Earth's history must have allowed intelligent life to evolve, or we wouldn't be here to ponder it.

Intelligence seems to depend on a chain of improbable events. But given the vast number of planets, then like an infinite number of monkeys pounding on an infinite number of typewriters to write Hamlet, it's bound to evolve somewhere. The improbable result was us.

This article was originally published atThe Conversation.The publication contributed the article to Live Science'sExpert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

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Humans May Be the Only Intelligent Life in the Universe, If Evolution Has Anything to Say - Livescience.com

Celebrating 50 years: The evolution of SUNY Schenectady – NEWS10 ABC

(NEWS10) -- Around 35 million children, between five and 13 years old, go trick-or-treating every year in the U.S. Children are more than twice as likely to be hit and killed by a car on Halloween compared to any other day of the year.

Statistics provided by State Farm show 23% of fatalities occur with children between the ages of five and eight; and 70% of accidents occur away from an intersection or crosswalk. Whether you're going door-to-door, driving or passing out treats at home, here are some tips to help keep everyone safe this Halloween:

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Celebrating 50 years: The evolution of SUNY Schenectady - NEWS10 ABC

SKS 2019: The Kitchen Evolution is In a State of Good Chaos – The Spoon

Whats next for the smart kitchen? What sort of new appliances will be gracing the countertops of the future, and what sort of technologies will power them? In short: What will it look like to cook at home in the future?

Thats exactly the question one of our panels tackled at SKS 2019. The discussion was led by The Spoons Chris Albrecht, who spoke with Lisa McManus of Americas Test Kitchen, Matt Van Horn of June and Steve Svajian of Anova about whats coming down the pipelines for kitchen tech. The full video is below, but if you want a few quick highlights read on:

The future of the kitchen is softwareSvajian argued that the smart kitchen space started out more hardware-driven, but has recently been shifting to focus more on software. Van Horn agreed. He said that in the early days of the company, people used what he called the primitive settings of the smart oven: bake, broil, etc. But now theyre using the automatic cook programs more and more. That said, the hardware [still] has to be great, added Svajian.

All tech aside, it has to workMcManus drove home the point that high-tech appliance are great, but they have to actually help people cook better not just look cool. We look at things that will make [cooking] easier and more accessible to everyone, she said. Things that are practical, that are functional.

The smart kitchen space right now? Good chaos.McManus summed up the evolution of the food tech ecosystem pretty neatly during the panel. It feels like a really exciting brainstorm, she said. Its good chaos. Svajian agreed, equating the space to the evolution of the Web in the late 90s. The law of entropy is real.

If you want to hear more about where these three insiders see the fast-paced evolution of the kitchen heading, make sure to watch the full video below.

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SKS 2019: The Kitchen Evolution is In a State of Good Chaos - The Spoon

We Could Be The Only Intelligent Life in The Universe, According to Evolution – ScienceAlert

Are we alone in the Universe? It comes down to whether intelligence is a probable outcome of natural selection, or an improbable fluke. By definition, probable events occur frequently, improbable events occur rarely or once.

Our evolutionary history shows that many key adaptations not just intelligence, but complex animals, complex cells, photosynthesis, and life itself were unique, one-off events, and therefore highly improbable. Our evolution may have been like winning the lottery only far less likely.

The Universe is astonishingly vast. The Milky Way has more than 100 billion stars, and there are over a trillion galaxies in the visible Universe, the tiny fraction of the Universe we can see.

Even if habitable worlds are rare, their sheer number there are as many planets as stars, maybe more suggests lots of life is out there.

So where is everyone? This is the Fermi paradox. The Universe is large, and old, with time and room for intelligence to evolve, but there's no evidence of it.

Could intelligence simply be unlikely to evolve? Unfortunately, we can't study extraterrestrial life to answer this question. But we can study some 4.5 billion years of Earth's history, looking at where evolution repeats itself, or doesn't.

Evolution sometimes repeats, with different species independently converging on similar outcomes. If evolution frequently repeats itself, then our evolution might be probable, even inevitable.

Thylacine (E.J. Keller Baker/Wikipedia)

And striking examples of convergent evolution do exist. Australia's extinct, marsupial thylacine had a kangaroo-like pouch but otherwise looked like a wolf, despite evolving from a different mammal lineage. There are also marsupial moles, marsupial anteaters and marsupial flying squirrels.

Remarkably, Australia's entire evolutionary history, with mammals diversifying after the dinosaur extinction, parallels other continents.

Other striking cases of convergence include dolphins and extinct ichthyosaurs, which evolved similar shapes to glide through the water, and birds, bats and pterosaurs, which convergently evolved flight.

Squid eyes evolved independently from ours. (PLOS Biology)

We also see convergence in individual organs. Eyes evolved not just in vertebrates, but in arthropods, octopi, worms and jellyfish. Vertebrates, arthropods, octopi and worms independently invented jaws.

Legs evolved convergently in the arthropods, octopi and four kinds of fish (tetrapods, frogfish, skates, mudskippers).

Here's the catch. All this convergence happened within one lineage, the Eumetazoa. Eumetazoans are complex animals with symmetry, mouths, guts, muscles, a nervous system.

Different eumetazoans evolved similar solutions to similar problems, but the complex body plan that made it all possible is unique. Complex animals evolved once in life's history, suggesting they're improbable.

Surprisingly, many critical events in our evolutionary history are unique and, probably, improbable. One is the bony skeleton of vertebrates, which let large animals move onto land.

The complex, eukaryotic cells that all animals and plants are built from, containing nuclei and mitochondria, evolved only once. Sex evolved just once.

Photosynthesis, which increased the energy available to life and produced oxygen, is a one-off. For that matter, so is human-level intelligence. There are marsupial wolves and moles, but no marsupial humans.

There are places where evolution repeats, and places where it doesn't. If we only look for convergence, it creates confirmation bias. Convergence seems to be the rule, and our evolution looks probable. But when you look for non-convergence, it's everywhere, and critical, complex adaptations seem to be the least repeatable, and therefore improbable.

What's more, these events depended on one another. Humans couldn't evolve until fish evolved bones that let them crawl onto land. Bones couldn't evolve until complex animals appeared. Complex animals needed complex cells, and complex cells needed oxygen, made by photosynthesis.

None of this happens without the evolution of life, a singular event among singular events. All organisms come from a single ancestor; as far as we can tell, life only happened once.

Curiously, all this takes a surprisingly long time. Photosynthesis evolved 1.5 billion years after the Earth's formation, complex cells after 2.7 billion years, complex animals after 4 billion years, and human intelligence 4.5 billion years after the Earth formed.

That these innovations are so useful but took so long to evolve implies that they're exceedingly improbable.

Photosynthesis, another unique adaptation. (Nick Longrich)

These one-off innovations, critical flukes, may create a chain of evolutionary bottlenecks or filters. If so, our evolution wasn't like winning the lottery. It was like winning the lottery again, and again, and again.

On other worlds, these critical adaptations might have evolved too late for intelligence to emerge before their suns went nova, or not at all.

Imagine that intelligence depends on a chain of seven unlikely innovations the origin of life, photosynthesis, complex cells, sex, complex animals, skeletons and intelligence itself each with a 10 percent chance of evolving. The odds of evolving intelligence become one in 10 million.

But complex adaptations might be even less likely. Photosynthesis required a series of adaptations in proteins, pigments and membranes. Eumetazoan animals required multiple anatomical innovations (nerves, muscles, mouths and so on).

So maybe each of these seven key innovations evolve just 1 percent of the time. If so, intelligence will evolve on just 1 in 100 trillion habitable worlds. If habitable worlds are rare, then we might be the only intelligent life in the galaxy, or even the visible Universe.

And yet, we're here. That must count for something, right? If evolution gets lucky one in 100 trillion times, what are the odds we happen to be on a planet where it happened?

Actually, the odds of being on that improbable world are 100 percent, because we couldn't have this conversation on a world where photosynthesis, complex cells, or animals didn't evolve. That's the anthropic principle: Earth's history must have allowed intelligent life to evolve, or we wouldn't be here to ponder it.

Intelligence seems to depend on a chain of improbable events. But given the vast number of planets, then like an infinite number of monkeys pounding on an infinite number of typewriters to write Hamlet, it's bound to evolve somewhere. The improbable result was us.

Nick Longrich, Senior Lecturer, Paleontology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Bath.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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We Could Be The Only Intelligent Life in The Universe, According to Evolution - ScienceAlert

If evolution were true, then we are all accidents – Newsbug.info

Murder, violent crime, guns, gangs, rape, abuse ... the list goes on. Our nation is becoming more vicious, violent and vile, with some even young teenagers acting like savage animals at times.

Drug addiction and alcoholism are increasing. Families are disintegrating. Too many people seem to care only about themselves.

Should this surprise us? For the last 60 years, our public education system has taught that humans ARE animals, albeit evolutionarily advanced ones. However, the biblical principle is true: Dont be deceived: God isnt mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap (Galatians 6:7). Weve sowed the wind; now we reap the whirlwind.

The theory of evolution is foundational teaching in most primary and secondary public schools. Textbooks explain the science of evolution and the origin of the species. The alternate idea that God may have created anything is left to the home and the churches.

Intelligent design? Summarily discounted, disregarded and dismissed. Thankfully, some educators supplement their curriculum with additional resources and information which challenges evolutionary theory.

Higher education, the news media, and cultural elites take the theory of evolution for granted; a God-less beginning is assumed a priori. Thats how they teach, write, lead and operate. Only fanatic, Bible-thumping, religious nuts claim to believe that In the beginning, God created ...

We hear and read that it all started with a Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago; that life on Earth began 3.77 billion years ago. Lifeforms have been evolving ever since. Random chance, natural selection, mutations (both good and bad), and eons of time have brought us to today. Humans evolved from lower order ape-like lifeforms to the superstar animal species we are now.

Lets ponder, if evolution were true, what would a few of the ramifications be? What would some of the effects of teaching only evolutionary theory be? Could some of the evil behaviors in our society be linked partially to the fact that our society is awash in teaching evolution in both public schools, higher education and news media?

Lets consider what might logically follow if evolution were true.

If evolution were true, then were an accident.

No more, no less. This earth we live on, everything we see around us, and even our own life is nothing more than a cosmic accident. There was a Big Bang and stuff went everywhere.

But just by happenstance, some stuff went to the exact right place at the exact right time with the exact right temperature and the exact right force and the exact right conditions for life to come into being. How fortuitous.

That first primordial life did a lightning bolt spark it? Volcanic eruption? Meteor strike? Who knows, but over the course of a few billion years, random chance produced mutations, adaptations and more which have resulted in us being here today.

The probability that this couldve all worked out the way it did is so astronomically small as to be non-existent, but scientists claim that given enough time and chances, anything can happen (put enough monkeys behind a typewriter and let them type for a few billion years and eventually one will produce Shakespeares Macbeth).

Scientists say the earth is about 4.54 billion years old, and a whole lot can happen in that amount of time.

Thus, humanity, people you, me, us are accidents and freaks of nature. Does that help your self-esteem and self-worth?

If evolution were true, we have no purpose.

If all life is accidental, if theres no perfect plan, only time and chance, then all life even our own has no purpose.

We arent here for a reason; were here for NO reason. Were here because nature flipped heads one billion times in a row. And then on the billionth plus one flip, the coin stood on edge.

Where are we evolving to and why? Who knows? Nature certainly doesnt. Scientists teach that evolution is unguided. Theres no unseen hand leading anything. When they say random, they mean random.

So, we await the next mutation, the next adaptation, and the next freak genetic accident. Were adrift in an evolutionary tide, except theres no tide.

Can you see how these ideas could lead to hopelessness and helplessness?

Continuing next month, well see that this thinking might cause folks to believe that life has no value, all life (whether animal or human) is the same, all events are random, death is the end, live for today, survival of the fittest, its all about me, all laws come from man, might makes right, theres no right and wrong only behavior, and were alone.

Or, we can listen to Jesus who said, Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me (John 14:1).

Gregg Nydegger is the evangelist at Christs Church at Monticello.

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If evolution were true, then we are all accidents - Newsbug.info

1 Billion Years of Evolution Illuminated by Genetic Sequencing of 1,100 Plants – SciTechDaily

The 1KP initiative, a collaborative effort of nearly 200 scientists, spans green algae to land plants, providing a framework for examining 1 billion years of plant evolution. Credit: Eric Zamora/Florida Museum

Plants are evolutionary champions, dominating Earths ecosystems for more than a billion years and making the planet habitable for countless other life forms, including us. Now, scientists have completed a nine-year genetic quest to shine a light on the long, complex history of land plants and green algae, revealing the plot twists and furious pace of the rise of this super group of organisms.

The project, known as the One Thousand Plant Transcriptomes Initiative (1KP), brought together nearly 200 plant biologists to sequence and analyze genes from more than 1,100 plant species spanning the green tree of life. A summary of the teams findings published on October 23, 2019, in Nature.

In the tree of life, everything is interrelated, said Gane Ka-Shu Wong, lead investigator of 1KP and professor in the University of Albertas department of biological sciences. And if we want to understand how the tree of life works, we need to examine the relationships between species. Thats where genetic sequencing comes in.

Much of plant research has focused on crops and a few model species, obscuring the evolutionary backstory of a clade that is nearly half a million species strong.

To get a birds-eye view of plant evolution, the 1KP team sequenced transcriptomes the set of genes that is actively expressed to illuminate the genetic underpinnings of green algae, mosses, ferns, conifers, flowering plants and all other lineages of green plants.

One hallmark of plant evolution is the frequency of genome duplication. Flowering plants are renowned for making multiple copies of their genome, which may contribute to the evolution of new gene functions. The 1KP project uncovered previously unknown duplication events in this group. Credit: Kristen Grace/Florida Museum

This gives a much broader perspective than what you could get by just looking at crops, which are all concentrated in one little part of the evolutionary tree, said study co-author Pamela Soltis, University of Florida distinguished professor and Florida Museum of Natural History curator. By having this bigger picture, you can understand how changes occurred in the genome, which then allows you to investigate changes in physical characteristics, chemistry or any other feature youre interested in.

One challenge was the projects sheer size, said study co-author Douglas Soltis, UF distinguished professor, and Florida Museum curator.

To look at that many genomes is unparalleled, he said. Its not a jump in technology as much as a jump in scale.

Sequencing transcriptomes requires freshly collected tissues, which is how Soltis found himself trekking through Gainesvilles greenery with containers of liquid nitrogen. Back at the laboratory, a team extracted genetic material from the frozen plant clippings and shipped the extractions to China for sequencing. All over the world, their colleagues followed suit.

Analyzing the sequences also required a reworking of existing software, which wasnt designed to handle such an unprecedented volume of genetic data, and without funding for the analysis, the researchers chipped away at the data as they had spare time.

But the labor was worth it, Pamela Soltis said.

The plant community got more than 1,000 sets of sequences, said Soltis, who also directs the UF Biodiversity Institute. Who could argue with that? All these branches of the plant tree of life have been filled in.

One hallmark of plant evolution and a feature rarely seen in animals is the frequency of genome duplication. Over and over again, lineages doubled, tripled or even quadrupled their entire set of genes, resulting in massive genome sizes. While the purpose of whole genome duplication is still unclear, scientists suspect that it may drive evolutionary innovation: If you have two copies of genes, one copy can gradually evolve a new function.

Addressing the frequency of whole genome duplication in plants was one of 1KPs goals, Douglas Soltis said. While flowering plants and ferns were already famous for genome duplication, Soltis said 1KP uncovered a number of previously unknown duplication events in these groups, as well as in the gymnosperms, the group of plants that includes conifers.

Other plant lineages took a different route, expanding certain gene families rather than copying their entire genome. This, too, is thought to provide new avenues for evolutionary development, and not surprisingly, the research team uncovered a major expansion of genes just before the appearance of vascular plants, land plants with xylem and phloem special cells for transporting water and nutrients.

But Douglas Soltis said gene expansions did not always correspond to major plant evolutionary milestones.

Theres not much of an expansion before seed plants appear or for flowering plants, he said. In fact, flowering plants actually shrank certain gene families, which may be a sign that they just co-opted existing genes for new functions.

Another surprise finding was that mosses, liverworts and hornworts form a single related group, confirming a centuries-old hypothesis that had been reversed in recent decades.

Wed done a partial analysis in 2014 that suggested these plants were close relatives, but a lot of people didnt believe it. These results underscore those findings, Pamela Soltis said. Its going to rock the moss world.

While the project refines our understanding of plant evolution and relationships between lineages, these data are also invaluable tools for advancing crop science, medicine, and other fields, the researchers said.

Identifying genes that have been duplicated in flowering plants could help scientists better understand their function, which could lead to crop improvements, Pamela Soltis said.

And because many plants have medicinal benefits, the genetic data offered by the 1KP project could lead to new discoveries that improve human health.

We focused on getting a lot of wild samples collected from plant lineages known to have important chemistry in hopes that people could mine this material for new compounds, Douglas Soltis said.

The sequences generated by the 1KP team are publicly accessible through the CyVerse Data Commons.

Probably hundreds of papers have used the data in ways we dont even know about, Pamela Soltis said. That is a super cool aspect of this study.

But the 1KP team has little time to celebrate its achievement. The next goal? Sequencing 10,000 genomes.

###

Reference: One thousand plant transcriptomes and the phylogenomics of green plants by One Thousand Plant Transcriptomes Initiative, 23 October 2019, Nature.DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1693-2

Matthew Gitzendanner, Evgeny Mavrodiev and Grant Godden of the Florida Museum and Emily Sessa of UFs department of biologyalso co-authored the study. James Leebens-Mack of the University of Georgia is a co-corresponding author.

The 1KP initiative was funded by the Alberta Ministry of Advanced Education and Alberta Innovates, Musea Ventures, the National Key Research and Development Program of China, the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Peoples Republic of China, the State Key Laboratory of Agricultural Genomics and the Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory. Sequencing activities at BGI were also supported by the Shenzhen Municipal Government of China. Computational support was provided by the China National GeneBank, the Texas Advanced Computing Center, WestGrid and Compute Canada. Additional support was provided by the National Science Foundation, the NSF-funded iPlant Collaborative, the National Institutes of Health, German Research Foundation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

The quote above from Gane Ka-Shu Wong first appeared in a joint press release published by the University of Georgia and the University of Alberta.

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1 Billion Years of Evolution Illuminated by Genetic Sequencing of 1,100 Plants - SciTechDaily

Beans were crucial in the evolution of mammals which led to man, study shows – Telegraph.co.uk

Beans were crucial in the evolution of the mammals which led to man, researchers have discovered.

Paleontologists have discovered an unprecedented layer of fossils from the time immediately after the dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid around 66 million years ago.

Thousands of exceptionally preserved examples of animals and plants were found near Colorado Springs, giving the best insight into how life recovered after the devastating impact, which made three quarters of the worlds species extinct.

Scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science found that within 300,000 years of the asteroid strike, small shrew-like mammals had increased in size three fold, and by 700,000 had grown...

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Beans were crucial in the evolution of mammals which led to man, study shows - Telegraph.co.uk

Scientists Sequence 1100 Plants, Illuminating 1 Billion Years of Evolution – Seed World

Plants are evolutionary champions, dominating Earths ecosystems for more than a billion years and making the planet habitable for countless other life forms, including us. Now, scientists have completed a nine-year genetic quest to shine a light on the long, complex history of land plants and green algae, revealing the plot twists and furious pace of the rise of this super group of organisms.

The project, known as the One Thousand Plant Transcriptomes Initiative (1KP), brought together nearly 200 plant biologists to sequence and analyze genes from more than 1,100 plant species spanning the green tree of life. A summary of the teams findings published today inNature.

In the tree of life, everything is interrelated, says Gane Ka-Shu Wong, lead investigator of 1KP and professor in the University of Albertas department of biological sciences. And if we want to understand how the tree of life works, we need to examine the relationships between species. Thats where genetic sequencing comes in.

Much of plant research has focused on crops and a few model species, obscuring the evolutionary backstory of a clade that is nearly half a million species strong.

To get a birds-eye view of plant evolution, the 1KP team sequenced transcriptomes the set of genes that is actively expressed to illuminate the genetic underpinnings of green algae, mosses, ferns, conifers, flowering plants and all other lineages of green plants.

This gives a much broader perspective than what you could get by just looking at crops, which are all concentrated in one little part of the evolutionary tree, says study co-author Pamela Soltis, University of Florida (UF) distinguished professor and Florida Museum of Natural History curator. By having this bigger picture, you can understand how changes occurred in the genome, which then allows you to investigate changes in physical characteristics, chemistry or any other feature youre interested in.

One challenge was the projects sheer size, says study co-author Douglas Soltis, UF distinguished professor and Florida Museum curator.

To look at that many genomes is unparalleled, he says. Its not a jump in technology as much as a jump in scale.

Sequencing transcriptomes requires freshly collected tissues, which is how Soltis found himself trekking through Gainesvilles greenery with containers of liquid nitrogen. Back at the laboratory, a team extracted genetic material from the frozen plant clippings and shipped the extractions to China for sequencing. All over the world, their colleagues followed suit.

Analyzing the sequences also required a reworking of existing software, which wasnt designed to handle such an unprecedented volume of genetic data, and without funding for the analysis, the researchers chipped away at the data as they had spare time.

But the labor was worth it, Pamela Soltis says.

The plant community got more than 1,000 sets of sequences, says Soltis, who also directs the UF Biodiversity Institute. Who could argue with that? All these branches of the plant tree of life have been filled in.

One hallmark of plant evolution and a feature rarely seen in animals is the frequency of genome duplication. Over and over again, lineages doubled, tripled or even quadrupled their entire set of genes, resulting in massive genome sizes. While the purpose of whole genome duplication is still unclear, scientists suspect that it may drive evolutionary innovation: If you have two copies of genes, one copy can gradually evolve a new function.

Addressing the frequency of whole genome duplication in plants was one of 1KPs goals, Douglas Soltis said. While flowering plants and ferns were already famous for genome duplication, Soltis said 1KP uncovered a number of previously unknown duplication events in these groups, as well as in the gymnosperms, the group of plants that includes conifers.

Other plant lineages took a different route, expanding certain gene families rather than copying their entire genome. This, too, is thought to provide new avenues for evolutionary development, and not surprisingly, the research team uncovered a major expansion of genes just before the appearance of vascular plants, land plants with xylem and phloem special cells for transporting water and nutrients.

But Douglas Soltis said gene expansions did not always correspond to major plant evolutionary milestones.

Theres not much of an expansion before seed plants appear or for flowering plants, he says. In fact, flowering plants actually shrank certain gene families, which may be a sign that they just co-opted existing genes for new functions.

Another surprise finding was that mosses, liverworts and hornworts form a single related group, confirming a centuries-old hypothesis that had been reversed in recent decades.

Wed done a partial analysis in 2014 that suggested these plants were close relatives, but a lot of people didnt believe it. These results underscore those findings, Pamela Soltis says. Its going to rock the moss world.

While the project refines our understanding of plant evolution and relationships between lineages, these data are also invaluable tools for advancing crop science, medicine and other fields, the researchers says.

Identifying genes that have been duplicated in flowering plants could help scientists better understand their function, which could lead to crop improvements, Pamela Soltis says.

And because many plants have medicinal benefits, the genetic data offered by the 1KP project could lead to new discoveries that improve human health.

We focused on getting a lot of wild samples collected from plant lineages known to have important chemistry in hopes that people could mine this material for new compounds, Douglas Soltis says.

The sequences generated by the 1KP team are publicly accessible through the CyVerse Data Commons.

Probably hundreds of papers have used the data in ways we dont even know about, Pamela Soltis says. That is a super cool aspect of this study.

But the 1KP team has little time to celebrate its achievement. The next goal? Sequencing 10,000 genomes.

Read more here:

Scientists Sequence 1100 Plants, Illuminating 1 Billion Years of Evolution - Seed World

PODCAST: Nic Carter on Bitcoin’s Evolution as a Safe-Haven Asset – CoinDesk

If you are fleeing a country with just the clothes on your back and you want to take your savings with you, bitcoin is an excellent kind of safe haven, said Nic Carter, founding partner of Castle Island Ventures.

Youre happy to tolerate some of that exchange risk for the duration of the period in exchange for being able to store your savings in 12 phrases in your brain, Carter added, continuing:

From that perspective, its a great safe haven. But for a global macro allocator that cares about correlations and volatility, maybe its not as good, but its a lot of things to different people. Its kind of a heterogeneous asset.

Carter spoke with CoinDesk for one of the inaugural episodes of Bitcoin Macro, a pop-up podcast featuring the speakers and themes of CoinDesks upcomingInvest: NYC conference on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Listen to the podcast here or read the whole transcript below.

The last six months have seen a growing dialogue between the bitcoin industry and the larger global macro community. No longer written off as some ignorable niche, increasingly people are asking: Is bitcoin a macro asset? Is it a safe-haven asset? How will it perform in the next recession?

Nic Carter is one of the most broad and heterodox thinkers in the bitcoin space. He learns in the open, shares what he thinks (whether it matches what the broader community wants him to think), is willing to change his mind, and always comes back to data.

In this episode, Coindesks strategy chief Nolan Bauerle chats with Carter about:

Nolan Bauerle: Welcome to Bitcoin Macro, a pop-up podcast produced as part of the CoinDesk Invest New York conference in November. Im your host, Nolan Bauerle. Both the podcast and the event explore the intersection of Bitcoin and the global macroeconomy with perspectives from some of the leading thinkers and finance, crypto and beyond.

Im here with Nic Carter, the founder of the data site Coin Metrics, a VC with Castle Island Ventures, a founder of that firm. And who was also Abby Johnsons personal advisor on Bitcoin for quite a while before he stepped out into the entrepreneurial game. So everyone in the industry knows you, Nic. So Im not going to spend too, too much time on your background other than that. This series of podcasts that CoinDesk is running in its lead up to Consensus Invests in November, seeks to bring some of our speakers together to answer a few questions about Bitcoin in the world today. These questions are really focused around its behavior on the global scene and in the global economy. And Nic, who has been working at this stuff for quite a while now, is one of the best people we could possibly get to participate in this podcast. So Ill jump right in with the first question, Nic. Is Bitcoin a macro asset?

Nic Carter: Well, first of all, thanks for having me on the show, Nolan. I really appreciate that. On the macro asset front, I guess it really depends on your definition of sort of a global macro asset. To the extent that global macro is a strategy that involves kind of forecasting geopolitical trends and trading on that basis. I would say, absolutely. Some people would try and say, Well Bitcoin isnt big enough to be considered eligible to be a macro asset, which I think is a little silly. If you look at the, theres a really great set of data compiled by the guys over at Crypto Voices and they try and measure Bitcoin against other base monies, not against M3 or M2, but against just the base money.

And they find that its something like the 11th largest compared to sovereign currencies and gold and silver. By their measure, Bitcoin is the 11th largest kind of base money in the world. So I would say, its absolutely something of significance, even in its relatively small state and I think it totally, its buffeted by sort of political wins. And its also potentially, its emergence is also a response to some things that are going on in the world with central banks. So while it doesnt really have any meaningful correlation to really any other financial assets out there. I would say its totally a macro asset.

Nolan Bauerle: If I was to sort of translate what youre saying, from my point of view, you could really swap out the words macroeconomics for politics. I mean theyre quite similar. Were really talking about the politics, right? And theres no doubt that Bitcoin is political.

Nic Carter: For sure.

Nolan Bauerle: Which I suppose, de-facto raises it up to the level of being a macro asset because thats the whole point.

Nic Carter: Its sort of always had political goals, but sovereigns havent really cared about it until now. So if anything, thats the interesting thing about the year 2019. Maybe the emergence of Libra as well really piqued the interest of a lot of central banks. And they started to realize that cryptocurrencies and non-sovereign currencies were actually a meaningful trend and were not going to go away anytime soon.

Nolan Bauerle: And bringing us back to the world of private issuance of money that was so prevalent before the federal reserve in 1912 and was really common in the United States for 100 years before that.

Nic Carter: Absolutely, yeah, private money is and was the historical default and its only been a relatively short period of time that weve been on this latest kind of monetary regime. So you could say this is actually kind of a reversion to the mean.

Nolan Bauerle: So with all of this, I guess you could say uncertainty. Weve seen bitcoin behave in certain ways. So we can define it as a macro asset, fine because of whats around it, but its behavior really would push it into the threshold of whether or not its a safe haven asset. From its behavior, have you seen it behave as a safe haven asset, given all of the sort of tribulations were seeing today?

Nic Carter: Safe is probably in the eye of the beholder or the eye of the holder, I guess, to make a labored pun. So assets I would consider traditional safe havens are like treasuries, maybe gold, maybe the Swiss Franc, actual cash, the dollar, most of those things are pretty stable. Bitcoins realized volatility is many multiples of the most volatile of all those, which is gold. So just from a data perspective, its probably not behaving in purchasing power terms like the other traditional safe-haven assets. So my official answer on that is, we dont have enough data yet. Bitcoins only really been financialized for a couple of years. Insufficient data for a meaningful answer.

Nolan Bauerle: Safe haven to those who have no other recourse, I suppose.

Nic Carter: Yeah, so that was going to be the second part. If you are fleeing a country with just the clothes on your back and you want to take your savings with you, Bitcoin is an excellent kind of safe haven and youre happy to tolerate some of that exchange risk for the duration of the period in exchange for being able to store your savings in a 12 phrase, in your brain. From that perspective, its a great safe haven. But for a global macro allocator that cares about correlations and volatility, maybe its not as good, but its a lot of things to different people. Its kind of a heterogeneous asset.

Nolan Bauerle: Weve I guess you could say rumors of a real recession coming to America. Well see if it actually plays out. But of course, Bitcoin was predicted by a lot of people within the Bitcoin world to be a hedge against that. Do you think that Bitcoin can behave in such a way given conditions around our a recession or do you think it could start mimicking other assets in that environment?

Nic Carter: Its definitely hard to know. My intuition is that as it gets more integrated into financial markets, itll eventually come to be more correlated to traditional financial assets. Right now we realize correlations are still pretty close to zero. Although there has been some indications over the last six, 12 months that its co-moving with gold to some small degree. Bitcoin is not at its terminal stage of growth yet. Its still, I would say fairly early in its life cycle. So its just growing endogenously and it will continue to do so, in my opinion. So the real price drivers are almost to some degree, internal.

What Im trying to say really is that I think the main things that cause bitcoins price to grow is very much a function of its stage of development and the various thresholds its hitting, in terms of growth and infrastructure, adoption. I dont think its price is really going to be driven much by macro factors. For a while, whether it will outperform in a recession, is very hard to know. Some people have talked about an inflationary versus deflationary recession and it sort of depends what kind we get.

Its plausible to me that the US just undergoes kind of a Japanification, whereby you have extremely loose monetary policy, even looser than we have today. In an effort to kind of stave off any downturn whatsoever. And where the stock market turns into a political utility, if it hasnt already. And we just have an extended period of stagnation. That may well be the case, I know everyones expecting a recession right now, which makes me think maybe were not going to get a classic recession.

Nolan Bauerle: I sort of have fallen into this speculative point in this podcast twice in a row now. But Ive always been of the mind that the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym was really to have the type of experience or authority to say, Look what happened in Japan in the 1990s. And if you go back to the context of 2008 and what was going on then. Sort of a finger wag to say, Look, its now here.

Youve copied those exact conditions and you will now be perpetually stuck with a broken monetary policy lever and you cant pull on it anymore. And so youre going to have to print money and youre going to have to do along the lines of what you just mentioned, a Japanification of your economy. Is that what youve seen over the last 10 years? Is that where you see things continuing to go?

Nic Carter: I would be shocked if the Fed did anything other than continue on its current trajectory, which does sort of indicate that we would be going for more of an Abenomics, Japanese approach to a demographic slow down and just the end of the high growth era. Its really funny though, I havent heard that theory for the Satoshi pseudonym before. Its pretty good though.

Nolan Bauerle: Yeah, I remember reading it somewhere, honestly in 2012 or 2013 and I have never been able to find the source. But maybe I dreamt it. I dont know where I got it from, but I have been operating under that assumption since 2012. So maybe Im crazy, I dont know.

Nic Carter: I like the Japan case study, though, because its always a good rebuttal to the people that claim that the stock market always goes up in real terms. Theres this real cult of passive investing with the idea that the stock market will just reliably return 8 percent nominal, 6 percent real every year in perpetuity. I think thats asinine. And if you look at the Nikkei, I think it peaked in something like 1985 maybe and you just about broke even not too long ago if youd held the Nikkei from 85 to present, which is a great rebuttal to this notion that growth is permanent and the stock market always goes up.

Nolan Bauerle: And there are some pretty troubling qualities of the, lets say traders and investors using then Nikkei, its not as deep as it once was, thats for sure.

Nic Carter: And the BOJ owns a significant attraction as well, which is like, it seems to be a total distortion of the market.

Nolan Bauerle: Mm-hmm (affirmative), Mm-hmm (affirmative), to make sure it keeps rising.

Nic Carter: Yeah, its a market for these utilities.

Nolan Bauerle: So, Nic, youve had the pleasure and I think the good opportunity earlier in your career to spend a lot of time with I guess what we consider real Wall Street players, really the mainstream financial world was kind of where you got your start in this. Definitely working on cryptocurrencies, but within that environment at your time at Fidelity. And Im wondering now in your position with the VC that you founded, if you still are able to gather the narrative that the mainstream financial world has around Bitcoin and if youve noticed any change in the last six months.

Nic Carter: I think Fidelity was probably a special case in that they were very heterodox in their thinking, relative to the kind of traditional Wall Street firms. I was very, very lucky to start my career there or my second career maybe or my financial career there. They were already primed to be super open-minded to cryptocurrency when I joined because theyd spent several years, starting in 2014, educating themselves on the industry, on Bitcoin. And to some degree, I think all of the big firms, all of the big financial firms that engage with this stuff need to go through that fairly long cycle of learning before theyre ready to sort of productively engage.

And whilst theyre still in the midst of that, you see things like these permission blockchain initiatives, which dont seem particularly interesting to me at least. So my experience is a little bit colored by having been dropped into that already very open-minded environment. But I try and keep my finger on the pulse and talk to my friends that work with hedge funds, traditional allocators. I will say theres been a bit more openness to cryptocurrencies as an asset class. This is also been the experience of the folks at Coin Metrics and very close to, theyre noticing traditional institutions that arent publicly known to have any allocation or engagement with cryptocurrency at all.

Theyre starting to ask about the data. Theyre trying to get smart about how to value bitcoin or at least what maybe the drivers of its price are or what the usage of the network is and other kinds of top cryptocurrencies. So I definitely have noticed a bit of a shift. I think in 2017, institutions for the most part, were very unwilling to engage. There was the big issue with custody, market structure wasnt fully understood and theres still a lot of regulatory questions.

Nolan Bauerle: And a lot of assets to be careful about.

Nic Carter: Of course, yeah and I mean we actually havent seen much of that uncertainty resolved because the SEC has been really standoffish in terms of doing anything about the ITOs. A few of those boxes have been checked in the last couple of years. And I think also in 2017 there was a perception, a correct perception, that it was a heavily retail-driven market and no one really wants to be buying the perceived top, in a market thats very retail-driven. And I think thats changed as well. So theres kind of a growing awareness, I think a lot of what the Wall Street institutions are doing these days is a lot more definitive in terms of acknowledging that cryptocurrencies are real and here to stay.

I also think Libras announcement kind of moved the needle a lot. People really take Facebook seriously and Facebook, for all their flaws, were very earnest in their desire to create a new unit of account, a new non-state money, even if it looks to be rather centralized and problematic in some ways. But the fact that they had been messaging that they would be piggybacking on the infrastructure, which has been built for cryptocurrencies over the last decade, that kind of validates what weve been doing here, to some degree. Even if its a corporation that Im not a huge fan of, which is Facebook.

Nolan Bauerle: But it certainly ionized or has the potential to ionize a huge swath of the global population into the Bitcoin world. So I think that, that definitely got a lot of people paying attention.

Nic Carter: Totally, I think the jurys still out on whether Libra would be a net good or not if it launched. If there were some provisions to preserve user privacy, it could well be a net good. I know thats going to be a bit of a controversial opinion, but if given the choice to hold your savings and like the Indian rupee or the Nigerian naira or mostly dollar-backed Libra basket, which undoubtedly would preserve purchasing power better.

A lot of people would choose the latter and I think the effective outcome of that would be to kind of dollarize a lot of these developing world countries. Which is actually sort of hostile to the local governments and the local currencies. So thats another reason why Im skeptical Libra would actually launch. But its always nice to have another option, whether thats a somewhat permission coin like Libra or a preferable, in my view, something like Bitcoin.

Nolan Bauerle: But certainly it goes back to what you mentioned at the very beginning about the private money sort of reentering the scene and becoming the norm again. I mean, isnt that what its all about? Isnt it about that? Maybe this power of minting money and borrowing and all that. Maybe its inappropriate in general, which is what they were talking about back in 1912 when the fed was set up anyway. I mean those were the conversations they were having then. This power should not be given to politicians, who cant see past their reelection.

Nic Carter: Yeah, whether the algorithm is maybe one day Facebook would use their vast trove of data to pick some sort of non-discretionary algorithm for managing the money supply, which would be interesting. Or maybe well just have the very simple algorithm, which is bitcoins kind of asymptotic issuance, which eventually ends. The constant there is the ending of monetary discretion, which a lot of people have identified as this kind of ironically pro-cyclical force, even though its intended to manage the kind of boom-bust cycle of recessions.

I think in practice its done the opposite and its made them more intense and more destructive. So a lot of bitcoiners think absolutely no discretion whatsoever and capped issuance is the way. Maybe therell be another algorithm which emerges, which is more popular, but its sharing to me that for the first time in a long time, normal folks, all they need is an internet connection and they can fully or partially exit their local currency system.

Nolan Bauerle: So Nic, were coming to the end, our last question of this interesting conversation and youre a data guy. Youre known in the industry as a data guy. The service that you provide the industry with Coin Metrics, the free downloads, which I use regularly. And the more elaborate stuff, which here at CoinDesk weve piped into a long time ago because it is top, top quality. But youre also known for coming up with all these great new ways of understanding Bitcoins behavior from a trading perspective. So whats one chart or trend that youre really looking at right now that really has your attention? Other than the ones that youre creating yourself or I suppose you can actually come up with and I mention one of your own, if you dont mind.

Nic Carter: You know one thing Ive been paying a lot of attention to lately would be this notion of realized capitalization, which was devised as kind of an alternative to market capitalization. What you do is, you take the price at which each unit of Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency of your choice last changed hands and you add all those up. So instead of pricing all of the supply at current market price, you actually look and determine where each last Bitcoin actually traded and settled on the ledger and you add it all up.

And so you get, actually most of the time its a much more conservative view of market cap. And the interesting thing is the realized cap and Bitcoin just passed $100 billion, whereas market cap is somewhere like 150 160 billion I havent checked. And its actually at an all-time high compared with market cap, which is well below its all-time high. And one way that I think about realized cap is that it measures, roughly speaking, the average cost basis of your average holder.

Nolan Bauerle: It almost sounds like a blend of days destroyed and huddle waves. Like youre getting both of the good effects of those metrics and sort of seeing it blended together.

Nic Carter: Yeah, the intuition is kind of similar for sure. Which is why dont we develop a measure of economic significance, which is at least in part, indexed to the actual usage of the ledger, which is transparent. And a lot of people say that the transparency of Bitcoin is this bug and its terrible. And I mean its true when it comes to individual privacy for sure. But its also a feature when it comes to evaluating the economic nature of these things. And in the case of realized cap, it allows us to determine with a good degree of precision, where the market in the aggregate actually bought into their current positions. So its pretty fascinating to watch. And what it shows to me is that for the most part, Bitcoin holders are actually in profit because very little Bitcoin changed hands at those a really extreme heights back in 2017. And for the most part, your average holder obtained their positions at a lower threshold.

Nolan Bauerle: Fascinating stuff, Nic and looking forward to you joining us in November in New York City for Consensus Invest, where youll be speaking about more data.

Nic Carter: Thats right. Looking forward to it as well. Thanks for having me on.

Nolan Bauerle: Thanks a ton.

Enjoyed this episode? Id like to personally invite you to come to Invest New York in November. The event features not only the speaker you just heard, but an array of other amazing thinkers. Visit coindesk.com and click events or simply follow the link in the description. Thanks for listening and see you in New York City.

Image via CoinDesk archives

Originally posted here:

PODCAST: Nic Carter on Bitcoin's Evolution as a Safe-Haven Asset - CoinDesk

5 Great Pokmon That Get Worse With Each Evolution (& 5 Weak Ones You Need To Evolve) – CBR – Comic Book Resources

In thePokmonseries, the final evolution is supposed to be... the one. You know, the most famous of any evolution line, the favorite. Whose favorite Pokmon is Charmeleon? It's just an elderly Charmander. However, there are some fully evolved Pokmon that just don't really stack up to the rest of its evolutionary line. Today, we're going to be taking a look at five of those Pokmon. We're also going to be looking at... you know, the just evolve them types. Let's get into it.

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Look at this birb. How could you ever make him grow? It's unacceptable. While Decidueye is cool... that's no justification. Rowlet is cool, confident, elegant, classy, empowering, every positive adjective in the book. Evolving Rowlet is basically just choosing to be a horrible trainer. There's no reason to do it. Besides, who wants to deal with Dartrix before even getting to Decidueye? Rowlet may not have the best stats, but just absurdly over-level him and that isn't an issue at all.

And then on the opposite end of fantastic starter Pokmon, we have Froakie. Froakie really isn't that great on his own... he looks... dumb. He's basically just begging for an evolution. Of course, he ends up as Greninja, who, despite an alarming amount of tongue, has a really neat design. Froakie isn't doing anything special at all, while Greninja is just out here killing it. If you find yourself introduced as aSmash Bros.character, you're certainly doing something right. Greninja is one you need to evolve into.

After you evolve Treecko, you find yourself with a Grovyle. Stop there. Grovyle has an absolutely amazing design, and is far superior to its evolution, Sceptile. Of course, Grovyle rose to prominence as its own Pokmon with its inclusion in thePokmon Mystery Dungeonseries. Grovyle is one of the few middle evolution Pokmon that is actually good, so maybe stick with it over the largely eh design we get with its evolution into Sceptile. Just look at this little icon. That high pony... Ariana Grande who? We only stan Grovyle in this house.

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You know who's a pretty cool dude? Staryu. You know who the coolest dude on the block is? Starmie. Starmie is literally just Staryu but a lil bit more everywhere it counts. It's got the same design with a few amped up features and a better color scheme. It still has that horribly offputting anime voice, so that's a bonus. Besides the design, Starmie is an absolute UNIT, still hanging on as a great part of the UU metagame seven Generations in. If you're choosing to use Staryu over Starmie (or both at the same time, which Misty did for no explicable reason), then you're really missing out on a fantastic evolution.

Bidoof looks like a great time, someone you go to hang out with when you see them at a party. Bibarel looks like someone that you cross the street to get away from when you see them. Bidoof has everything that Bibarel has, and so much more. There's really no reason to take Bibarel over Bidoof, considering how much you lose in the process of evolution. Look at that little face. Who couldn't love it? Bibarel better be the box legendary for theDiamond and Pearlremakes. Both box legendaries.

Sure, Flabb is cute, but it isn't a Pokmon that you're going to be sticking with. What you're going to want to do here is to evolve your Flabb into a Floette. That's a winner right there. However, that's where you're going to want to stop. Floette has everything it needs, and evolving into Florges is not part of the plan here. Just atrocious. Now, if we could get Eternal Flower Floette finally realised at any point... that's a good one. But until then, stick with your favorite color of Floette, not Flabb or Florges.

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Wigglytuff certainly has its own merits, let's get that clear. It is an absolute STAR in theMystery Dungeonseries. However, it really suffered a major loss, having its pre-evolved form being Jigglypuff. Jigglypuff is a singer, model and fighter, a triple threat. Wigglytuff does all of that too, but at like a B level. Wigglytuff is, sadly, just a downgrade from Jigglypuff in just about every way. While it isn't a total loss to evolve your Jigglypuff, there's simply no reason to do so. It's basically Raichu.

Salandit is really just another case of needing an evolution badly. Salazzle is a beautifully designed Pokmon, and its pre-evolution is nothing short of boring. Unfortunately, some - no - most Salandits don't have the ability to evolve, as only females can. As Salandit is a 75% male Pokmon... well. Good luck. Better yet, try shiny hunting this thing. An absolute NIGHTMARE. So many Salandits are just born for subpar-ness. What a shame.

Psyduck is another Pokmon that shows up its evolution in just about every way imaginable. Of course, this is mainly due to Misty's Psyduck in the anime. It was a water Pokmon that needed floaties to swim, did everything it tried to badly, and was absolutely adorable in just about every way imaginable. With this in mind, it just doesn't seem right to evolve your Psyduck into a Golduck. How could you ever do such a thing? It isn't right.

Of course, Eevee is one that you're always going to want to evolve, as that is its entire hook. Eevee has the ability to evolve into eight different Pokmon as of now. There's one for just about everyone, and it is likely that we'll see more in the coming years. Eevee can fit just about any archetype it needs with its various evolutions, so it's plain to see that you're not going to be keeping this one in its base form for long. Just don't evolve it into Flareon. The worst of them all by FAR.

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5 Great Pokmon That Get Worse With Each Evolution (& 5 Weak Ones You Need To Evolve) - CBR - Comic Book Resources

Britannica: The Evolution of Chess Theory (Part 3) – Chessbase News

The Tarrasch Defence

Are you looking for an active defence against 1.d4? Look no further! The Tarrasch Defence (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5) is one of Blacks most ambitious ways to meet 1.d4.

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A major school of chess sprang up afterWorld War Iwith an assault by central European masters on Steinitzs approach to the centre and thedogmaticrules set down by Tarrasch. The Hypermoderns, as they were known, delighted in showing how the guidelines of the previous generation could be violated profitably. In one of his favourite openings,Aron Nimzowitschbegan with three pawn advances followed by a move by his queen. His colleagueRichard Rtiwrote that the new generation was interested not in rules but in exceptions.

The most important exceptions concerned thecentre squares, chiefly e4, e5, d4, and d5. The Hypermoderns believed that the central pawn structure that had been a goal since Philidor could be a liability because it provides the opponent with a target. It was not the occupation of the centre that was desirable but rather its control, they argued. Gyula Breyer, one of the Hypermoderns, summed up their approach when he joked, After the first move 1.e4 Whites game is in the last throes.

Nimzowitsch's "My System" is a hypermodern opus

At the heart of Hypermodernism was a new approach to theopening. The two leading members of the new school, Rti and Nimzowitsch, attacked Tarraschs emphasis on building a solid centre in the first dozen moves, starting with 1.e4 or 1.d4. Rti often began a game with 1.f3 and did not advance more than one pawn past the third before the middlegame had begun. Instead, he and the other Hypermoderns rediscovered thefianchetto, or development of a bishop on its longest diagonali.e., b2 and g2 for White, b7 and g7 for Black. Fianchettoed bishops had been a favourite of Howard Staunton in the 1830s but fell out of favour after Morphy popularized open centres. Rtis idea was to attack the centre with pieces posted on the wings. In one of his most controversial maneuvers, he shifted his queen to a1 to emphasize the power of his bishop at b2.

Reti - A Repertoire for White

Starting with 1.Nf3 the Reti is designed for those players who like strategy, manoeuvres and plans. Bologan presents a repertoire based on 1.Nf3 giving you options for all major replies.

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The Hypermoderns invited their opponents to advancepawnsin the centre and in some cases tried to provoke them. For example,Alexander Alekhine, a future world champion who explored Hypermodern ideas in the 1920s, developed an opening that consisted of meeting 1 e4 with 1f6 in order to tempt White to advance to e5, where the pawn might later come under fire.

Alexander Alekhine| Photo: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Nimzowitsch also played originally in the opening. Previously, masters almost automatically answered 1.d4 with 1d5 so as not to allow White to dominate the centre with 2.e4. Nimzowitsch, however, played 1f6 with the idea of controlling the crucial e4 square with minor pieces, a bishop pin of a White knight at c3 and/or a fianchettoed bishop at b7. His systems, known as the Queens Indian Defence and Nimzo-Indian Defence, remain among the most popular in competitive play.

Nimzowitschs exploration of openings that had been previously explored and found wanting led him to another Hypermodern tenet: the voluntary surrender of the centre. Steinitz had claimed to have originated this idea, but Nimzowitsch elaborated on it in several games and in his writings. For example, a common pawn chain occurs in the centre, when White pawns occupy d4 and e5 and Black pawns occupy d5 and e6. Tarrasch had shown how Black obtains counterchances by attacking the enemy centre by advancing the c-pawn to c5 and f-pawn to f6. Tarraschs opponents tried to maintain the chain of White pawns on their squares. But Nimzowitsch tried to find the right time to exchange Whites pawns (dxc5 and, afterf6, then exf6). His goal was to occupy the deserted squares at d4 and e5 with his minor pieces i.e., bishops and knights.

Nimzowitsch was also influential in the development of defensive ideas of prophylaxisthe anticipation, prevention, and restraint of the opponents play.

Master Class Vol.3: Alexander Alekhine

On this DVD GMs Rogozenco, Marin, Mller, and IM Reeh present outstanding games, stunning combinations and exemplary endgames by Alekhine. And they invite you to improve your knowledge with the help of video lectures, annotated games and interactive tests

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By the late 1920s the new approach to the centre had been quicklyassimilated. Most of the worlds leading masters, even Capablanca and Tarrasch, had tried Hypermodern openings. The next generation, which emerged in the 1930s and, after the interval ofWorld War II, the late 1940s, sought to find exceptions to other rules. The leaders of the next generation came from theSoviet Union, whose players dominated the world championship from 1948 to 1972.

The Soviets were distinguished by the high priority they placed on gaining the initiative, a willingness to accept pawn structures even Lasker had considered bad, a new appreciation of differences in material, and a concentrated approach to pregame preparation.

The Soviets valued theinitiative the ability to force matters more than most positional considerations. While the Hypermoderns and Lasker often challenged their opponents to make the first aggressive moves, the Soviets regarded the initiative as vitally important. When defending, they rejected the solid if passive approach of Steinitz and Tarrasch and tried to generate a counterattack.

The striving for the initiative led the Soviets to modify Hypermodern ideas about the centre by analyzingopeningsto finddynamic, tactical play regardless of pawn coordination or centre control. For example, David Bronstein and Isaac Boleslavsky showed in theKings Indian Defense how White could be allowed a free rein to occupy the centre by advancing the c-, d-, e-, and even f-pawns. But Black could obtain counterplay by advancing the e-pawn to e5 and exchanging it on d4 a surrender of the centre that had beenanathemato Tarrasch.

Since the Hypermoderns had demonstrated that Black did not have to meet 1 e4 with 1e5, the Soviets devoted enormous attention to the most aggressivealternative, theSicilian Defense (1c5), which also involves a surrender of the centre. Although White gains more space and mobility, Boleslavsky showed how Black could find equalizing counterchances by advancing the d-pawn one square and the e-pawn two squares. This creates a hole at d5 and makes the d-pawn backward but enables Black to maximize use of the c-file and attack the White e-pawn.

Master Class Vol.10: Mikhail Botvinnik

Our experts show, using the games of Botvinnik, how to employ specific openings successfully, which model strategies are present in specific structures, how to find tactical solutions and rules for how to bring endings to a successful conclusion

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The Soviets sought unstable positions, in which each player had several pluses and minuses.Mikhail Botvinnik, the first Soviet master to win the world championship, popularized a variation of the French Defense in which Black exchanges a good bishop in order to ruin Whites pawn structure. Botvinnik accepted several weak squares because of the absence of the bishop and was often forced to castle queenside, rather than kingside. But his games revealed rich resources for counterplay on kingside or queenside.

Max Euwe, Vasily Smyslov, Paul Keres, Mikhail Botvinnik and Samuel Reshevsky | Photo: J.D. Noske, Nationaal Archief

Another means of obtaining the instability cherished by the Soviets was by material sacrifices. Russian masters from the 1930s to the 50s were especially fond of trading a rook for a bishop or knight. Such sacrifices had been used since theRomanticera as part of a kingside attack. But the Soviets used it instead to obtain positional compensation, such as to ruin an opponents pawn structure or improve their own or to eliminate a powerful enemy bishop or knight.

Botvinniks major contributions included finding an optimal way of preparing for a game. He studied the strengths and weaknesses of opponents he was likely to meet in the near future. He analyzed the amount of time he had spent on particular moves in order to think more efficiently. He played training games to test his nerves and concentration skills under conditions simulating tournament playeven encouraging an opponent to smoke cigarettes.

But most of all Botvinnik developed highly complex opening systems, in openings such as the QueensGambitDeclined, English Opening, French Defense, and Nimzo-Indian Defense. Instead of discovering a new opening move that might win a single game and then become useless, Botvinnik tried to work out complicated systems that would last for years. For example, his analysis of theQueens Gambit Declined in the late 1930s won games for him nearly 10 years later. Typically, the Botvinnik Variation of the Queens Gambit Declined leads to a highly unbalanced middlegame in which Black sacrifices a pawn and ruins his kingside pawn structure but obtains excellent chances on the queenside, where Black has four pawns to Whites two. His approach to the opening had a great influence during the 1950s and 60s as leading masters tried to analyze openings as far as the 20th or 25th move.

Master Class Vol.6: Anatoly Karpov

On this DVD a team of experts looks closely at the secrets of Karpov's games. In more than 7 hours of video, the authors examine four essential aspects of Karpov's superb play.

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The most important changes in chess thinking after 1970 concerned a more practical approach to competition. The Soviets maintained that by unbalancing a position they placed an onus on each player to find the best moves. In quieter positions, second-best moves could be permitted. But in sharp positions, the Soviets said, failing to find the correct move would often mean losing the initiative or turning an advantage into a disadvantage.

A new attitude became evident in the games of Fischer and his successor as world champion, Karpov, in the 1970s. The pragmatist approach holds that games are decided not by brilliant moves but by bad ones made under the influence of a shortage of time. There are only a few times during a game when a player must find the best move, the pragmatists believed. The Soviets perfectionism led to an increase in games ending in middlegame victories. The pragmatists shifted the emphasis slightly toward the endgame.

There were also some subtle changes in thinking from the 1970s through the 90s about conducting the late opening and early middlegame stages of a game. Among them was a depreciation of thebishop: The Hypermoderns had attacked Tarraschs high opinion of an unobstructed bishop and said a bishop could profitably be traded for a knight. The post-Soviet players often traded bishop for knight for minimal compensation. They also often exchanged their good bishop, the one less encumbered by pawns, and retained their bad one for slight positional compensation.

Read the full chess article at Britannica.com

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Britannica: The Evolution of Chess Theory (Part 3) - Chessbase News

Impeachment hearings depict a quid pro quo that evolved over time – NBC News

WASHINGTON Grilled under oath for dozens of hours on Capitol Hill, at least three current and former U.S. officials have all made the same startling admission: a coveted White House visit for the new Ukrainian leader had been explicitly conditioned on his agreeing to investigations that could have helped President Donald Trumps re-election.

And when Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, was asked point blank, under oath, whether that constituted a "quid pro quo," he did not dispute it, people with knowledge of his testimony said.

As impeachment proceedings march forward, a string of conflicting narratives from Trump, U.S. officials and the Ukrainians has centered on a different question: whether Trump ever overtly linked a freeze in military aid with his demand that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy investigate his political opponents and when the Ukrainians learned of it. Trump and many Republicans argue that if the Ukrainians were in the dark, any allegation of wrongdoing by Trump falls apart.

"You cant have a quid pro quo with no quo," Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, said in comments tweeted out by Trump on Wednesday.

But in some 65 hours of testimony details of which have been previously reported along with public comments from Trump, his aides and allies, a portrait is emerging of a quid pro quo that evolved over time, with the president progressively upping the ante when his demands were not met.

What started as a bid to leverage Zelenskiys hopes for a White House meeting took on added dimensions as the Ukrainian leader mentioned his desire to buy Javelin missiles from the United States and Trump, in a separate move, put $391 million in military aid on hold.

The evolution of Trumps efforts to commit the Ukrainians to investigations that could help his re-election may explain the discrepancies in the accounts given to House investigators about whether Trump ever said explicitly that the freeze in aid was linked to his and Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giulianis demands and to whom he might have said it.

In the end, he may not have needed to say it out loud.

Both acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and former White House official Fiona Hill testified that by early July, the Ukrainians had learned from Trumps emissaries that Zelenskiy wouldnt get a White House visit unless he agreed to Giulianis demand that he publicly commit to investigate supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and Burisma, the natural gas company tied to former Vice President Joe Bidens son Hunter.

Zelenskiy never did commit to the investigations, and wasnt granted his White House visit.

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In the midst of all that, Trump appears to have increased the cost of refusing his demands. He directed that U.S. military assistance scheduled to be delivered to the Ukrainians be unexpectedly held back, as even his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, has acknowledged.

Taylor, in testimony that Democratic lawmakers described as leaving them gasping, discussed hunting for answers from other U.S. officials about why the aid was frozen after learning about it from a budget staffer on a conference call. Taylor said that one White House official Alex Vindman had told him that Sondland had told a top Zelenskiy aide the money wouldnt flow until Zelenskiy committed to investigate Burisma.

Sondland even told Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin the aid was held up until the Ukrainians agreed to the investigation, Johnson told The Wall Street Journal.

In Sondlands telling, according to the individuals with knowledge of his testimony, that assertion was based on his own speculation that Trump was applying the same conditions to the military assistance that he had to a Zelenskiy meeting not on anything Trump explicitly said. In fact, when asked about it separately by both Sondland and Johnson, Trump repeatedly denied there was any quid pro quo, according to Sondlands testimony, text messages given to Congress and a statement from Johnson. Trump has repeated that assertion in public.

To be sure, the testimony from Sondland a political appointee and a major donor to Trumps inauguration who calls himself a lifelong Republican, was in many ways less damning to the president than the testimony from career diplomats such as Taylor and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. The White House has tried to undercut the credibility of their testimony by dismissing them as radical unelected bureaucrats.

Yet even on its own, Sondlands testimony described a tit-for-tat arrangement that meets the basic definition of a quid pro quo. In his deposition, he acknowledged that the conditions were so clear that he and the former U.S. envoy for Ukraine talks, Kurt Volker, conveyed them to the Ukrainians, the individuals said.

Still, Sondland maintained to the incredulity of many Democrats that he didnt know until much later that Burisma was tied to Bidens son. That assertion and Sondlands claims that he couldnt recall other key moments of interest to House investigators led to significant frustration among Democrats, lawmakers and others briefed on his testimony said.

Spokespersons for the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry declined to comment.

As House investigators seek to piece together the presidents actions on Ukraine over the last several months, they are dependent on a parade of witnesses who each have only partial visibility into what transpired behind the scenes.

Hill and Taylor both testified that the normal channels for conducting diplomacy on Ukraine and keeping relevant officials in the loop were circumvented by Giuliani and a troika of officials deputized by Trump to run a shadow policy on Ukraine: Sondland, Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

And as text messages among many of those individuals show, even they were left struggling in real time to figure out what was happening from their perches in disparate parts of the world: Taylor in Kyiv, Sondland in Brussels, Perry and Hill in Washington and Volker shuttling back and forth between the United States and Ukraine.

A third possible leverage point Javelin anti-tank missiles was introduced during Trumps July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy, the call that prompted a whistleblower complaint and ultimately triggered the impeachment proceedings.

Zelenskiy, according to a memo detailing the call later released by the White House, said Ukraine was almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes against Russian aggression.

I would like you to do us a favor, though, Trump immediately replied, before asking Zelenskiy to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. He invoked a debunked conspiracy theory about a hacked Democratic National Committee server ending up in Ukraine and also mentioned Bidens son.

By that time, the $391 million in military aid had already been suspended, although there are no indications the Ukrainians knew that at the time of the Zelenskiy call. Taylor testified that in his meetings with Ukrainian officials in late July and most of August, the Ukrainians appeared unaware of the freeze, although The New York Times reported Wednesday that the Ukrainians were aware by early August.

The Javelin missiles, though, were separate from the military aid that Trump had quietly suspended in mid-July.

The $391 million in aid to Ukraine was divided into two buckets to be doled out by the State Department and the Defense Department. The State Department funds, for example, were to be given to Ukraine to then use to buy military equipment from U.S. defense manufacturers.

The Javelin missiles, on the other hand, were to have been bought by the Ukrainians using their own money, according to a foreign military sale notification from the Trump administration to Congress. That sale 150 missiles at a cost of $39 million was approved earlier this month.

Its unclear whether Trump, when he responded to Zelenskiys missile ask by requesting a favor, was aware that Javelins were not part of the aid hed just suspended.

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Impeachment hearings depict a quid pro quo that evolved over time - NBC News

Banff festival explores the evolution of global mountain culture through film – Calgary Herald

From the film Bayandalai Lord of the Taiga. Courtesy, Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival.Calgary

There a Spanish film about a Basque painter drawing inspiration from the Norwegian Svlabard archipelago near the North Pole. Theres a German film about a French paraglider exploring the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan. Theres an Austrian film about Nigerian BMX riders. Yet another Spanish film tells the story of a reindeer herder from the Dukhas tribe in Taiga.

If there is a theme to this years Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival, its that the celebration of mountain culture is an increasingly borderless, global and diverse phenomenon.

From the film Winterland by Nic Alegre. Courtesy, Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival.Nic Alegre / Calgary

We are seeing different types of people represented on screen, says festival director Joanna Croston. Theres more people of colour. Indigenous stories are being told as well, not just Canadian indigenous but international indigenous as well. Its exciting for us to have a different type of narrative other than the colonial, white narrative that would have been representative of the 50s and large nations going to conquer peaks. That has changed a lot.

From the film Queen Without Land by Asgeir Helgestad. Courtesy, Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival.Calgary

The festival does not date back to the 1950s, but it is celebrating its 44th year. That makes it the second-oldest mountain film festival in the world, behind only the 67-year-old Trento Film Festival in Italy. The festival, which runs until Nov. 3, will screen 100 films from 19 countries. More than 100 filmmakers will be visiting from around the world.

All films are finalists, up for 10 prizes that are divided into sub-genres.

It may be little known to Calgarians and also to people in the Bow Valley just how prestigious the Banff festival is and how it is held in high regard across the planet, says Croston. For a lot of filmmakers, its a life dream recognized to be on our stage and accept an award but also just to have their films screened here. The competition is really competitive.

From the film The Pathan Project by Jean Louis Wertz. Courtesy, Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival.Calgary

In fact, there were 450 entries this year for the festival. As with all filmmaking, the boost in technology has democratized mountain films. Its no longer solely the domain of established filmmakers with access to big budgets. The films range from being a few minutes long to feature-length and are mostly non-fiction. But they are still judged on narrative, character development and the technical skills of the filmmaker. Increasingly, entries have an environmental theme. Skiing and other mountain sports are still big topics.

But there is also a common thread that links many of the hundreds of films that enter the competition.

The idea of the indomitable human spirit is always a big theme for us, Croston says. People overcoming obstacles; those may be life obstacles or they may be physical mountains. Thats always a prevalent theme and its never really gone away. It was probably in the first festival we held and its still around. I think people are looking for an escape from their everyday lives.

The festival is expected to attract 20,000 people from around the globe. For the past 25 years, a version of each years lineup travels to different countries. The festival now goes to 43 countries, holds 1,100 screenings and attracts 500,000 spectators. The first stop is in Great Falls, Mont., a week after the Banff festival ends.

When we get visitors from other nations visiting Banff, a lot of the temporary workers who come to town for the ski season, for example, they will have heard of Banff through the world tour we offer, says Croston. In some cases, they dont even know its a town. They think Banff is an acronym because weve got this double-f on the back of our name, they think it sounds for film festival. When they discover we are actually a place, they get quite excited about that.

The Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival runs from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3. For a schedule visit banffcentre.ca/banff-mountain-film-book-festival

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Banff festival explores the evolution of global mountain culture through film - Calgary Herald

The evolution of the digital industry: Looking back on the last 25 years – The Drum

Rewind the clock 25 years 1994 was the year of fax machines, SyQuest disks and video cassette recorders but it was also the year that gave birth to the beginning of digital advertising. With the creation of the first banner ad for a website called HotWired.com the industry entered a new age of innovation and changed the course of advertising forever.

To celebrate the digital advertisings quarter-of-a-century anniversary, Adobe has released its Now were 25. Digital advertising grows up report which features a range of interviews and research to reflect on how far digital has come and predict where its headed.

Adobes senior account manager Lizzie Blundell will highlight some of the reports key findings in a webcast hosted by The Drum. In the session, she will trawl digitals history and recall various milestones, such as the birth of DoubleClick, Apples first iPhone release and the recent changes to GDPR regulations to consider what effect the dotcom movement had for marketers. She will also assess what problems were solved for advertisers and think about how global advertising spends have changed over this period.

Obviously, the digital landscape has completely changed in the last 25 years, with personalisation and targeting becoming essential parts of the creative process something Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative now enables.

The webcast will also reveal some of the key challenges that have evolved throughout this timeframe, citing ad fraud and a lack of consistent metrics as some of the pitfalls marketers are dealing with. Blundell will look at the total spend of digital ads across various social media platforms to work out how marketers can maximise their coverage and get around these platforms walled gardens.

Data has become increasingly important in recent years both for measuring and capturing consumer information yet Blundell will remind advertisers of the power and responsibility they now have. The report also expects personalisation and increased data protection to be consistent areas of focus for marketers, and Blundell will discuss the industrys need for more connected metrics to improve measuring customer engagement.

She will also consider the changing structure of the industry and the effect of advertisers increasingly creating internal teams for traditionally outsourced functions and how this will change client-agency relationships.

The webcast will also explore the opportunities that will become available to marketers in the next 25 years taking us up to 2044. Fusion power, virtual telepathy and Chinas space program are expected to be new spaces for advertisers to explore.

Although its difficult to predict just how advertising will evolve in that time, theres no doubt that the industry is on course for another evolution.

The current climate for digital advertising conjures up a flurry of industry woes over data privacy, security, and ownership. But the silver lining is the dawn of redefined digital experiences that turns advertising into an essential part of an experience-led strategy and makes the most of a market worth more than half a trillion dollars, said Keith Eadie, VP and general manager of Adobe Advertising Cloud.

Find out what the future of the industry will look like by tuning into the webcast, thats taking place on 5 November 2019.

Register your interest for free here and download the full report now.

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The evolution of the digital industry: Looking back on the last 25 years - The Drum

THE EVOLUTION OF THE US NEOBANK MARKET: Why the US digital-only banking space may finally be poised for the sp – Business Insider India

What is a neobank?

Neobanks, digital-only banks that aren't saddled by traditional banking technology and costly networks of physical branches, have been working to redefine retail banking in major markets around the world.

The top neobanks in the US and EU include:

That's largely because of an onerous regulatory regime, which has made it very difficult to obtain a banking license, and the entrenched position incumbents hold in the financial lives of US consumers. Navigating the tedious and costly scheme for obtaining a banking charter and appropriate approvals has been a major stumbling block for the country's digital banking upstarts. However, developments over the past year suggest these startups are finally poised for the spotlight in the US.

Consumers', particularly millennials', growing frustration with legacy banking service providers, combined with their increased appetite for digital solutions, has accelerated the shift to digital-only banking. Startups and tech-savvy players are redefining the retail banking space and forcing incumbents to either evolve or lose out on this key business segment.

In The Evolution of the US Neobank Market, Business Insider Intelligence maps out the factors contributing to this shifting tide, examines how key players are positioning themselves to take advantage, and explores how incumbents can embark on their own digital transformations to stave off disruption.

The companies mentioned in this report include: Aspiration, Chime, Goldman Sachs' Marcus, JPMorgan Chase's Finn, N26, and Revolut.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

Interested in getting the full report? Here are four ways to get access:

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THE EVOLUTION OF THE US NEOBANK MARKET: Why the US digital-only banking space may finally be poised for the sp - Business Insider India

Evolution of Speech Recognition Technology – ReadWrite

Communication plays an essential role in our lives. Humans started with signs, symbols, and then made progress to a stage, where they began communicating with languages. Later computing and communication technologies came. Machines began communicating with humans and in some cases, with themselves also. The communication created the world of the internet, or as we technically know the Internet of Things(IoT). Here is the evolution of speech recognition technology that involves machine learning.

The internet gave rise to new ways of using data. Using this, we can communicate directly or indirectly with machines by training them, which is known as Machine Learning. Before this, we have to access a computer to communicate with machines.

Research and development are beginning to eliminate some of the use of computers to a great extent. We know this technology as Automatic Speech Recognition. Based on Natural Language Processing (NLP), it allows us to interact with machines using our natural language in which we speak.

The initial research in the field of Speech Recognition has been successful. Since then, speech scientists and engineers aim to optimize the speech recognition engines correctly. The ultimate goal is to optimize the machines interaction according to the situations so that error rates can be reduced and efficiency can be increased.

Some organizations have already started the development of fine-tuning speech recognition technologies. For more than a decade, Virginia based GoVivace Inc. has continually specialized in the design and development of speech recognition technologies and solutions.

Automatic Speech Recognition(ASR) technology is a combination of two different branches Computer Science and Linguistics. Computer Science to design algorithms and to program and Linguistics to create a dictionary of words, sentences, and phrases.

The first stage of development starts with speech transcriptions, where the audio is converted into text, i.e., speech to text conversion. After this, the system removes unwanted signals or noise by filtering. We have different voice speeds while saying a word or sentence, so the general model of speech recognition is designed to account for those rate changes.

Later the signals are further divided to identify phonemes. Phonemes are the letters that have the same level of airflow, like b and p. After this, the program tries to match the exact word by making a comparison with words and sentences that are stored in the linguistics dictionary. Then, the speech recognition algorithm uses statistical and mathematical modeling to determine the exact word.

One type of system is accomplished with learning mode and other as a human dependent system. With developments in Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Big Data, speech recognition technology achieved the next level. A specific neural architecture called long short term memory bought a significant improvement in this field. Globally, organizations are leveraging the power of speech at their premises at different levels for a wide variety of tasks.

Speech to text software includes timestamps and confidence score for each word. Many countries do not have their language embedded keyboards, and a majority of people do not have an idea of using a specific language keyboard, though they are verbally good at it. In such cases, speech transcriptionshelp them to convert speech into text in any language.

The other use of this technology is in real-time. Tech done in real-time is known as Computer Assisted Real-Time translation. It is basically a speech to text system which operates on a real-time basis. Organizations all over the world perform meetings and conferences.

For maximum participation by global audiences, they leverage the power of live captioning systems. The real-timecaptioning system converts the speech to text and displays it on the output screen. It translates the speech in one language to the text of other languages and also helps in making notes of a presentation or a speech. These systems convert speech to text that is also understood by hearing-impaired people.

Apart from speech to text, the technology spreads its branch into the biometric system, which created voice biometrics for authentication of users. Voice biometric systems analyze the voice of the speaker, which depends on factors like modulation, pronunciations, and other elements.

In these systems, the sample voice of the speaker is analyzed and stored as a template. Whenever the user speaks the phrase or sentence, the voice biometrics system compares them with the stored template and provides authentication. However, these systems are facing a lot of challenges. Our voice is always affected by physical factors or emotional state.

The recent developments in biometric voice systems operate by matching the phrase with the sample. After this, it analyzes the voice patterns by taking psychological and behavioral voice signal into consideration. Also, the developments in voice biometrics technology are going to help enterprises where data security is a significant concern.

Analytics play an essential role in the development of speech recognition technology. Big data analysis created a need for storing voice data. Call centers started using the recorded calls for training their employees. Since customer satisfaction is now the primary focus of organizations around the globe. Now, organizations want to track and analyze the conversation between executives and customers.

With Call Analytics applications, organizations can monitor and measure the performance and analytics of call. This call analytical solution enhances the performance of services provided by call centers. Through this, one can classify their customers and can serve them better by giving faster and favorable responses.

Research in speech recognition technology has a long way to go. Until now, the program can act on instructions only. Human communication feel does not exist entirely with machines. Researchers are trying to inculcate the human responsiveness into machines. They have a long way to go in the innovation of speech recognition technology.

The primary feature of research concentrates on how to make speech recognition technology more accurate. For human language understanding, we need more accuracy. For example, a person raised a question, how do I change camera light settings? This question technically means that the individual wants to adjust the camera flash. So significant concentration is on understanding the free form language of humans before answering specific questions.

So overall, machine learning with speech recognition technology has already made its way into the organizations globally and started providing effective and efficient results. Very soon we might be seeing a day where the automated stenographer would get promoted and start taking an active part in organizing the meetings and presentations.

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Evolution of Speech Recognition Technology - ReadWrite

IN PICTURES | Now & then: the evolution of the VW Golf – TimesLIVE

With the eighth-generation Golf having just been unveiled, we take a quick look at its lineage

27 October 2019 - 00:00 By

At the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, Volkswagen revealed its first fully electric production vehicle. The ID.3 will spearhead the charge in this arena and marks the opening of the product floodgates for the sub-brand.

A crucial thing was said by the company: the latest model will be as significant as the Beetle and Golf were in defining events. A lofty expectation indeed. Especially as we draw our attention to the hatchback that took the baton from the bug-shaped genesis...

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IN PICTURES | Now & then: the evolution of the VW Golf - TimesLIVE

Here’s the probability that something like humans evolved on other planets – Inverse

Are we alone in the universe? It comes down to whether intelligence is a probable outcome of natural selection or an improbable fluke. By definition, probable events occur frequently, improbable events occur rarely or once. Our evolutionary history shows that many key adaptations not just intelligence, but complex animals, complex cells, photosynthesis, and life itself were unique one-off events and therefore highly improbable. Our evolution may have been like winning the lottery only far less likely.

The universe is astonishingly vast. The Milky Way has more than 100 billion stars, and there are over a trillion galaxies in the visible universe, the tiny fraction of the universe we can see. Even if habitable worlds are rare, their sheer number there are as many planets as stars, maybe more suggests lots of life is out there. So where is everyone? This is the Fermi paradox. The universe is large and old, with time and room for intelligence to evolve, but theres no evidence of it.

Could intelligence simply be unlikely to evolve? Unfortunately, we cant study extraterrestrial life to answer this question. But we can study some 4.5 billion years of Earths history, looking at where evolution repeats itself, or doesnt.

Evolution sometimes repeats, with different species independently converging on similar outcomes. If evolution frequently repeats itself, then our evolution might be probable, even inevitable.

And striking examples of convergent evolution do exist. Australias extinct, marsupial thylacine had a kangaroo-like pouch but otherwise looked like a wolf, despite evolving from a different mammal lineage. There are also marsupial moles, marsupial anteaters, and marsupial flying squirrels. Remarkably, Australias entire evolutionary history, with mammals diversifying after the dinosaur extinction, parallels other continents.

Other striking cases of convergence include dolphins and extinct ichthyosaurs, which evolved similar shapes to glide through the water, and birds, bats, and pterosaurs, which convergently evolved flight.

We also see convergence in individual organs. Eyes evolved not just in vertebrates, but in arthropods, octopi, worms, and jellyfish. Vertebrates, arthropods, octopi, and worms independently invented jaws. Legs evolved convergently in the arthropods, octopi, and four kinds of fish (tetrapods, frogfish, skates, mudskippers).

Heres the catch. All this convergence happened within one lineage, the Eumetazoa. Eumetazoans are complex animals with symmetry, mouths, guts, muscles, a nervous system. Different eumetazoans evolved similar solutions to similar problems, but the complex body plan that made it all possible is unique. Complex animals evolved once in lifes history, suggesting theyre improbable.

Surprisingly, many critical events in our evolutionary history are unique and, probably, improbable. One is the bony skeleton of vertebrates, which let large animals move onto land. The complex, eukaryotic cells that all animals and plants are built from, containing nuclei and mitochondria, evolved only once. Sex evolved just once. Photosynthesis, which increased the energy available to life and produced oxygen, is a one-off. For that matter, so is human-level intelligence. There are marsupial wolves and moles, but no marsupial humans.

There are places where evolution repeats and places where it doesnt. If we only look for convergence, it creates confirmation bias. Convergence seems to be the rule, and our evolution looks probable. But when you look for non-convergence, its everywhere, and critical, complex adaptations seem to be the least repeatable and, therefore, improbable.

Whats more, these events depended on one another. Humans couldnt evolve until fish evolved bones that let them crawl onto land. Bones couldnt evolve until complex animals appeared. Complex animals needed complex cells, and complex cells needed oxygen, made by photosynthesis. None of this happens without the evolution of life, a singular event among singular events. All organisms come from a single ancestor; as far as we can tell, life only happened once.

Curiously, all this takes a surprisingly long time. Photosynthesis evolved 1.5 billion years after the Earths formation, complex cells after 2.7 billion years, complex animals after 4 billion years, and human intelligence 4.5 billion years after the Earth formed. That these innovations are so useful but took so long to evolve implies that theyre exceedingly improbable.

These one-off innovations, critical flukes, may create a chain of evolutionary bottlenecks or filters. If so, our evolution wasnt like winning the lottery. It was like winning the lottery again, and again, and again. On other worlds, these critical adaptations might have evolved too late for intelligence to emerge before their suns went nova, or not at all.

Imagine that intelligence depends on a chain of seven unlikely innovations the origin of life, photosynthesis, complex cells, sex, complex animals, skeletons, and intelligence itself each with a 10% chance of evolving. The odds of evolving intelligence become 1 in 10 million.

But complex adaptations might be even less likely. Photosynthesis required a series of adaptations in proteins, pigments, and membranes. Eumetazoan animals required multiple anatomical innovations (nerves, muscles, mouths, and so on). So maybe each of these seven key innovations evolve just 1% of the time. If so, intelligence will evolve on just 1 in 100 trillion habitable worlds. If habitable worlds are rare, then we might be the only intelligent life in the galaxy, or even the visible universe.

And yet, were here. That must count for something, right? If evolution gets lucky 1 in 100 trillion times, what are the odds we happen to be on a planet where it happened? Actually, the odds of being on that improbable world are 100%, because we couldnt have this conversation on a world where photosynthesis, complex cells, or animals didnt evolve. Thats the anthropic principle: Earths history must have allowed intelligent life to evolve, or we wouldnt be here to ponder it.

Intelligence seems to depend on a chain of improbable events. But given the vast number of planets, then like an infinite number of monkeys pounding on an infinite number of typewriters to write Hamlet, its bound to evolve somewhere. The improbable result was us.

This article was originally published on The Conversation by Nick Longrich. Read the original article here.

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Here's the probability that something like humans evolved on other planets - Inverse


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