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Endnotes on 2020: Crypto and Beyond

The community split was chaotic, and one can see this in how the channels of communication were split up in the divorce: /r/bitcoin stayed under the control of supporters of Bitcoin (BTC). /r/btc was controlled by supporters of Bitcoin Cash (BCH). was controlled by supporters of Bitcoin (BTC). on the other hand was controlled by supporters of Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Each side claimed themselves to be the true Bitcoin. The result looked remarkably similar to one of those civil wars that happens from time to time that results in a country splitting in half, the two halves calling themselves almost identical names that differ only in which subset of the words "democratic", "people's" and "republic" appears on each side. Neither side had the ability to destroy the other, and of course there was no higher authority to adjudicate the dispute.

Alexander Korda: Churchill’s Man in Hollywood | Finest Hour 179

In Churchill’s George V screenplay, the following line appears: “In all her wars, England always wins one battle—the last.” In 1942, he delivered the same line to tremendous applause, in what he termed “The Bright Gleam of Victory” speech.

Bill Moyers and Heather Cox Richardson on Her Daily Letters –

HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: The newsletter was completely an accident, and I have my readers to thank for it. I had on Facebook a professional page that I posted on about once a week. And I hadn’t written on it in a while in the summer last year because I was actually busy moving. And I was all set to get in the car and drive from my home in Maine to teach in Boston. And I happened to be stung by a yellow-jacket, and I’m allergic to them. And I didn’t have my EpiPen nearby. So I didn’t dare get on the road until I knew how badly I would react. And I thought, “Well, I haven’t written in a while on my Facebook page.” And I know that on Friday, Friday the 13th, September 13th, Adam Schiff wrote a letter to the acting director of national intelligence at the time saying, “We know there’s a whistleblower complaint out there. And we know that you have it, and we know that you’re supposed to give it to us, and you’re not. And that means that we have to assume it’s a really big deal. Hand the stupid thing over.” And of course, I paraphrase, but that was the gist of it. And I recognized because I’m a political historian, that this was the first time that a member of Congress had found a specific law that they were accusing a specific member of the executive branch of violating. So I thought, you know, I oughta put that down, ’cause this is a really important moment. If you knew what you were looking for, it was a big moment. So I wrote it down, and then got myself back to Boston and got home and there were a ton of questions about what I’d written. And it was clear that the readers wanted to know more. They seemed to want to know the answers, so I wrote again, I think it was two nights later on the 17th. And I’ve written every night since because questions just poured in, and people flooded me with questions about what was going on, and who were the players, and how was this going to play out? And what were the laws, and why should I have any hope that this was gonna turn out in a good way? And this was just something that really was sort of reader-driven, not driven by me at all. And I think that’s probably why it’s had such staying power.

The Eerie Parallels Between Coronavirus and the Bubonic Plague - Rolling Stone

Crises like these — whether it’s a crisis of political legitimacy, or a pandemic that demands response, or some kind of major external war that crops up out of nowhere — the chances are good that whatever snaps under the pressure of that crisis was probably straining already, was probably barely chugging along already. There’s some kind of deep problem that a crisis is going to expose, bring to the fore, and then break very dramatically for everybody to see. We see the crisis and we see the break — and we equate the two. We’re narrative creatures. That’s how we understand the world. We understand things as a story with a climax, and the break has to be the climax. It’s very hard for us to turn a more analytical eye and see the collection of very small things that lead up to a systemic break. It’s just difficult. But these disasters don’t create these trends so much as they supercharge them.

You Think We’re Self-Obsessed Now? The 19th Century Would Like A Word | FiveThirtyEight

After 14 years, Kaplan and his colleagues finally had their “Bibliography of American Autobiographies.” They ended up identifying 6,377 autobiographies published in the U.S. between 1675 and the 1940s, and their data shows the genre’s notable growth. Between 1800 and 1809, Americans published a total of just 27 autobiographies. One century later, during the decade between 1900 and 1909, that number had exploded to 569, easily outpacing population growth.

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race | Discover Magazine

One straight forward example of what paleopathologists have learned from skeletons concerns historical changes in height. Skeletons from Greece and Turkey show that the average height of hunger-gatherers toward the end of the ice ages was a generous 5' 9'' for men, 5' 5'' for women. With the adoption of agriculture, height crashed, and by 3000 B. C. had reached a low of only 5' 3'' for men, 5' for women. By classical times heights were very slowly on the rise again, but modern Greeks and Turks have still not regained the average height of their distant ancestors.

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race | Discover Magazine

While farmers concentrate on high-carbohydrate crops like rice and potatoes, the mix of wild plants and animals in the diets of surviving hunter-gatherers provides more protein and a bettter balance of other nutrients. In one study, the Bushmen's average daily food intake (during a month when food was plentiful) was 2,140 calories and 93 grams of protein, considerably greater than the recommended daily allowance for people of their size. It's almost inconceivable that Bushmen, who eat 75 or so wild plants, could die of starvation the way hundreds of thousands of Irish farmers and their families did during the potato famine of the 1840s.

Only eat oysters in months with an 'r'? Rule of thumb is at least 4,000 years old -- ScienceDaily

Cannarozzi and Kowalewski, Thompson Chair of Invertebrate Paleontology, analyzed oysters and snails from a 230-foot-wide, 4,300-year-old shell ring on St. Catherines Island and compared them with live oysters and snails. They found that island inhabitants were primarily harvesting oysters during late fall, winter and spring, which also suggested the presence of people on the island tapered off during the summer. The seasonality of the shell ring may be one of the earliest records of sustainable harvesting, Cannarozzi said. Oysters in the Southeast spawn from May to October, and avoiding oyster collection in the summer may help replenish their numbers.

Fake doctor saved thousands of infants and changed medical history

But for all his showbiz, Couney was in the lifesaving business, and he took it seriously. The exhibit was immaculate. When new children arrived, dropped off by panicked parents who knew Couney could help them where hospitals could not, they were immediately bathed, rubbed with alcohol and swaddled tight, then “placed in an incubator kept at 96 or so degrees, depending on the patient. Every two hours, those who could suckle were carried upstairs on a tiny elevator and fed by breast by wet nurses who lived in the building. The rest [were fed by] a funneled spoon.”

Early humans evolved in ecosystems unlike any found today -- ScienceDaily

For example, modern African ecosystems are dominated by ruminants -- relatives of cows and antelopes that have four compartments in their stomachs to thoroughly break down food. Non-ruminants equipped with simple stomachs are comparatively rare, with at most eight species coexisting in the same area today. Non-ruminants, including relatives of elephants, zebras, hippos, rhinos and pigs, are like digestive conveyor belts, said Faith. They eat larger quantities of plants to make up for their inefficient digestion. In contrast to the present-day pattern, eastern African fossil records document landscapes rich in non-ruminant communities, with dozens of species co-existing within the same area. Fossil and modern communities were also vastly different in terms of body sizes. The fossil records document lots more megaherbivores than their modern counterparts. A steady decline of megaherbivores began 4.5 million years ago until they represented a more modern distribution 700,000 years ago.

Delay Discounting as a Transdiagnostic Process in Psychiatric Disorders: A Meta-analysis | Psychiatry | JAMA Psychiatry | JAMA Network

In this meta-analysis of 57 effect sizes from 43 studies across 8 diagnostic categories, robust differences in delay discounting were observed between people with psychiatric disorders and controls. Most individuals with disorders (including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder) exhibited steeper discounting compared with controls, whereas those with anorexia nervosa exhibited shallower discounting compared with controls.

One by one, historical events are rewritten by the Orbán regime – Hungarian Spectrum

The Budapest Festival Orchestra was performing an all-Beethoven concert on August 18, and Iván Fischer decided to give away 400 tickets to the German visitors. And they came. As he said later, they could easily be spotted by their casual outfits. Once the concert was over, a large group of diplomats from the West German Embassy thanked Fischer for his gesture. They told him that during intermission they had distributed pamphlets to the refugees informing them of the narrow window of opportunity at Sopron the next day. Of course, the concert was just one of the places where the German refugees could be reached, but this story is further proof of the joint domestic and international effort to help the refugees. I should add that Prime Minister Miklós Németh paid several visits to the Zugliget temporary shelter. Opposition leaders were giving the government advice on possible ways to solve the problem, as László Kovács, deputy to Gyula Horn, wrote in an article yesterday titled “On the background of the opening of the borders.” But this is not how the Orbán government wants Hungarians to remember the summer of 1989. As we know, Helmut Kohl’s government felt enormous gratitude for what the Germans considered to be a courageous and humane gesture involving considerable danger considering the still fluid political situation in the Soviet Union. As Boris Kálnoky relates in his article “Merkels überraschend neuer Ton bei ihrem Orbán-Besuch,” Zoltán Balog, former politician and apparently future bishop, said at a two-day conference on the Pan-European Picnic’s thirtieth anniversary that “this praise of the Germans for the former communist dictatorship disturbed us, dissidents even then, and it bothers us to this day.” He claimed that “without our pressure, the communists would never have changed.”

'Extraordinary' 500-year-old library catalogue reveals books lost to time | Books | The Guardian

“It’s a discovery of immense importance, not only because it contains so much information about how people read 500 years ago, but also, because it contains summaries of books that no longer exist, lost in every other form than these summaries,” said Wilson-Lee. “The idea that this object which was so central to this extraordinary early 16th-century project and which one always thought of with this great sense of loss, of what could have been if this had been preserved, for it then to just show up in Copenhagen perfectly preserved, at least 350 years after its last mention in Spain …”

Game Of Thrones brutally asserts that the game in question will have no winner (experts)

It’s not that the final season is failing to live up to my specific expectations of what was supposed to happen, which I avoided having for that reason. It’s that the final season is failing to live up to what I believe a final season should do: enriching the show that came before it. And while the notion that power corrupts has always been at the heart of this story, the way it manifests here feels like a simplification of the show and its ideas, as opposed to a culmination of its larger journey.

The Lab Coat Is on the Hook in the Fight Against Germs - The New York Times

This change took place in part because doctors wanted to spruce up their dubious reputation. Until the advent of such medical reformers as Abraham Flexner and Sir William Osler about 100 years ago, medical training in the United States was notoriously lax. Lectures, not clinical experience, were the norm. It was the age of horse sense and the quack. So to more closely associate themselves in the public mind with sound science, physicians began donning the lab coats that were being worn by chemists and other laboratory types. These coats were generally beige. But white soon became the standard. “Our notion since the 1880s, when the germ theory of disease began to take hold, is that microbes hide in dark, dirty places, and that white stands for purity, both material and moral,” said Guenter Risse, a physician and author of “Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals” (Oxford, 1999). “Wearing white coats was a symbol that you were clean.”

Why Is It So Hard to Predict the Future? - The Atlantic

One subgroup of scholars, however, did manage to see more of what was coming. Unlike Ehrlich and Simon, they were not vested in a single discipline. They took from each argument and integrated apparently contradictory worldviews. They agreed that Gorbachev was a real reformer and that the Soviet Union had lost legitimacy outside Russia. A few of those integrators saw that the end of the Soviet Union was close at hand and that real reforms would be the catalyst. The integrators outperformed their colleagues in pretty much every way, but especially trounced them on long-term predictions. Eventually, Tetlock bestowed nicknames (borrowed from the philosopher Isaiah Berlin) on the experts he’d observed: The highly specialized hedgehogs knew “one big thing,” while the integrator foxes knew “many little things.”

From Clay Tablets to Smartphones: 5,000 Years of Writing - The New York Times

One of the most moving objects in the exhibition is an Egyptian schoolchild’s homework from the second century A.D. done on a wax tablet. An instructor has written out two lines in Greek, which the student has tried and failed to copy below. The student forgot the first letter then couldn’t finish the sentence because they ran out of space.

Stone Age Cave Symbols May All Be Part of a Single Prehistoric Proto-Writing System

And when von Petzinger looked through archaeology papers for mentions or illustrations of symbols in cave art outside Europe, she found that many of her 32 signs were used around the world. There is even tantalising evidence that an earlier human, Homo erectus, deliberately etched a zigzag on a shell on Java some 500,000 years ago. “The ability of humans to produce a system of signs is clearly not something that starts 40,000 years ago. This capacity goes back at least 100,000 years,” says Francesco d’Errico from the University of Bordeaux, France.

Data Mining Reveals the Six Basic Emotional Arcs of Storytelling - MIT Technology Review

The idea behind sentiment analysis is that words have a positive or negative emotional impact. So words can be a measure of the emotional valence of the text and how it changes from moment to moment. So measuring the shape of the story arc is simply a question of assessing the emotional polarity of a story at each instant and how it changes. Reagan and co do this by analyzing the emotional polarity of “word windows” and sliding these windows through the text to build up a picture of how the emotional valence changes. They performed this task on over 1,700 English works of fiction that had each been downloaded from the Project Gutenberg website more than 150 times.

Life's transitions easier with a sense of a well-rounded ending -- ScienceDaily

"Starting a new life phase in a positive and constructive way is often challenging, so we examined methods that could help people find a good start to a new job, a new relationship, or a new home," explains Gabriele Oettingen, a professor in New York University's Department of Psychology and the senior author of the study, which appears in the journal Motivation Science. "We observed that how people end their previous life periods makes a difference. In fact, the more people feel that they have done everything they could have done, that they have completed something to the fullest, and that all loose ends are tied up, the happier they are later on, the less they are plagued by regrets, and the more constructively they enter the next life phase."

Roomful of Teeth Is Revolutionizing Choral Music | The New Yorker

Christian monks sang in unison for nearly a thousand years before they allowed themselves a second vocal line, and then only in lockstep with the melody. Three-part harmony had to wait another three centuries, when English and French clergymen added a third or a sixth to the chord. And what we think of as classical harmony, with major and minor keys and chords that follow the bass line, didn’t emerge until the Renaissance. As late as the seventeen-hundreds, the tritone—a dissonant interval of two notes, three whole steps apart—was reviled as diabolus in musica: the devil in music.

Pitch perfect: Strategic language use maximizes the chances of influencing an audience: Researcher determines pitching strategies used by influential entrepreneurs -- ScienceDaily

The study found that entrepreneurs who successfully influenced their audience often implied a point without actually making it when talking about the future; they encouraged their audience to fill in the blanks. "The audience becomes engaged, they start becoming a part of the argument, they actually even complete it, so they're more likely to be convinced by it," Dr van Werven said.

talking to your TV, Black Mirror backstory

"Kids in general don't hesitate to talk to the screen," Engelbrecht says. "But they immediately lit up. One of my absolutely favorite moments was with an 8- and 9-year-old brother and sister. They'd go back and forth: 'Shake hands!' 'Kiss!' They'd cheer and boo, and all all the while had these smiles on their faces—and their mom too."

Poker Skills Help Debut Author Scrutinize Relationships In 'The Adults' | Here & Now

"I think you can talk to several people about the same hand of poker, and they'll tell you what was going on, and they'll tell you a slightly different version of the story, and I think that's life. And I think we've all got our own versions of the stories, and I think depending on how well they stack up next to each other, that can make things easier or it can make things hard."

You become what you believe

A week later, the participants were given a result, based not on their actual data, but rather on one of two groups into which they had been randomly placed. Some were told they had the form of a gene called CREB1 that makes a person tire easily; others were told they had the high-endurance version. Then they ran on the treadmill again. This time, those who had been told they had the low-endurance version of CREB1 did worse on the test, even if they had the other variant. Compared with their results on the first test, on average their bodies removed toxic carbon dioxide less efficiently, their lung capacity dropped, and they stopped running 22 seconds sooner, the team reports today in Nature Human Behavior. And those who thought they had the high-endurance form of the CREB1 gene ran slightly longer on average before feeling hot and tired, regardless of what gene variant they had. “Simply giving people this information changed their physiology,” Turnwald says. The team also tested a second group of 107 people for its version of FTO, a gene that influences how full we feel after eating. Some versions can also predispose people to obesity. Participants ate a small meal and rated their fullness. After being told, at random, that they had a version of FTO that made them hungrier than average or one that made them easily sated, participants ate the same meal. Those told they had the “hungry” version of the gene didn’t feel any different. But those who were told they had the other version felt less hungry on average after eating; they also had higher blood levels of a hormone that indicates a feeling of fullness.

Ant Colonies Retain Memories That Outlast the Lifespans of Individuals | Science | Smithsonian

Colonies live for 20-30 years, the lifetime of the single queen who produces all the ants, but individual ants live at most a year. In response to perturbations, the behavior of older, larger colonies is more stable than that of younger ones. It is also more homeostatic: the larger the magnitude of the disturbance, the more likely older colonies were to focus on foraging than on responding to the hassles I had created; while, the worse it got, the more the younger colonies reacted. In short, older, larger colonies grow up to act more wisely than younger smaller ones, even though the older colony does not have older, wiser ants. Ants use the rate at which they meet and smell other ants, or the chemicals deposited by other ants, to decide what to do next. A neuron uses the rate at which it is stimulated by other neurons to decide whether to fire. In both cases, memory arises from changes in how ants or neurons connect and stimulate each other. It is likely that colony behavior matures because colony size changes the rates of interaction among ants. In an older, larger colony, each ant has more ants to meet than in a younger, smaller one, and the outcome is a more stable dynamic. Perhaps colonies remember a past disturbance because it shifted the location of ants, leading to new patterns of interaction, which might even reinforce the new behavior overnight while the colony is inactive, just as our own memories are consolidated during sleep. Changes in colony behavior due to past events are not the simple sum of ant memories, just as changes in what we remember, and what we say or do, are not a simple set of transformations, neuron by neuron. Instead, your memories are like an ant colony’s: no particular neuron remembers anything although your brain does.