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Showing posts from April, 2016

Oh Donna Oh

Donna, the sixteen-year old virgin of Hair, became eligible for Medicare and full Social Security benefits this year.

Albedo

Albedo (fraction of incident light reflected) is one of the largest feedbacks in the climate system. Snow and ice have high albedo, land and water low. Snow in Alaska and western Canada is predicted to be decimated over the next week. That should tend to warm the Beaufort and Chuckchi sea ice, which is already looking a bit fragile. A good chunk of Siberia is also seeing the snow go. So far, Arctic ice looks really vulnerable. Ice extent is already at record lows for the date, and volume is as low as it was in the record melt year of 2012 - but weather still is going to be the arbiter. TBD

Father of the Man

The revealing last sentences of Dark Money: As a child, he [Charles Koch] used to tell an unfunny joke. When called upon to split a treat with others, he would say with a wise-guy grin, “I just want my fair share— which is all of it.” Mayer, Jane (2016-01-19). Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Kindle Locations 7202-7203). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Killing Baby Hitler Revisited

Among John "Jeb" Bush's many stupid boasts was his claim that he would have the necessary lack of scruple to kill Hitler as a cute baby. As it turned out, he couldn't even scratch, much less kill, the not at all cute 69 year-old baby Hitler winning the Republican nomination.

Winter is Coming ...

... (Still) to western Europe and parts of the northern US. Meanwhile, it's toasty back in Winter's home, in the Arctic. This is not a entirely a coincidence. A ridge of high pressure that normally forms over the US and western Europe finds it more convenient to park elsewhere this April.

Dark Money: Book Review

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer is a superbly written and extensively documented book that tells a sickening story. It tells how a tiny group of the super wealthy, not from the 1% but from the top 1/100th of a percent, adopted the tactics of Lenin and Hitler to seize control of much of the American government and poison the minds of Americans against their own country. They combine immense wealth with low tactics like the big lie, character assassination, and intimidation with a long range strategic plan based on control of strategic opinion makers, a vast network of propaganda organizations loosely disguised as think tanks, and aggressive buying of influence in everything to from local legislative races to the oval office. Many of them have skirted the law or flouted it, their vast wealth enabling them to escape with fines and other wrist slaps. Their aims are radical: dismantling every aspect of the modern prog…

Building a Negative Greenhouse: Antarctica

Fernando wanted me to look at this paper: How increasing CO2 leads to an increased negative greenhouse effect in Antarctica from Geophysical Research Letters. I glanced through it, and the argument seemed not crazy, so I decided to see if I could work out a model from first principles to see whether it could plausibly work. Think of it as a three reservoir problem in thermodynamics. Space is a nice cold reservoir, the central Antarctic plateau is also pretty cold (temperature Ta), and sometimes colder than the stratosphere (Ts). There is a greenhouse gas atmosphere lying between the stratosphere and the ground. Suppose the GHG concentration increases. In that case, radiative heat flow from the stratosphere to the surface will decrease. If the opacity increase is the same for downwelling stratospheric radiation and upwelling surface radiation, then the ordinary greenhouse effect will obtain. Suppose, though, that the GHG layer is more transparent to upwelling radiation than dow…

Genomics FOTD

The average human has a genome that differs from the human reference genome at about 3-4 million sites (out of 3.2 billion). Asian, European, and (Native) American population groups (out of 26 population groups total; 10 Asian, 5 Eur, 6 NA, 5 African) went through extreme population bottlenecks 15-20,000 years ago where the effective population sizes of each were reduced to less than 1,500 individuals. The simultaneous African bottlenecks was a good deal less severe with effective population sizes > 4,500. Most rebounded with extreme population growth shortly thereafter.

Hillary vs. Donald

It looks like we have achieved the curse of interesting times. I was kind of hoping for a convention swindle resulting in a three way race between Cruz, Trump and Clinton, but it doesn't look like that could happen.

Scary - At Least For Hillary Fans

NYT headline: Charles Koch Says He Could Possibly Support Hillary ClintonCharles G. Koch, the billionaire industrialist, suggested in an interview Sunday that he was open to supporting Hillary Clinton for president and said it was possible she would make a better president than her Republican rivals. It was an unexpected sentiment from Mr. Koch, who has for years deployed his vast wealth to champion conservative causes and Republican candidacies, emerging as a major foe of the Democratic Party. ... Mr. Koch sounded at times baffled and disappointed by the language and ideas of several Republican presidential candidates in an interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC, which aired on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” He called a plan by Donald J. Trump to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country “monstrous” and dismissed Senator Ted Cruz’s proposal to carpet-bomb territory held by the Islamic State as “frightening” hyperbole. Mr. Koch spoke somewhat fondly of former Presid…

Uh Oh

Regular readers may have noticed that I'm a big admirer of Jane Mayer's book Dark Money, but there is an unfortunate boo-boo here: But as Dr. James Baker, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in 2005, “There’s a better scientific consensus on this than on any issue I know— except maybe Newton’s second law of [thermo] dynamics.” Mayer, Jane (2016-01-19). Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Kindle Locations 3944-3946). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. I assume the brackets mean that Baker did not actually use the word "thermo" but that Mayer or some unfortunate editor slipped it in. A little knowledge is still a dangerous thing.

Fossil Energy

No economic factor has been more important to the rise of modern civilization than fossil fuel energy, and this fact has concentrated enormous political and economic power in the hands of those who find, own, and control it. The available wealth attracted the bold, the brilliant and, frequently, the slightly crazy, but public spiritedness was not necessarily a major virtue or character trait among them. The enormously wealthy men, corporations, and countries that control this precious resource were not slow to recognize the threat that public concern over global warming posed to their particular fortunes - the money at stake was clearly in the trillions of dollars. From Dark Money, funding climate denial: The first peer-reviewed academic study on the topic added further detail. Robert Brulle, a Drexel University professor of sociology and environmental science, discovered that between 2003 and 2010 over half a billion dollars was spent on what he described as a massive “campaign to…

Ten Books for a Desert Island

From time to time the NYT asks various literary figures/micro celebrities what ten books that they would take to a desert island. They aren't going to ask me, but I think my library might be big on books on how to survive on a desert island, and, especially, how to get back to blankety-blank civilization. Assuming that were not an option, I would probably pick books that I hadn't read yet.

Torch Dancing/Melting

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A blast of abnormally warm air is expected to push into the snow covered areas of Eastern Siberia and the Barents, Kara and Laptev Seas early next week. Simultaneously Greenland, Alaska, and the Bering and Chukchi Seas will also get toasted. Even the Beaufort Sea, which is currently full of cracked and broken ice, courtesy of a strong Beaufort Gyre, should get some above zero (C) melt time. If May is anything like April, a big melt might be in the works. From Climate Reanalyzer.

Harriet Tubman

Looks like a good choice for the new twenty. Harriet Tubman: WikipediaHarriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross; c. 1822[1] – March 10, 1913) was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and, during the American Civil War, a Union spy. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved families and friends,[2] using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped abolitionist John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era was an active participant in the struggle for women's suffrage.

That Old Time Feeling: Animal Consciousness

There is no doubt in my mind that higher animals have a consciousness rather similar to our own. But what about honeybees? James Gorman, writing in the New York Times, takes up the question in Do Honeybees Feel? Scientists Are Entertaining the IdeaBees find nectar and tell their hive-mates; flies evade the swatter; and cockroaches seem to do whatever they like wherever they like. But who would believe that insects are conscious, that they are aware of what’s going on, not just little biobots? Neuroscientists and philosophers apparently. As scientists lean increasingly toward recognizing that nonhuman animals are conscious in one way or another, the question becomes: Where does consciousness end? Andrew B. Barron, a cognitive scientist, and Colin Klein, a philosopher, at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, propose in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that insects have the capacity for consciousness. This does not mean that a honeybee thinks, “Why am I not the …

Speed Reading

The NYT has a recent op-ed announcing that speed reading is not possible. Speed skimming can be done - getting a few ideas from an article without reading all the words, but speed reading, no. The trouble is partly in the limitations of the human eye, but mostly in the speed with which the brain can decode language. I don't think this is a shock to any serious reader of nonfiction. Some sample reads. (NYT) OUR favorite Woody Allen joke is the one about taking a speed-reading course. “I read ‘War and Peace’ in 20 minutes,” he says. “It’s about Russia.” The promise of speed reading — to absorb text several times faster than normal, without any significant loss of comprehension — can indeed seem too good to be true. Nonetheless, it has long been an aspiration for many readers, as well as the entrepreneurs seeking to serve them. And as the production rate for new reading matter has increased, and people read on a growing array of devices, the lure of speed reading has only grow…

Hubble Hubbub

New measurements of the local rate of expansion of the universe are creating a stir. The measurements found that the current value does not seem to agree with data from the Cosmic Microwave Background and the so-called Lambda CDM model. The second link, to a Scientific American news story, discusses potential implications in a bit more speculative manner than the paper. From SA: The Hubble constant discrepancy, though, suggests that dark energy might actually change over space and time, potentially causing an increasing acceleration of the cosmos instead of a constant outward force. One theory proposing this type of dark energy is called quintessence, which posits that dark energy results not from the vacuum of space but from a field that pervades spacetime and can take on different values at different points. An alternative explanation for the discrepancy, however, is that the universe contains an additional fundamental particle beyond the ones we know about. In particular, a new…

Payoff!

Buying influence, Koch style. When the EPA attempted to regulate surface ozone (a major byproduct of Koch refineries), a GMU Mercatus center economist came up with the far fetched scenario that such ozone might prevent cancer. The DC circuit court judges embraced this theory. It turns out that they had been beneficiaries of Koch sponsored boondoggles that combined luxurious living with a side of libertarian propaganda. Coincidence? Their embrace of the Mercatus Center’s novel argument, however, soon proved embarrassing. The Supreme Court overruled their position unanimously, noting that the Clean Air Act’s standards are absolute and not subject to cost-benefit analysis. Although their side lost in the end, the case illustrated that the Kochs’ ideological pipeline was humming. Mayer, Jane (2016-01-19). Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Kindle Locations 2951-2953). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. It seems …

How GMU Became a Koch Satellite

At one point Jane Mayer told the story of Charles Koch's takeover of key departments at George Mason University. This bit caught my attention: Charles reportedly demanded better metrics with which to monitor students’ political views. To the dismay of some faculty members, applicants’ essays had to be run through computers in order to count the number of times they mentioned the free-market icons Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. Students were tested at the beginning and the end of each week for ideological improvement. Mayer, Jane (2016-01-19). Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Kindle Locations 2878-2881). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. This strategy should appeal to old Stalinists like Lumo. Straight outa Dugashvili.

Penetrating Academe

It took them a while, but the organized American plutocratic Right eventually realized that the Left's big advantage was control of prestigious American universities - Harvard, Princeton, Yale and a few others. It also realized that a frontal assault would not work. Perhaps mostly importantly, they chose their targets carefully. It's pretty obvious that much of the faculty at those schools are far to the left of the American public. Most of those faculty members are in departments with essentially zero influence on public affairs - humanities, liberal arts, ethnic and similar studies, much of social science and others. Scientists tend to be liberal rather than left, and engineers and doctors tend to be moderately right, so together they don't much affect the balance. Economics, law, government and history are exceptions, especially the first two. Dangled financial carrots persuaded top law schools that they needed Economics of Law faculty, and strategic funding push…

Saudi Threats

Saudi Arabia is threatening to sell all it's US assets if Congress passes a bill that potentially could hold it accountable for some of 9/11. Obama is fiercely resisting, but Congress is more united about this than nearly anything about. Also involved are the 28 secret pages of the 9/11 report which apparently hint at involvement by some Saudi officials. I would be surprised if the American public or Congress is intimidated by this threat. It's true that selling $750 billion of assets would cause some market chaos, but it would also create a fire sale where stocks would be dirt cheap and *(as corrected by WB)* interest rates would go up. It might not get 80 cents on the dollar. They do have a lot of money, but basically they are a pipsqueak country.

Advice

“Advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.” ......Gildor to Frodo.Kasich was apparently asked what he as President would do about the problem of campus rape. After some of the usual bullshit about laws and rape kits, he added this bit of fatherly advice: I’d also give you one bit of advice,” Kasich went on. “Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.” The crowd applauded him. Cristina Cauterucci, writing in Slate, was offended. Kasich’s viewpoint is a cynical, victim-blaming, finger-wagging perspective. Former Dear Prudence columnist Emily Yoffe once made a similar argument to Kasich’s in the pages of Slate, when she wrote that “the rise of female binge drinking has made campuses a prey-rich environment.” If women didn’t get drunk, the thinking goes, they would be able to resist the advances of men waiting in dark corners, ready to prey on easy, intoxicated targets. And if they just stayed away from men who can’t control thei…

Hot Times North

It's been a freakishly warm start to the year - the warmest in the modern record. The last few weeks have been blowtorch times in the Arctic, with unprecedentedly early Greenland melting and breakup of sea ice. It's early, and weather is still the ultimate player, but early signs for Arctic ice are not good. Both Atlantic and Pacific sides have a lot of weak ice, and early snow melt in Alaska threatens to speed things up in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Of course it doesn't help our clarity that the prime sensor for sea ice, the DMSP F17 37 GHz channel has gone out, but it could be an interesting year.

The Tale of the Used Book

I have taken to buying used textbooks, partly on the grounds that I'm too old to invest in new ones. Of course I'm also too old to invest in any advanced math textbook, but that's another problem. In any case, I've become interested in the story these books tell, or at least the story told by the page edges. My latest is a copy of Kreysig's Introductory Functional Analysis, a ridiculous $140 for the crappy paperback version. My hardcover was much cheaper. The tale of the page edges says that the original owner probably made it through only about 10 pages. Most physicists are probably familiar with Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics, a major early test for most US physics grad students (though it's junior year fare at Caltech, and probably some other elite schools). I used to work with a truly wizardly physicist turned antenna designer, and I recall that at one point he brought out his copy of Jackson. It would be a severe understatement to state th…

Arctic Ice

Fans of Cryosphere Today have seen some funky stuff lately, including bizarre spikes in Arctic sea ice right when melting should be getting underway. This has prompted some of the usual idiots/professional climate liars to proclaim a welcome resurgence in sea ice. Of course if they look at the Antarctic sea ice, where an even more startling freezing season plummet of 1.5 million km^2 is shown, they would be less impressed. What has actually happened, aside from the people at Urbana-Champaign being asleep at the switch, is more in line with the laws of thermodynamics, especially that second one. A key ice sensing channel of the DMSP F17 satellite has failed, and it is sending back bad data. The satellite has been in orbit since 2006, so this is hardly shocking. The F18 is up there, and is currently having its corresponding sensors calibrated, so we should eventually have good data from it. In the meantime, there is some not perfectly corresponding data from other satellites, and…

Foundations of Lies

Tax exempt foundations seem to be a peculiarly or at least mainly American institution. The Rockefeller Foundation was the first. John D. Rockefeller, under pressure from the anti-trust movement and embarrassed by the exposes that had revealed the morally and legally dubious tactic by which his empire had been constructed, set out to donate a big chunk of his wealth to causes benefiting the public good: education, art, science and public health. A number of other public spirited (or intimidated) individuals followed suit. These early foundations faced a good deal of public scrutiny and criticism. Partially as a result of that skepticism, these early foundations were mostly explicitly nonpartisan and science based. This was not to be the case in the age of what Jane Mayer calls the age of "weaponized philanthropy." They were a creation of the ultra-wealthy who found they could have their ideological cake and eat it too. With the onset of World War II, Sarah Mellon Scaif…

Football Kills Your Brain

Yet another study shows that a large fraction of retired professional football players have sign of traumatic brain injury. Most previous studies had relied on diagnoses that could only be made postmortem, but this one use an MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging. Other studies (the postmortem type) appear to show that any level of participation, high school, college or professional produces brain injury. These results apply to American Football, but other studies show significant risks from rugby and soccer. In soccer, the principle risk appears to be related to heading the ball, which tends to produce not only hard collisions with the ball but also with other player's heads and elbows. Children, at least, should probably never head the ball. This kind of rule is unlikely to compromise their development as players much, since head skills are relatively simple compared to foot skills.

Live Long - If You Prosper

Or if you live in the right place. It's not surprising that the rich live longer, because that's always been true. It's a little surprising how large the discrepancy is in the US - 15 years for men between the richest and the poorest 1%. Where you live matters too. My hometown (83 yrs) or even better, Glenwood Springs, CO (83.4 yrs) versus about 10 years less in Gary Indiana or Detroit. NEIL IRWIN and QUOCTRUNG BUI have the story and an interactive map in The NYT.

If I Had a Nickel...

...for every bird that has fed at one of my bird feeders today... I'd probably have enough to pay for my next order of bird seed. I'm looking out my window right now at eight lesser Texas goldfinches, who weigh about as much as two nickels each, each busily shelling and eating nyjer seeds that run 1/100,000 of a pound each, and they go through a pound or two per day.

A Bunch of Dumb* Guys Arguing About IQ

Lubosh has joined the fray. And PZ Myers has another rejoinder to Steve.Myers's latest is such a confused mishmash of dubious assertions, irrelevancies, and physicist baiting that it hurts me to say that he's mostly right, but he is. He claims, with no real evidence, that human IQ hasn't increased in the last 100,000 years. He makes a big deal of the fact that race horse speed hasn't increased in 50 or more years. This is true, but it ignores the fact that the effective breeding size of the race horse population is tiny - about 31 ancestors, and that artificial rules prohibit any kind of genetic engineering not known to the ancient Egyptians. He makes a big deal of the fact that super high IQs may not have been adaptive in the past, and that there are ethical and practical reasons why experimenting with genetic engineering of smarts might not to be a good idea. Lumo makes the point that this latter fact is irrelevant - for the moment we are talking about possibil…

Water is Coming

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"Après nous le déluge" NASA is mostly on the water. John Schwartz, writing in The NYT, takes a look at the coming flood. Physics and safety like launching space vehicles over the ocean and from southerly locations. Transport of large rockets is more feasible by sea than on land. Consequently, much of NASA's infrastructure is situated in areas very vulnerable to rising sea levels. KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The concrete block perches absurdly atop a piling, elevated about 10 feet above the beach sand. Is it art? A bulky milepost? Carlton Hall pointed to the puzzling object and explained that it was once a tie-down block for securing structures like antenna towers. Dr. Hall, the chief scientist for the space center’s ecological program, said that when he started working here a few decades ago, the block had been buried. Now the sand that enveloped it is gone, swept away by the forces of coastal erosion and storms. He gestured toward the waves rolling in nearby and s…

Retirement Age

The Constitution specifies minimum ages for persons to be elected to the House, Senate, and Presidency. It's a well documented fact that the human mind and body decay with age, so doesn't it make even more sense to specify maximum ages for the most critical national occupations? How about a mandatory retirement age of 72 for judges, and a maximum age at inauguration of 65 for Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates? Yes, I realize that that would disallow Clinton, Sanders, and Trump. And no, I don't want Cruz or Kasich either.

If I Only Had a Brain

A slightly better one, that is. Steve Hsu's pursuit of IQ 1000 reminds me of a few, mostly quite modest, improvements that I would like for my current wetware. a)More durable memory. Steve reports that after reading a book, John von Neumann could recall every word. That would be useful. b)Faster learning. Why should endless repetition be needed to learn a new skill, like math, piano or Spanish? c)More alacrity at puzzle and problem solving. d)Faster neural cycling times. Milliseconds drag on. I wouldn't even need anything like the full million fold speedup to silicon based times - a modest factor of 1000 would be cool. Heck, even a factor of ten might be nice.

IQ 1000 versus "They've Gone About as Far as They Can Go?"

Steve Hsu and PZ Myers are apparently engaged in a bit of mutual trash talk. The subject is whether the human IQ can be significantly enhanced by genetic manipulation, with Steve, naturally, saying yea and a nay from PZ. I'm far from being a fan of Myers - he's way too dogmatic for my taste - but I would definitely give him this one on points. Myers:Stephen Hsu thinks super intelligent humans are coming. He thinks this because he’s very impressed with genetic engineering (he’s a physicist), and believes that the way to make people more intelligent is to adjust their genes, and therefore, more gene tweaking will lead to more intelligent people, inevitably. And not just intelligent, but super-intelligent, with IQs about 1000, even though he has no idea what that means, or for that matter, even though no one really knows what an IQ of 100 means. We’re going to figure out all the genes that are involved in intelligence, and then we’ll just turn the knob on each one of them up to…

Books I am Currently Reading

Or, in some cases, trying to read. 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami. This book is a monster, almost 1200 pages in its paperback edition, but I listened to the 48 hour audible edition. We picked it up for a long drive, but we didn't drive nearly that long. Murakami is clearly a master, probably the best modern novelist that I have read. He is a Japanese writer, writing in Japanese, but his characters would hardly be out of place in London or New York. Murakami knows English well, and has been a prolific translator of American novels into Japanese, and oversaw the translation into English. The genre is a sort of magical realism - a realistic world into which strange events start intruding. Carver, Chandler, Salinger, and Theroux are just a small sample of the authors he has translated, and the influence of the detective yarn is strong in 1Q84. He claims to have been influenced by Shakespeare, Kafka and Stephen King. I mentally compared Murakami with a couple of notably long books …

Hot Times North

The Arctic, and particularly Greenland, have been toasty lately, relatively speaking anyway. Over the next week, unusually warm air is expected to park over Greenland. Air up to 20 C warmer than normal. Of course that air is still below freezing: -10 C to - 20 C instead of the usual -30 C or so for this time of year, so it's not obvious to me that this will have a significant affect on the melt season. The Arctic sea ice is at record lows for this time of year, but once again it's not clear that this will have a big effect on the melt season. Most of the melt is in the Atlantic east, while the Pacific side, except for the Sea of Okhotsk, is still intact. Currently, the sea ice area is nearly a million km^2 less than that of 2012 (the record low season), but, as the saying goes, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Could be interesting though.

Gene, Gene, Gene...

A genomics paper from last year documents a correlation between copy number of a gene and measures of cognitive ability: "DUF1220 copy number is linearly associated with increased cognitive function as measured by total IQ and mathematical aptitude scores" by Davis et al Human Genetics (2015) 134:67 When I read it, I joked that the copy number correlated with IQ and anti-correlated with chances of getting a date for the Prom. Not, perhaps, a bad guess, since this paper from 2014 shows that the same copy number correlates with Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms.

The Hopeless Dilettante

I have six genomics papers to analyze and a play to write this weekend, not to mention such more mundane matters as bills and taxes. Which probably explains why I am currently reading about Algebraic Topology.

Mathematics and Music

The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; The motions of his spirit are dull as night And his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be trusted.................Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, Act V, Scene 1Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much: such men are dangerous......Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Act I, Scene 2.For me, mathematics and music are two of the most enigmatic and interesting human creations. Neither one has an obvious connection to the business of survival in a Darwinian world. Language is probably the connecting thread. Music and math each have their intricate vocabularies and grammars. Of course appreciation of music is a lot more common than regard for the more austere beauties of mathematics. And Cassius probably wasn't thinking about mathematics.

Rakhighari

We now have clear evidence that the Indo-European languages spread to Europe in a wave of pastoral conquest 4000 - 5000 years ago. Those of European extraction (like myself) are descended from a mixture of these people with the earlier hunter-gatherer peoples and farmers. These conquerors originated in the Yamanya culture to the North and East of the Black Sea. The Indo-European languages also spread to India, Anatolia, and parts of China. Scholars have argued for a century or more about the ultimate homeland of the I-E peoples, with every semi-plausible theory and numerous silly ones being embraced somewhere, by someone. Most today would pick the Yamnaya culture and its location, but there is a significant minority who argue for an Out-Of-India (OOI) origin. In my opinion this argument is driven more by nationalistic fervor than evidence or logic, but truly conclusive evidence is so far lacking. For Europe, the evidence came in the form of DNA from ancient skeletons which allo…