Re: An Opportunity

1

I admit ours has been quite a bit simpler. "Make sure you get on the list now for fall 2015." "Okay."


Posted by: " | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:00 PM
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Wait did the kid get in?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:08 PM
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Too easy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:08 PM
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You should have posted about how sympathetic the author is, to truly troll.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:38 PM
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"Bougainvillea" was a nice touch.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:42 PM
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Too easy.

This is true, but sometimes easy things need doing.

Wait did the kid get in?

The author is still writing about the process, so, no? Maybe?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:48 PM
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A raven-haired girl ran from books to puzzles. A teacher exclaimed: "Sophia's making connections between real and represented gingerbread men!"

I guess the academic job market in English literature really is as bad as they say it is. They've got English PhDs teaching preschool now.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:51 PM
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And obviously a raven-haired girl named Sophia is going to get in.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:53 PM
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I thought you said you wanted to move to Marin?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:58 PM
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||
Veronica Mars pics in the flickr pool. (In case you're wondering about the one with the guy doing a headstand--that was when an audience member asked each person to demonstrate their favorite way to give someone the finger; the actor who plays Dick liked one that involved forwards roll.)
|>


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:07 PM
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NICE


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:31 PM
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There's also another photo of note in between all the Veronica Mars pics.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:46 PM
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12: Yeah, no kidding!

These preschool articles make me sad.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:52 PM
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12: that's totally photoshopped, admit it.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 9:00 PM
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I got in touch with Selah's mom about a week ago and now am writing her daily, so I have to come up with new ways to say what neat things Selah's doing. It's a nice reminder of what's going on. I don't think it would work as well to just write "Can't say 'bougainvillea.'" until she can finally say it.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 9:03 PM
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That's who he had to blow??


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 9:07 PM
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16 is pretty good.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 9:08 PM
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16: Explains the smile, doesn't it?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 9:25 PM
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re 7, but not to 7: wtf are "real" gingerbread men? and if there are such things, shouldn't they be made of you know, gingerbread, rather than puzzle parts or books??? clearly I never should have made it into preschool.


Posted by: backwardsinheels | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 9:36 PM
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I still don't have access to the flicker pool. Sad face.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 10:40 PM
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Contact heebie (or ogged, I guess) to be added.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 10:50 PM
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I had access and then Yahoo kicked me off.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 11:07 PM
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Holy shit, I just realized, I'm in that commenting window now! Teo, how the hell are ya?!?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:35 AM
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I'm in the mostly nonexistent commenting window.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:39 AM
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Well yeah I will largely be there. Soon I have to go get breakfast.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:41 AM
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Still a couple hours before dinner here. Hours I'll mostly spend continuing to wander around in a haze muttering "holy shit! B-modes!" and questioning my life choices.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:45 AM
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I'm still at work you lazy assholes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:46 AM
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Dude, isn't it after midnight there? Go home.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:47 AM
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I mean, it's the night shift. Whoops sorry. When did we stop talking about historical linguistics on the night shift. What does Teo think about this idea that the native american languages come from some giant island in the Bering Sea where people lived for thousands and thousands of years before moving into North America?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:47 AM
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No I really still am still at work! But I should be able to leave before 1 am, so it's almost like a reasonable day. I probably could have shaved off an hour by not fighting over MUNI earlier gere, but life's too short to not get into fights about whether your public transit system sucks.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:49 AM
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Hi everyone! Welcome to my world.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:56 AM
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When did we stop talking about historical linguistics on the night shift.

When everyone except me stopped showing up for it.

What does Teo think about this idea that the native american languages come from some giant island in the Bering Sea where people lived for thousands and thousands of years before moving into North America?

I think the general idea behind the paper that you're referring to sounds reasonable, but I haven't actually read it yet.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:58 AM
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26: hah. Is there still time to get in on the nobel prize?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:58 AM
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Okay, breakfast!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:58 AM
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I would have chimed in earlier but I was busy posting pictures of Juneau at the other place.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:59 AM
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This thread currently features a remarkable amount of geographical diversity given that everyone commenting is an American white guy.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:01 AM
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The honkiaspora.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:02 AM
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Now that one commenter stands on each of the world's spots foretold in the prophesy, let the ritual begin!! Come, apocalypse.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:22 AM
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You can't just call up the apocalypse like that. We'll need some blood sacrifices, at the very least.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:24 AM
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Yes!! Now we're getting somewhere.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:27 AM
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Right, so, first we sacrifice a moose. Then maybe a walrus.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:30 AM
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Ultimately, of course, we'll sacrifice a whale, but you have to build up to that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:34 AM
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I would think that trying to sacrifice a walrus doesn't usually end well.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:43 AM
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But maybe that's because I limp.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:43 AM
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Full English breakfast! Also, I just had black pudding, does that count as a blood sacrifice?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:45 AM
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I would think that trying to sacrifice a walrus doesn't usually end well.

Well, you have to do it from a distance.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:46 AM
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Same with all the other wild animals, really. But limiting your sacrifices to domesticated animals is lame.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:47 AM
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Uh, no offense.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:48 AM
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black pudding

Breakfast at urple's again?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:50 AM
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VW, don't take something wonderful like pork blood mixed with oatmeal and make it sound like something gross.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:52 AM
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Sorry, I'd reply, but I'm being chased by a walrus.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:55 AM
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Walruses don't run very fast, but then, neither do guys with limps, I guess.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 2:04 AM
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Anyway, good luck.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 2:05 AM
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Full English breakfast!

The one true breakfast. Did you have fried bread? Or tatty scones [which would be more a Full Scottish etc thing]?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 3:11 AM
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Teo, have I pointed out that your blog rocks?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 3:16 AM
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41 Right, so, first we sacrifice a moose. Then maybe a walrus.

Maybe I can find a panda.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 3:24 AM
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29: It's definitely not all native american languages, just the Na-Dene family (which includes Navajo). Even then, I don't see how they can conclude anything based on the information we have. Yeniseian and Na-Dene seem to be related, so they probably have a common ancestor, and the most plausible location for the ancestor would be somewhere between the Caucasus and Alaska. But beyond that it could be anywhere. The blah-blah-blah about Bayes factors, etc. just means they imposed a model. Since there's no a priori reason to have a preference for any location between the Caucasus and Alaska, any conclusion the paper draws is being dictated by the model, and not the data.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 3:26 AM
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33: The YouTube video of Andr/ei and Ren/ata has over 500,000 views now. I guess Andr/ei would care more about a Nobel, but that seems like pretty amazing recognition in its own right.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 3:27 AM
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Turns out one of my friends works on that experiment! Hopefully this means he'll get a permanent job someday.

The articles on that Na-Dene stuff seemed to gloss over the fact that there's no reason to assume that the speakers of Na-Dene were part of the main migration into the americas. So I found them confusing.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 3:38 AM
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In the spirit of Halford, I've actually been working for over an hour; this thread is my reward for being super-productive at 5:45 am.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 4:00 AM
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58: when I watched that my thought was "oh neat, thats the facial expression of somebody realizing that, in addition to everything else, they're probably getting a Nobel prize".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 4:02 AM
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The articles on that Na-Dene stuff seemed to gloss over the fact that there's no reason to assume that the speakers of Na-Dene were part of the main migration into the americas. So I found them confusing.

Didn't I just read something that said that, genetically, all non-Eskimaux* NAs are more closely related than they thought? But maybe I've expanded the results of that study.

*IIRC it was 2 different groups of north-dwelling natives; I don't know if there's a collective term for them


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 4:05 AM
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62: Every genetic study these days seems to result in different results from every other study. There's also very little Native American DNA evidence from the United States.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 4:25 AM
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this idea that the native american languages come from some giant island in the Bering Sea where people lived for thousands and thousands of years before moving into North America?

Would that be Atlantis or the lost continent of Mu?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 5:07 AM
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This is a fun thread.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 5:11 AM
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58 and others: I was meaning to ask about this (actually, sent a link to HG about it). So: not standard journalism hype? How excited should we be?


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 5:13 AM
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Since this thread is pretty random anyway...

1. essear - the recent gravitational waves news is legitimately a big deal, right? It seems like a big deal.

2. Mineshaft - what's the protocol when the corresponding author of a paper you're on goes AWOL? Either one of us could have been corresponding author, so I'm OK with switching places with him. The paper was submitted and accepted pending some required revisions, we made the revisions and are about to send it back in. During that time, the individual in question left his university, dropped out of academia, and now apparently dropped off the face of the earth as evidenced by his lack of response to all attempts at communication. How long are we required to keep trying before going ahead and sending it in?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 5:21 AM
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Ack! Pwned. I see we were already on the whole gravity waves thing.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 5:24 AM
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Just send it in.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 5:25 AM
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I order you to.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 5:26 AM
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70: It only works if you say "By Grabthar's Hammar" first.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 5:46 AM
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the recent gravitational waves news is legitimately a big deal, right? It seems like a big deal.

It's a fucking huge deal. Totally unexpected, at least for me and 99% of the other people who had ever given it any thought, I think. There is a fairly convincing theoretical argument that they should have been too small to detect. Basically only one class of models out of all the zillions of inflation models anyone ever built can accommodate this signal, and even that seems to need some tweaking to work. (Some of the early inflation people said it was a generic signal, but they were mostly saying that because they never really understood quantum field theory.) So unless your prior strongly favored that one class of models--and now, in retrospect, I can see the argument for why it maybe should have, but only a handful of people were convinced beforehand--you would have bet pretty strongly against this.

The upshot of this is that in a fairly convincing and well-defined sense it means we're actually seeing a hint of Planck-scale physics, fifteen orders of magnitude higher in energy than the LHC. It wipes out or strongly constrains a large number of theoretical ideas, including several things I was pretty convinced would be true. I've still barely begun to figure out what all the implications are because this was so far outside my expectations that I never even bothered to think through what it would mean if it happened.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:04 AM
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As far as bigness of the deal goes, I think among physics discoveries in my lifetime this (assuming it holds up and is confirmed by other observations) would rank at the top more or less alongside (perhaps slightly below) the discovery of dark energy, and probably above the discovery of the Higgs boson (if only because it was more unexpected).


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:18 AM
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73 gives me chills. I wish my field didn't completely suck.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:23 AM
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Actually, 72.last sentence and 73 made me tear up a bit, because the production of knowledge and the implications of same often makes me overly and embarrassingly emotional. Regardless, those two comments are such a stark expression of what it means -- both at a professional and personal level -- when knowledge is created and disseminated* that it kind of blows me away (and makes me wish my field didn't completely suck).

* Sexist, sure. Germinated?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:27 AM
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74: If you want chills, watch this video if you didn't already.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:28 AM
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I did. As I said elsewhere, just people are obviously just actors, like in the kissing video.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:29 AM
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Though presumably that asst. prof. just go tenure, right?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:33 AM
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makes me wish my field didn't completely suck

meet

when knowledge is created

Time for some Bancroft-winning alternative history, Wafer. Don't let mere "facts" and "sources" constrain history any longer.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:39 AM
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Okay, my field doesn't suck.


Posted by: VON WAFER UNBOUND | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:41 AM
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Someone speak to me of twitter, please. You can't embed links, right? Is that why people us tiny urls? And if that's the case, is there any downside to using tiny urls? Also, is there a twitter use and etiquette primer for kewl kidz somewhere? Or do I just have to get sifu tweety liquored up and ask him what's what?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:42 AM
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I feel you, 75.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:49 AM
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I am a big crying crybaby like wafer. But no limp, fuckers. Not yet.

(Um . . . so they found some new Sappho? That's pretty cool.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 6:54 AM
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75, 82, 83: I feel the same way. I'm also eager to hear the creationists weigh in.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:01 AM
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So one thing I've learned from this and the Higgs announcement is that when you make a discovery in HEP you have to have a lot of sigmas, like five or six of them. The guys who are always talking about efficiency at my workplace have also have six sigmas, but I'm not sure where they get them.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:04 AM
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The guys who are always talking about efficiency at my workplace have also have six sigmas, but I'm not sure where they get them.

They make shit the fuck up.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:07 AM
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87


Teamwork
Insight
Brutality
Male Enhancement
Handshakefulness
Play Hard


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:08 AM
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I have embedded links for twitter via delicious without using a remapper. The portion of the link visible to readers (OK, reader in my case) gets truncated by the software that brokers data from delicious to 140-char twitter. So there is a way to do it, but I can't advise on how to do it by hand.

Basically, I don't see the technical advantage of twitter over a tagged bookmarking service. Socially, it's better because there are more well-informed peopel sharing stuff on twitter.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:12 AM
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The gravity waves are amazing. I don't know how to think about energies that high, it will take me a while to find anything to say. Besides wow.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:16 AM
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Here is Matt Strassler with a detailed primer for us non-scientists on the meaning/implications of the South Pole observations...still pretty complicated but gives some kind of handhold for non-physicists.

There is such a tremendous tower of theoretical assumptions built up in physics that I always wonder how you can definitively tell that the little wobble in your instruments means the really exciting interpretation at the end point of all the existing theories is correct. IF these 47 pretty well established but enormously complex theoretical interpretations are true, THEN this slight diversion from the expected in our measurements means that the very nature of reality in the opening days of the universe is profoundly different than our expectations! From the outside we have to take it on faith. But the deeper the conclusion the more verification will be required, I imagine...


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:19 AM
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There is no "I" in gravi... or Hi... Bancroft!


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:22 AM
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Or in "My feeld sux."


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:25 AM
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84: God burped.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:28 AM
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Are we supposed to talk about whether it is ok to write about how our children disappoint us?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:33 AM
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87: Those aren't sigmas, they're six of the seven habits of highly effective people, the seventh being innumeracy.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:36 AM
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81: Twitter has its own link-shortening service and will use it automatically. Just paste the URL.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:39 AM
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96: it's telling me I'm short characters. Unless you tell me that using tiny url is a bad idea, I guess I'll do that.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:41 AM
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Twitter assigns the same number of characters to any url, I believe. So tiny url won't help.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:43 AM
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96: any link will count for 22 characters, even if it's actually shorter than that.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:48 AM
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87 is brilliant. I need to see that episode now.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:48 AM
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87 is brilliant. I need to see that episode now.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:48 AM
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Double posted because wikipedia says Liz rips her blouse open in this one.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:52 AM
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The Six Sigmas of Palmer Eldritch


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:56 AM
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98-99: thanks!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:00 AM
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97: make sure you have a space between your link and non-URL content (which I often don't while I'm still editing), or it won't do the automatic tinyurl substitution causing your character count will be too high.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:02 AM
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it's telling me I'm short characters.

I had assumed you were a short character but then it turned out you're not on the team and I was slightly disappointed.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:08 AM
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I remember you saying that. I'm sorry. I'm sure I'll shrink more in the coming years.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:11 AM
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So do all lawyers and econometricians or whatever it is Walt Someguy is read historical linguistics papers in their spare time or are you guys just keeping up with Na-Dene developments for old time's sake?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:45 AM
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They must have had so, so many words for snow on that island, especially it being so long ago and all, and there being fewer things like "rollerblade" and "tontine" and "completely novel sexual act" to have words for.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:51 AM
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You know nothing, Jon Smearcase.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:53 AM
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The reconstructed Yeniseian/Na-Dene protolanguage does not contain a word for rollerblade, so we can surmise the point of language divergence was at least, like, thirty years ago.

Does anyone have a link to this paper?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:57 AM
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I have a trivial sort of question related to the BICEP2 news: why are B-mode and E-mode polarization called B and E?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:10 AM
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I'm just a disembodied brain in a fish tank trying to make it in this crazy world, like the rest of you.

I do read about linguistics, prehistoric human genetics, and particle physics for fun, so this is an oddly relevant thread for me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:11 AM
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"B" is short for "B-mode polarization," foxy. Let me know if you need help with "M".


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:14 AM
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Thanks!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:15 AM
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The reconstructed Yeniseian/Na-Dene protolanguage does not contain a word for rollerblade

One wonders what they did if they wanted to do something gayer than one man having sex with another.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:19 AM
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112: http://background.uchicago.edu/~whu/polar/webversion/node8.html

Because they behave under transformations like the electric (E-) field and magnetic (B-) field.

Don't know why the magnetic field goes by B (or H).


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:19 AM
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I know this science-y stuff is hard for you Allderdice gradshumanities types.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:19 AM
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117: Aha! Actual thanks.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:20 AM
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Good thing that professor didn't live in Texas or the assistant professor might have gotten his head blown off.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:40 AM
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110 made me laugh.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:40 AM
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And here I was ignoring this thread in order to avoid tedious parenting discussion and turns out you all had rediscovered Rabelais: blood sausage, made-up languages and rents in the space time continuum. Bravo!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 10:28 AM
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Rents in the sapce time continuum are too damn high.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 10:35 AM
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They're higher in the space time continuum.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 10:43 AM
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"I told you! Eddies in the space-time continuum!"
"And this is his sofa, is it?"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 10:44 AM
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Rents in the blood sausage are messier.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 10:55 AM
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Better: rents in the morcilla ate messier.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 10:55 AM
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Teo, have I pointed out that your blog rocks?

Well, you have now, I guess. And thanks. Someday I may even post to it again.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:06 PM
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I still haven't read the Na-Dene article, but all of the criticisms of it in this thread sound very reasonable based on my knowledge of similar research.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:06 PM
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Speaking of space-time and the mystery of lost airplanes.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:10 PM
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Is this the Na-Dene article, or at least most of it? I'll read it tomorrow when I'm awake and not on a phone.

Seconding the blog awesomeness.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:13 PM
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Yes, that's the one.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:16 PM
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Okay, I just read the damn thing. It's an interesting approach, but doesn't convincingly demonstrate anything whatsoever. The criticisms upthread continue to hold, although many of them seem to be aimed at media coverage of the study (none of which I've read), rather than the study itself, which is careful not to make overly grandiose claims of being relevant to issues like the initial peopling of the Americas. The claims it does make are overstated, but at least they're fairly modest.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 10:11 PM
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which is careful not to make overly grandiose claims of being relevant to issues like the initial peopling of the Americas.

That "initial peopling of the Americas" was already settled by el libro de Mormon.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 10:33 PM
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Well, quite.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 10:34 PM
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I kind of enjoy that stuff, because they don't hold back. Seriously, we're talking a trans Atlantic voyage in windowless wooden football shaped boats filled with Jews with a hole top and bottom that can be plugged with a cork for you know, safety, and lit from within with a couple rocks that glow because they literally were touched by the finger of GOD.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 11:11 PM
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Hey now, some Jews are excellent sailors.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 11:51 PM
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Since I won't be around to discuss this tomorrow, I suppose I should say a bit more about the paper. I do think there's a lot of potential for statistical approaches to historical linguistics, but this sort of thing is not the right way to go about it. Like most other studies along these lines, rather than applying statistical rigor to the already rigorous methods of the traditional comparative method it avoids that method entirely and replaces it with a much more dubious starting point.

In this case the basis of the study is typological similarities among the various languages, and this is what the fancy statistical analyses are based on. (Supplement 1 lists the typological variables they used.) This is allegedly because standard historical linguistic methods are difficult in this case because of the high degree of borrowing of vocabulary among the languages in the Na-Dene family. It's true that this is an issue with comparative Na-Dene research, but using typological variables doesn't avoid this problem at all, and if anything exacerbates it, since those features can also be borrowed, even from unrelated languages. Typological similarity among unrelated languages is particularly common in areas like the Northwest Coast, where many of the languages used in this study are/were spoken, that are famous for linguistic and cultural similarity. A statistical analysis of typological similarity, which is what this study essentially is, is unlikely to be a reliable basis for any historical conclusions whatsoever. There are just too many potential confounding factors, which this study doesn't control for at all.

There are other, smaller issues I noticed (use of Haida as an outgroup was particularly noteworthy), but given the fundamental problem with the whole approach detailed nitpicking is probably not worth the effort.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:53 AM
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What's weird is that no one ever seems to try to validate the methods by applying them to some well-known language family to see if they can reproduce what we already know.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:30 AM
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That's not really true. This specific method has apparently been applied to Indo-European and Austronesian, with results comparable to those in this paper. That doesn't mean it's actually useful, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:37 AM
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a trans Atlantic voyage in windowless wooden football shaped boats filled with Jews with a hole top and bottom

Most if not all Jews have several holes on top (ears, mouth, nostrils) and at least one in their bottoms.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 2:31 AM
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140: Where do they say that? The Greenhill and Gray site looks as speculative at this one, and I don't see an Indo-European site. Somebody needs to write a paper where they apply the method to an actual linguistic situation where we already know the answer, to see if the method reconstructs the answer. Maybe somebody has written that paper, but I don't see anything in the citation list that looks like that.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 2:51 AM
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136. Heh. Seriously one of the things I like most about the Anzick material is that it disposes of the Solutrean Jesus* hypothesis, which always brought me out in hives.

*Stone age Europeans walking across the Atlantic. According to the only American archaeologists I know well, this has been taken seriously in some quarters (not theirs) for a while.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 2:34 PM
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Where do they say that?

The DY average delta score is 0.367 and the Q-residual is 0.0492. This is comparable to what Gray, Bryant and Greenhill [32] reported for Austronesian and Indo-European using typological data. They reported an average delta score for Austronesian typological data of 0.44 and average Q-residual of 0.05. Their figures for Indo-European typological data were 0.40 average delta score and 0.04 average Q-residual. Using the delta score the DY typological data appear slightly more tree-like than typological data for these other families, while Q-residual scores appear less tree-like than Indo-European but comparable to Austronesian.

The Greenhill and Gray site looks as speculative at this one, and I don't see an Indo-European site.

Gray, Bryant, and Greenhill apparently used the method on both Indo-European and Austronesian, and the diagrams at least seem to more or less correspond to traditional subgroupings of those languages, as does the Sicoli and Holton analysis for Na-Dene. Of course it's as speculative as the Sicoli and Holton paper, since it's the exact same methodology.

Somebody needs to write a paper where they apply the method to an actual linguistic situation where we already know the answer, to see if the method reconstructs the answer.

No, nobody needs to write a paper like that (although it appears people already have), because the method is ridiculous on theoretical grounds and even if it does "work" in the sense of getting to the same answers as more traditional methods in certain specific cases there's no way to know if that would generalize to situations where we don't know the answer.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 6:48 PM
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I always like the Soultrean hypothesis because it sounds like "Soul Train."

Anyhow, the ONLY explanation that makes any sense for the peopling of the Americas is that there were some folks who got from Beringia south pretty quickly, via coastal exploration, leaving remains that are now underwater. Because otherwise Monte Verde makes no sense. The sunken island of Beringia where folks lived for thousands of years fits nicely with that hypothesis.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:07 PM
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Although I guess that doesn't really have anything to do with this paper.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:10 PM
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144: Right, since the problem is that it generates loads of stupid false positives, it's I guess nice but not very informative to show that it can also generate true positives.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:12 PM
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Maybe it's an intermittent island, like the village in Brigadoon.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:12 PM
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I would chime in here properly, but Teo has already said what I'd say so gratifyingly, why bother? Thanks, Teo!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:13 PM
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You guys are harshing the speculation buzz. What if the original Na-Dene speakers kicked the original paleoindian language speakers off of Beringia, forcing them down the coast until they got to Chile, which reminded them somewhat of their legendary ancestral home in the North, explaining Monte Verde. Then, as Beringia sank, the proto-Na Dene fled in two directions. I totally know this is true because I envisioned it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:18 PM
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As the tribe worked their way down the Pacific coast in their hollowed-log canoes, fearsome saber-tooth tigers growled from the shore. The adventurers still knew that they must go ashore, for there lay their prey -- bison antiquus, the tastiest meal of all. Even the ancestors, who had told of the "Car-ee-boo" in the homeland of Beringia, had not had a meal such as this.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:24 PM
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Huh, I didn't know that unfogged had a moderation queue.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:24 PM
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The bison were common in the rainforests they'd be bordering for about 1/4 of the way?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:25 PM
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Halford should start writing ballet scenarios. Please.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:28 PM
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153 to 152.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:28 PM
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I had a somewhat longer post about the article, but in case my other post never shows up, basically: doesn't typology work on a shorter time scale since it's so easy to borrow, and anyway you're going to get weirder trees? Also, there's a hell of a lot of land between Beringia and Central Asia so it's a hell of a leap to go from "this tree topology fits the data better than the other one" to "the Urheimat is under the sea." The stats techniques look cool even if they're not applicable here.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:32 PM
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"There'll be no frustrations, just paleo-Americans. Under the sea."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:33 PM
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The bison were common in the rainforests they'd be bordering for about 1/4 of the way?

It was colder then. I'm surprised Halford didn't include mammoths in his scenario, though, since they were certainly around at the time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:20 PM
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I would chime in here properly, but Teo has already said what I'd say so gratifyingly, why bother? Thanks, Teo!

You're welcome! Glad to have the backup, in any case.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:21 PM
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One point of clarification: Beringia wasn't an island. It was a huge area connecting Asia to North America, roughly corresponding to what is now Alaska, the Russian Far East, and most of the Bering and Chukchi Seas. Only part of it was later submerged, and even that didn't cut off contact between the Asian and American sides.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:24 PM
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doesn't typology work on a shorter time scale since it's so easy to borrow, and anyway you're going to get weirder trees?

Yes. It probably is true that typological similarity generally correlates with genetic relationship, and in fact this is particularly true of the Na-Dene and Yeniseian families, which are very different typologically from neighboring languages. There's an awful lot of noise in there due to borrowing and other changes, however, especially on the timescales we're talking about here, so there's really no reason to think typology is a better guide to defining relationships than lexical or phonological correspondences.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:30 PM
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Thanks for the clarifications. I wish I had studied historical linguistics in college.

I know Beringia's huge, but it doesn't include anything west of say Kamchatka, does it? There's still a lot of land between there (e.g. Transbaikal) and Western/Central Asia.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:48 PM
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I know Beringia's huge, but it doesn't include anything west of say Kamchatka, does it? There's still a lot of land between there (e.g. Transbaikal) and Western/Central Asia.

The western boundary is a bit fuzzy, of course, but yeah, it certainly doesn't extend west of the Verkhoyansk Range (which forms a natural boundary that may have blocked human occupation for a long time), or maybe the Kolyma River. That clarification wasn't to your point, which is very true, but to Halford referring to it as an island.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:55 PM
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The big irony of using typology as a proxy for genetic relationship is that the study of linguistic typology started in the 1950s as a way of addressing structural similarities among languages that aren't genetically related (whether those similarities arose through areal diffusion or pure coincidence).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:00 PM
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Verkhoyansk Range (which forms a natural boundary that may have blocked human occupation for a long time)

Huh. Interesting! Will have to look into that more. They seem particularly inhospitable in an already inhospitable area.

If they're using biology-inspired phylogenetic techniques, the analogy for areal diffusion should be something like horizontal gene transfer in bacteria. I wonder what mathematical models have been developed to handle that and if they would be in any way applicable.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:07 PM
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If they're using biology-inspired phylogenetic techniques, the analogy for areal diffusion should be something like horizontal gene transfer in bacteria. I wonder what mathematical models have been developed to handle that and if they would be in any way applicable.

That's an interesting idea. I really do think there's a lot of potential for statistical approaches to historical linguistics, even though all the efforts I've seen so far have been unimpressive and unconvincing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:14 PM
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Who is up for an Unfogged Yakutsk-Magadan road of bones Kolyma meetup?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:17 PM
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I am, of course.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:23 PM
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Let's do it. "Drive across Russia" is one of my life goals, preferably east to west. We can give high fives to people whomay or may not be Na Dene speakers on the way. You can still fly Alaska Airlines to Magadan, right?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:26 PM
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In Biology you get kind of lucky that a lot of stretches of DNA aren't under selective pressure and that when things aren't under selective pressure they change more or less randomly. Languages don't seem to work out as cleanly.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:31 PM
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You can still fly Alaska Airlines to Magadan, right?

Nope, but Bering Air flies to Provideniya and Anadyr, and for a while one of the Russian airlines was doing flights to Alaska but they may have stopped.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:48 PM
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Damn I hadn't even heard of Bering Air before. Now that's another life goal.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:52 PM
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In Biology you get kind of lucky that a lot of stretches of DNA aren't under selective pressure and that when things aren't under selective pressure they change more or less randomly. Languages don't seem to work out as cleanly.

Yeah, that's one of the reasons using statistical programs designed for molecular biology in historical linguistics is problematic. Another is that the sorts of datasets involved are at hugely different scales. Even a very well-documented language gives you a much smaller set of data points (whatever they are) than a genome or even a small portion of one.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:54 PM
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Seriously that destination list for Bering Air is by far the best and craziest of any US airline.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:55 PM
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They're one of the main local carriers in the Bering Straits and Northwest Arctic. I'm flying with them next week for work, which is why I was on their website recently and noticed the Russian Travel section.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:57 PM
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144: Okay, you've convinced me. Beringia it is.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:00 PM
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I'm pretty jealous. Speaking of Beringia and Bering Air, has there been archaeology on Little Diomede Island? It seems like if you were looking for evidence of ancient people moving over the land bridge that would be the place to look, plus that place is awesome. Please tell me you'll get a chance to go there.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:09 PM
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I don't know of any archaeology on Little Diomede. I'd love to go there, but it's super expensive since it's only accessible by helicopter. They used to be able to land planes on the sea ice in the winter, but in recent years the ice has been too thin for that. I may still get there, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:14 PM
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That sucks, I was just reading up on Wikipedia and getting super excited about the fucking ICE RUNWAY in the middle of the Bering Sea that's only open in winter. What about St Lawrence Island?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:17 PM
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There has been a fair amount of archaeology in northwest Alaska in general, with much of it originally driven by the desire to find evidence of the initial movement across the strait. So far nothing they've found up there has shed any clear light on that, but there have been a lot of interesting discoveries dating to the late prehistoric period that have helped define Eskimo culture history, which turns out to be very complicated.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:17 PM
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What about St Lawrence Island?

There's been a lot of archaeology there, dating back to the 1930s, and much of the late prehistoric culture history sequence was defined based on that work. It's really interesting ethnographically as well, since it has much closer connections to Siberia than to mainland Alaska but somehow ended up on the American side of the border.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:20 PM
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St. Lawrence is also a lot easier to get to than Little Diomede. There are daily flights from Nome to both Gambell and Savoonga.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:22 PM
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Teo and RH, you might find this Kamchatka trip report interesting for planning purposes. Two Canadians who biked and climbed their way over Kamchatka.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:25 PM
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That's awesome.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:32 PM
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That's amazing, although also kind of an insane thing to do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:43 PM
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Also Kamchatka apparently looks a lot like Alaska, which isn't really surprising.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:43 PM
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183 is an awesome read.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 9:45 AM
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Good lord. I like to think that I'm capable of all sorts of things, but that Kamchatka trip impresses me. I love that they don't sound like daredevils, even as they're doing some decently extreme stuff.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 10:25 AM
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I love the fact there's a pizza joint at the airport in Nome and it takes orders for delivery by air. It's the most American thing ever, in a good way.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 10:48 AM
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Yes, I liked that aspect of 188 too. It was more like "dum de do, so next stop was walking into an unexplored volcano in Kamchatka. It was great!"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 11:43 AM
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I mean, like 188, I liked that aspect of 183.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 11:44 AM
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Wow that Kamchatka adventure is a great read! Thanks!

Anyone entranced by back country exploration of Russia's far east should check out of the library Arseniev's book on his explorations with Dersu the Trapper. Wonderful book.

I suppose you could buy it as well, but going to the library is so much fun.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 12:01 PM
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Teo: Cover story in our local Indy today.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 12:23 PM
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Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin was a Siberian explorer, and a good one. He claimed he got his ideas about cooperation and evolution on his explorations.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 12:36 PM
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192.2: And watch the Kurosawa movie!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 12:39 PM
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Yes! Just suspect many stop there and miss out on a great book.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 12:46 PM
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167: this is late but I'm in obviously.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 5:21 AM
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My understanding is that there are no well-established generally-accepted language families that are older than 10K years. So if Dené-Yeniseian becomes accepted shouldn't that be taken as evidence that the split was probably less than 10K years ago, and hence that there was separate Na-Dené migration into the Americas? It'd be pretty implausible that you could trace back Dené-Yeniseian (with no ancient written languages) further back than any other language groups, right?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-30-14 11:12 AM
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