first_imgA pair of Senate runoffs in Georgia that will determine which party controls the chamber has reordered the political universe in the days since the election, influencing nearly every decision by members of both parties, including the refusal of most Republicans to recognize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.Senators are lining up day trips to Atlanta to campaign. Party leaders are carefully calibrating their postelection messages to frame the fight on the ground. And Mr. Biden’s transition team is tailoring its plans to two drastically different outcomes, preparing an ambitious agenda in case Democrats are able to win both races and take control of the Senate, and a more pared-back one in case they fall short.- Advertisement – The most jarring consequence has been Republicans’ refusal to challenge Mr. Trump’s false claims that he won the election. Though most leading Republicans have not repeated his claims, they have also declined to acknowledge Mr. Biden’s clear victory, fearing that doing so would enrage the president and his loyal base of supporters ahead of January.“We need his voters,” Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Republican, told reporters on Wednesday. “Right now, he’s trying to get through the final stages of his election and determine the outcome there. But when that’s all said and done, however it comes out, we want him helping in Georgia.” And Vice President Mike Pence told senators privately on Tuesday that he planned to jet down to Georgia next week to campaign.Democrats were seeking to rally their own voters and donors in a long-shot bid to win both races in a historically conservative state where their party has often fallen short in runoff contests.“When it comes to the Senate, it’s not over, at all,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said on Wednesday. “Georgia is close.” The contests pit two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, against the Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. But they are quickly becoming nationalized into referendums on Mr. Biden’s victory and the direction of the country.The impact was apparent throughout the Capitol. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, privately warned House members to watch their words in the coming weeks to deny Republicans any new ammunition to caricature the Democrats as extremists.Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, bucked up Mr. Trump and expressed outrage over Democrats insisting the president concede.- Advertisement – Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was on the ground Wednesday in the Atlanta suburbs rallying with Ms. Loeffler at a Save Our Majority Rally, an indoor event at which many attendees did not wear masks. Senator Rick Scott, the newly elected chairman of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, is scheduled to hold a fund-raiser in the state on Thursday. The stakes are staggeringly high for both sides. With Republicans on track to control 50 Senate seats and Democrats 48, the twin runoffs on Jan. 5 will determine how much power Mr. Biden can wield in a post-Trump Washington.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

first_imgThe 11th fossil of Archaeopteryx, found in German limestone, has dished up some surprises that finish off the old evolutionary icon.It’s big news when a new exquisitely-preserved specimen of the world’s most famous (and beautiful) fossil—Archaeopteryx—is discovered.The famous Archaeopteryx fossils were listed as No. 5 in Jonathan Wells’ 2000 critique of Darwin evidences, Icons of Evolution.  At the time, eight specimens of Archaeopteryx were known; one was just a feather, and one had been lost.  The Berlin specimen was the best; the “London” specimen (because it ended up in London’s Natural History Museum) was the next best.  All had been found in Solnhofen limestone in Germany.  While Archaeopteryx had modern-looking flight feathers, it also possessed unique traits, like a scaly head, teeth, wing claws, and a long bony tail.  Wells argued in 2000 that Archaeopteryx could not be an ancestor to modern birds, because it appears too early in the fossil record.  It also provided no help to evolutionists about the origin of flight.  It must have been, therefore, a member of an extinct lineage of birds.  The missing link that was once Archaeopteryx, therefore, was still missing, he ended.Not until more recent years were so-called “feathered dinosaurs” found in China (dated before and after Archaeopteryx) to expand and complicate the ecology of extinct birds and their alleged evolutionary ancestry.  The story of Archaeopteryx itself has evolved in the interim.  Now it is no longer considered a transitional form (1/16/13).  Some suggest it devolved from a flying bird (11/12/13).Analysis of specimen #11 was reported by Nature today (the authors are not aware of the provenance, [date and location], of the specimen, since it came from a private collection).  So what does the new specimen show about the old icon?  One new finding involves feathers on the legs that they dub “feather trousers.”  Asymmetric pennaceous feathers are usually diagnostic of flight; strangely, this specimen’s tail feathers are asymmetric, but the wing feathers and “feather trousers” are symmetric (whereas on Microraptor gui, the leg feathers are asymmetric).  The plumage dismisses an evolutionary speculation that flight evolved first in bi-plane fashion, on a glider such as Microraptor gui, then as powered flight.  Here’s the new interpretation from the abstract:Here we describe a new specimen of Archaeopteryx with extensive feather preservation, not only on the wings and tail, but also on the body and legs. The new specimen shows that the entire body was covered in pennaceous feathers, and that the hindlimbs had long, symmetrical feathers along the tibiotarsus but short feathers on the tarsometatarsus. Furthermore, the wing plumage demonstrates that several recent interpretations are problematic. An analysis of the phylogenetic distribution of pennaceous feathers on the tail, hindlimb and arms of advanced maniraptorans and basal avialans strongly indicates that these structures evolved in a functional context other than flight, most probably in relation to display, as suggested by some previous studies. Pennaceous feathers thus represented an exaptation and were later, in several lineages and following different patterns, recruited for aerodynamic functions. This indicates that the origin of flight in avialans was more complex than previously thought and might have involved several convergent achievements of aerial abilities.The authors’ cladogram shows a confused mess.  There is no longer a single line of feathers leading to flight; instead, there are mosaics of traits appearing here and there but not over there.  Microraptor gui is shown as the first creature with asymmetrical feathers (indicative of flight) and an alula (helpful in low-speed flight), but Archaeopteryx lacks the alula.  Because the story is “more complex” now, the new interpretation is that pennaceous feathers and flight must have evolved several times by “convergent evolution.”Pennaceous feathers appear in no particular evolutionary order.  “Based on these results,” the authors state, “the evolution of pennaceous feathers is generally decoupled from the origin of flight and might be related to other biological roles.”  Were they for insulation?  camouflage?  sexual display?  brooding?  balance?  Whatever happened, the authors reject the idea that four-legged gliding preceded two-winged flight:Although some taxa possess prominent feather trousers, an initial aerodynamic function, as previously hypothesized, can be rejected because the presence of this character is extremely variable within Paraves, and elongated hindlimb feathers were usually restricted to the tibia and are symmetrical in shape. Thus, probably non-volant taxa such as Anchiornis or Xiaotingia might have used these feathers for display, breeding or other functions. The display function might be supported by the finding of complex colour or iridescent patterns in hindlimb feathers. Archaeopteryx might have used its ‘trouser’ additionally as a vertical plane during landing, similar to recent raptors. Only for Microraptor does an improved aerodynamic adaptation of the trousers seem plausible, as indicated by the triangular shape of the trousers and the asymmetrical shape of the feathers. These results contradict the hypothesis that the flapping flight of modern birds was preceded by a four-winged gliding stage, and indicates that flight ability in Avialae [the lineage containing Archaeopteryx] and Microraptor evolved convergently and was functionally different.The best tale they can invent is that feathers evolved early, and were put to use in flight and non-flight uses by different lineages via “convergent evolution.”  In Darwin jargon, the feathers were “repeatedly, and probably convergently, recruited for aerodynamic functions.”   That makes it sound so easy.  What about all the other physiological changes for flight?  (See documentary Flight: The Genius of Birds for details.)This indicates that the origin and evolution of flight in theropod dinosaurs were more complex than previously thought, and (as already shown for other anatomical complexes, for example forelimb myology and breathing apparatus) could draw on structures that evolved in different functional contexts.In short, “flight” was able to “draw on” structures that had already “evolved in other functional contexts.”  They seem to be suggesting that feathers are just one of many structures that first had some other function that was “recruited for aerodynamic functions” by “convergent evolution” in unrelated lineages.  This is “co-option” on steroids.  What would be the alternate functions, though, for a flow-through lung system, redesigned muscles, redesigned digestive and excretory systems, redesigned brain, new navigation abilities, and all the other bird-specific anatomical traits, if not for flight?In short, it’s going to be a lot harder to illustrate the origin of flight in textbooks from now on.How are the news media spinning this re-interpretation of Archaeopteryx?Dinosaur-Era Fossil Shows Birds’ Feathers Evolved Before Flight (National Geographic); An ancient bird ancestor from the dinosaur era sported feathers, but couldn’t fly.”  Mark Norell is quoted: “It’s very hard to say feathers evolved for any one reason.”  Senior author Oliver Rauhut told NG, “Once pennaceous feathers had evolved, early feathered dinosaurs could have relied on them to eventually fly.”Flight may have evolved multiple times in birds (Science Magazine). “The discovery raises the intriguing prospect that flight may have developed multiple times in the ancestors of birds.”Early bird Archaeopteryx ‘wore feather trousers’ for display (BBC News). Dr. Rauhut contradicts National Geographic; he told the BBC News, “I’m pretty sure it could fly. Though of course there is still a debate about how well it could fly.”National Geographic‘s artistic reconstruction of the animal looks pretty birdy: something like a roadrunner without a beak.  Mark Norell thinks it flew, but poorly, like a turkey or something similar.  Even so, nobody calls turkeys or roadrunners non-birds or transitional forms.  Archaeopteryx was a bird, albeit a strange one.Does anybody care at this point that the authors prefer the “ground-up” (cursorial) theory of flight instead of the “tree-down” (arboreal) theory?  Where’s WAIR?  Calling all storytellers!  Dial Ken pronto (6/25/14).We like it when more data come in.  They usually have the effect of toppling icons of evolution.  Archaeopteryx was a good example.  The first specimen was discovered two years after Darwin published the Origin of Species, and was widely hailed as a transitional form confirming Darwin’s theory.  It would be nice to see the expression on his face if he saw the icon topple 150 years later.  It would be like getting two turkeys for the price of one. 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first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Many farmers throughout Ohio have been experiencing colder temperatures these last few days which has resulted in some frost damage in soybean and wheat fields. In this video Beck’s new PFR agronomist, Alexandra Knight, is at the London, OH PFR site evaluating wheat and soybean frost damage and what to look for on your own crops.last_img

first_imgTags:#start#StartUp 101 Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting sramana mitra Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img This week’s roundtable had several interesting discussions around techniques for bootstrapping, both during the entrepreneur pitches, as well as during the Q&A. One of the most effective mechanics that I know for bootstrapping the early phases of a startup venture is by using services – consulting services, contact development work – such that you can achieve customer intimacy and also bring in revenue that can help fund your business. Even if you do product or IP development in parallel, that revenue stream is very valuable, as is the direct access to customer feedback. Some of my favorite entrepreneurs who have bootstrapped using services are Paul Kocher (Cryptography Research) and Jerry Rawls and Frank Levinson (Finisar).Lopworks Ltd.I gave this advice to one of today’s presenters: Ademola Osindero of Lopworks Ltd. from Nigeria. Ademola has a network integration services company for the last three to four years that generates revenues. But now he wants to build SaaS business apps for healthcare, for instance, and would like to raise $1M to do so. Well, the problem is that he doesn’t have any validation for the software business, and the chances of his raising money against an idea are slim. It is slim in a mature market like Silicon Valley, so I cannot believe that it has a prayer in a backward market like Africa. I advised Ademola to use his network integration services business to validate the healthcare IT product idea that he has, work with customers, build a product, and generate some revenue momentum by using the bootstrap using services principle.Q&AIn the Q&A someone asked how to bootstrap a B to C user-generated content site. Good question. This one is harder. One of the ways to do that is by offering market research data and analysis to the customers. It’s still a service, and it can turn into revenues quickly while giving you the runway to build your B to C business.Renewable Energy NowWe had Faith Kinslow start off by presenting her idea for Renewable Energy Now, which sounded like a content site through which she wants to raise funding for scientific research in alternative energy in universities. Well, I don’t see a business here, and advised her to use Facebook Causes for her fundraising interest. No need to waste precious time and energy in trying to build a business that has no chance. Magnetic PursenalityAnd then Karen Averill presented Magnetic Pursenality, a magnetic purse company that sources artisan products from wholesalers around the world, puts magnets on them, and sell through their website and other distribution channels. One of Karen’s goals is to help reduce global poverty by bringing the work of poor artisans into focus. Now it turns out that this is an area that I have done a lot of research on, and in my Vision India 2020 book, I have presented several projects around rural and slum development using similar ideas. However, there is one fundamental missing piece in Karen’s idea: design. Artisans in remote villages around the world have no clue about good design that sophisticated customers in the West are willing to spend money on. As a result, the products that Karen is selling on her website at this point are, pardon my bluntness, pretty ugly. Well, for a good cause or not, people simply don’t buy ugly products. So Karen either needs to work with a great designer who can provide designs to some artisans who execute against those designs. Or, she needs a great merchandiser who can pick a set of products that reflect taste. You cannot be in the fashion business without taste. This is a cardinal rule that cannot and should not be violated.We also had a discussion about channels. For Karen’s business, once the design problem is fixed, she has the option of selling in the B to C mode on her website, or in the B to B mode through catalogues. It turns out that she has done some great research to identify a set of catalogues that may be interested in buying her products wholesale. Her next step, therefore, is to validate that channel, and see how much appetite these companies have for her magnetic purses.ShabdMitraAt the end of the show, Ruchir Tewari introduced ShabdMitra, a mobile value-added service that takes English SMSs and converts them to one of the major Indian languages: Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telegu, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, etc. Assuming that his technology works, an extremely hard problem in itself, Ruchir’s questions were around his go-to-market strategy. He has designed some use cases, including one that I liked: Advertisers trying to reach rural consumers can send an SMS in English, which can then be translated and broadcast to various geographies of rural consumers in their respective languages. There are issues around the need for the ad copy to be cool, and such. But it is an idea worth validating with some advertising agencies and marketers of consumer goods who need to market to these vast masses of rural Indian consumers? If the value proposition resonates, then Ruchir can take it to a carrier along with a group of advertisers and start a pilot. The regular mobile VAS business model applies: If an advertiser sends 100,000 messages, paying Rs. 2 per message, the carrier will split the revenue with the VAS provider. But the first order of business is to check whether the advertisers want such a service!I started doing my free Online Strategy Roundtables for entrepreneurs in the fall of 2008. These roundtables are the cornerstone programming of a global initiative that I have started called One Million by One Million (1M/1M). Its mission is to help a million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond, build $1 trillion in sustainable global GDP, and create 10 million jobs. In 1M/1M, I teach the EJ Methodology which is based on my Entrepreneur Journeys research, and emphasize bootstrapping, idea validation, and crisp positioning as some of the core principles of building strong fundamentals in early stage ventures. In addition, we are offering entrepreneurs access to investors and customers through our recently launched our 1M/1M Incubation Radar series. You can pitch to be featured on my blog following these instructions.The recording of this roundtable can be found here. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here. You can register for the next roundtable here.Sramana Mitra is a technology entrepreneur and strategy consultant in Silicon Valley. She has founded three companies, writes a business blog, Sramana Mitra on Strategy, and runs the 1M/1M initiative. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her Entrepreneur Journeys book series, Entrepreneur Journeys, Bootstrapping: Weapon Of Mass Reconstruction, Positioning: How To Test, Validate, and Bring Your Idea To Market and her latest volume Innovation: Need Of The Hour, as well as Vision India 2020, are all available from Amazon. Photo by Grzegorz Rejniak 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts last_img read more

first_imgAn application was filed in the Supreme Court on Friday for a modification of its June 4 order restraining students from changing their original option/preference for seats in the postgraduate medical and dental courses in Maharashtra for the academic year 2019-2020.The application sought that the court allow students to seek a fresh choice of seats, including seats reverted from the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) category to general category.The application said seats should be allotted to already registered and qualified medical students during manual (physical) counselling, in accordance with merit, without insisting upon previous choice/options exercised by the applicants.The application filed by Sagar Damodar Sarda said the original exercise of options by the applicants and other qualified students “cannot be termed a valid exercise in facts of the given case when the said exercise was itself restricted by operation of EWS quota, which is now not applicable for the current academic year.”It said the “provisional seat position of postgraduate courses in government/ government-aided/ BMC and central government medical colleges, published by the Government of Maharashtra, State Common Entrance Cell would further reveal that there were several seats, discipline wise – college wise which were earmarked for EWS students (only); before the said reservation scheme (for EWS) was directed not to be applicable for this academic year 2019-2020” by the apex court on May 30.The application alleged that the authorities, even after the issuance of directions by the court, did not call for fresh choice-filing, to enable students in order of merit to participate afresh in the recounseling process.“The inaction has seriously prejudiced rights of the applicants and is arbitrary and malfide exercise of powers; antithesis to the concept of rule of law,” the application submitted.On June 4, the court directed the Maharashtra government to hold the last round of physical counselling for postgraduate medical and dental seats by June 14.The June 4 order followed an interim direction in May to the State to not implement the 10% economic quota for the admissions for the 2019-20 academic year. The government had issued two notifications in February and March 2019 to implement the 10% reservation for the economically-deprived classes. They were stayed by the court in a recent order.The court had slammed the government for “creating a mess” and troubling candidates who aspire to become postgraduates.last_img read more