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Pet Food Ingredients, Video Game Maps, Facebook Pages, More: Wednesday ResearchBuzz, February 27, 2019


Pet Food Processing: AAFCO streamlines labeling process with new ingredient database. “Since 1934, AAFCO [Association of American Feed Control Officials] has annually published what it calls the Official Publication (OP), a thick book containing hundreds of ingredients used in feed and pet food that are recommended for approval by state regulators. To bring the document into the 21st century, AAFCO members and industry experts created the Online Database of Ingredients (ODI), nicknamed ‘Oh-Dee,’ which is essentially a digital version of the OP hosted on the AAFCO Feed Basic Informational Network (BIN).”

VG 24/7: Noclip is a neat new website that lets you freely explore datamined maps from classic games . “Noclip is essentially a depository of datamined world assets from games. The website features all of Super Mario 64’s maps, for instance, so I can hop into any area from the DS version of that classic and zoom around with a free camera, viewing it from any angle including those impossible in-game. It’s a super cool idea, honestly, allowing you to look at iconic locations from a new angle and also in a way see how they were created in the first place.” There aren’t tons of games on here yet, but I love the idea. The temptation to spend hours wandering around Mario Kart maps is strong.


CNN: Facebook restores Russia-linked pages, but is still figuring out what to do about state-backed media . “Facebook said Monday that it would allow a network of millennial-focused pages tied to the Russian state-backed media outlet RT back on its platform after having previously suspended them following inquiries by CNN.”


Free Technology for Teachers: How to Use Your Own VR Tours in Google Expeditions. “Google’s VR Tour Creator is probably my favorite new tool of the last year. I love being able to make my own virtual reality tours and share them with others. Recently, Google added support for VR Tour Creator tours to the Android version of Google Expeditions. This means that you can create your own VR tour then play it back and share it in Google Expeditions. You can even lead other people on your tour through Google Expeditions. In the following video I demonstrate how to use your VR Tour Creator tours in Google Expeditions.” There are two more videos embedded in the article.


Respect: Black Veterans Project Campaign Launch. “The Black Veterans Project (BVP), a veteran-led, multi-organizational startup, today announced the official launch of their IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for a full-length documentary recounting the experiences of current and former Black servicemembers, from the Vietnam War to present-day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Co-founded by veterans Kyle Bibby and Richard Brookshire, BVP has a mission to preserve the legacy of the 2.5 million Black veterans living in the United States. Through the creation of a full-length documentary and digital archive of oral histories of Black veterans from all walks of life, BVP hopes to raise awareness of racial justice issues in the military and post-service.”

Ars Technica: Suicide instructions spliced into kids’ cartoons on YouTube and YouTube Kids. “Tips for committing suicide are appearing in children’s cartoons on YouTube and the YouTube Kids app. The sinister content was first flagged by doctors on the pediatrician-run parenting blog and later reported by the Washington Post. An anonymous ‘physician mother’ initially spotted the content while watching cartoons with her son on YouTube Kids as a distraction while he had a nosebleed. Four minutes and forty-five seconds into a video, the cartoon cut away to a clip of a man, who many readers have pointed out resembles Internet personality Joji (formerly Filthy Frank). He walks onto the screen and simulates cutting his wrist. ‘Remember, kids, sideways for attention, longways for results,’ he says and then walks off screen. The video then quickly flips back to the cartoon.”

Washington Post: U.S. Cyber Command operation disrupted Internet access of Russian troll factory on day of 2018 midterms. “The U.S. military blocked Internet access to an infamous Russian entity seeking to sow discord among Americans during the 2018 midterms, several U.S. officials said, a warning that the Kremlin’s operations against the United States are not cost-free. The strike on the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, a company underwritten by an oligarch close to President Vladi­mir Putin, was part of the first offensive cyber campaign against Russia designed to thwart attempts to interfere with a U.S. election, the officials said.”


Bleeping Computer: Office 365 Phishing Page Comes with Live Chat Support. “Scammers handling a phishing website for Office 365 credentials added live support to add to the illusion of legitimacy necessary to trick victims. But things don’t always work the way the cybercriminals intend and their bluff was called by security researchers spotting the scam a mile away.”


NewsWise: New Method Uses AI to Screen for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. “Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC), Queen’s University (Ontario) and Duke University have developed a new tool that can screen children for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) quickly and affordably, making it accessible to more children in remote locations worldwide.” Good morning, Internet…

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The latest from Myrt’s Musings

Have you been missing posts from DearMYRTLE’s new blog Myrt’s Musings?
These are the posts I’ve made during the last few weeks, even though I’ve technically been on vacation.

Myrt’s Musings

My dear readers may wish to add the following code to their feed reader service. I use Feedly to read all my favorite blogs in one place: 

Here’s a hangout we did about how to find and read genealogy blogs using Feedly:

Hangouts: Pay what you want. So it’s simple. If you value the work Ol’ Myrt, +Cousin Russ and our beloved panelists do week in and week out on your behalf, please:

Check the DearMYRTLE Hangouts Calendar for upcoming study groups and hangouts. There you’ll find links to the GeneaConference (in-person) and the GeneaWebinars Calendar with over over 200 hours of online genealogy classes, webinars, live streams and tweetchats from other hosts and presenters over the next 12 months.

R1ans still at large (or, the story of India)

Ten ago, in the pre-ancient DNA “Dark Ages” a big debate raged on about the origin of R1a  men in India. The stage had been set even earlier, by the pioneering Eurasian heartland paper which was the first (to my memory) to link M17 with steppe migrations and Indo-Iranians. Yet, there was pushback as the distribution of M17 was better described, and people started using Y-STRs to try to date and place phylogeographically its migrations.

The two poles of the debate were the “Out-of-India”, which relied primarily on Y-STR based time estimates that seemed very old (even Paleolithic, if one used the wrong mutation rate) in India, and the “Into-India” which thought that the R1a distribution pointed to its being brought into India by the Indo-Aryans in the conventional ~3,500BC time frame of the “Aryan Invasion Theory” (AIT).

AIT has been much maligned because it has been received as a Western colonialist imposition on Indian history: a way to claim that Indian civilization was not native but European in origin. Europeans were certainly guilty of misusing AIT: for British colonials it represented a precedent for their colonization of India; for German National Socialists it was evidence for the greatness of the Aryan race and its past expansions eastward. It also played into internal Indian politics, espoused by some as a means of furthering their superiority as either descendants of “Aryan conquerors” or as oppressed victims of the same.

Of course, a misuse of a theory does not mean it is wrong, and if a new preprint based on ancient and modern DNA is correct, it means that AIT was basically correct: Indo-Aryans did come to India in the Late Bronze Age, via the steppe, and ultimately from central Europe.

The opposing Out-of-India theory is all but dead, although failed theories often have a long half-life, especially if they are espoused for psycho-political reasons. I would argue that Out-of-India was dead for thousands of years before it was conceived, since even in Homer’s time it was known that “India” was not “one thing” but was peopled by Indians in the north and “Eastern Ethiopians” in the south (which differed from their western “actual” Ethiopians of Africa by their possession of straight rather than curly hair). These were the “Ancestral North Indians” and “Ancestral South Indians” that modern science has revealed. Out-of-India is little more than a nationalistic myth functioning as an antidote to this basic dichotomy, a way to imbue India’s diverse citizens with a myth of common origins.

Yet, proponents of AIT (who have a non-trivial overlap with R1an enthusiasts) are also scratching their heads because of the 27 ancient South Asian males from South Asia studied in the preprint there is exactly one R1a, who also happened to live after the time of the Buddha and not during the Bronze Age.

Both OIT enthusiasts (who expected copious and abundant R1a in India and its environs since the Paleolithic) and AIT/R1an enthusiasts (who expected to see it come in c. 3,500BC) are bound to be disappointed.

Perhaps the R1a Indo-Aryans did come to South Asia in a conventional AIT time frame and they haven’t been sampled. Or, maybe they were, indeed, there, but were not R1ans. Or, maybe both sides missed the bigger story which is that the Indo-Aryans (so closely associated with India today) were simply not there as early as people have thought. 

bioRxiv: doi:

The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia

Vagheesh M Narasimhan, Nick J Patterson et al.

The genetic formation of Central and South Asian populations has been unclear because of an absence of ancient DNA. To address this gap, we generated genome-wide data from 362 ancient individuals, including the first from eastern Iran, Turan (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan), Bronze Age Kazakhstan, and South Asia. Our data reveal a complex set of genetic sources that ultimately combined to form the ancestry of South Asians today. We document a southward spread of genetic ancestry from the Eurasian Steppe, correlating with the archaeologically known expansion of pastoralist sites from the Steppe to Turan in the Middle Bronze Age (2300-1500 BCE). These Steppe communities mixed genetically with peoples of the Bactria Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) whom they encountered in Turan (primarily descendants of earlier agriculturalists of Iran), but there is no evidence that the main BMAC population contributed genetically to later South Asians. Instead, Steppe communities integrated farther south throughout the 2nd millennium BCE, and we show that they mixed with a more southern population that we document at multiple sites as outlier individuals exhibiting a distinctive mixture of ancestry related to Iranian agriculturalists and South Asian hunter-gathers. We call this group Indus Periphery because they were found at sites in cultural contact with the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) and along its northern fringe, and also because they were genetically similar to post-IVC groups in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. By co-analyzing ancient DNA and genomic data from diverse present-day South Asians, we show that Indus Periphery-related people are the single most important source of ancestry in South Asia — consistent with the idea that the Indus Periphery individuals are providing us with the first direct look at the ancestry of peoples of the IVC — and we develop a model for the formation of present-day South Asians in terms of the temporally and geographically proximate sources of Indus Periphery-related, Steppe, and local South Asian hunter-gatherer-related ancestry. Our results show how ancestry from the Steppe genetically linked Europe and South Asia in the Bronze Age, and identifies the populations that almost certainly were responsible for spreading Indo-European languages across much of Eurasia.


After Malcom X, Facebook, DNA Databases, More: Friday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, February 22, 2019


CAIR: CAIR Research Director Launches ‘After Malcolm Digital Archive’ with George Mason University. “The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced that CAIR National Director of Research and Advocacy Dr. Abbas Barzegar has launched the ‘After Malcolm Digital Archive’ with George Mason University’s Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies.”


CNET: Mark Zuckerberg to meet with UK culture chief after ‘digital gangsters’ report. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to meet with UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright at the company’s California headquarters on Thursday afternoon. [Yesterday – TJC] The meeting comes just days after a British government report slammed Facebook and other companies for ‘considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law’ and accused Zuckerberg of ‘contempt’ for the UK. ”

AZCentral: Controversial DNA database bill scaled back to patient care professionals only. “A controversial bill that would have created a massive statewide database of DNA from a myriad of professionals, volunteers and even dead people has been scaled back. Sen. David Livingston, R-Peoria, the bill sponsor, has introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 1475 that would require DNA only from professionals who care for patients with intellectual disabilities in an intermediate care facility.”


Make Tech Easier: 5 Chrome Extensions to Speed Up Your Browsing. “Chrome is known as the fastest browser, but for some people even fastest isn’t enough. Moreover, Chrome is also a huge memory hog and may lead to a slower browsing experience on low-end devices. Thankfully, there are many Chrome extensions available that will speed things up for you exponentially.”

MakeUseOf: How to Find Videos on Facebook. “It isn’t always easy to find what you’re looking for on Facebook. Confusing menu items and poor search results hide some of the stuff worth looking at. Videos are one of the biggest victims. With that in mind, here’s how to find videos on Facebook.”


University of Michigan: Historical Letters In U-M Zoology Museum Archive Highlight Links Between Specimen Collection, Conservation . “Clark Schmutz spent more than 100 hours last semester reading and digitally scanning hundreds of letters in the correspondence files of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s mammal collections, which date back to the 1800s. The scanning project is a multiyear effort to make the museum’s correspondence files available online. For Schmutz, who graduated in December with a double major in English and ecology, evolution and biodiversity, it was also an opportunity to search for intriguing stories that illustrate the links between museum collections and conservation.”

Independent (Ireland): Rodin statue outside Nando’s among first to feature in new database. “A statue of Eve by Auguste Rodin that sits outside a Nando’s restaurant in Harlow is one of the first to be included in a new database of publicly owned sculptures in the UK. Charitable organisation Art UK is working on what they say is the largest sculpture cataloguing project ever undertaken in the UK. They endeavour to have listed an estimated 150,000 pieces online by 2020.”

Mashable: Restoration YouTube will bring you deep into an internet rabbit hole. “The restoration community is a corner of YouTube boasting thousands of subscribers and millions of views. For the most part, it breaks down into four major subdivisions: shoes, swords and knives, small machinery, and toy restoration. Surprisingly, though, while all of these items are different, most of the content creators all had similar things to say.” The art restoration is pretty terrific too. Check out Baumgartner Restoration’s YouTube channel.


ZDNet: Adobe sends out second fix for critical Reader data leak vulnerability. “Adobe has released a second patch to resolve a critical zero-day vulnerability in Adobe Reader after its original fix failed. The vulnerability, CVE-2019-7089, was patched in Adobe’s February 12 patch release. Buried among 42 other critical bugs, the security flaw was described as a sensitive data leak problem which can lead to information disclosure when exploited.”


NewsCentral24x7: How a Script-Agnostic Media Can Empower The Illiterate. “In such an English-dominating virtual world, where technology, too, is largely developed and designed by native English-speaking persons, how do the oral or illiterate communities become a part? There is no denying that with the help of basic digital tools, people can be empowered to tell their own stories, beating long-set information exchange criterion of being able to read and write one or more script. By using the medium of spoken words and audio-visual story-telling, masses are better placed in the current information economy.” Good afternoon, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!