[they/them] 🏳️‍⚧️, 🏳️‍🌈, disabled, disgruntled. Former librarian, future dust.
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Serif or sans serif?

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Most people care about their typefaces

Appearances matter, especially whether fonts have serifs or not.

"Font Wars Spread After State Department Replaces Times New Roman with Calibri

"'I'm banging my head against the wall;' camps divided in fallout from government efforts to make documents easier to read"

By Katie Deighton, WSJ (3/14/23)

One wonders whether it is a matter of functionality and efficiency or esthetics and taste.  Whatever motivates the confrontation, one thing is evident, and that is that people have deeply held opinions in favor of / against one side or the other.

What sounds like a typeface tempest-in-a-teapot has boiled over in the U.S. and U.K., where changes in document requirements have set off a war of words among cantankerous font factions.

The State Department announced in January that Calibri would replace Times New Roman on official documents to make them easier to read. U.K.’s Home Office, for similar reasons, x-ed out the 83-year-old Times New Roman, which has the wings and feet on letters known as serif style.

“For every study out there that says that sans serifs are more legible than serifs, you’re going to find an opposite study,” said Maria Lindenfeldar, the creative director at Princeton University Press in New Jersey.

A 2017 study published in the scientific journal Annals of Dyslexia found that text in Dyslexie, a typeface designed to make reading easier for people with dyslexia, didn’t test any better—whether measured by speed or accuracy—than words in Times New Roman.

Some typeface executives say that, in fact, the serif flourish makes letters easier to distinguish. They cite the identical appearance in some Calibri fonts of the lowercase “l,” as in look, and uppercase “I,” as in India.

The serif versus sans-serif debate extends to nonverbal communication.

Typographer Sarah Hyndman, author of the book “Why Fonts Matter,” found that people saw serif typefaces such as Times New Roman embodying “traditional,” “conventional” and “trustworthy” values, she said; Calibri and other sans-serif typefaces were seen as “confident,” “friendly,” and “honest.”

Rebecca Creed, a Florida-based appellate attorney, had in the past used Times New Roman or Courier New for court briefs and other legal documents. In 2021, the Florida Supreme Court adopted a rule requiring Arial or Bookman Old Style, chosen for their readability on screens, for computer-generated documents.

At Ms. Creed’s law firm, Bookman Old Style won out.

“We just liked the way it looked,” she said. “That sounds dumb, but it’s really just what it came down to.”

Chacun à son goût.

 

Selected readings

 

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synapsecracklepop
77 days ago
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During and after an extended period of vision loss, I found APHont as wonderful as it was designed to be. (Free for users/audiences with vision loss)

From a 2007 research review: "The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) recommends the use of its APHont font when creating large-print materials for individuals with low vision because of its usability characteristics: even spacing between letters, no serifs, wider letters, rounder letters, and larger punctuation marks. We did not locate any experimental, published studies on APHont..."

Some say it's not "attractive," but I think it's not unattractive -- anything is better than TNR, one of the stingiest little serifs ever. And with the benefits of increased access, fluency, and textual immersion, APHont readers and typers likely have less interest in nitpicking the finer points of presentation. That, at least, was my experience.
ATL again
davenelson
76 days ago
To bad APHont font is only available for personal use.
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Becerra: Judge set to rule on abortion pill is ‘beginning to read the law’

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WASHINGTON — Health secretary Xavier Becerra on Tuesday warned of dramatic consequences if a federal judge revokes the federal approval of mifepristone, a form of medication abortion.

The judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, is set to rule on a case brought in Texas by anti-abortion advocates seeking to overturn the drug’s initial approval more than two decades ago. Mifepristone, taken in combination with misoprostol, accounts for over half of U.S. abortions. It is also used to treat miscarriage.

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synapsecracklepop
86 days ago
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"Becerra warned that if Kacsmaryk — an appointee of President Donald Trump — overturns mifepristone’s approval, the impact of the ruling would extend far beyond threats to abortion access. [As if that weren't nightmarish enough -SJ]

"Such a ruling would challenge the country’s basic system for approving drugs and encroach on the authority of the Food and Drug Administration, Becerra argued."
ATL again
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Study of trans men suggests that androgen hormone therapy can lower breast cancer risk

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When transgender men transition, their risk for breast cancer tends to plummet and look more like the breast cancer risk for cisgender men, excluding those with high-risk mutations like BRCA1 or BRCA2. Many researchers thought the main reason for this was probably breast removal during chest reconstruction surgery, but recent research suggests that the androgens during hormone replacement therapy may also play a crucial role in reshaping transgender men’s breast cancer risk.

That’s hinted to researchers that androgens, the male sex hormones, might offer new paths to develop powerful therapies to treat or prevent breast cancer.

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synapsecracklepop
86 days ago
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ATL again
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“Justice” — Langston Hughes

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synapsecracklepop
87 days ago
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ATL again
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New mouse study shows genes aren’t only way to pass obesity to next generation

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From the color of our eyes to our odds of developing cancer, we’re all shaped by the genetic legacy of our ancestors. But a new study in mice provides the clearest evidence yet that acquired traits can be passed down from one generation to the next in mammals without DNA changes, challenging centuries of evolutionary dogma and raising fresh questions about the factors that affect our health.

Scientists created mice that were obese or had high cholesterol, not through tinkering with the animals’ genetic code, but by making little chemical modifications that changed which genes were active without altering the DNA sequence. Both these modifications and their metabolic effects were shown to have passed down for at least three to six generations — something scientists once assumed was impossible.

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synapsecracklepop
98 days ago
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The body keeps the score, transgenerational epigenetics edition
ATL again
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Digitization of Babylonian fragments

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Once again, DH to the rescue:

AI Deciphers Ancient Babylonian Texts And Finds Beautiful Lost Hymn

Eat your heart out, ChatGPT.

Tom Hale, IFLScience (2/7/23)

It used to be that paleographers and philologists labored mightily trying to piece together bits and pieces of old manuscripts, using only their own mental and visual powers. Now they can call on AI allies to provide decisive assistance.

Researchers have crafted an artificial intelligence (AI) system capable of deciphering fragments of ancient Babylonian texts. Dubbed the “Fragmentarium,” the algorithm holds the potential to piece together some of the oldest stories ever written by humans, including the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The work comes from a team at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany who have been attempting to digitize every surviving Babylonian cuneiform tablet since 2018.

The problem with understanding Babylonian texts is that the narratives are written on clay tablets, which today exist only in countless fragments. The fragments are stored at facilities that are continents away from each other, such as the British Museum in London and the Iraq Museum in Baghdad.

On top of these hurdles, the texts are written in two complex writing systems, Sumerian and Akkadian, making the task of compiling the texts all the more taxing.

Researchers previously deciphered the texts by copying the characters onto paper, then painstakingly compared their transcripts with others to see which fragments belong together and where to fill in the gaps.

Fragmentarium makes this process a whole lot easier. From the 22,000 text fragments that have been digitized so far, the AI can sift through the images and systematically assemble text fragments together by making connections in seconds that would typically take human researchers months.

"It's a tool that has never existed before, a huge database of fragments. We believe it is essential to the reconstruction of Babylonian literature, which we can now progress much more rapidly," Enrique Jiménez, Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Literatures at the Institute of Assyriology at Ludwig Maximilian University, said in a statement

In November 2022, the software recognized a fragment belonging to the most recent tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the world’s oldest surviving piece of literature dating back to 2100 BCE. The most famous parts of this epic poem describe a great catastrophic flood, which is thought to be the origin of the Noah's Ark story found in Genesis.

In another breakthrough, Jiménez and a colleague from Iraq identified a hymn to the city of Babylon with the help of Fragmentarium. Jiménez explains: “The text is lovely. You can imagine the city very well. It describes spring arriving in Babylon.”

“Hitherto there have been no hymns to cities in Babylonian literature. Now we have found 15 new fragments of it. Without the Fragmentarium, the reconstruction would have taken 30 or 40 years,” he adds.

The literature may be thousands of years old, but the discoveries being made with the assistance of Fragmentarium are exciting and bring antiquity back to life.  The hymn digitally stitched together by Jiménez and colleagues reads as follows:

“The river Arahtu,

– created by Nudimmud, the Lord of Wisdom – Waters

the plain, drenches the reeds,

Pours out its waters into lagoon and sea.

It's blooming and green on his fields,

The meadows shimmer with fresh grain;

Thanks to him the corn piles up in heaps and heaps,

Grass grows high for pasture for the flocks,

With riches and splendor befitting mankind,

[All is] covered in glorious abundance.”

So far, just 200 researchers from around the world have used the online platform for their work. However, as of February 2023, Fragmentarium will be free for the public to use.

“Everybody will be able to play around with the Fragmentarium. There are thousands of fragments that have not yet been identified,” says Jiménez.

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German version

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Selected readings

[Thanks to Hiroshi Kumamoto]

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sarcozona
110 days ago
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Epiphyte City
synapsecracklepop
111 days ago
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ATL again
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