Down with Human Evolution Just-So Stories

first_imgStories of human ancestors around campfires evolving larger brains by eating meat or caring for animals often sound themselves life campfire stories.  For example, Jeremy Hsu in Live Science speculated that “Caring for Animals May Have Shaped Human Evolution.”  A cute girl with a puppy adorns the article.  “Our love of all things furry has deep roots in human evolution and may have even shaped how our ancestors developed language and other tools of civilization.”  For another example, see the 06/10/2010 entry on why humans became hairless.    Paleoanthropologist John Hawks has had enough of this tale-telling.  “‘Just-so stories [are] driving me crazy,” he exclaimed in a rare outburst against reporters and those in his own field on his John Hawks Weblog.  Responding to one such story, the idea that eating meat gave humans bigger brains (12/20/2009), he showed how to ask skeptical questions: “How did meat make us smarter?  Is it a magical meat property?  If I fed enough meat to the local deer, would they get smarter?”  He did not reject the evolutionary tales outright: “These are serious hypotheses with literature and evidence supporting them,” he claimed, but then he blushed on his colleagues’ behalf: “I just wish that they could be reported in a way that made it sound like paleoanthropologists are skeptical scientists!”Thank you, John.  Join our campaign to clean up science by ridding it of storytelling.  Just watch the ground under your feet.(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Fujitsu Siemens in BEE ‘first’

first_img20 June 2008Fujitsu Siemens Computers has sold a stake of 25% plus one share in its South African operations to black economic empowerment group the Thuthukani Investment Consortium, for an undisclosed sum.The consortium consists of Thuthukani Information Technology (IT) Services, Amava Holdings and an additional broad-based black economic empowerment trust.In a statement this week, Fujitsu Siemens states that the transaction is unique in nature, as it is the first multinational computer maker to have sold equity in its local operation to an empowerment group – with the consortium being set up as a special purpose vehicle to facilitate the deal.Other multinationals have opted for an alternative route, allowed for under South Africa’s empowerment legislation.According to a Business Day article on the deal this week, “equity equivalents” are an instrument whereby multinationals can calculate the value of 25% of their local operations and invest that sum into schemes such as training and social responsibility initiatives.Fujitsu Siemens Computers South Africa MD Idris Suleman said that the empowerment transaction began when his predecessor convinced the board of directors of the need to engage with an empowerment grouping, about two-and-a-half years ago.Meaningful contribution“The board gave its approval, but tasked us with finding the right partner, one who would grow with us,” said Suleman. “In addition, the board required that we do not engage in any form of ‘window-dressing’, but that we conclude a deal that will be meaningful for the company and the broader socio-political environment of the country.”Fujitsu Siemens Computers South Africa appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance as their lead adviser, ensuring a strict adherence to governance principles and to give a level of comfort and independence to the board of the holding company.Fujitsu Siemens president and CEO Bernd Bischoff pointed out that the South African and African markets were extremely important to the company’s overall business strategy, and it therefore had a responsibility to have a positive influence on every aspect of the business environments in which it operates.“Through engaging in a transaction of this nature, I believe that we are making a positive contribution to South African society, particularly as this ensures that the fruits of our endeavours will be shared across a broader base of the economic spectrum,” he said.Seeking entrepreneursAfter meeting with and reviewing several potential suitors, and conducting thorough due diligence exercises on all prospects, PricewaterhouseCoopers introduced the Thuthukani Investment Consortium, with the belief that they offered the best prospects in terms of cultural and value alignment.According to Fujitsu Siemens, the company felt that the strong-entrepreneurial nature of the members of the consortium and the direct involvement of the principals in the companies, matched its own style and approach to business.“We were presented with a unique opportunity to invest,” said Thuthukani IT Services MD Fannie Mahlangu, who has since been appointed to the board of directors of Fujitsu Siemens Computers South Africa.“What we found appealing about Fujitsu Siemens Computers, was that the company has tremendous potential for growth and is complementary to our business. Additionally, there was a strong cultural and philosophical match between us,” he said.Amava Holdings CEO Puven Ramasamy pointed out that Fujitsu Siemens Computers, with its portfolio of hardware and services would complement several of the company’s previous investments.“With this transaction, we continue to emphasis our focus on the IT sector,” he said.Not the usual suspectsSuleman pointed out that Fujitsu Siemens Computers South Africa was adamant in not wishing to take on “the usual suspects” in its empowerment transaction, stating that it was critical for the company to find a partner whose values were in alignment with their own, and had a hunger to take the business to new heights.“In the Thuthukani Investment Consortium, we have found a group of emerging entrepreneurs who epitomise all that is good about empowerment,” he said. “Having had the opportunity to learn more about both Thuthukani and Amava, I am confident that we have made an excellent choice and that we will complement one another’s business and grow together into the future.”SAinfo reporter Would you like to use this article in your publicationor on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Independent Power Producers chosen

first_img“The success of renewable energy hinges on the financial sector,” she said, adding that bidders that were having trouble before the financial close to speak up. “I would want to appeal to those bidders that are already experiencing challenges to come to the fore. It is an appeal for the benefit of the number of jobs that will not be realised if there’s no financial support,” said Peters. In December, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) announced that it will finance 12 of the 28 preferred bidders to contribute to the country’s energy mix. The financing will be to the tune of R5.2-billion. Meanwhile, Peters said the department has started talking to financial institutions. “Job creation per province, we’ve seen a small reduction from bid window 1 but the bidders have indicated that on the total 7 059 jobs created in the construction period and 328 jobs created in the operation of the life of the plant,” said Magubane. “In this window, the department received 79 bids of which 51 met the qualification criteria as per the Request for Proposals. Given the megawatts limitation and competition, only 19 bidders were selected as preferred bidders for Window 2,” Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said in Pretoria on Monday. Growing the economy In the first window some of the challenges faced by bidders were that they had trouble reaching the financial close, of which June is the financial close for window1 project proposals. The minister said there had been informal conversation regarding companies experiencing financial strain. “With them not coming to the fore this would mean that we’re not going to deliver on the megawatts that we want,” she said. According to the IRP2010 – which is a 20-year projection on electricity supply and demand – about 42% of electricity generated in South Africa is required to come from renewable resources. The department has set aside 100MW of the 3 725MW for smaller projects of less than 5MW. Of the selected bidders, nine were selected for the solar photovoltaic technology, seven for wind, two for small hydro and one for concentrated solar thermal (CSP). 23 May 2012 Additionally there have been significant increases in the local content from 28.5% in window 1 to 47.5% in bid window 2 in solar photovoltaic technology. The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2010) places specific emphasis on broadening electricity supply technologies to include gas, imports, nuclear, biomass, renewables (wind, solar and hydro), in response to both the country’s future electricity needs as well as reduce its CO2 emissions. For small hydro 13.3MW has been taken up from a maximum allocated for round 2 at 75MW while for CSP the allocated maximum 50MW has been taken up. In the 2nd window a total 1 043.9MW has been taken up by bidders. Ompie Aphane, Deputy Director General for Electricity, Nuclear and Clean Energy at the department said the department was not sure of the amount of projects that were in financial strain. Last year, the Department of Energy announced 28 preferred bidders, out of a total of 53 applications for the IPP bid process in the first window. Japser Power Company, Solar Capital De Aar 3 and Sishen Solar Facility were among the bidders selected for solar photovoltaic technology; while West Coast 1 and Grassridge form part of the 7 selected for wind and Stortemelk Hydro (Pty) Ltd and Neusberg Hydro Electric Project A were selected for small hydro. For CSP Bokpoort CSP project was selected. The department has noted that under window 2, the level of commitment to economic development has improved compared to window 1. “More communities will benefit through employment or as shareholding in these projects,” said the minister, adding that most bidders in window 2 will establish community trusts aimed at developing surrounding communities.center_img What the department had noted, said Director General Nelisiwe Magubane, was that there were “significant” changes in several areas like pricing whereby in solar photovoltaic in window 1 on average was at about 2.75 per kWh. “We’ve seen a significant reduction in price of about R1.65 per kWh for window 2,” she said. Projects allocated The department has yet to decide on when bidding will commence for projects to take part in window 3. A full list of bidders is available on the Independent Power Producers programme website. Peters said government saw the programme as an opportunity to grow the economy given the numbers of unemployed people while the procurement of alternative energy is also aimed at alleviating energy constraints. Appeal to financial sector Integrated Resource Plan For Solar photovoltaic 417MW have been taken up by bidders with the maximum MW allocated for round 2 at 450; for wind 562.5MW has been taken up with the maximum allocation at 650MW. The names of 19 bidders – who have been selected as the preferred bidders for Window 2 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers (IPP) programme that will contribute to South Africa’s energy mix – were announced on Monday. The bidding for window 2 closed on 5 March with the total 79 bids received. These bids amount to 3 255MW while the cap was at 1 275MW. Source: BuaNews Peters appealed to the country’s financial sector to provide financing to bidders. South Africa wants to procure 3 725MW of renewable energy through this process. The programme also seeks to make provision for local content in the provision of alternative energy sources while the bids were evaluated by technical, financial, legal and international reviewers. The minister called on prospective bidders for the remaining three windows that they need not necessary own the land on which projects will operate on. Bidders could co-exist. “We don’t want to lose arable land,” said Peters adding that bidders could share the same piece of land with farmers.last_img read more

South African journalists excel at CNN awards

first_img13 October 2015Four South African journalists have won CNN African Journalist Awards, held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in Kenya, Nairobi. The awards recognised and awarded 32 African journalists, drawn from over 1 400 entries from 39 African countries.The Mohamed Amin Photographic Award went to @hermanverwey, Beeld #AfricanJournoAwards #AJA20 pic.twitter.com/AlmXQO5lw8— AfricanJournoAwards (@AfricanJourno) October 10, 2015Photographer Herman Verwey from the Beeld newspaper won the Mohamed Amin Photographic Award for his photos taken during the murder trial of the Paralympic athlete, Oscar Pistorius.“When you look at Herman Verwey’s work, for a second, you can wonder. the characters are so full of life, these pictures really give you a sense of their feelings. Herman’s body of work gives also a proper idea of the high pressure that surrounded this trial, so important for the South African society,’ said the judges of their choice of this year’s winner.The awards were handed out on Saturday evening, 10 October.The Dow Technology & Innovation Reporting Award went to @sarahemilywild, Mail & Guardian #AfricanJournoAwards #AJA20 pic.twitter.com/PEFadJx44N— AfricanJournoAwards (@AfricanJourno) October 10, 2015Sarah Wild from the Mail & Guardian newspaper won the Technology & Innovation Reporting Award for her story, “Robot”, on the environmental testing of the health of the oceans’ “lungs” in relation to effects of global warming.Judges highlighted the article’s intuitive and simple tone in communicating the technicalities of the subject matter, saying: “Sarah Wild delivered an original report on a major innovation in research over global warming, conducted by a South African scientific team. It’s an excellent reminder that there are African-led research programs at the forefront of the climate change issue. Sarah Wild transports the reader into the heart of the project, with the team deploying this new generation of sea-cruising robots.”The IPP Media Features Award went to @JulieLaurenz & #JacquelineJayamaha #AfricanJournoAwards #AJA20 pic.twitter.com/mrnV3LJXxT— AfricanJournoAwards (@AfricanJourno) October 10, 2015Freelance documentary-makers Julie Laurenz and Jacqueline Jayamaha won in the Features Award category for their harrowing profile piece, “Viola’s Hope”, for the e-tv channel, about the effects of woonga drug addiction.“Tragic. Educative. Committed. The team that brought us this piece spent over a month putting it together and they stayed with their story which was well-shot, produced and written,” said the judges.CNN/MultiChoice African Journalist 2015 is Hyacinthe Sanou, Burkina Faso #AfricanJournoAwards #AJA20 w/ @UKenyatta pic.twitter.com/NYCfaWaXPO— DStv Kenya (@DStv_Kenya) October 10, 2015Burkinabe journalist Hyacinthe Boowurosigue Sanou won the top prize – African Journalist of the Year – for his piece, “Room 143”. Published in the Ouagadougou daily newspaper L’Observateur Paalga, the story covered the ousting of Blaise Campaore, who had ruled over Burkina Faso for 27 years.“My story was about power and how people can fight against it – I’m so proud that the story has been told and will now be remembered,” said Sanou.Uhuru’s speech during 2015 CNN Multichoice African Journalist Awards http://t.co/KtM6nB6thX #AfricanJournoAwards pic.twitter.com/4uXdfz0Wvr— The Star, Kenya (@TheStarKenya) October 11, 2015Keynote speaker for the event, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, paid tribute to the hard work journalists did to find the real stories of Africa. He asked that they do their best to continue to find the real “African truths” and reclaim the African story, so that they could tell global audiences of the success stories.Ferial Haffajee, editor-in-chief of City Press newspaper, was this year’s chairperson of the judging panel. She paid tribute to the winners, saying the awards were recognition for a lot of sacrifices that journalists made to get their stories. “Journalism can be very dangerous, lonely,” Haffajee told the gathering.Speaking on behalf of the hosts and sponsors of the event, Deborah Rayner, CNN senior vice-president for international news gathering, TV and digital, said that the winners demonstrated the very best of journalism, from investigative journalism through to stories of hope and change.“I’ve seen tremendously courageous reporting, brilliantly innovative reporting and highly entertaining reporting,” added Tony Maddox, executive vice-president and managing director of CNN. “The awards really do cover the full panorama of all that is good in journalism.”Source: News24last_img read more