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

Buy Back South Africa, save and create jobs

first_imgRob Davies, minister of the Department of Trade and Industry, launching the Buy Back South Africa campaign in Sandton on Tuesday 20 November.(Image: DTI)MEDIA CONTACTS• Sidwell Medupe, spokespersonDepartment of Trade and Industry+27 12 394 1650+27 79 492 1774Mary AlexanderSouth African consumers and procurement managers at large companies are being urged to fight back against cheap, subsidised imports and help create and save more jobs by buying locally produced manufactured goods, in a new campaign, Buy Back SA, launched by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies on Tuesday 19 November.The 2008 global crisis hit South African manufacturing hard, and cost the country round 300 000 jobs. In the last few years South Africa has suffered the double whammy of substantially reduced external demand for products and fierce competition from other manufacturing countries. Difficult economic conditions in the US and Europe – South Africa’s principal export markets – have been a severe knock for local manufacturers.The Buy Back SA campaign, announced at the Industrial Development Corporation offices in Sandton, Johannesburg, has been funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Manufacturing Circle, Absa and Proudly South African.A key part of the venture is a video featuring veteran South African actor John Kani urging support of localisation and the manufacturing sector, which will be aired on national television.Watch the Buy Back SA campaign advert:The ad was paid for by both the government and private sector. “This is a clear sign of the close working relationship that is in the process of being built between government and industry, and one that we think can be strengthened and deepened in a number of ways,” Davies said.Festive season spending“We are launching the first phase of this campaign before the festive season because we want to impress upon consumers and stakeholders in the private and public sectors the importance of buying locally manufactured goods and products,” Davies said.South African manufacturers, he said, made products of good quality, available at reasonable prices.“We want to encourage people to buy these products because this has significance in terms of job creation, revenue generation and service delivery improvement.”The South African government has developed a number of policy instruments to support localisation, the minister said. These include local sectors and products – including clothing and textiles, buses, rolling stock and power pylons – the DTI has designated for government procurement under the Preferential Public Procurement Finance Act.“We have also reviewed and put in place a new policy framework for the National Industrial Participation Programme to oblige overseas companies that have benefitted from state contracts above $10-million to invest a percentage of the contract directly into the productive sectors of the economy, wherever possible in the sector in which they are involved,” Davies said.Company procurement is keyThe minister said buying local is not only for consumers.“It is also crucially about companies – especially large retailers with large procurement budgets and supply chains – supporting local manufacturers – not only because this is in the national interest but because there are very often sound commercial reasons for doing so related to total cost of ownership: after-sales service, quick response, security of supply, niche product requirements, quality assurance and so forth.”The Manufacturing Circle represents many big South African manufacturing concerns. About 80% of the country’s manufacturers procure some 40% of their input locally. Coenraad Bezuidenhout, executive director of the body, said at the campaign launch that South Africans had stopped giving preference to local goods.“For manufacturers, the last couple of years have been quite difficult,” he said.After the Manufacturing Circle, Proudly South African and Absa bank contributed the initial funding, Buy Back SA will now need another R12-million to continue the campaign.“I want to appeal to the private sector,” Davies said. “We need to expand this campaign.” He invited companies to register by emailing info@buybacksa.co.za.International precedentDavies said the Buy Back SA campaign, while a government initiative, was not inappropriate for a free market economy.In the US, the Buy America campaign was an integral part of efforts to rebuild that country’s economy after the 2008 crisis. A close partnership between the government, private sector and further education institutions, Buy America was also an effort to save and create jobs.“The US economy has reportedly created 500 000 new high-quality jobs in the manufacturing sector since 2010, with 50 000 of these directly attributable to those efforts,” Davies said.International and local competitionMany African countries are rich in commodities, but development is held back by an inability to turn those commodities into manufactured goods. The more resources countries take out of the ground and export, unprocessed, to foreign buyers, the more intrinsic capital is lost.Manufacturing creates jobs and skills, and established manufacturing industries create a base of skills, capital and production infrastructure that can cushion country against the often irrational shocks inflicted by the global economy.Other than the 2008 meltdown, the over-valuation and volatility of the rand has also undermined South Africa’s manufacturing competitiveness, as have higher electricity, transport and labour costs, and strike action.Manufacturing has also suffered from local competition. Over the past two decades, the sector’s contribution to the South African economy has been gradually eroded by other industries, particularly the services sector. In 1994, manufacturing’s contribution to GDP at market prices was 20.9%. In 2012 it was 12.4%.last_img read more

Videos demonstrate wheat growth stages

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest With much of the winter wheat crop across Ohio approaching critical growth stages for crucial management decision-making, a wheat expert from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University offers a series of YouTube videos that demonstrate how growers can correctly identify their crops’ various growth stages.The series is designed as a tool to help growers understand the various stages of wheat growth and to know what management strategies can be used during each growth stage, said Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University Extension wheat researcher.The videos, which begin with wheat at Feekes Growth Stage 6, show the key growth stages of wheat throughout the growing season, said Paul, who is also a plant pathologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.Assessing riskGrowers need to know how to judge wheat’s growth stages so they can make appropriate decisions on when to apply nitrogen and herbicides and whether they will need to apply a fungicide, Paul said. Understanding wheat’s growth stages also helps growers judge the potential for injury to their plant stands under the recent cold snap that hit the region, he said. “Failure to correctly identify wheat growth stages could lead to improper timing of fertilizer and herbicide applications, which could lead to ineffective use of these inputs and even crop injury,” Paul said. “Plus, knowing the growth stage is important for assessing whether the crop is at risk for freezing injury — wheat at Feekes 6 and later are more prone to injury than wheat between Feekes 4 and 5.”The first video, Feekes Growth Stage 6, can be viewed at go.osu.edu/feekes6.Feekes Growth Stages 7 and 8 can be viewed at go.osu.edu/feekes78. Identifying Feekes Growth Stages 9 and 10 can be viewed at go.osu.edu/feekes910. Identifying wheat heading can be viewed at go.osu.edu/wheatheading and a video on wheat flowering can be viewed at go.osu.edu/wheatflowering.last_img read more

Energy Code Enforcement is a Mixed Bag

first_imgSince I am a HERS rater, I do the required testing for some builders and provide the test results for my building certification clients. Most of the houses I test pass; however, two recent homes did not. One house showed some bad duct leakage, which the HVAC contractor was able to identify quickly and repair.At the second house, the blower-door test showed almost 9 ach50. A quick inspection showed that an attic bonus room did not have the required attic-side sheathing on or blocking below the kneewalls. When they correct this, I will come back and retest. These are two cases where testing identified problems that could be fixed, but so far, there appears to be limited enforcement of the code by building officials.I see nothingIn my testing role, I am not responsible for overall compliance with the energy code, but I do my best to point out obvious problems, such as the missing air sealing of the knneewall mentioned above. But as long as a house passes the tests, I have no authority to report any work that doesn’t comply with code requirements.Unfortunately, it appears that many officials who are in a position to enforce the code are not doing so consistently. They require that the contractor post the state-required compliance certificate, but I have yet to see a project fail for missing the required air barriers that could be visually verified in a matter of minutes.This lack of enforcement allows builders to complete and sell homes that clearly don’t meet the requirements of the energy code, depriving homeowners of energy efficiency and comfort that they deserve. If enforcement were better and more consistent, all builders would have to step up their game and we would end up with much better housing stock.I recently served on a committee to help the city of Atlanta come up with a plan to properly enforce the energy code, with the intention of disseminating the results throughout the state when complete. The report is scheduled for release early next year. It will be interesting to see how successful this effort is at improving enforcement in the field. I’ve never been much of a code geek, but recently I’ve been studying the 2009 and 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) documents. When I was a contractor, energy code enforcement by building officials was pretty much nonexistent, so I didn’t pay much attention to the specifics, although I’m fairly certain we met or exceeded the minimum requirements in our projects.My recent interest in the codes was sparked by Georgia’s amendments to the 2009 IECC that went into effect this year. The Department of Community Affairs put together a pretty thorough document that improves on the 2009 code and requires blower-door testing for new homes listed as an option in the IECC – one of the few in the country that does so. For reference, a house must test better than 7 ach50, and ducts must test to better than 8 cfm @ 25 Pa/100 s.f. total leakage or 12 @ 25 Pa/100 s.f. leakage outside the building envelope. Duct systems fully inside the building envelope don’t need to be tested and blower door testing is not required on renovation projects.More cops on the streetThere is a difference, however between having a good written code and enforcing it.There are two pieces to making sure that buildings meet the energy code: visually inspecting for the mandatory measures and performance testing. Visual inspections are the responsibility of building inspectors, while the testing can be done by anyone with the proper training – HERS raters or Duct and Envelope Tightness (DET) technicians who are trained to perform blower door and duct leakage tests by groups around the state. The testing does not need to be performed by a third party – the HERS rater or DET technician can be an employee of the builder, the HVAC contractor, or an independent contractor. RELATED STORIES Are Energy Codes Working?New Air Sealing Requirements in the International Residential CodeAn Overview of the 2012 Energy CodeAre We Really Better Off With Building Codes? last_img read more

Powerade Launches NEW Products at 2008 X-Blades NTL

first_imgParticipants at the 2008 X-Blades NTL will have the opportunity to test-drive the all new “Pre-Event” and “Post event” drinks. These new drinks are completely new to the market and will complement the existing Powerade Isotonic.To find out more about these new products visit the 2008 X-Blades NTL websitelast_img

a month agoOxford boss Robinson delighted with Cup rout of West Ham

first_imgOxford boss Robinson delighted with Cup rout of West Hamby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveOxford United boss Karl Robinson was delighted with their 4-0 Carabao Cup rout of West Ham.During his tenure as MK Dons boss, the 39-year-old knocked out Blackpool and Norwich when they were in the Premier League before recording a famous 4-0 win over Manchester United in the third round five years ago.Robinson also triumphed over QPR – when they were in the top flight – in the FA Cup, but played down his cup exploits.”I just like winning football matches, no matter who you play against. I think one thing my teams always do is show tremendous respect for the opposition, but we never change our style,” Oxford’s manager said.”We almost in a stupid way match them at their own game and sometimes it doesn’t work.”I’ve been battered 6-0 in this competition by Southampton. I’ve also been beaten 5-1 by Chelsea in the FA Cup, so there have been a few hidings, but these are the ones you remember for the rest of your life.”Before the game I said I think I have some Premier League youngsters in my team and if you look at our age, we were younger than West Ham.”We don’t only have an older group of players who want to run around, but we have a young team with tremendous growth thanks to the academy and the players we have brought in so I can’t ask for any more from my players.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

25 days agoPogba calls Man Utd crisis meeting

first_imgPogba calls Man Utd crisis meetingby Paul Vegas25 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United star Paul Pogba reportedly called a team meeting during training last week.He urged his team-mates to “stick together” amid their miserable start to the season.United have made an indifferent start to the campaign with only two wins from their opening six Premier League fixtures ahead of the visit of Arsenal to Old Trafford on Monday.In fact, the Red Devils have won only five of the 17 matches played since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the managerial job on a full-time basis in March.An Old Trafford source told The Sun: “Paul got all the players together and has been speaking to them about sticking together.“He has been in good spirits of late and is still pulling for Ole. He initiated a sort of rallying call to the boys. He knows he has a lot of responsibility and trying to inspire the younger guys around him.“The backroom staff are impressed and been appreciated while he has been out injured.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

18 days agoDavid Luiz decided to leave Chelsea before Arsenal offer: I needed new story

first_imgDavid Luiz decided to leave Chelsea before Arsenal offer: I needed new storyby Freddie Taylor18 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveDavid Luiz says he decided to leave Chelsea before Arsenal’s offer to sign him.Luiz, 32, decided he wanted to start a new challenge away from Stamford Bridge.He joined Arsenal on deadline day in a deal that shocked the Premier League.”I always liked Chelsea, no doubt. I saw a possibility of writing a new story in a new place, but I am forever grateful to Chelsea, to all people, to friendships that are for life,” Luiz told TalkSport.”It was an individual decision made through honest conversation – between me and Frank Lampard, no one else.”We had a different idea of the future of the game and that’s why I chose to take a new path.”It’s always very difficult because of the rivalry, but I made the decision to leave Chelsea even before receiving Arsenal’s bid.”As soon as I decided to leave Chelsea – after a few days – Arsenal’s proposal came, and as it was another great club, I didn’t think twice.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Global markets rise on further signs of US economic growth Italian concessions

first_imgTORONTO – Further signs of U.S. economic growth and budget concessions in Italy drove global markets higher as crude prices returned to a near four-year high.U.S. private payroll data released Wednesday showed potential for a strong upcoming jobs report while the ISM non-manufacturing index for September beat expectations, said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp.The index, which measures economic activity, registered 61.6 per cent for the highest level since the index was created in 2008.Market concern was alleviated when Italy gave signs that if would cut its budget deficit and tackle its debt in the coming years.The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 54.82 points to 16,072.05, after hitting a high of 16,082.26 on 223.2 million shares traded.The increase was led by a nearly five per cent gain in the health-care sector, which includes some of the biggest names in the marijuana business, and the important energy sector, which was up 1.9 per cent.“There’s been a strong move in the price of oil over the last number of weeks and months and that continues today,” Chopra said in an interview. “The price of natural gas has been up the last number of days and you can see that in the performance of the energy sector.”The November crude contract was up $1.18 at US$76.41 per barrel, hitting its highest level since November 2014. The November natural gas contract was up 6.4 cents at US$3.23 per mmBTU.Chopra said energy prices rose on the back of stronger demand because of a growing U.S. economy and supply issues related to impending U.S. sanctions on Iran that will constrain oil supplies.Meanwhile, gold and utilities were lower because interest rates are creeping up, uncertainty in Canada is lessening following the announcement of a new NAFTA deal and Canadian government bond yields are climbing.“As yields rise you tend to see utility prices fall in sympathy with government bond yields rising,” he said.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average reached another new high, gaining 54.45 points to close at 26,828.39. The S&P 500 index rose 2.08 points to 2,925.51, while the Nasdaq composite was up 25.54 points at 8,025.08.The Canadian dollar traded at an average of 77.93 cents US compared with an average of 78.02 cents US on Tuesday.The December gold contract was down US$4.10 at US$1,202.90 an ounce and the December copper contract was up 2.75 cents at US$2.83 a pound.last_img read more

BATTLEGROUND BENGAL

first_imgThe people of West Bengal are witnessing a chain of events hitherto unknown to the state. First, never have people in the state witnessed a prime minister attending more than a dozen election rallies to gain support for her/his own candidates. Second, people in the past have also never seen their leaders harp on religion more diligently than on development; that too with a clear view towards inciting one community against another. Third, neither have citizens of the state seen national leaders of important stature fabricate lies specifically targeting festivals and pitching them against progress. People have also never witnessed such blatant muscle-flexing by politicians to win an election; finally, never have the discerning people of Bengal experienced the heat of a political party that relies entirely on manipulating and spreading canards on social media to gain electoral victory. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have addressed more than a dozen election rallies in West Bengal and in every meeting, they have criticised Mamata Banerjee for supposedly preventing Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja and Ram Navami celebrations in the state. Even Banerjee’s strongest critics living in Bengal are shocked to hear this chosen electoral pitch from prominent national leaders. Exhausted of the deliberate and calculated lies being spread by the ruling party, Trinamool Congress supremo and chief minister Mamata Banerjee urged Modi to brush his homework before addressing political meetings. Accountability to one’s people is clearly a thing of the past. In truth, since assuming charge in 2011, the TMC government has emphasised sufficiently upon popularising Durga Puja, to make this essentially Bengali festival an international event. In fact, the Sangeet Natak Akademi has nominated the inclusion of Durga Puja in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) for 2020. What is even more, clubs are provided Rs 10,000 to organise Durga Puja and a grand carnival is organised on Red Road prior to immersion. More than one lakh Durga Pujas are held all over the state and it is the most important festival in Bengal with people from across religions and communities playing an active role. In many Durga Puja associations, the president and secretary are Muslims. The poison of communal hate that hasn’t yet crippled Bengal appears to be BJP’s chosen weapon. And, for Saraswati Puja celebrations, more than a crore are held across the state. Bengal can perhaps teach the rest of the country how being religious mustn’t necessarily complement being divisive. The lotus party is fully aware of the extent of Durga Puja celebrations as the income tax department had sent notices to several clubs demanding disclosure of account details post last year’s puja. Banerjee had strongly opposed and both Modi and Shah alleged that she was shielding the puja organisers. But while addressing election rallies, both have deliberately lied that pujas aren’t held in Kolkata to confuse people and spew more hate. Organising grand Ram Navami processions has never been a custom in traditional Bengali culture. The state government had imposed restrictions on carrying maces and swords at religious processions. The ‘Jai Sri Ram’ call, popularised by karsevaks during the pitiful demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, had only been a chant for temple walls, never a public slogan. In Bengal, along with the slogan, BJP demanded that its sympathisers be allowed to carry weapons and sketched their walking route specifically through areas dominated by minority communities. Had the state government allowed such rallies to parade through Bengal’s streets, communal tension would’ve surely escalated to riots. However, the government never imposed restrictions on any rally without weapons. This election has been a celebration of lies and BJP’s campaign in Bengal has been no different. Across its campaigns, BJP has rued over the lack of development in Bengal. But, most will agree, what Banerjee has accomplished in eight years can be matched by very few statespersons of today’s time. Her projects have touched all corners of Bengal’s rural belt – under Khadya Sathi, more than 8 crore people have been given rice at Rs 2 per kg, Kanyashree has earned United Nation’s recognition, having assisted more than 60 lakh girl students in pursuing higher education. Further, under Sabuj Sathi, which has also earned global recognition, more than one crore students in state-run and aided schools are being provided bicycles for free. With people bearing direct witness to development in the state, particularly in the construction of roads and infrastructure, the lie-coated speeches of Modi and Shah have failed to create any mentionable impact. Despite its strength, it is indeed surprising that the ruling party has to resort to lies rather than its positive promotion to earn people’s trust. For instance, a sensitive event that took place in Bangladesh was circulated as an event in Basirhat in North 24 Parganas. BJP leaders were euphoric after the party secured 17 per cent vote in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. But in the 2016 Assembly election, polling dropped to 10 per cent and BJP remained satisfied with three MLAs. Dilip Ghosh, party’s state president from Kharagpur Town, Manoj Tigga from Madarihat and Swadhir Kumar Sarkar from Malda South. BJP’s poll percentage in 2016 dropped from 21.12 to 8.84 in Nadia, from 21.43 to 6.60 in North 24 Parganas, from 27.27 to 14.85 in Kolkata, from 18.10 to 9.25 in Hooghly, from 17.62 to 8.96 in Bankura, and from 20.35 to 12.03 in Burdwan. However, BJP leaders never invested enough to strengthen their organisational power; instead, they opted for glittering lies. BJP had organised a nationwide campaign where, by sending an SMS, one could become a primary member of the party. Siddharth Nath Singh, national BJP leader who once looked after Bengal, said that new members would be given training and invited to a brainstorming session. But none of this happened. In Bengal, BJP never made any sincere attempt to train workers at the booth level. Every political party needs around 3,85,000 workers to man the 77,000 odd booths in Bengal. In every booth, political parties have to deploy five workers, including two polling agents, two election agents and one worker who acts as the reliever. Moreover, those who are appointed as polling agents and election agents are expected to know each voter. Leaders of both CPI-M and Congress had said that their party would not be able to field workers in 50-55 per cent booths. However, BJP leaders have asserted that people’s support is with them. But it is not easy. Babul Supriyo was furious that his party could not deploy polling agents in Barabani, where elections were held on April 29. Anupam Hazra, BJP’s candidate from Jadavpur, was found to criticise his party workers for not pursuing the election campaign seriously. Mamata Banerjee has said that BJP will not get more than 150-160 seats and, in Bengal, her party will bag all 42 seats. On January 19, 2019, Banerjee had organised a grand show rally of United India which was attended by leaders of 21 political parties. From the podium, Banerjee raised the slogan in Bengali: “Du hazar unish, BJP finish” (Come 2019 and BJP will be ousted). Across rallies, she has urged voters to cast their choice in favour of secularism and thereby, Trinamool nominees. Banerjee is believed to be a person whose political predictions have rarely gone wrong. But the country will have to wait till May 23 to know if her predictions were well-thought or simply a reflex of the terrible election heat.last_img read more