first_imgTwo articles in the popular press tried to make the case that monkeys have humanlike characteristics.  Maybe they proved the converse, at least for some humans.Does this add up?  Reporting on experiments suggesting monkeys have the rudiments of math skills, at least in the ability to compare sizes of things, MSNBC News writer Bjorn Carey wanted to emphasize how similar they are to us.  He said, “This finding is the most recent in a series of discoveries that indicate our primate cousins display humanlike characteristics.  Monkeys like to gamble and enjoy looking at other monkeys’ bottoms.  Chimpanzees have been found to crack under social pressures.”On the Origin of Humor by Sexual Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Jokes in the Struggle for a Wife:  Science Now laughed with, but not at, a study that showed differences in the way men and women respond to humor.  There must be a Darwinian angle in here somewhere:  “There are a variety of ways to interpret the findings, says neuroscientist Gregory Berns of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the more politically incorrect being that women are more easily entertained than men.  Another is that women find humor more important in behavior than men do, consistent with ideas that humor evolved differently between the sexes as a mating strategy–men act the comics and women respond by laughing at them. Er, with them.”  But ScienceNow left us hanging without a punch line for the title, “Y Did the Chromosome Cross the Road?”Are humans still evolving?  Reporting on a comparative genomics study between humans and chimpanzees, Ker Than on Live Science started by praising the power of natural selection:  “The evolutionary process that Charles Darwin discovered almost 150 years ago, responsible for transforming dinosaurs into birds and allowing the walking ancestors of whales to take to the seas, is still quietly at work in humans today.”  In the next paragraph he called DNA the “software of life.”While supporting natural selection, Ker Than managed to include his usual dig against the creationists: “The validity of Darwin’s natural selection has been attacked lately by a small but vocal group who argue that it cannot explain all the complexity seen in nature.  They advocate a concept called ‘intelligent design,’ in which a higher being is responsible for the variety of life.  Scientists dismiss intelligent design as cloaked creationism and say that there are no significant problems with the widely accepted theory of evolution.”  (Emphasis added in quotes.)So if you are a gambling butt-gazer with a nervous breakdown, you can take comfort in the fact that macaques empathize with you.  Supposedly if the macaques keep up such antics they will become philosophers in due time.  Didn’t Kipling say that to be a man requires keeping your head while all around you are losing theirs?  Macaque antics reveal no special human propensities.  Parrots and dolphins exhibit better intellectual skills than monkeys, but no Darwinist considers either of them our “closest living relative.”  Why not turn the idea around, and say that any man who dwells on derriere jokes is devolving into a macaque, or any human who swims is devolving into a whale?  After all, Michael Ruse has forcefully warned against embedding any ideas of progress into Darwinian theory.    Ker Than has been a malicious demagogue against intelligent design throughout the Dover trial, worse than Antonio Lazcano (see 11/04/2005 entry).  These two quotes show that nothing he says about Darwinism or ID can be trusted.  In promoting Darwinism, he erred with his definition of natural selection: “Darwin’s natural selection is the process by which nature rewards those individuals better adapted to their environments with survival and reproductive success.”  In addition to slipping an embedded personification fallacy about rewards into his definition, he blindly slipped into the tautology trap: if fitness is defined in terms of reproductive success, it loses all independent meaning: the fit survive because the survivors are fit.    In attacking ID, Ker Than linked it to belief in a “higher being”.  ID makes no claims about the nature or source of the designing intelligence, but only that the effects of intelligent causes are detectable.  But then he also borrowed ID vocabulary in defining DNA as software, which always has an intelligent cause.  He also erred historically in giving Charlie credit for “discovering” natural selection.  If he can’t even define the most basic terms right or keep his concepts consistent, how can his opinions be worth anything?  Such reporting is better suited to a job at LieScience.com.(Visited 90 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_imgAnalogies may not be perfect representations of reality, but it must pique the interest of all of us the way Elisabeth Pennisi in Science1 compared muscle to cars and bicycles:One look at a ballerina as she pirouettes and poses drives home the remarkable ability of our muscles to adapt to diverse biomechanical demands.  Manny Azizi and Thomas Roberts, biomechanists at Brown University, have now found that as certain muscles contract, they vary their shape to balance the need for speed and force.  It’s as if these muscles have a builtin automatic transmission, says Azizi….[Azizi’s] simulations showed that certain muscle shapes caused contracting pinnate fibers to shift to a less steep angle.  When that happens, the muscle’s overall height decreases more than it would have had the fibers maintained their angle.  In other words, the virtual muscle shifted into the equivalent of a high gear ratio, increasing the speed of contraction…. Azizi then looked at whether real muscles acted this way.  He had expected that each pinnate muscle would have just one gear ratio, that is, undergo a characteristic shape change, and therefore be strong or contract fast but not have both features…. [they found] the muscle operated at a lower gear and took full advantage of the dense packing of pinnate fibers….    Just as one changes gears on a bicycle to crawl up an ever-steeper hill, “the direction of change in the muscle gears matches the mechanical demands of contraction,” Azizi said.  Moreover, the muscle’s shifting of gears required no nervous system input, occurring automatically depending on the load applied.Imagine–your muscles are like a bicycle with automatic transmission.  The gearbox of muscle surprised the researchers.  “A single muscle undergoes not one shape change but a range of different shape changes under different circumstances,” Azizi found.  While pinnate muscles can rotate under light loads, they are prevented from rotation under heavy loads by the pull on the fibers.  “Thus, although pinnate muscles are supposedly specialized for force, under light demand, they can also work fast,” Pennisi explained.  A colleague admired this study “assessing muscle architecture with relation to function.”1Elisabeth Pennisi, “News Focus: SOCIETY FOR INTEGRATIVE AND COMPARATIVE BIOLOGY MEETING: Muscle Fibers Shift Into High Gear,” Science, 26 January 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5811, p. 456, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5811.456b.Need we say?  There was no mention of evolution in this article.  Picture some examples of human muscle in action: the ballerina on tiptoes, a skater doing a triple lutz, the contestant in the World’s Strongest Man Competition hoisting a car, the concert pianist pounding a fortissimo section of a Rachmaninoff concerto, a gymnast doing an iron cross on the rings, a sprinter doing the high hurdles, a Chinese contortionist balancing water-filled glasses all over her body while lifting herself by a mouth grip – or just you, reaching on tiptoe for an item in the top cupboard.  Did anyone score you a 10 for that?  You’re amazing.  You knew that, of course.  But the right response should be, “Shucks, I’m just enjoying the gifts I got for my birthday.”(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_imgThe Soft Machine is the first Gangstar Enterprise business, employing three ex-offenders and serving Cape Town with fresh gourmet soft-serve ice-cream. (Image: Gangster Enterprises)Ice cream is giving a group of ex-convicts a new lease on life, thanks to the Message Entrepreneurship Programme (MEP), which unlocks the potential of young men in prison.MEP believes that every young person in prison has the potential and ability to change and make a positive contribution to society. It works to unlock this potential and empower the young men to become world-changers, so that they will multiply in number and transform others.However, this is no easy task in South Africa, where young men face the harsh realities of high youth unemployment, crime and re-offending.According to MEP, studies have shown that inmate participation in education, vocational and job training, and prison work skills development significantly reduces recidivism. It believes that prison is a storehouse of untapped potential, and offers a holistic curriculum that includes spiritual, economic, social and emotional support and training to reduce re-offending.The organisation believes that young men have the potential to become community leaders, loving fathers, responsible citizens and catalysts for change.THE SOFT MACHINEThe Soft Machine is the result of a partnership between ex-offenders and MEP. It has set up an initiative called Gangstar Enterprises that gives ex-convicts a chance at entrepreneurship. The Soft Machine, run by former prisoners Jade Wyngaard, Siphe Nopotwa and Vuyo Nyabaza, is an ice cream enterprise operating out of an old caravan.Wyngaard joined Gangstar Enterprises in October 2014 and is employed as part of the Soft Machine Enterprise team. He helps oversee all the bookings, marketing and deals directly with the clients. He was released from prison in 2014 and has grabbed the opportunity with Gangstar Enterprises with both hands.“Joining the Message Trust and working for The Soft Machine has given me a new start in life,” he says. “I’m thankful for being part of the Message family.”Nopotwa joined Gangstar Enterprises at the same time. He is passionate about youth development and believes that young people are the future of South Africa. Nopotwa’s long-term goal is to run a small enterprise that will employ young people, reducing the unemployment rate and poverty.“Since I came out of prison I struggled to find the opportunity to grow in business and life,” he says. “Being a part of Gangstar Enterprises has given me hope and a new lease of life.”Nyabaza is a former Cape Town gangster and prisoner who loves God and is passionate about reaching young people in and outside prison. He joined Gangstar Enterprises in January 2015.He drives the Soft Machine to events and works with the Message Trust on its prison team, investing in and disciplining young men in the Message Entrepreneurship Programme.“I have a passion to share with young people what God has done in my life,” he says. “Young people need to know there is a God who loves them and can save them.”PLAY YOUR PARTAre you playing your part to help improve the lives of the people around you or the environment? Do you know of anyone who has gone out of their way to help improve South Africa and its people?If so, submit your story or video to our website and let us know what you are doing to improve the country for all.last_img read more

first_imgForm the looks of the two-day tryouts for the national women’s volleyball teams, top officials are upbeat of the country’s medal chances in the Southeast Asian Games in December.Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas president Peter Cayco said the Philippines has a very strong chance of making the podium for the first time since 2005’s bronze medal finish in Manila.ADVERTISEMENT “You can bet on it, we will get a medal in the SEA Games,” said Cayco. “We’re only talking about which colour.”Cayco said he was elated by the presence of volleyball superstar during the tryouts held at Arellano University gym in Manila.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsLeague’s biggest draws and national team regulars Alyssa Valdez, Denden Lazaro, Mika Reyes, Aby Marano and Ces Molina led some 40 club and collegiate players who trooped to Arellano for a chance to represent the country.“They are all here. That goes to show how inspired and willing they are to wear the Philippine colors,” said Cayco. “This is very special because the SEA Games will be held in the country and they get the opportunity to play in front of their countrymen. ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations LATEST STORIES Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. MOST READ University of Santo Tomas’ Eya Laure and UAAP juniors MVP Angel Canino led the young players who applied for the U-23 team seeing action in the coming Asian Women’s Volleyball.The PH U23 team will see action in the Asian U23 Championships on July 13-21 in Hanoi, Vietnam.But the spotlight is on the popular women’s seniors team which will be sent to compete in the Asian Women’s Clubs on April 27-May 5 in Tianjin, China; and in the Asian Seniors on Aug. 17-25 in Seoul, South Korea.ADVERTISEMENTcenter_img Lacson backs proposal to elect president and vice president in tandem PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte PBA: Columbian lands another big fish in NorthPort Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants View commentslast_img read more