Breaking Up an Ice Age Is Hard to Do

first_img“Ice Age 3” the movie is out, and the subject of ice ages deserves some attention.  Atmospheric scientists and geologists seem very confident sometimes about things they know about only indirectly, like ice ages.  At other times, though, the rhetoric turns diffident (opposite of confident).  Take this opening paragraph from PhysOrg:Scientists still puzzle over how Earth emerged from its last ice age, an event that ushered in a warmer climate and the birth of human civilization.  In the geological blink of an eye, ice sheets in the northern hemisphere began to collapse and warming spread quickly to the south.  Most scientists say that the trigger, at least initially, was an orbital shift that caused more sunlight to fall across Earth’s northern half.  But how did the south catch up so fast?(For more on the orbital shift theory, see the 06/02/2009, 02/05/2008 and 08/08/2006 entries.)  A new theory for how the south caught up is “blowing in the wind,” the article said.  A team put together a model that invokes carbon dioxide release, wind, and Milankovitch cycles to explain how it all happened.    But all is not so tidy.  Here was global warming on a colossal scale, without man being at fault.  “We’re trying to answer the puzzle: why does the Earth, when it appears so firmly in the grip of an ice age, start to warm?”  It’s counterintuitive.  You need heat to start an ice age, and cold to stop it.  According to the new model, a chain of events led to ice age 20,000 years ago, and by 4,000 years later, the system rebounded.  Glaciers made a “spectacular retreat” while carbon dioxide from the deep ocean provided enough warming to prevent another ice age.    The article left off on a confident note that the new theory improves on old models that stalled: “Now, with the evidence for shifting southern hemisphere westerlies, the rapid warming is readily explained.”  Of course, this new model needs some more work: a Penn State scientist said, “Testing this hypothesis will be very interesting, to see whether it successfully ‘predicts’ the observed timing of CO2 and temperature changes in the south.”  One might also wonder why this irreversible chain of events occurred in the “geological blink of an eye” and not repeatedly over billions of years, if it was indeed triggered by a regular orbital cycle.  Climate skeptics might also use this theory to point out that not all global warming is man’s fault – especially one called “the great global warming of all time.”Scientists like this aren’t interested in the truth.  They are interested in preserving the deep time paradigm.  Part of that is always revising deep time models, but never questioning them.  Their whole system is built on a house of cards, and inside the house, life emerges (a miracle).  Once evolution was done with the deep freeze, it came time to clear out the Ice Age room for the Birth of Human Civilization (another miracle).  Ask yourself: “Self, is a little bit of warmth an explanation for human civilization, and not intelligent design?”    Secular scientists would never even pause to deign to ponder to think to consider the possibility that a global flood could produce the ice age (singular) and its warming aftereffects in far less time.  That explanation, at least, has an eyewitness account attached to it.  But no; deep time is in their DNA (Darwin Naturalistic Authority), and so the tale goes on.  It doesn’t need to be true.  It just needs to keep the story going and the storytellers employed.  If they can attach a political spin to it (man-made global warming), all the better.  The more ad hoc, the better; this one-time phenomenon occurs 16,000 years ago, but not throughout their beloved 4.5 billion years of Milankovitch cycles.  They will tolerate a cartoon “Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” (advertised along with the PhysOrg article) with its timeline that is completely out of whack with the Darwinian geological column, but that’s OK – it’s not creationist.  Anything but that.  Anything but the Eyewitness.  Considering that would mean (gasp) the loss of human autonomy for endless storytelling.    Readers not enslaved to the secular guild’s world might like to do a little research on what creation scientists have to say about the ice age.  Search for “ice age” on True Origin,, ICR, Answers in Genesis, In the Beginning or the Creation Research Society and you’ll get a lot of hits.  Deep-time geologists and biologists are not the only people who think about these things.  They’re just the only ones who get a free ride in the deep-time media.  They believe in miracles, too, you realize; they just have a handy place to hide them – in the deep freezer of deep time.(Visited 35 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Dedicated entry lanes for Afcon fans

first_img7 December 2012Dedicated lanes will be created at South Africa’s ports of entry to facilitate the swift movement of soccer fans and officials who will be converging on the country for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament starting on 19 January.“Dedicated lanes will be created at ports of entry to facilitate the swift movement of the CAF [Confederation of African Football] delegations and spectators,” Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni said in Pretoria on Thursday.The dedicated lanes will be created at Lanseria, OR Tambo, King Shaka and Cape Town International airports, as well as the Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Ficksburg Bridge, Kopfontein and Oshoek border posts.Apleni said that a few days before the tournament kicks off on 19 January, the department would extend working hours at key ports of entry, as well as increase the number of departmental officers working at these offices throughout the tournament.While CAF officials will be able to use an official CAF letter as a form of accreditation for entry and departure, football fans are required to apply for a visitor’s visa in line with normal visa requirements.Apleni said the department would grant visa waivers to the CAF delegation, including national teams and members of various football federations, as not all African countries were exempted from visa requirements to enter South Africa.“We have also taken some steps to strengthen the department’s operations through the Afcon period, including the deployment of additional Home Affairs staff to South African diplomatic missions in Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria in order to assist in the swift issuance of visas and work permits,” he said.Apleni said the department’s response units in Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal would be strengthened in order to increase their capacity to manage illegal immigration as well as ensure swift responses to emergencies involving illegal migrants.“We will also increase and enhance the capacity for an effective and efficient 24-hour operations centre to support ports of entry, travelers, airlines, CAF delegation and other agencies seeking any information from the department,” he said.Apleni said the department was following the same approach used during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, but that the planning had been customised to meet the unique requirements of Afcon, as contained in South Africa’s guarantees as well as the commitment made to CAF and the Afcon local organising committee.“In this regard, we will rely on systems that are part of the legacy of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, such as the Movement Control System, to assist us in meeting our objectives,” he said.The 2013 Afcon tournament will kick off on 19 January, with the new champions to be crowned on 10 February.Source: read more

A life remembered on the stage

first_imgNtsako Mkhabela is a dreamer, a feminist, a playwright and a creative spirit. Her play, By the Apricot Tree, based on her mother’s experiences in prison, is a story of courage and love and forgetting. (Image: Ntsako Mkhabela)• ntsako mkhabelantsakomkhabela@gmail.comMelissa Jane CookNtsako Mkhabela is a dreamer, a feminist, a playwright and a creative spirit. Her play, By the Apricot Tree, based on her mother’s experiences in prison, is a story of courage and love and forgetting.Describing her mother as “crazy, daring and incredibly courageous”, Mkhabela says the play describes the mechanisms her mother used to cope during nearly two years in solitary confinement. “She had to forget,” Mkhabela says simply.Sibongile Mkhabela’s journey has taken her from Soweto’s burning streets during the 1976 student uprisings to chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. Growing up in Zola, one of the poorest areas in Soweto, Sibongile says she has always had a desire for change. A former student leader, executive member of the Soweto Students’ Representative Council and general secretary of the South African Students’ Movement, she was one of many responsible for driving the students’ march through Soweto on 16 June 1976. That uprising lead to a nationwide revolt.Watch these two inspirational womenInspiration for her playMkhabela is fascinated by the idea of memory. “We live in a country that both lives with and negates the notion that memory is a powerful part of who and what we are. What I like [is] that memory is the act and process of putting back the past in [our] mind as best as possible what we remember or recall. I am fascinated by the omissions, the lapses, the exaggerations, the blind spots that are a natural part of remembering.”Her mother has a notoriously bad memory when it comes to people and places, she says. “After making fun of her I began to realise that she has little memory of the people she grew up with, people she went to school with, and it struck me that there is some degree of will in the act of forgetting. She was intentionally forgetful of some parts of her life. I realise now that one of the things she had to do to survive her almost two years in an isolation cell was to forget – to force forgetfulness on her mind.”Blossoming of the playThe first impulse for By The Apricot Tree was the idea that “everything is, is in relation to everything it is not”. Mkhabela explains: we derive a sense of self from useful external points of reference; the people we love, where we live, how the world see us – everything in the world serves to place you in that world. “So when in isolation you lose sense of self – there is only a brick wall to relate to. Memory becomes the only concrete thing, memory which is both fluid and lives in the imaginary.”The inspiration was to imagine her mother relating only to a wall that gave her no sense of self; she could only be KC, her struggle identity. She could only be tough, rough, hard, and solid. “The play is a two-hander of the hard KC confronted by the soft parts of her self, derived from a self made at home. It is the struggle for survival where you want to keep the soft parts of your from the hard walls. The challenge, too, is for the soft parts of you to fight to live in you, despite the tough situations. How do you keep all the parts of you alive where all you have to hang on to is a fluid sense of self?”She knows how loving her mother is, how dearly she values her family: “I tried to imagine what could have happened that would make her force herself to forget her beloved while in isolation.”The layers of an individual“I think the most humbling thing was for my mother to let me know that I got it. I got what she went through and she appreciated being heard for what she went through,” Mkhabela explains. “I think [that] being a woman, I can tell a story from a perspective most men or historians may not. I did not want to write about the girl arrested for organising the student uprising. I wanted to tell the story of the child of Mozambican parents trying to make a home in a foreign country. I wanted to write about the girl who lost her mother. I wanted to write about a girl giving up on love because a peaceful march she and her mates organised turned unexpectedly violent and changed their lives. I think when you tell that story, you move people. I have been humbled to have moved my mother and fellow comrades.”People say they now want the post-apartheid narrative, adds the playwright. “I think they respond to this story because it is not a politics or history lesson; it is just a story about a girl loved away from herself.”By The Apricot Tree has had a run at the Windybrow Theatre in Hillbrow, at Wits Theatre and at the National Arts Festival. It also earned Mkhabela Wits University’s Percy Tucker Prize for best student director. At each venue, the audience responses were powerful and moving. “I think there is space in South Africa for this kind of story.”She believes stories like this bring true healing because at the end of the day, we all want to know we have been heard and our cries were not to the darkness.Telling her mother’s storyDescribing her mother as an archetypal rock and a very open person, Mkhabela says she is most grateful that her mother allowed her to undress her public image, to unhinge her and reveal her soft inner self. “I think the best thing would not be to tell this big story of a girl who jumps fences, gets beaten up by police and still rises strong.“I wanted to tell her story of being left alone at John Foster [Square] in a room about 20 metres long with a broken leg and a weak chest. I wanted to tell the story of the girl who gets sick whenever she gets cold; if I put that girl in a freezing cell for two years, how did she feel? I think most South Africans who claim to be over the story of apartheid miss the fact that apartheid is an institution that more or less is gone, but the story – that lives in people.“Maybe once we get over the over-inflated politics of hero stories, we can start to tell complex stories that can show how people lived with the beast and how they survived it.”The motherMkhabela says her mother is the magician, the rock, the very best friend, the mother-less girl trying to be as good a mother as she thinks a mother should be. “When I was little, my mother cut my apples so that the seeds in the middle looked like stars. So I thought she had a bit of magic about her. My mother allowed me to dream. Whenever I had a fight, my mother fought with me, sometimes for me, so she has been a hero for me too. When I was very young I realised what had happened to my parents and their sharing of their lives has also taught me the power of empathy.”Sibongile raised dreamers, and also taught her daughter the very important lesson of letting people do for themselves. “The work I do is because my mother taught me that institutions like apartheid are fluid, that the power of people can break them down to dust.“My mother raised a humanist feminist. I love the strength of woman that she demonstrates. I think many girls don’t always see strength in their mothers but mine taught me not to fear my strength, and to only love men who are not afraid of my strength.”Living in the nowMkhabela runs a non-profit organisation called Miyela that works to get youth to recognise the pools of power around them that make it possible for them to change themselves and their communities. It starts educational programmes that use local and basic resources to show how much can be done with very little. The Mzansi Spelling Bee came out of this, promoting the idea of youth who are thinkers and doers.She also writes plays and aims to return to directing at the State Theatre in Pretoria. Therein lies her true passion, in the idea of storytelling. “I am now working on republishing my mother’s book, Open Earth and Black Roses. I am also working on a living history project telling the stories of women who were part of the fight for liberation and imprisoned. It is really exciting stuff; we just have to make the public interested. People think you have an apartheid guilt trip when all you want is to make society more humane by allowing stories to be told so people can heal.”And if that is not enough, Mkhabela is also setting up Random Jam, a line of gourmet jam and biscuits. “There is a lot going on and I like that; that is the only way my mother taught me to live.”last_img read more

If AI Means The End Of Us, Maybe That’s Okay

first_imgFor a while now I have been wanting to write an essay or even a book with the title, “The Last of Our Kind,” looking ahead to a time when machines become more intelligent than humans and/or humans incorporate so much digital technology that they become post-biological creatures, indistinguishable from machines. Those digitally-augmented descendants will be so different from us as to seem like an entirely different species. What happens to us? Simple “biologicals” might be able to co-exist for a time with our more intelligent descendants, but not for long. Eventually, creatures that we today consider “humans” – creatures like us – will go extinct.At the heart of this line of thinking is the notion that what matters most is intelligence, not biology. What are we humans? At the end of the day we are nothing more than biological containers for intelligence. And frankly, as containers go, biological ones are not ideal. We’re frail, and superstitious. We don’t live very long. We need to eat and sleep. We learn slowly. Each new generation spends years re-learning all the stuff that previous generations have already learned. Some of us get sick, and others then devote enormous resources to caring for the sick ones. It’s all incredibly slow and crude. Progress takes forever.So maybe we are just a stopping point. Maybe the whole point of biological creatures is to evolve into something that generates just enough intelligence to evolve into something else. Maybe our purpose is to create our own replacements. And maybe, thanks to computers and artificial intelligence, we are not far from reaching this huge evolutionary inflection point.What Is To Be Done?Others are thinking along these lines, and even trying to do something about it, as evidenced this terrific essay from the New York Times by Huw Price, a philosopher at University of Cambridge. It’s a long piece but I’ve grabbed some highlights:“I do think that there are strong reasons to think that we humans are nearing one of the most significant moments in our entire history: the point at which intelligence escapes the constraints of biology. And I see no compelling grounds for confidence that if that does happen, we will survive the transition in reasonable shape. Without such grounds, I think we have cause for concern.“We face the prospect that designed nonbiological technologies, operating under entirely different constraints in many respects, may soon do the kinds of things that our brain does, but very much faster, and very much better, in whatever dimensions of improvement may turn out to be available.”Price and many others believe we are nearing the point at which artificial general intelligence is achieved. But this raises profound existential questions for us:“Indeed, it’s not really clear who “we” would be, in those circumstances. Would we be humans surviving (or not) in an environment in which superior machine intelligences had taken the reins, to speak? Would we be human intelligences somehow extended by nonbiological means? Would we be in some sense entirely posthuman (though thinking of ourselves perhaps as descendants of humans)?”The argument that some people put forward is that machines will never be able to do everything a human can do. They’ll never be able to write poetry, or have dreams, or feel sorrow or joy or love. But as Price points out, who cares?“Don’t think about what intelligence is, think about what it does. Putting it rather crudely, the distinctive thing about our peak in the present biological landscape is that we tend to be much better at controlling our environment than any other species. In these terms, the question is then whether machines might at some point do an even better job (perhaps a vastly better job).”Of course machines will do a vastly better job at many things than we humans can do. Machines are already doing that in countless domains. Chess is one example. Stock market trading is another. Imagine what would happen to the world’s markets, and thus to the world’s economy, if tomorrow all the computers were shut off and we went back to doing it by hand. Imagine humans trying to compete side by side in this domain against machine. It’s unfathomable.Trying To Stop The UnstoppablePrice and others are trying to come up with ways to keep this from happening, or to make sure that “good” outcomes are more likely than “bad” outcomes. Toward that end Price has co-founded the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (C.S.E.R.) at Cambridge.I think assigning values like “good” and “bad” to the various possible outcomes of an evolutionary process makes no sense. Evolution happens and we don’t have control over it. Whatever rules some well-wishers might put into place to prevent certain outcomes, others will find ways to work around them. It’s what Yale computer scientist David Gelernter calls “the Orwell Law of the Future,” and it goes like this: Any new technology that can be tried will be.We are on a path, and there is no stopping it. This is neither good nor bad, it just is. Was it bad when single-celled organisms evolved into more complex organisms and then got eaten by them? I suppose the single-celled organisms weren’t psyched about it. But without that process, we humans wouldn’t be here. And if now it is our turn to be erased by evolution, so what? From the perspective of the universe, who cares if humans cease to exist?The great irony in all this is that we can’t stop pushing forward with dangerous technologies (AI, bioengineering) because evolution has hard-wired our brains in such a way that we cannot resist pushing forward, even if the consequence of this ever-upward march of evolution is that we end up rendering ourselves extinct. We humans like to believe that we among all living creatures are special and unique. And we are, if only because we are the first species that will knowingly create something superior to ourselves. We will engineer our own replacements. Which when you think about it is both brilliant and phenomenally stupid at the same time. In other words, perfectly human.Image courtesy of Shutterstock. 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Backlash from Mayweather-McGregor will last years, says Duva

first_imgMOST READ LATEST STORIES WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide READ: LOOK: Netizens abuzz over confirmed McGregor-Mayweather bout There are some who think that if McGregor starts losing he might resort to throwing elbows and kicks at Mayweather, but the promoters of the fight say that won’t happen.“It is in the contract,” said Dana White. “The fight is under the rules of boxing. There would be a lawsuit. If that ever happened, Conor would depart with a lot of money, and Conor likes money.”White said plans are in the works to have the fighters go on a promotional tour of major US cities.READ: Mayweather says he offered McGregor $15M to fightSince the fight was announced Mayweather has mentioned it just once via social media — as he appears to be more concerned about showing off his extravagant lifestyle.He has launched something he calls the “Mayweather Challenge” because he is “tired of people on social media bragging they live a certain lifestyle when they don’t.”Over the last few days, Mayweather has made a point of using his Twitter and Instagram to show off his private jet.That was followed by another video taken inside his “Rolls-Royce Phantom Limousine” as he boasts about his Patek Philippe gold watch while the camera pans down to show off his “Chinchilla” floor mats. Olympian Michael Phelps set to race against Great White Shark Boxing legend Mayweather and mixed martial arts superstar McGregor announced plans on Wednesday for a boxing showdown that could become one of the richest bouts in history. The fight will take place August 26 in the American boxing capital of Las Vegas.READ: Mayweather, McGregor agree to August super fight FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“You’re all going to write about it. People will get all excited,” Duva said of the competition. “And the casual fans we always want to bring into the tent are going to be disappointed again.“It’s going to be years before they want to see another boxing event,” she told the Los Angeles Times. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Jordan delivers on promise: 2 Cobra choppers now in PH 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire View comments Conor McGregor teases fans as he posts a photoshopped poster of him and Floyd Mayweather Jr. on his Twitter account. Photo from Conor McGregor’s Twitter accountPromoter Kathy Duva says the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight is “bad for boxing” and the backlash from the exhibition spectacle will likely dog the sport for years to come.“Of course it’s bad for boxing,” said Duva. “It’s going to suck up all the air in the room.”ADVERTISEMENT Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH 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 Games Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. What ‘missteps’? Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Mayweather, who is considered one of the greatest boxers of all time, is a heavy favourite against McGregor — who hasn’t boxed competitively in the ring since he was a teenager.READ: McGregor backers: Mayweather fight is no sideshow“It’s not a boxing event, it’s a spectacle,” said Duva, who is the promoter for Russian boxer Sergey Kovalev, who will fight Andre Ward in a world title light heavyweight rematch on Saturday.“On the other hand, when this is over and this fight ends up the way I expect it will, the next time somebody asks me, ‘MMA or boxing, what’s the better sport?’ I’ll say, ‘We know who the bad asses are because Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor just got their asses kicked by two boxers.’“We’ll have that to cling to,” she told the paper.ADVERTISEMENT Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chickenlast_img read more

A title and second-place in tow, Saina Nehwal returns from ‘satisfactory’ Europe leg of BWF events

first_imgAce Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal returned to Hyderabad after two creditable finishes in the European leg of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Super Series tournaments.Saina, who won bronze medal at the London Olympics this year, won the Denmark Open title last week, making it her fourth consecutive title victory. However, she could followed that up with only a runner-up finish at the French Open, as the World No. 3 lost tamely to Japanese Minatsu Mitani in the final.The year 2012 has been a rewarding one for Saina with title triumphs in Switzerland, Thailand, Indonesia and Denmark, besides the Olympic medal. She is expected to return to action at the Hong Kong Open beginning November 20.Satisfied with her performance in Europe, Saina said, “I am very happy to have played so well in Denmark and France and now I will be concentrating on Hong Kong Open. I’m very happy to have won in Denmark…happy with the way I played.”last_img read more