Opinion piece: Kenya and South Africa in the arts

first_imgJOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 9, 2015 — A fair share of both of South Africa and Kenya’s taxes come from artists. Beyond artists themselves, there are also many people who may not be artists but are employed because of art, be they curators, printers, publishers, instrumentalists and even weavers. As part of my research for the presentation, I talked to artists from both countries.I realized that our problems are similar. In both countries, artists are taxed as full-time employees while unable to access the sort of perks that full-time employees like insurance or loans because they earn in an irregular manner. There is also a lack of appreciation and a constant need for ‘free’ stuff from artists as though artists don’t eat and don’t need a roof over their heads for some animal allegedly called ‘publicity.’The good news is, despite this, the artists have not been dissuaded from creating. Between Kenya and South Africa, collaborations have, in fact, been happening. The main fields that artists in the two countries have been working together on are in literature, visual arts, music, performing arts, fashion and there seems to be room for working together in film, as I shall explain further. Our two national public relations companies, Brand SA and Brand Kenya have unfortunately not been as aware of it as they should be so that they can amplify the message to art lovers in both Kenya and South Africa from our two different countries.Kenyan writers have participated in literary festivals in Durban, Franschhoek, and Open Book in Cape Town. I suspect as Kenyans continue to write, this will continue happening. There is also a reciprocal relationship with Storymoja, with South African writers coming through for the last three years through funding from the South African High Commission. Beyond attending literary festivals, Kenyans have participated in pan-African literary initiatives that are of South African origin. One that comes to mind is Short Story Day Africa (SSDA), which was first won by Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor who went on to win theCaine Prize with her winning SSDA story. This year, two Kenyans, Wairimu Muriithi and Florence Onyango are on the long list for SSDA, while the judging panel of three includes Billy Kahora of Kwani.In visual arts, Kenyan artists such as Michael Soi and Magdalene Odundo have previously done workshops or residencies in South Africa. I recall a conversation with Ms. Odundo, who incidentally helped me shape the main character in my last novel “London Cape Town Joburg,” where she informed me that she had done some workshops in Durban and had also visited spaces like the Walters Gallery in Franschhoek. South African artists have also been guests of Kenya and I am selfish enough to hope that one of my compatriots wins the residency that Kuona Trust is currently advertising for fellow Africans.This year alone, Kenyan music fans have danced to South African musicians Simphiwe Dana, Jonathan Butler (Yes. Contrary to what an opposition newspaper stated last week, he is not American but is in fact South African) and most recently Mi Casa. Prior to this, at least half the participants of Muthoni DQ’s Blankets & Wine have been South African participants.South Africa has also been lucky to have Eric Wainaina as one of the headline acts for Africa Day celebrations previously. But, as one of the participants at the Dialogue mentioned, there is room for more collaboration in this particular field. Beyond once-off performances by artists in our respective countries, our musicians can have the type of musical collaborations that have been happening between South African and Nigerian musicians. The same participant also suggested that artists could also stay beyond their event dates and do workshops at the two Kenyan universities that offer music – Daystar and Kenyatta universities.Last year, I was honored to see Mshai Mwangola perform at a literary festival in South Africa. This was despite the fact that I have known Mshai in Kenya for a while and had never seen her perform. As we share some similar stories as Africans, one hopes we can see more Kenyan stories performed on SouthAfrican stages and vice-versa, particularly now that the Kenyan National Theatre is available to artists again. Currently there is an initiative called LongStoryShort in South Africa where writers from all over the continent have written short stories that are performed by South African artists monthly to a non-paying public.The performers have included Renate Stuurman, Hlubi Mboya and Lindiwe Mashikiza, among others. Curated by Yewande Omotoso and Kgauhelo Dube, this initiative has made literature accessible to an audience that may otherwise not know of all the writers included. While LongStoryShort currently doesn’t have any Kenyan writers, hopefully, they will have some next year.In fashion, South Africa’s clothing chain store Mr Price, in partnership with Elle Magazine’s Rising Star Design Search, engage home-grown talent to produce for their shops. If this chain is going to work for Kenya’s fashion industry, perhaps they can suggest that the owners of the local franchise to do the same with local designers. It does not do the Kenyan fashion industry any favors.As mentioned before, there is room for work to be done in the world of film. Although Kenyan filmmakers have participated in South Africa’s Durban International Film Festival, and the movie Nairobi Half Life won an award, more can be done. As I understand it, Kenya Film Commission (KFC) and SouthAfrica’s National Film and Video Foundation signed an agreement to work together at the Cannes Film Festival over a year ago.Unfortunately this is the sort of deal that many of my filmmaker friends in Kenya and South Africa do not seem to know anything about. I wonder whether there is any way that an initiative like this one could be publicized so that more filmmakers get to know about it. This presentation was given during the Dialogue session that Brand South Africa hosted in Nairobi. The Dialogue was held under theme, Towards Agenda 2063: The Ties that Bind Us.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Govt condemns fake article on President Granger’s health

first_img– says it was specially designed to mislead the nationGovernment has wasted no time in responding to a news article published by an online media outfit that reported President David Granger cannot speak due to cancer in his throat.A statement from the Ministry of the Presidency on Sunday claims the article is totally false, and has explained that the President can communicate, and did so before his recent departure to Cuba.The President had explained in a video that the Centro de Investigaciones Médico Quirúrgicas CIMEQ had drafted a schedule of treatment which will run until May 2019.The Ministry of the Presidency statement said, “While the Government of Guyana respects the fundamental right of its citizens to freedom of speech as well as press freedom, it condemns in the strongest possible way the publishing of misinformation, untruths”.The Ministry of the Presidency has called on the public not to be duped by the misinformation, falsehoods and distortions consistently being published by that news agency.“Despite the Ministry of the Presidency’s issuing of several press releases and videos of the Head of State on the issue of his health…they continue to spread fake news via (their) website and Facebook page with the intent of causing public mischief and panic,” it observed.On the morning of Tuesday, December 4, President Granger left Guyana, accompanied by his wife, Sandra Granger, for his second round of chemotherapyPresident David Granger and First Lady Sandra Granger at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri before their recent departurein Cuba.Prior to departing the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), the President said he has to return to Cuba for five successive cycles, and this would be his second cycle.“I hope to return much more quickly than I did the first visit, because this is simply the administration of chemotherapy; so, presumably after the tests, which will be done today (Tuesday), I will have the chemotherapy and return by weekend,” he said.According to the Ministry of the Presidency, Granger will return to Cuba later this month for his third round of treatment. “I expect that by the start of the New Year, my progress, which has been gradual so far, will be sufficient to allow me to take on more duties,” he said. The Head of State added that he was very grateful for all the prayers and get-well messages he has received for his full and complete recovery, especially from Caribbean Heads of Government, business leaders, his colleagues, the churches, and the public, and particularly from those who held vigils while he was in Cuba.“I think my illness, although personally unfortunate, has brought forth a response by the Guyanese public, not to a politician, not to a political leader, but to a national President. I think they feel the Presidency is what is being jeopardised by this threat to my health; and I think what I have seen so far, both privately and publicly, are favourable national concerns that the Head of State, whomever he may be, should enjoy the best health,” he said.The President and the First Lady travelled to Cuba on October 30, 2018 for him to undergo medical tests after he complained of feeling unwell. It was later revealed that the Head of State was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, which is a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system.The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system. Clear fluid, called lymph, containing infection-fighting white blood cells known as lymphocytes, flows through the lymphatic vessels.Granger was discharged from the hospital on November 6 after undergoing a series of tests and surgical procedures. He returned to Guyana on November 20, after he was given approval by his medical team to travel.According to webmd.com, chemotherapy targets cells that grow and divide quickly, as cancer cells do. Unlike radiation or surgery, which target specific areas, chemo can work throughout the body. But it can also affect some fast-growing healthy cells, like those of the skin, hair, intestines, and bone marrow.That’s what causes some of the side effects from the treatment. According to the website, some of the most common side effects of chemotherapy are fatigue, hair loss, easy bruising and bleeding, infection, anaemia (low red blood cell count), nausea and vomiting, appetite changes, and constipation.Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, during his weekly post-Cabinet briefing on Friday last, disclosed that even though President Granger’s workload has been reduced, he remains in charge of the State’s business.The President and the First Lady had travelled to Trinidad and Tobago in May of this year to undergo what was referred to as their annual medical check-up. At the time, and in response to reports in the press, the Government had revealed that the couple did their examinations under a Caribbean medical insurance scheme at the Good Health Medical Centre. Those results, Government had said, indicated a clean bill of health.last_img read more

Skyeler Kerr and Benjamin Blackmon off to Pan Pacific Canadian Trials next week

first_img“We were just at Westerns so not everybody was there and now the whole country is going to be at this meet so we’re going to see everybody from the eastern side coming over so there’s going to be lots of competition there.”Inconnu coach Jason Brockman says fellow coach Steve Sadonik deserves a lot of credit and he thinks the achievements of Kerr and Blackmon will help future Inconnu swimmers reach elite levels.“It’s been since 2008 since we’ve had our last athlete that’s qualified at this level with Cassandra Baker. I wouldn’t necessarily take the credit for them being under my tutelage that brought them here. I’d definitely give the credit to Steve Sadonik who’s had them over the last two years and I think I’ve just been able to capitalize on their dedication, their motivation and just tweak a little bit of their race strategies. I think it’s a great opportunity and it should pave the way for the next couple years of athletes to be at this same level.The two swimmers will be taking part in the meet next week through Saturday. Closer to home the Inconnu Swim Club will be having a swim meet of their own next weekend at the North Peace Leisure Pool. Advertisement Kerr says the event provides a great opportunity for both swimmers to qualify for major swim meets with elite teams.“This is an event located in lower B.C. It’s the first long course meet where you can qualify to make different teams to go to different events,” he explains. “It’s a trials meet to see where you go and you swim and see where you place. If you make a certain ranking you can end up making some of these teams and go to bigger meets later on in the season.” Benjamin Blackmon says both swimmers needed to complete their events at a previous meet under a certain time to be able to take part in the Pan Pacific Trials.- Advertisement -“The last meet we went to me and Skyeler both made our senior cut national times. For each event there is a time that you have to make like a qualifying time, so you have to go a certain time to get into this meet. We both made it last meet at Westerns so now we’re off to this bigger meet.Both Kerr and Blackmon will be taking part in three events. Kerr will swim in the 100 metre freestyle, 100 metre butterfly, and the 200 metre butterfly while Blackmon will be swimming in the 100 metre breaststroke, 200 metre breaststroke, and the 200 individual medley.Blackmon says that it will be fun to see where they stack up with swimmers from across the country as the last meet featured swimmers from only the western part of the country.Advertisementlast_img read more

Man City and Man United in fight with La Liga champions for £33m Porto star

first_img Yacine Brahimi Manchester City and Manchester United will have to move fast if they want to sign Yacine Brahimi after reports claimed that Atletico Madrid have entered the running to sign the Porto winger.Both Manchester clubs have been strongly linked with a move for the Algeria international who has been earning rave reviews in the Portuguese league.Reports suggested last week that City were prepared to meet the £33m buy-out clause in his contract, while their arch rivals United were also considering a move for the 25-year-old.But Italian website Calciomercato is now claiming that the La Liga champions are also making moves to sign Brahimi after sending scouts to see the talented forward in action.There looks set to be a bidding war for his signature at the end of the season and it remains to be seen if Brahimi will choose to make a big-money move into the Premier League. 1last_img read more

Barcelona face tricky Eibar trip as Chelsea lie in wait

first_img0Shares0000Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho (R) celebrates after scoring a goal with Lionel Messi during their Spanish Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) second leg semi-final match against Valencia, at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, on February 8, 2018 © AFP/File / JOSE JORDANMADRID, Spain, Feb 16 – Before their Champions League clash with Chelsea in London, Lionel Messi and Barcelona put their unbeaten record in La Liga on the line against Eibar in the rather less glamorous surrounds of Ipurua on Saturday.The modest 7,000-seat ground in the Basque Country welcomes a Barca side who have laboured to draws against Espanyol and Getafe in their last two outings. Those results have allowed Atletico Madrid to cut Ernesto Valverde’s side’s lead at the top of the table to seven points, with the clubs due to meet at the Camp Nou early next month.Barca’s advantage is still significant, and they have no major injury worries, but the danger is that the return of the Champions League is a distraction for them.“We will need to proceed with caution because a bad result can mean that you suddenly go from having a very good year to not such a good one,” Gerard Pique warned this week at a sponsor’s event, where the talk was of Chelsea rather than Eibar.The Basque side, though, have lost just once — a narrow 1-0 defeat to Atletico — since the start of December, and are in contention to qualify for Europe.Real Madrid’s Marcelo (R) fights for the ball with Valencia’s Carlos Soler during their Spanish La Liga match, at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, on January 27, 2018 © AFP/File / JOSE JORDAN“We have been playing well for the last two months and getting good results, but we know what we have in front of us on Saturday,” warned their coach Jose Luis Mendilibar, once a colleague of Valverde’s in their playing days.Atletico host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and will be hoping to have Diego Costa back after the striker sat out the Europa League trip to Copenhagen.Real Madrid, meanwhile, travel to Seville to face Betis hoping to build on their fine Champions League win against Paris Saint-Germain.Zinedine Zidane’s side are still fourth in the table behind Valencia — who go to Malaga — but they have taken 10 points from the last 12 available in the league.“We have gone through a difficult phase, but in the last few weeks we have raised our game,” Toni Kroos told German media after the PSG clash. “I am confident that we have a lot of success ahead of us.”Real are 17 points adrift of Barcelona, but they do have a game in hand to come at Leganes next midweek.Sevilla, meanwhile, are in Gran Canaria to face Las Palmas, where they will again be without Ever Banega.Coach Vincenzo Montella will be hoping the Argentine playmaker can return for next week’s Champions League clash with Manchester United.Player to watch: Loren MoronAged 24, Loren has enjoyed a remarkable introduction to the elite. Promoted by Betis from their B team to the senior side, the forward netted twice in a win over Villarreal on his debut a fortnight ago and followed that by scoring the only goal in the victory at Deportivo last Monday.“He is powerful, great one-on-one, and technically good,” said Jose Juan Romero, who coached Loren in the reserves. “He has had to tread through a lot of mud to get here.”Indeed, just three years ago, Loren was playing on some less desirable pitches in Spain’s fourth tier.Born in Marbella, his journey to the top has not been a typical one. The son of a former Sevilla player, Loren even dreamt of doing something more stereotypically Andalusian.“I wanted to be a bullfighter, but the first time I stood in front of a cow I decided that I had to stick to football,” he told Cadena Cope.On Sunday, he comes up against Real Madrid.Fixtures;FridayGirona v Leganes (11pm)SaturdayLas Palmas v Sevilla (3pm), Eibar v Barcelona (6:15pm), Alaves v Deportivo (8:30pm), Malaga v Valencia (10:45pm)SundayReal Sociedad v Levante (2pm), Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao (6:15pm), Espanyol v Villarreal (8:30pm), Betis v Real Madrid (10:45pm)MondayGetafe v Celta Vigo (11pm)0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

DD LOCAL: MEVAGH RESOURCE CENTRE NOTES, DOWNINGS

first_imgAs part of Bealtaine Festival 2013 – a talk will be given by Kevin Ward on local Placenames on Monday 13th May at 7.30pm. Booking essential, please contact centre on 9155055 to reserve your place.Mevagh Men’s Group – weekly meeting will take place on Tuesday 14th May at 8pm in the Resource Centre. The guest speaker is Solicitor, Etain Boyce. New members are welcome.‘Discover the Inner Me’ – come along to our exciting new 4 week workshop for women. This is your opportunity to learn new skills, build your confidence, have some “me time” and make new friends. This 4 week workshop will be starting on Wednesday 15th May from 7:30- 9:30 pm in the Mevagh Family Resource Centre, Downings. Cost is €15 per person. Please contact the centre on 91 55055 for further details and to book your place. Craft Group – will meet as usual on Thursday mornings from 10:30 am until 12:00 noon. New members always welcome.Mevagh Busy Bees – Parent, baby and toddler group meet on Friday mornings from 10am – 12 noon in the Mevagh Family Resource Centre. So bring along your busy bees for some fun and games. Cost €3 per family.Music Group – meet every Friday from 8.00pm in the Mevagh Resource Centre. New members always welcome.Information Technology Support Course Thinking of returning to education, perhaps an Information Technology Support Course is the course for you. Students on this course are mostly mature students and the course includes a 6 month placement. LYIT are currently accepting application for the June 2013 intake on this course. We have some information brochures in the centre otherwise contact Thomas Dowling on 0749186304 or email thomas.dowling@lyit.ie.Wanted for Men’s Shed ProjectWe are setting up a Men’s Shed Project and are looking for donations of work tools i.e. carpentry or mechanical tools, work benches, gas heaters, unwanted timber or any suitable items to set up the project. Any donations would be greatly appreciated and tools can be collected within travelling distance. For further information contact Mevagh Family Resource Centre on 0749155055.Fulfilment is a new performance by Face to Face Forum Theatre Group and is coming to The Mevagh Family Resource Centre on Tuesday 21st May at 8pm. Cost €2 per person. The story of fulfilment is about love, hope and understanding of human desire to live a whole and happy life.“A call from the past wakes up a man from his grey life, his first love’s voice appears from the land of the dead asking him to accomplish the novel they have wrote 35 years ago but never finished. Will he follow the call? Will he take on the journey to fulfil his call from the past and will his family support him on his new road to fulfilment.” You can dictate how to end this play and you can influence and change the reality of our play. So don’t miss this theatrical event! This performance is supported by Peace III Program of the special EU Program Body by the North West Peace III Cluster.DD LOCAL: MEVAGH RESOURCE CENTRE NOTES, DOWNINGS was last modified: May 7th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:DowningsMevagh Resource Centre noteslast_img read more

BREAKING NEWS: FIFTEEN FIRE UNITS ATTEND SCENE OF MASSIVE BLAZE

first_imgBREAKING NEWS: Emergency services are currently attending the scene of a massive blaze at The Bridgend Business Park.It is believed a vacant warehouse which included a carwash went ablaze this afternoon. The area was immediately sealed off amidst fears a fuel tank adjacent to the premises would could catch fire.FIFTEEN fire units from Moville, Strabane, Glenties, and Letterkenny raced to the scene and they launched a huge collective effort to get the fire under control.Members of the fire service are still attempting to get the fire under control.It is not yet known if anyone has been injured in the blaze which broke out shortly after 2pm. There were may be some traffic disruption in and around the area as the fire services attempt to extinguish the fire.It is not yet known how the fire started, but Gardaí and members of the fire service will survey the scene as soon as the fire is put out.We’ll have more on this breaking news story when more details emerge.Pictures by North-West Newspix. BREAKING NEWS: FIFTEEN FIRE UNITS ATTEND SCENE OF MASSIVE BLAZE was last modified: October 6th, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Home-page Newslast_img read more

The Brain Evolved!… Didn’t It?

first_imgEvolutionary neurologists are so absolutely sure the human brain is a product of evolution from lower primates over millions of years, they are able to talk openly and frankly about problems with the particulars.  But in reading some of their own reviews of current ideas, it is not clear which has been evolving: the brain or evolutionary theory itself.  Here are a few recent cases where Darwinian boldness and anxiety exhibit a kind of left-brain, right-brain split.Disappointed Darwinist:  A book review this month in Psychiatry Online, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association, is our first split-brain case study in theoretical Darwinism.  Lewis A. Opler reviewed The Evolving Brain: The Known and the Unknown by R. Grant Steen.  To begin with, he cheered Steen’s knockout blow to the contender, intelligent design:The author of this book, a neurophysiologist in the field of psychiatry, has superbly described breakthroughs in basic neurobiology, debunked “intelligent design,” and both argued and demonstrated the need for cross-disciplinary collaboration to address issues such as consciousness, creativity, and self-knowledge.Nevertheless, when it came to explaining brain evolution, Opler came away hungry:Paradoxically, given its title, the only area that I felt was not handled expertly was in its handling of how and why evolution had chosen us—Homo sapiens, with our large prefrontal cortex and our increased plasticity and capacity for learning and communicating—to be the rulers of planet Earth.  Possible answers include intelligence, language, communication, theory of the mind, and activation of pleasure circuitry because of affiliative behavior—all lead to collaboration and sociality of our species.    But what external changes emerged 50,000 years ago allowing this to give us a selective advantage?  Evolutionary theory itself has evolved, and this is not addressed.  Specifically, whereas early models suggest that individual traits gradually take over because of their conferring an increased chance of procreating by their host, punctuated equilibrium argues convincingly that speciation confers stability, with new species emerging only when external factors throw ecosystems into disequilibrium.  A clear example of this, supported by the fossil and geographic record, is the sudden end of the dinosaurs after a meteor hit Earth rendering it uninhabitable by dinosaurs and giving mammals a selective advantage.  So what factors gave us, the intelligent afilliative communicator, a leg up?  Did a planet lacking an adequate food supply select us because we, by virtue of our ability to collaborate, could hunt in tribes and follow game, as well as develop societies where agriculture and breeding of other animals could occur?  I do not know.  But I had hoped that Dr. Steen’s book about the evolving brain would answer such questions.At the end of the review, the contrast could not be more stark: “Steen unequivocally delivers a slam-dunk victory for evolution over intelligent design.  But I kept waiting for cutting-edge neurobiology and psychology to meet cutting-edge evolutionary theory, and this did not occur.”    Opler joked that “if great science is revolutionary, it follows that good science should be at least subversive—the book is at least subversive” [selah].  What would Opler think of the recent development that his clearest example of disequilibrium producing punctuated change—the death of the dinosaurs by a meteor—is now being seriously challenged? (10/31/2007, bullet 6).  That might subvert the revolution itself.The ancient brain:  A glaring Toumai skull (04/14/2005) decorated two book reviews in Nature earlier this month.1  Dean Falk was so confident of evolution she did not mention any non-materialistic alternatives except as historical anecdotes; nevertheless, both her reviews contained ample seeds of doubt.  Falk was sure that On Deep History and the Brain, by Daniel Lord Smail, had rendered creationist stories to the dustbin of intellectual history:He first describes how the discovery and implications of deep time2 by geologists, biologists and naturalists in the mid-nineteenth century were the undoing of the sacred idea that humankind began relatively recently in the Garden of Eden.  Historians then shifted from a sacred to a secular beginning – the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia.  Thus, laments Smail, the Palaeolithic continued to receive short shrift and still needed to be ‘historicized’.  After all, humans who did not keep records still had a past.  He has a point.But how would we, today, know that humans who did not keep records existed?  This could seem like proposing that the space aliens who once lived on earth, but did not keep records, still had a past.  Would that have a point?  A past must be demonstrated with some kind of evidence, not merely asserted.  Was Smail able to historicize a missing record, to bring a lost history into our cognizance?  What data would he use?Smail examines the rupture that continues to separate prehistory from recorded history, together with the historiographical, epistemological and theoretical obstacles that have kept them apart.  He explores the importance of biology in shaping cultural evolution, offering an interesting take on the nature/nurture dichotomy with his suggestion that lamarckian mechanisms displaced darwinian ones when human culture started to develop.This sounds like a mere suggestion, and a controversial one at that.  As if lamarckism were any help, it seems additionally unhelpful that Smail next proceeded to debunk evolutionary psychology.  Then, he offered only alternatives that “may” have explained evolution: “Palaeolithic societies, for example, may have developed a range of mood-altering practices such as song, dance, ritual, and ingestion of mind-enhancing substances.”  Maybe humans expanded their minds with drugs, in other words.  Students may like this suggestion, but it may not sit well with their parents.    But if our ancestors developed these practices, and by this point possessed the physical equipment for intelligence, could not these practices be considered a form of “intelligent design” that evolutionary theory somehow snuck under the radar?  Where did it come from?  Falk did not explore this paradox, but was disappointed that the book provided so little hard evidence for brain evolution: “Although this is an enjoyable and creative book, it is not quite what I expected,” she said.  “There are no endocasts or sulcal patterns here, no Brodmann’s area 10, or debates on brain size versus cortical reorganization (although Hobbits receive a brief mention).”  Its value was only in its “suggestion” that “neurophysiological underpinnings of moods, motivations, and so on, were important during hominin cultural and neurological evolution,” even if these people left no records for us to ever know.If that book left Falk feeling unfulfilled, the next was even more starved for evidence.  James R. Hurford’s The Origins of Meaning: Language in the Light of Evolution walked into the “intellectual minefield” of the evolution of language.  Falk thought that Hurford did a great job, but problems were evident from the outset.    Chief among them were the reliance on suggestions rather than hard evidence.  In the treatment of animal cognition, “Hurford shows that the seeds are there, and were probably present in our ancestors, providing fodder for natural selection” even if the details are sketchy or non-existent.  The doubt-words may, might and suggests pepper the review.  Did the ability of many animals to infer animacy in objects lead to our theory of mind?  Perhaps.  Did simple two-way communication among hominins lead to grammatical complexity later?  Maybe.  Was the mother-infant interaction asymmetrical enough to be the focus of intense selection?  Possibly.  Whether these “suggestions” postdict what happened to hominids, they leave unexplained why animals in similar situations did not develop complex language.  It seems all that Hurford was able to deliver was a kind of intellectual peep show, not rigorous explanation:There are some titillating nuggets in this book, such as a discussion of how the FOXP2 gene was mistakenly accepted as the ‘magic bullet’ responsible for language evolution.  Even better is the extent to which academics from different countries use language competitively to show off – guess where Americans rank?It is not clear how these nuggets contribute to the evolutionary savings account.  Many evolutionists have championed the FOXP2 gene as a magic bullet; now, Hurford is yanking that prop.  And if academics are merely showing off with language, what does that say about the reliability of their truth claims?The social brain:  One more example from Science3 (Sep. 7) shows that theories of brain evolution struggle with real-world budgeting.  Advocates begin to sound like the loyal accountant, stuck with a depressing profit-and-loss statement, trying to accentuate the positive while simultaneously staying realistic.    R. I. M. Dunbar and Susanne Shultz considered social factors that might have contributed to brain evolution, but again, may and might seasoned an article of rampant suggestions and few certainties.  One particularly damaging oversight in the evolutionary budget was admitted early on:….Although it is easy to understand why brains in general have evolved, it is not so obvious why the brains of birds and mammals have grown substantially larger than the minimum size required to stay alive.    Traditional explanations for the evolution of large brains in primates focused either on ecological problem solving or on developmental constraints….    On closer examination, most of the energetic explanations that have been offered identify constraints on brain evolution rather than selection pressures.  In biology, constraints are inevitable, and crucial for understanding evolutionary trajectories, but they do not constitute functional explanations—that is, just because a species can afford to evolve a larger brain does not mean that it must do so.  Proponents of developmental explanations seem to have forgotten that evolutionary processes involve costs as well as benefits.  Because evolution is an economical process and does not often produce needless organs or capacities, especially if they are expensive to maintain, it follows that some proportionately beneficial advantage must have driven brain evolution against the steep selection gradient created by the high costs of brain tissue.  In this respect, most of the ecological hypotheses proposed to date also fail.  None can explain why primates (which have especially large brains for body mass, even by mammal standards) need brains that are so much larger than, say, squirrels, to cope with what are essentially the same foraging decisions.This explains Dunbar and Schulz’ predilection for social explanations for brain evolution instead of ecological explanations: i.e., “The SBH [social brain hypothesis] proposes that ecological problems are solved socially and that the need for mechanisms that enhance social cohesion drives brain size evolution.”  So how do social explanations fare, by comparison?  Can they balance the selection budget, drive brain evolution forward, and make a profit?  Bad news: hoped-for income is offset with rising expenses: “Nonetheless, whatever its advantages, group living incurs substantial costs, both in terms of ecological competition and, for females, reproductive suppression.”    The complexity of any evolutionary accounting just went up accordingly.  The SBH was conceived for primates; correlations of theory with data for other groups have produced “somewhat mixed results,” they admitted.  The relationship between brain size and sociality, if anything, is qualitative, not quantitative.  “These findings suggest that it may have been the cognitive demands of pairbonding that triggered the initial evolution of large brains across the vertebrates” was one proposal.  Another interesting anecdote, mentioned almost as a distraction for faithful couples to flirt with, is that monogamous pairs seem to have bigger brains.  So far, though, all these suggestions are post-hoc attempts to infer causes from measurements of living animals based on circumstantial evidence.  Worse, they merely assume evolution rather than demonstrate it in a way that would convince a skeptic.    Dunbar and Schulz puzzled over why only anthropoid apes and humans have a robust relationship between social group size and brain size.  Is it because there are complex ways for them to bond with one another?  “This suggestion merely adds to the puzzle of social bonding,” they admitted, wondering, “What is it about social bonds that is cognitively so demanding?”  Is it that monogamy is a risky commitment?  Is it that post-natal care requires loyalty by both parents?  As if no other explanations were on the table, they forfeited: “Which of these two has been the key driver for brain evolution, or whether both have been equally important, remains to be determined,” they said.  “It has become apparent that we lack adequate language with which to describe relationships, yet bondedness is precisely what primate sociality is all about.”  Yet it would seem that without adequate language in which to pose an explanation, no explanations can be forthcoming.    They delved into other issues and puzzles, which we do not need to explore in detail here, but fitness advantages for larger brains seem hard to explain socially and neurologically.  They entertained a few recent suggestions about specific neurotransmitters and genes, but then ended in complete exasperation and called for a time out:Each of these has been seen by their respective protagonists as the holy grail for understanding both social cognition generally, and, in particular, for explaining the differences between humans, apes, and monkeys.  There is no question that these are individually important and novel discoveries, and they undoubtedly all play a role in the nature of sociality.  However, there is a great deal more to how and why humans are different from other apes, or why apes are different from monkeys.  We will need better studies of cognition and behavior to answer these questions.  More important, perhaps, is one key point: Species differences in a handful of very small neuronal components do not explain the apparent need for massive species differences in total brain size.  Most of these studies fall into the same trap as the developmental explanations for brain size did in the 1980s: They mistake mechanistic constraints for evolutionary function.  It is unclear why this point continues to be ignored, but we will still have a lot of explaining to do about volumetric differences in brains.At this point it would be overkill to ask what relevance brain size has to intelligence in the first place.  Not only does this hark back to the discredited assumptions of Paul Broca and other 19th-century racists, it seems to be irrelevant based on observations of living people with diminutive brains (e.g., 07/22/2007).  Consider that the world’s largest and smallest dogs were photographed together recently.  Despite the tiny dog’s diminutive brain compared to that of the big dog, both seem to have all the required hardware for dog operations (see Daily Mail).  Crows and other birds with much smaller brains seem to outperform chimpanzees at tool use.  And the power of computer chips has paralleled their miniaturization – by intelligent design, uncontrovertibly, in this case.  If it’s quality rather than quantity that counts, it would seem the preoccupation with brain size as a marker of evolutionary progress is vastly overblown.  Abort, retry, fail?Given the standoff in evolutionary explanations,4 how about a radical alternative?  It’s not really radical; in fact, it is time-tested, logically coherent and self-evident.  It enjoyed epistemic priority throughout the classical, medieval and Enlightenment periods.  It is the non-reductionist position that the mind is non-material; the brain is an instrument of a spiritual reality that, while constrained by matter, cannot be reduced to its material components.  A new book has dusted off this long-accepted truism and explored it within the findings of modern neurobiology.  Written by neuroscientist Mario Beauregard and journalist Denyse O’Leary, The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul is getting lively and enthusiastic reviews on Amazon.com.  Perhaps the soul of science tomorrow will be the science that welcomes back the soul.1.  Dean Falk, “Delving into the ancient brain,” Nature 450, 31-32 (1 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/450031a.2.  In his book The Great Turning Point, Dr. Terry Mortensen examined the historical roots of old-age geology.  He provides quotes that Hutton, Lyell and others did not ‘discover’ long ages but stipulated them a priori by overtly discounting from their method any reliance on Biblical history.3.  R. I. M. Dunbar and Susanne Shultz, “Evolution in the Social Brain,” Science 7 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5843, pp. 1344-1347, DOI: 10.1126/science.1145463.4.  Readers may wish to review the 09/09/2007 entry on this topic.There are two arguments you can make right off the bat with a believer in brain evolution, even with no knowledge of neurons or hominids.  One is an adaptation of Gödel’s theorem: a system cannot be proved within its own axioms.  A system, like mathematics, requires external presuppositions for verification.  Any reductionist theory of mind that invokes only particles in motion is doomed to failure.  You can study all the electrons in a cathode ray tube till the cows come home, and never discern that a story is being projected from a writer’s mind to a receiver’s mind.  C. S. Lewis argued that to “see through” something is not the same as to see it.  Similarly, we can study neurons forever in finer detail than ever, and fail to see what is really going on.  Sure, the neurons react in response to whatever is moving them, but you cannot find the mover in the physical components.  Only by inferring the presence of an agent external to the system are you able to uncover the true explanation for the system.    The second argument is that evolutionary explanations for the brain are self-refuting.  Recall the Yoda Complex from the 09/25/2006 commentary.  A Darwinist cannot sneak outside his brain and propose a theory he expects to be taken rationally as something that might be true, if he or she is claiming that the brain is only molecules molded by evolutionary forces.  It matters not whether the forces are ecological or social; as long as they are materialistic, evolutionary rationality collapses under its own assumptions; it vanishes into smoke.  Only by proposing the external existence of immaterial realities like Truth and the laws of logic can anyone propose a rational proof of anything.  Christians, naturally, have such assumptions as their preconditions of argument.  Evolutionists have none, and must be rebuked when caught plagiarizing the axioms of their opponents.    If that point is conceded, the Christian view has its own challenges.  Why are humans not perfectly rational, and why do individuals vary in rationality?  Why does our intelligence and rationality age with our bodies?  Why can an injury, a drug, or dementia turn a rational person into a vegetable?  What is mental illness?  An analogy may help approach these difficult questions.  Picture a wild wolf, roaming free and in full possession of its capacities – the master of its turf.  Then imagine a captive wolf, tied to a tree, distracted by pheromones from a she-wolf, occupied with scratching fleas, catching diseases, and having to sleep a lot and be fed.  Its capacities are constrained from what they could be.  Or imagine a private helicopter tethered to its parking block.  The engines can run, the blades can turn, the instruments will register, and it might even be able to hop a few feet off the ground before its tether pulls it back.  In the same way, our human souls are constrained by our physical ties to the Earth (and Christians would add, to our sinful natures).  Beware, also, any hidden assumption that all souls are created with equal abilities even if they were freed of bodily constraints; we are, after all, finite.  Limited as our rational are, the fact that we respond to social pressures and appetites is no argument that the soul is an illusion, or that rationality evolved from its physical components.    Evolutionary stories about how our brains evolved from animal ancestors are speculative flights of fancy that strain credibility.  We all know that recorded civilization only goes back a few thousand years, yet evolutionists propose that physically modern humans have existed for at least 100,000 years – maybe four times that.  They expect us to believe that something happened around 50,000 years ago that was like the proverbial light bulb over the head, and man suddenly became rational, artistic, and capable of abstract thought.  But even then, they expect us to believe another 20,000 years or more passed before any of these people learned how to ride a horse, plant a garden, write on a piece of pottery or build a city.  Such imaginary eons are multiples of the length of all recorded history, during which time comparably-equipped humans have advanced from grass shacks to lunar excursion modules.  How can anyone swallow such a tale?    Remember, evolutionary biology is searching for natural laws, and laws have to apply to all animals.  How come no other creatures on earth, including those with comparably sized brains relative to body size, and capable of tool use (like crows), developed abstract reasoning, art and true semantic language?  On top of that, they try to ascribe these Eureka moments, in which virtual miracles occurred, to genetic mutations—mistakes!  Anybody who tries to argue that rationality is a mistake should be considered rashly mistaken.    Darwinian explanations for the brain are about as comforting as those of hijackers who, having bound and gagged the pilot and crew, get on the intercom and assure the passengers everything is under control.  They laugh and celebrate their triumph over the flight crew, whom they hated and judged were unworthy of operating the plane.  Almost simultaneously, practical issues assert themselves, and they begin whispering to one another, “Anybody know where this plane was headed?  Do any of you know how to land this thing?”    The solution is obvious: untie the pilot and let him apply his intelligence to a highly intricate, functional, and clearly designed machine.  Then go to flight school like he did.  The interpretation of this parable is left as an exercise.  He who has a brain to think, let him think.(Visited 31 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

HC: Press is the most powerful watchdog

first_imgThe Bombay High Court on Wednesday said, “The press is the most powerful watchdog in Indian democracy.” It quashed the order banning the media from reporting on the Sohrabuddin trial taking place at a Sessions court.A single-judge Bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere said, “There are statutory principles for administrative justice — not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done.” The court went on to say, “The trial court has no power to ban the media and even the defence counsels were unable to show under which provision this can be done. If the State wants to prosecute someone, it is important to do so openly and fearlessly.”The court was hearing two petitions clubbed together, which challenged the order passed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on November 29, 2017, banning media from publishing reports on the trial of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati that is underway before a special CBI court against policemen from Gujarat and Rajasthan.By upholding Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of the speech and expression) of the Indian Constitution, the court said, “The press has the right to report and the public have the right to know. The rights of the press are intrinsic with the Constitutional right that guarantees freedom of expression.”last_img read more

ICC World Twenty20: Pakistan women beat India by two runs in rainy Delhi

first_imgPakistan women defeated India by two runs via D/L method to register their first victory in the World Twenty20 at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Saturday.Choosing to field first on a two-paced wicket, Pakistan put up a superb show to restrict India to 96 for seven in 20 overs. In reply, Pakistan were 70 for three in 14 overs but the Indians raised hopes of a fight back by picking three wickets in the next two overs. Pakistan were 77/6 till 16 overs. (Live Updates: India steady chasing a tricky 119 at Eden Gardens)But the match was stopped due to rain, forcing the Duckworth & Lewis Method to come into the picture which gave the visitors the two-run victory.Pakistan, who lost their previous match to the West Indies, were overjoyed with the win, while the Indians were really disappointed as they failed to make it two wins out of two matches.However, Pakistan deserve full credit for the way they bowled at the start against the Indians. Pacer Asmavia Iqbal (1/13) and spinner Anam Amin (1/9) were right on the dot against captain Mithali Raj (16) and V. Vanitha (2). By the end of the sixth over, India were seven for two — Anam removed Vanitha, while Asmavia accounted for Smriti Mandhana (1).The pressure was telling on Mithali, as she was the third wicket to go having scored 16 in 35 deliveries. India were 34 for three then when their skipper departed.Later, Harmanpreet Kaur (16) and Veda Krishnamurthy (24) tried their best but failed to accelerate as India were restricted to 96 for seven.advertisementIn pursuit of the low total, Pakistan were helped by Sidra Ameen (26) and Nahida Khan (14). No.3 batswoman Bismah Maroof (5) was removed by Harmanpreet. And later India removed Iram Javed (10), Asmavia (5) and captain Sana Mir (0) to trigger a stunning comeback before 16 overs.Then Pakistan required 20 runs in four overs with bowlers to come in but the sky opened up, intervening in the match that could have seen an exhilarating finish. And as the D/L method was brought in, Pakistan were ahead and won by two runs.last_img read more