Using Aliens to Titillate the Public

first_imgGeologists cannot even figure out our own planet (next headline), but some of them claim to know a lot about other planets – their geological history, and even their prospects for life.  Is it fair to tease the public with the L-word life when so much remains to be understood on the ground under our feet?Mars life:  A new study reported by PhysOrg from a JPL press release claims that Mars had a nearly global wet era 4 billion years ago.  Talk about water on Mars has gone back and forth for decades; was it really necessary to evolve life there by just adding water?  “The new findings suggest that the formation of water-related minerals, and thus at least part of the wet period that may have been most favorable to life, occurred between that early giant impact and the later time when younger sediments formed an overlying mantle.”  (Nobody saw that impact, by the way.)Mars hands:  “If there’s life on Mars, it could be right-handed,” teased a headline on New Scientist.  The article was about chiral molecules, but it made Mars a lively place.  Some astrobiologists have never been able to forgive the 1976 Viking landers for not finding life.  One experiment gave ambiguous results that are the basis for ongoing hopes.  They keep trying to find other explanations for the gas that Viking measured coming out of a prepared broth when Martian soil was added.  Jeffrey Bada, astrobiologist at Scripps, still thinks non-biological explanations can explain this.  “No matter how you construct an experiment, Mars is likely to throw you a curve ball,” he said.Europa bones:  An Arizona planetologist has an easier way to look for life on Europa.  PhysOrg reported how he feels one could find evidence of it on the surface without having to drill through the ice.  It might not even be microbes, Richard Greenberg (U of Arizona) said: “there’s always the possibility that we could find structures – something analogous to skeletal remains.”Starry avatars:  A JPL press release seemed to play on the public’s fascination with the recent 3-D alien movie by starting, “Many scientists speculate that our galaxy could be full of places like Pandora from the movie ‘Avatar’ — Earth-like worlds in solar systems besides our own.”  So have they found any?  Nope; just looking.  “Once considered the stuff of science fiction, it may not be long before Earth-like planets, or, in the case of Pandora, Earth-like moons of giant planets, are found to exist other places besides the silver screen.”  That was in a paragraph captioned, “Pandora, up close and personal.”  Incidentally, the real Pandora is a small moon of Saturn.  Here it is, up close and personal from Cassini.  Not quite like the movies.For SETI fans, Space.com announced that Frank Drake is retiring as director of the SETI Institute, and is turning the job of “Chief Alien Life Hunter” to long-time astrobiologist David Morrison.  Even though NASA doesn’t do SETI work, Morrison revealed an inside secret: “The SETI Institute has partnered with scientists at NASA Ames in a teaming arrangement that has greatly benefited both organizations.  The Institute played an especially important role in the development of the new multidisciplinary field of astrobiology.”  The two fields are closely allied, if for no other reason than the fact that neither has any evidence to support its reason for being.This has all the appearance of a cult (see CMI essay).  Only in this case, we have a cult funded by taxpayer dollars and preached by the mainstream media.  It’s not science if you have no evidence.  Whatever happened to separation of search and state?(Visited 36 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Overview: the Gauteng Stakeholder Workshop

first_imgThe Gauteng Stakeholder Workshop featured vibrant discussion about the existence of a country’s brand, the pros and cons of having one, and the best way to build a nation brand. It was widely agreed that all provinces should align with the overall nation brand message. From left to right, Sipho Mhlongo, from the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, Brand South Africa chief executive Kingsley Makhubela, and Joburg Mayor Parks Tau address stakeholders at the Gauteng Stakeholder Workshop on 19 August 2015. (Image: CD Anderson)• Brand South Africa salutes Cowen High School for winning the Umhlobo Wenene FM debate competition • Brand South Africa invites stakeholders to contribute to insights on the South African Nation Brand • Young South Africans plan to stay at home • People and complexity: the missing ingredients in celebrity activism for Africa • Brilliant young minds at the CSIR Priya PitamberSouth Africans should concentrate on the positive: “We should be defined by what we are doing.” This was the message from newly appointed chief executive Kingsley Makhubela at Brand South Africa’s Gauteng Stakeholder Workshop, held in Sandton on 19 August.Sipho Mhlongo, group executive for trade, investment and regulatory enablement at the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency welcomed everyone to the discussion, held at the Gauteng Investment Centre. He said there are many great things happening in South Africa.One strong message about positivityMakhubela spoke about the importance of the provinces and the country aligning the overall brand message. “It’s important that provinces align [brand] messages and in the process of aligning it, not shoot ourselves in the foot.”He brought up instances in which South Africa had performed well – surviving the 2008 economic downturn and not having to bail out any banks; the rapid growth of the corporate sector since the mid-90s; and the good performance of the country’s academic institutions. He pointed out that six South African universities featured in the Top 10 list of the Times Higher Education (THE) Africa University Ranking.Makhubela recounted an anecdote: he got an opportunity to study overseas but one of his lecturers at a South African university advised him it was important to study in Africa, because that way the knowledge was able to remain on the continent.But South Africa also faced huge problems, he admitted, bringing up the issue of the local drug cocktail, nyaope. “We are going to lose a generation [to drugs],” he warned. “These sorts of social issues need to be addressed.” And one way to do this was to grow the economy.Big city lifeJoburg Mayor Parks Tau noted the importance of cities in identifying problems and finding solutions. The South African Cities Network, which represents most of the country’s main cities, acknowledges the large role big cities played in a country.It publishes a State of the City report about the work done. “Cities have become important pointers of development,” Tau stressed. “Cities have a role to play in finding solutions and resolving complex issues.”Joburg, the largest city not close to a river or sea, was a city of migrants and their ability to make it grow resulted in its success. “Forty percent of the people in Joburg now, are born outside of Joburg.”While it had made strides in investing in infrastructure, problems still existed, such as traffic congestion. The solution did not exist in building more roads, the mayor said. “We have to create alternatives because we cannot build our way out of problems… It’s about changing our mind-set.”He encouraged the audience to take advantage of the upcoming #EcoMobility campaign in October, aimed at getting people out of cars and using other modes of transport.South African Competitiveness Forum Dr Petrus de Kock, Brand South Africa’s general manager for research, spoke about the need to find a way to position the brand of the country. (Image: Priya Pitamber)The first session of the day, by Dr Petrus de Kock, the general manager for research at Brand South Africa, was about the South African Competitiveness Forum (SACF). The inaugural SACF took place back in 2013, born of a need to identify the work of positioning the brand of the country.In his presentation, De Kock described the SACF as a call “on all South Africans to play their part and engage in collaborative efforts to build a strong national reputation based on a globally competitive economy”.“As Brand South Africa, we have to understand the range and strengths of the nation to market it to the world and locally. Getting input from provinces can help with the messaging sent out,” he added.There was also opportunity to learn from where the country had succeeded and apply those lessons to challenges.A few discussion points emerged from the session, too, including the recent xenophobic incidents in the country and the response to them. De Kock said there was a lot of messaging in that period from the government and officials. Brand South Africa also studied the social response. “It doesn’t matter how small a group is, damage can be caused to the reputation,” De Kock observed.Other topics of discussion were whether it was possible to tackle negative perceptions of the country; whether it was a risk to build a nation brand; how the media could help in building a positive image of the country; the funding of small and medium enterprises; and how South Africa’s sense of pride was defined.“National pride is linked to inner emotions; it’s more than tourism and sport,” a speaker said.Nation Brand Master Class Brand South Africa acting chief marketing officer Sithembile Ntombela gave a Master Class on the Nation Brand. (Image: Priya Pitamber)Sithembile Ntombela, Brand South Africa’s acting chief marketing officer, conducted the Nation Brand Master Class. She said it was important build the nation, to find a nice narrative of South Africa. “We are selling our country,” she said.“The master class is about building a nation brand that at its core is unified through its diversity,” she noted in her presentation. “Building anything requires taking many pieces that work and fit together to make the bigger picture complete.”Provinces should align their messages with that of the country, Ntombela added, which would require a lot of planning. “We must relay true and relevant messages,” she said. “And promote a common sense of identity and pride.”A puzzle approach would work best because it could be used to “educate and guide key stakeholders in the intricacies of handling a nation brand, we created work that literally shows that everyone has a part to play in making our country a complete and competing nation”.Brazil, she said by way of example, was automatically associated with flair, the samba, and carnival; history was attached to Egypt, India and Peru; so too could South Africa create its unique stamp to sell to the rest of the world.Feedback on researchDe Kock shared the outcomes from the extensive research conducted by Brand South Africa, and it showed good news.“You can’t sell the brand of a country, without inside buy-in,” he reasoned. So the research started in the domestic arena, to find out what issues were on the minds of South Africans. It made use of a diverse national sample of 2 524 people.The Domestic Perceptions Research showed that while there were concerns among South Africans relating to crime, corruption and a lack of job opportunities, it also found that “citizens want to focus on solutions. And South Africans are willing to take action, rather than wait for someone else to do so.”Findings also showed that the majority of the population was under 35 and lived in urban areas; there was an increase in the middle class after 1994; 92% of the sample interviewed had a “good” or “strong” sense of pride; and many South Africans were aspirant that their children would live a better life than what they did.Country Messaging Framework Manusha Pillai, the Brand South Africa general manager of communications, talked about the Country Messaging Framework. (Image: Priya Pitamber)Brand South Africa’s Manusha Pillai, the general manager of communications, spoke about the National Development Plan (NDP) and how it could be tied into the country’s messaging framework.Pillars of the Country Messaging Framework mirrored the NDP and included tourism, culture and heritage, policy, people, brands, and investment and recruitment, all to be used to market South Africa.“Brand South Africa has been working with a various stakeholders from government, business and civil society to compile this Country Messaging Framework,” she said in her presentation, in which she described South Africans as having an energy and great problem-solving skills.last_img read more

Go Remote with Compact LED Lights

first_imgIf you know you’re shooting with limited access to power, these LED lights can make all the difference.Top image via Shutterstock.If you know you’re headed for one of these shoots and you have to pack light, it might be worth acquiring an LED light that is compact, independently powered, and budget friendly. The keyword is compact; we want to look at lights that can easily fit in your gear bag.The following are the LED lights that I’ve been most satisfied with in various shooting circumstances over the years.The Aputure Amaran AL-M9 — $40The AL-M9 is a 6×9 cm palm-sized light that uses nine integrated LED chips instead of conventional LED bulbs. It’s a very basic light with straightforward options: on-off, increase-decrease brightness. However, compact lights, do not need much more functionality than this, and the AL-M9 really is compact — I can slot it into my wallet along with my debit cards.Despite its size, this LED gets extremely bright. It has a LUX rating of 950 at 0.3 meters and a very high CRI rating of 95.Because of its compact size, you can get creative with the AL-M9’s placement — in the fridge, between books on a bookshelf. You can have an actor hold the light on top of a mobile phone if the character is making a phone call. The possibilities are endless.The AL-M9 also comes with a cold shoe adapter so you can mount it on top of your camera. You just slot the light into the adapter and place it in the cold shoe mount. The adapter also allows you to direct the light to the side, which is essential if you need to bounce the light rather than directly illuminate your subject.ProsIncredibly bright for such a compact deviceComes with a carabiner so you can attach it to your belt or bag for quick access.ConsUSB Charge, no replaceable battery optionNo other filter accessoriesUnable to use with camera without adapter F&V Ultracolor Z96 — Under $100 for the Older Model, Over $100 for the Ultracolor DesignThe Z96 has 64 fewer LEDs than the YN160. However, it does have better color rendering (95). This light retails at $159, although if you look hard enough, you can catch a great deal at lesser-known outlets. Please be vigilant when buying the Z96 and the YN160 from eBay. There are many listings by third-party sellers that are knockoffs. These lights will not have the same build quality or safety measures as their official counterparts.All of these lights are great choices when you’re on the road with limited resources. If you’re flying overseas, the option of buying AA batteries abroad makes life much easier than figuring out if you can take a lithium ion battery on the plane.Do you have any go-to compact lights? Let us know in the comments. Image via F&V.You can also grab the older version (which has a CRI of 85) on the aftermarket. Recent listings on eBay suggest the older model now sells for $60-$75.You can increase the Z96’s brightness in percentages of 10, and it comes with a hot shoe attachment, a diffusion filter, and a tungsten filter. The biggest selling point for this compact LED is that you can connect several units together. Joining four units together will give you a brighter output than the average 1×1 panel! That’s a 1×1 panel that you can store in the top of your gear bag. It’s a great alternative if you don’t have the option to actually bring a light panel to your location.Much like the ML-A9, due to the compact size of this light, you can place this in a variety of creative areas to enhance your shot.In the shot below, the character is seeing the symbolic light of death before her demise. A 300w served as “the light,” and it threw the bookcase into darkness. I placed the Z96 behind the actress on the bookcase and illuminated part of the case, which also pulled the character out of the dark background. This wouldn’t have been possible with a larger light.ProsTriple power option: 5x AA batteries, DC jack, Sony NP-BatteryAttach up to 9 units togetherRobust buildConsOlder model has a terrible flicker rate for slow motionNot that bright in comparison with the others.Expensive YONGNUO LED Video light YN160 — $40-50This portable LED has been around for a while; however, as successors have improved upon this model, the YN160 has become very affordable. You can pick these up on Amazon for under $50. It’s a compact light, but you won’t be able to place this one in your wallet.The YN160 offers more flexibility of placement than the AL-M9. It has four reflective barn doors, sixteen brightness increments, and a filter slot for four filters that come with the light.As the light output isn’t that strong, the YN160 can be ideal as a kicker or fill.Like the AL-M9, the YN-160 comes with a cold shoe mount that you can tilt up and down. It would also be worth acquiring a light stand adapter so you can use these on set.Pros6 x AA batteries or Panasonic CGR-D16S/D220 – Sony NP series rechargeable batteries.Incredibly light1,480 LUX at 1mVery affordableBattery power LED light displayConsNo protective caseNot as bright as newer modelsCheap buildCRI not as high as some modelslast_img read more

‘Character’ key to Blackwater’s early success, says Ray Parks

first_imgEthel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess Duterte wants probe of SEA Games mess Catholic schools seek legislated pay hike, too Undas tradition: 2 mom’s crusade against trash at cemeteries PLAY LIST 01:44Undas tradition: 2 mom’s crusade against trash at cemeteries01:1355,000 early birds flock at Manila North Cemetery00:50Trending Articles02:42PH 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 Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netANTIPOLO CITY—Blackwater is off to one of its best starts in franchise history going 5-1 in its first six games in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup after a 132-106 thrashing of NLEX on Saturday at Ynares Center hereThe Elite are currently atop the league standings after their brutal beatdown of the Road Warriors and star rookie Bobby Ray Parks said it’s a testament to the team’s character and willingness to deliver.ADVERTISEMENT Two-day strike in Bicol fails to cripple transport ‘Rebel attack’ no cause for concern-PNP, AFP Parks had plenty of help in import Alex Stepheson who had 21 points, 17 rebounds, and five assists, and forward Allein Maliksi who also had 21 points, nine of which came in the fourth.Parks, despite the huge offensive outing, said the Elite still have to improve on defense after allowing the Road Warriors to shoot at a 44.9 percent clip.“Both teams played great offense but at the end of the day, we still got to work on our defense,” said Parks. “I think we should have limited them more.”ADVERTISEMENT Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Nextcenter_img Fueling the Elite’s win was their blistering offense with three players scoring at least 20 points and two more putting up at least 10.Blackwater shot the ball with such efficiency, converting 50 of its 88 attempts and going 13-of-25 from beyond the three-point arch.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logistics“It’s the character of the team, we have a lot of scorers and a lot of people took sacrifices to let other players play their game,” said Parks, who finished with 29 points five assists, and two steals.“Anybody can pop off at any given night and that’s great firepower to have.” MOST READ View comments Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Ray Parks scores 29, Blackwater rips NLEXlast_img read more