Return of the Peppered Mice

first_imgSlight changes in the coat color of deer mice is the latest triumph of evolutionary theory, if we are to believe the BBC News and New Scientist.   The BBC announced, without apologies to Jonathan Wells, that “A tiny pale deer mouse living on a sand dune in Nebraska looks set to become an icon of biology.”  But wasn’t a similar case argued six years ago? (see the 04/18/2003 entry).  Actually, one of the researchers in the current story was involved in that case, too.    The new work published in Science alleges that a team has discovered a new mutation for coat color that spread throughout a population of deer mice in Nebraska.  Since those mice live on light-colored sand dunes, this supposedly gives them a survival advantage.  It seems strange to make such a big deal of this given the variation already known in fur color in mice, rats, cats and dogs, but the BBC said that this is the first time a gene that mutated has been associated with a trait that appears to confer a fitness benefit.  “That makes the fast-evolving deer mouse one of the best examples yet studied of ‘true’ natural selection in action.”  It’s not much of an advantage, though: just 0.5 percent.  Time is the hero of the plot.  Hopi Hoekstra said, “It doesn’t seem that much, but multiplied over thousands of individuals over hundreds of years, it makes a huge difference.”  The sand dunes are thought to have formed 8,000 to 15,000 years ago.    New Scientist noted that the mutation consisted of a single amino acid deletion within one gene known to be responsible for coat color in many mammals.  So if natural selection did anything, it deleted something; it did not invent something new (certainly not a new protein or enzyme from scratch).  Calling it a “beneficial mutation,” therefore, seems a stretch.  Presumably “Any cases where you can find positive selection for a mutation are interesting,” according to Ron Woodruff of Bowling Green State University.    To sound sufficiently Darwinian, the paper in Science began with “On the origin” and spread of this mutation.  It mentioned selection often.  The authors rigged an artificial test area with owls and mice where they believe the predatory birds attacked the darker mice more often, but admitted that their tests of fitness were overestimated, “given that predation rates were most likely artificially inflated in the enclosed arena tested.”  They also were unable to establish how the mutation actually produced the phenotypic change.  Nevertheless, they feel that a new mutation did arise and spread through the population and gave the light-colored mice a slightly better chance to avoid being eaten by owls.1.  Linnen, Kingsley, Jensen and Hoekstra, “On the Origin and Spread of an Adaptive Allele in Deer Mice,” Science, 28 August 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5944, pp. 1095-1098, DOI: 10.1126/science.1175826.Evolutionists get so excited about the silliest things.  Even a staunch young-earth creationist like Ken Ham would yawn over this story.  He readily shows in Powerpoint slides how all the variety of dogs could have easily arisen since the Flood by mutations and selection.  In fact, the BBC News just reported that only three genes are involved in the wide variety of fur styles in dogs.  The article said nothing about evolution.    These mice did not really evolve in the sense Darwin wanted to explain.  Was any new function created in these mice?  No.  Was a new gene, or a new protein, or a new molecular machine invented?  No.  Did the mice grow new organs, like wings, and take to the skies?  No.  Did the scientists explain how the gene actually functioned in the mice, and how it interacted with the other genes?  No.  There are many more questions that could be asked.  Did this lighter coat color having some drawbacks, like making it harder for the mice to find each other to mate?  Did the increase in light-colored mice stimulate a corresponding increase in visual acuity in the owls, making this a zero-sum game?  Was there slippage on the treadmill (03/17/2003)?  What is the big deal, anyway?  And why would any Darwinist wish to associate this study with the shamed and discredited case of the peppered moths (07/05/2002, 06/25/2004)?    The change in the mice is so trivial, it hardly deserves to be celebrated at all, even by evolutionists.  Yet the Darwin-drunk media are telling us this is destined to become a new icon of biology and is “one of the best examples yet studied of natural selection in action.”  If they think this is the best, we would like to see the next best, and so on.  We would like to ask how all the animal phyla, with all their complex and integrated body plans, arose without any evidence of selection, or how life itself arose in the first place.  It doesn’t help a theory when the data needing to be explained are orders of magnitude more complex than one feeble case held up as one of the best examples ever found.  Find an example that makes Ken stop yawning and then we might pay attention.(Visited 25 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Joburg cheapest city for expats

first_imgJohannesburg has beaten 142 countries in a global cost of living survey, making it the cheapest city in the world for expatriates. (Image: Chris Kirchhoff, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more photos, visit the image library.) Nicky RehbockJohannesburg may be the economic powerhouse of South Africa, but living in the city can be dirt cheap, if you’re an expatriate.This is according to the findings of a recent global survey, which has declared Johannesburg the most affordable city in the world for foreigners.The Cost of Living survey, compiled in March 2009 by consulting and investment firm Mercer, covers 143 cities across six continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.It is the world’s most comprehensive living cost survey and has been set up to help multinational companies and governments work out compensation allowances for expat employees.In the survey, New York is used as the base city and scores 100 points. All cities in the poll are then compared against the city, also known as The Big Apple.Topping the charts as the most expensive city is Tokyo, with a score of 143.7 points. Johannesburg is nearly three times cheaper, with a score of 49.6.To put this in perspective, compare the price of a hamburger in the two cities: in Johannesburg you can get one for as little as R20 (US$2.50), while in the Japanese capital you’re looking at the hefty price of R55 ($7) per burger.Osaka was rated the second most expensive city – making Japan the only country with two cities in the top 10. Moscow was third, Geneva fourth and Hong Kong fifth.In 2008 Asunción in Paraguay was rated as the cheapest destination and Moscow the most expensive.Nathalie Constantin-Métral, senior researcher at Mercer, said currency fluctuations, including a stronger dollar, have affected this year’s global rankings.“Many currencies, including the euro and British pound, have weakened considerably against a strong US dollar, causing a number of European cities to plummet in the rankings,” she said.London dropped 13 places from last year to be the 16th most expensive city in the world, while Paris slipped one spot to 13th, according to Mercer.Due to the strengthening dollar, all US cities became more expensive. Los Angeles gained 32 places to 23rd and Washington moved 41 places to 66th.Most European cities became cheaper for expats. Warsaw experienced the most dramatic change, dropping from 35th to 113th place.Expat life also became cheaper in Australia, New Zealand and India. Sydney has dropped from 15th to 66th and Mumbai has slipped from 48th to 66th place.Chinese cities benefited as the yuan strengthened against most other currencies, said Mercer. Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou moved up to 12th, 22nd and 23rd respectively.Joburg’s rating a boon for tourismJohannesburg’s favourable rating has been welcomed by the local tourism industry.“The news of the influential poll will come as excellent news to Joburg as it gears up for the 2010 Fifa World Cup,” said Tshwane Malope of the Johannesburg Tourism Company.“The city has come a long way over the past decade and is growing a reputation as an events hotspot,” he added.Do you have any queries or comments about this article? Email Nicky Rehbock at [email protected] articlesJoburg’s Xtreme Parks wins goldHost cities for the 2010 Fifa World CupAfrica catches investors’ eyes Useful linksJohannesburg Tourism CompanyMercer Cost of Living survey European Urban Knowledge NetworkEconomist.comExpat Women Bloglast_img read more

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Arts Alive ushers in a feeling of spring

first_imgFTH:K’s QUACK!is described as an Afro-Gothic fantasy of desperate hope anddodgy deeds Dada Masilo’s Swan Lake is a daringinterpretation of the classic piece.(Images: Arts Alive)MEDIA CONTACTS • Rami NhlapoJT Communications+27 11 788 7631/2Chris ThurmanJohannesburg in August is dry and bleak. The winter cold starts to ease, but after months with no rain the ground is hard, the grass is yellow and the Highveld sky is thick with dust. The bare branches of trees are softened by a few brave blossoms, but spring still seems far away.The seasons change officially on the first day of September; typically, the rains haven’t arrived by then, but somehow pockets of green develop and – just occasionally, usually at dawn and dusk – experienced locals catch the scent of moisture in the air. The city’s mood starts to change. Soon the thunderstorms will come.There’s something very reassuring in this predictable cycle. Despite political turmoil, despite economic instability, despite even the prospect of climate change, year by year the shift from winter to spring provides some comfort to Jozi’s burdened, stressed-out citizens.It’s not only Mother Nature who has this palliative effect – for September also brings to Johannesburg the Arts Alive Festival, and with it, a reminder of the invigorating potential of human creativity.Theatre, music, visual arts, dance, literature, film: name your art form, it’s on the programme, which runs from 2 to 26 September.Of course, the Johannesburg arts scene is hardly dormant during the other 11 months of the year (quite the opposite), but Arts Alive serves as a reminder to the people of Johannesburg to make the most of opportunities to engage with the work of artists from across the country, the continent and indeed the globe.Ballet innovationThe 2010 festival opened with a performance of acclaimed dancer and choreographer Dada Masilo’s reconceptualised Swan Lake. In her latest daring adaptation of an iconic ‘Western’ cultural product (she has previously appropriated Shakespearean plays such as Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet), Masilo once again fuses classical ballet with contemporary dance styles.It will be interesting for festival-goers to compare Masilo’s rendition of Swan Lake with that of Vijayalakshmi, a celebrated proponent of the southern Indian dance form known as Mohiniyattam, which will be onstage later in the month.Vijayalakshmi has created her own version of the Swan Lake fable for a cast of 15 dancers, keeping Tchaikovsky’s famous score as musical accompaniment but replacing the tutus and pointe shoes with the rich visual pageantry of dancing and costumes from the Indian state of Kerala.Swan Lake in Mohiniyattam forms part of a sub-festival running in parallel with Arts Alive under the banner of Shared History: The Indian Experience. This annual programme of events, which also takes place in Cape Town and Durban, aims to reinforce the strong historical connection between India and South Africa – appropriately, 2010 marks the 150-year anniversary of the arrival of Indian indentured labourers to work the sugar plantations of Natal.International collaborationsInternational collaborations are an important component of Arts Alive; participating artists come from as far afield as Argentina, Switzerland, Taiwan, Portugal and the Netherlands. The festival organisers also, however, place a strong emphasis on the presence of performers from other African countries, such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Mozambique.Unfortunately, xenophobic attitudes continue to be prevalent in South Africa, making life extremely difficult for communities with a high proportion of residents from countries north of the Limpopo – but other sub-festivals under the Arts Alive umbrella will encourage those in attendance to oppose violence and prejudice. The Hillbrow Peace Festival and the Soweto Festival both take place over the last weekend of the month.Nationality and ethnicity are only two among many barriers that separate individuals in any society – precisely the kinds of divisions that artists try to overcome.Another division is between the able-bodied and the disabled, for instance, hearing people and deaf people. Yet, as demonstrated by the talented and visionary group FTH:K (From the Hip: Khulumakahle), deaf/hearing creative partnerships can produce astoundingly beautiful works. “Listen with your eyes” is the advice given by the Market Theatre to audiences attending performances of FTH:K’s shows Quack! and Womb Tide.Lively theatreTheatre-goers are spoilt for choice. The 969 Festival, hosted by Wits University, coincides each year with Arts Alive. The event is named after the 969-kilometre journey between Johannesburg and Grahamstown, where the annual National Arts Festival (NAF) takes place.The idea is to take a selection of plays that were performed at NAF and to share them with upcountry audiences who couldn’t make the trip down to Grahamstown. In 2010, the line-up includes both high comedy and understated tragedy, with subject matter ranging from contemporary politics (Mbeki and other Nightmares) and evolution (Backstory) to warfare (Kaput) and the complexities of sex and marriage (Molly Bloom).The Raiders shows of father-and-son team Nicholas and Luke Ellenbogen are extremely popular in Grahamstown and have become something of an institution; so if you’re looking for an authentic NAF taste, catch them in Raiders of the Lost Aardvark.A people’s festivalArts Alive is intended as a “people’s festival”, and its success each year depends on the extent to which the citizens of greater Johannesburg become involved in the programme – not only as spectators, but also as participants.The Alternative Spaces community theatre programme and the Bottle Top Mosaic on display in Newtown’s Mary Fitzgerald Square are evidence of what can be achieved through cooperation within and between communities.Yet the festival also facilitates the creation of new, transient communities, such as the thousands of people who year after year attend the Jazz on the Lake concert at Zoo Lake. Music events are the largest crowd-pullers at Arts Alive, but exhibitions such as the Louis Maqhubela retrospective at the Standard Bank Gallery and the University of Johannesburg’s group exhibition Ecotopian States have the advantage of bringing in visitors throughout the month.Film screenings and a variety of workshops offer further scope for either escapist entertainment or active discussion, depending on your preference.Whatever you do, make sure you don’t let September pass without taking part in the springtime Jozi tradition of Arts Alive.last_img read more

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760 learners will look smart thanks to Trust’s uniform

first_imgThe new school year is underway and the Peermont Childrens Trust (PCT), one of Peermont Global’s flagship Corporate Social Investment (CSI) programmes, is once again busy giving less fortunate primary school learners new uniforms as part of its support of nine after school care centres in Ekurhuleni.The Trust, which is supported by Emperors Palace, is giving 760 learners the opportunity to go to school looking as bright as new buttons as they are being kitted out in new school outfits, receiving everything from new school shoes to school bags.The uniform initiative is part of the Trust’s involvement with the after care centres which are situated in Vosloorus, Tembisa, Katlehong, Thokoza and Kwa-Thema and provide a safe haven for vulnerable children, from 22 affiliated primary schools.Apart from the school uniforms the children receive afternoon meals, after school care in a controlled and supervised environment at these centres in the afternoon during the school terms and food parcels for the July and December holidays, all thanks to the Trust.The after school care programme was initiated by the Trust as a supplementary programme to the Government School Nutrition Programme and has assisted over 8500 learners since the PCT, formally known as the East Rand Childrens Trust, was started in 2005, at a cost of nearly R11-million.Speaking about the uniform handovers Trust Chairperson, Tshidi Madima said, “The confidence and self-esteem of all beneficiaries are boosted every year by the provision of these school uniforms and very importantly give each learner a sense of belong”.The nine after care centres based at Thembakazi Primary, Fortune Kunene, Jongimfundo Primary and Nageng Primary in Vosloorus, Welamlambo Primary in Tembisa, Reahile Primary in Katlehong, Khangezile in Kwa-Thema and Maphanzela and Umkhathaize Primary Schools in Thokoza are also financially assisted each year by the running of the Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile.The above horse race annually brings 16 celebrities and 16 race horses together for the benefit of 16 worthy causes with the latter, which includes the after care centres, sharing R1-million after the race. First name: NomsaLast name: MqhitsaneEmail address: [email protected]: 011 928 1557last_img read more

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RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat dons vest after his kurta goes for repairwork

first_imgIllustration by HadimaniRSS chief Mohan Bhagwat strongly believes in Gandhian austerity to the extent that he packs only a spare kurta when he travels. During a recent RSS brainstorming session in MP’s Dhar district, some leaders pointed out a wardrobe malfunction- Bhagwat’s kurta was torn near the pocket.The RSS chief,Illustration by HadimaniRSS chief Mohan Bhagwat strongly believes in Gandhian austerity to the extent that he packs only a spare kurta when he travels. During a recent RSS brainstorming session in MP’s Dhar district, some leaders pointed out a wardrobe malfunction- Bhagwat’s kurta was torn near the pocket.The RSS chief handed the garment to volunteers and asked them to locate a tailor to fix it. In the meantime, he sported a vest and remained indoors for an hour because his spare kurta had not dried after a wash.Clearly, the top BJP leadership, that changes stylish kurtas at the drop of a hat, is yet to learn from the Parivar head.last_img read more

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CWG: Shuttler Kashyap, Jwala-Ashwini in finals; Sindhu, Guru win bronze

first_imgJwala Gutta (left) and Ashwini Ponnappa in this file photo.P Kashyap stood just a win away from a historic gold while P V Sindhu and RMV Gurusaidutt managed a bronze each in the badminton competition of the 20th Commonwealth Games on Saturday.Delhi Games gold medallist pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa too were on course to defend their women’s doubles title after winning their last-four match at the Emirates Arena.World No. 22 Kashyap played out of his skin to avenge his loss to England’s Rajiv Ouseph, who had beaten him at the 2010 Delhi Games and also dumped him during the mixed team event at the Emirates Arena here.In an energy-sapping one hour and 23 minute match, Kashyap bounced back from a game down to edge out World No. 26 Ouseph 18-21 21-17 21-18 and assure himself of at least a silver medal.World Championship bronze winners Jwala and Ashwini notched up an easy 21-7 21-12 win over Lai Pei Jing and Loo Yin Lim. The duo will take on World No. 18 Malaysian combo of Vivian Kah Mun Hoo and Khe Wei Woon in the final showdown.However, it turned out to be a bitter-sweet day for top seed Sindhu, who is playing her first Commonwealth Games, as she suffered a heartbreaking loss in the women’s single semifinal match to Michelle Li of Canada, settling for a bronze in the end.After going down fighting to Michelle 22-20 22-20 in the last-four encounter, a crestfallen Sindhu managed to get her act together to beat Malaysia’s Jing Yi Tee 23-21 21-9 in a 34-minute bronze medal contest.advertisementGurusaidutt, too, earned India a bronze later in the day when he eked out a hard-fought 21-15 14-21 21-19 win over Delhi Games silver medallist Ouseph in a men’s singles match that lasted for over an hour.It could have been an all-Indian final showdown in the men’s singles but Gurusaidutt earlier could not recreate the same magic which saw him beat top seed Chong Wei Feng of Malaysia last night in the quarterfinals.After battling for more than an hour, Guru went down 21-16 19-21 15-21 against World No. 40 Derek Wong of Singapore in the other semifinals.London Olympics quarter-finalist, Kashyap will now take on Wong in the summit clash tomorrow.In the women’s singles bronze medal match, the disappointment of losing the semifinal was writ large on her face as Sindhu struggled with her strokes throughout the first game. She lost a lot of points at the nets to allow a tired Jing to claw back every time Sindhu moved ahead.At the first break, Sindhu managed to lead 11-10 but the Malaysian was always breathing down her neck as they moved to 17-16 when Sindhu faltered with a forehand net shot and then hit long twice to hand over the lead to Jing.However, Sindhu didn’t give up and managed to wrest back control and eventually pocketed the first game when Jing hit wide.After a pep talk from coach Pullela Gopichand, Sindhu found her bearings and the second game turned out to be a cakewalk as Jing struggled to move around the court, while the Indian dominated with her array of strokes.The highlight of the day for India was Kashyap’s gritty performance against European Championships silver medallist Ouseph, which conjured up hopes of seeing an Indian male shuttler winning a gold for the first time in 32 years.Prakash Padukone had won the men’s singles gold medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada, which India retained through Syed Modi four years later.It was a battle of attrition between Kashyap, 27, and Ouseph as both the shuttlers engaged themselves in long rallies, with the longest going on for 72 minutes in the decider, which had a total of 71 strokes.Kashyap was up 11-8 but he could not stop Ouseph to run away with the first game. However, he made sure to play long rallies and didn’t allow Ouseph to score points at the forecourt which is his strength and he led both in the second and third game.After the match, Kashyap said: “He is a very tricky player and we have played against each other earlier. He is one player who can take four-five points on a stretch. He keeps on coming and retrieving the shuttle.”My tactic was to keep him engaged in a long rally and see if he commits mistakes. It was about who cracks under pressure first. I could not keep him on long rallies in the first game but was able to do it in the second and third. In the third game, I was well ahead towards end but he won a few straight points and came close. But somehow, I am happy that I won,” he said.advertisementAfter her win in the bronze medal match, Sindhu was asked about her semifinal loss.”It was anyone’s game. I can’t explain it because I was very disappointed. I was very disappointed not to be in the final but I’ll just have to be happy with this bronze medal.””At least I have a bronze but that is not the medal I wanted. I came here for a gold and everyone in India hoped I would win a gold but I will definitely do that in four years’ time (at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games).”On making a comeback after the reverse in the last-four clash, she said, “My coach told me not to think about it. Ups and downs happen in life. You just have to move on but it was on my mind before the game and it’s still on my mind now.”My coach said to me that I just had to come back. I could not lose this bronze match as well.”About the scheduling, with matches being played in the morning and evening, she said, “In India we practise in the morning and then the afternoon and we have to be ready for these occasions so there is no problem.”last_img read more

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Luka Modric rejects Real Madrid offer – Report

first_imgCroatian midfielder Luka Modric has reportedly rejected a new contract offer from Real Madrid and is said to be considering an approach from Inter.Diario AS cite a report in local TV station Telemadrid and carried by Football Italia claiming the Ballon d’Or winner has turned down Madrid’s initial offer and there are strong indications that the interest from Inter is huge.Modric has been instrumental in both club and country as he helped Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League title and his nation Croatia to their first ever World Cup final.Sergio Ramos, Real MadridZidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.Modric is believed to be influenced by the fact that his fellow compatriots Sime Vrsaljko, Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic all play at the Nerazzurri.The midfielder’s current deal at the Bernabeu runs through until 2020 but he is said to be holding out for an improved offer, one which would match or exceed that offered by Inter.last_img read more

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Handmade Goods Site Etsy Valued at 388 Billion in IPO

first_img Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. 2 min read This story originally appeared on Reuters Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals April 16, 2015 Shares of Etsy Inc, an online marketplace for handmade goods and craft supplies, more than doubled in their debut on Thursday, valuing the company at about $3.88 billion.The company’s initial public offering of about 16.7 million shares raised about $267 million, after it was priced at the top end of the expected range of $14-$16.New York-based Etsy sold 13.3 million shares in the offering, while stockholders including venture capital firms Accel Partners, Index Ventures, Union Square Ventures and Acton Capital sold the rest.Founded in 2005 by Robert Kalin, Etsy has grown from a website selling just wooden goods to an online community where crafters and artists offer handmade and vintage goods.Etsy, which has 29 million items listed on its website, offers jewelry, stationery, clothing, home goods, craft supplies and vintage items.The company’s revenue comes from listing fees and commissions on sales as well as from its advertising platform, payment processing and shipping services.Etsy, whose larger rivals include Amazon.com Inc, eBay Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, had 1.4 million active sellers and 19.8 million active buyers as of December.The global online retail market is expected to grow about 17 percent to $1.5 trillion between 2013 and 2018, according to consumer market research firm Euromonitor.Etsy’s revenue rose 56 percent to $195.6 million in the year ended Dec. 31. The company’s net loss widened to $15.2 million from $796,000 a year earlier.Etsy’s shares were up 115 percent at $34.48 in late morning trading.The stock, which was the top percentage gainer on the Nasdaq, opened at $31 and touched a high of $35.Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Allen & Co LLC were underwriters to the IPO.(Reporting by Neha Dimri in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey) Register Now »last_img read more

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