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March of the “Selfish Darwinians”?

first_imgPenguins: are they moral models, or evolutionary examples?  Ever since last year’s surprise blockbuster documentary March of the Penguins, the well-dressed seabirds and their harsh lives have provoked empathy and commentary.  Marlene Zuk (UC Riverside) took issue in Nature1 with those who try to moralize about monogamy from taking their cues only from the movie.  She pointed to instances of apparent homosexual behavior and mate-swapping, to say nothing of the variety of sexual antics in the animal kingdom.  Launching into moral lessons of her own, Zuk demonstrated what radically different lessons one can take from observations of nature:Tom Turnipseed, writing for the website Zmag.org, suggested that the real message lies in the penguins’ “cooperating with one another and sacrificing their own lives and individual gain for the common good and survival of their own kind” – behaviour that executives at Enron, the US energy company involved in an infamous corruption scandal, should have emulated.  Other reviews also allude to this supposedly altruistic behaviour and the “inexplicable love” shown.    Were we watching the same film?  In fact, the penguins are perfect little darwinians, selfish as can be.  No one seemed to question why the birds took such pains on their return to the breeding grounds to find their own mate, their own chick, in a crowd of thousands of look-alikes.  It seemed human, after all, like sailors returning from war eagerly seeking their families among the throng on shore.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)So what is the darwinian explanation for this behavior?  Zuk anticipates one objection, then brings evolution to the rescue, ending on a moral lesson of her own:But if the penguins simply needed to save the species, surely any chick would do, and feeding the nearest hungry beak would save all that tramping through the snow searching for one’s special little one.  Why bother?  Evolution supplies the answer: only scrupulous discrimination of your own kin will perpetuate one’s genes.  How the penguins manage such sophisticated feats is a fascinating area of study, one that will yield much more than a consideration of whether they are good role models for monogamy.    If we use animals as poster children for ideology, we not only end up in meaningless arguments over whose examples are more significant (cannibalistic mantids or promiscuous bonobos?), we risk losing sight of what is truly interesting and important about their behaviour.  What the executives at Enron are supposed to learn is another story.1Marlene Zuk, “Family values in black and white,” Nature 439, 917 (23 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/439917a.This article provides a case study on the self-refuting nature of Darwinian explanations.  The commentary that follows is not going to defend anthropomorphism and moralizing from animals – Zuk is right that you could pick and choose between extremes and find any moral lesson you want out there in the wild.  According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, morality requires a rational mind and personhood.  A knowledgeable theologian would not make the mistake of attributing penguin behavior to rational moral choice and forethought.  Object lessons from penguin behavior might prove useful as pedagogical aids, as long as one does not really believe the birds are rationally choosing moral actions.  The intelligent design perspective would be that animals operate according to internal programs designed to preserve the species in a dynamic environment.  But how can Zuk, on the other extreme, claim that the emperor penguins are “perfect little darwinians, selfish as can be?”  Her explanation might sound reasonable to a high-school biology student, but is unworthy of scholarly readers of Nature, because a careful look reveals that it falls into the same anthropomorphic, moralizing trap.  Worse, it overlooks the most important aspects of the march of the penguins that need explaining.    Zuk tried to pre-empt the objection that “any chick would do,” so let’s consider her answer.  Why wouldn’t any chick do?  Within a strictly Darwinian picture of the scene, the objection she sweeps away so dismissively seems valid.  Why would natural selection go to the extra cost of evolving strict pair-bonding?  That would require heritable genetic mutations leading to accurate discrimination of specific calls from one mate out of thousands, and behaviors that defer compensation till the correct mate is found.  Let’s call one pair Homer and Marge, and their little chick Maggie.  Wouldn’t it make much more sense in evolutionary terms for Marge to go direct to the fittest-looking chick in the crowd?  Suppose Marge finds Homer, only to see that little Maggie is a sickly, scrawny youngster not likely to last long in the struggle for life.  If evolutionists talk about “mate choice” and “choosy females” as part of the process of passing on one’s genes, then certainly we can ask about “chick choice.”  It seems that would make even better sense in a Darwinian world, where the individual doesn’t really matter in the long run.  The fittest chick is going to be the one most likely to carry on the genes of the population.  Why wouldn’t penguins evolve toward a behavior where all the chicks go running out to the mothers, and the fastest ones get the food?  By this time Homer’s work is done.  He may not even link up with Marge next season.  If a male is needed for another month of rearing, any of the nearly identical tuxedo-attired dudes could do the job.    The only way Zuk could claim her answer is better is to violate a Darwinian principle and commit a logical fallacy.  She has to admit to a moral standard and commit anthropomorphism, the very errors she set out to debunk.  The moral standard, perverse though it is, is that individual selfishness is good.  Notice her words, “perfect little darwinians, selfish as can be.”  By implication, selfishness is a good thing because it contributes to survival and the passing on of one’s genes.  But that begs the question of why these are good values.  The logical fallacy is to imagine that penguins can be selfish, or exercise enough forethought and self-control against the severe rigors of their harsh environment to decide, in penguin-English, “If I can just manage to hold on against these hardships, I will be rewarded by passing on my genes.”  If penguins cannot care about monogamy, they cannot care about what happens to their genes.  If nobody cares, though, then the cheaper way for evolution to keep the penguin population booming is to reward the top contenders; line up the 90th percentile of fittest chicks with the females that have the most food, and let the rest die off, regardless of who the parents are.    Zuk completely ignored a more serious problem.  She only addressed the individual pair-bonding behavior, not the origin of the penguins themselves (see also 11/10/2005 and 10/27/2005 entries).  How did the bones, wings, scuba gear, ears, eyes, waterproof coat, muscles and tendons, and organ systems evolve?  She assumes that we will accept the Darwinian mechanism for all the wonders of nature just because she can concoct a story about how selfish genes produced individual pair bonding.  This is so typical of evolutionists.  They seize the gnat and claim ownership of the camel.  Finding one customer willing to say he feels better after taking Darwin’s Finest Natural Selection Snake Oil, they advertise it to the world as the panacea for the universe.  Also, she herself points to the fact that sexual behaviors in the animal kingdom are extremely diverse.  If Darwin fulfilled the Newtonian Dream of finding a natural law for biology, how can it explain opposites?  Where are his equations?  Why would not Darwin’s mechanism steer all populations toward uniform behaviors, instead of producing cannibalism among mantids, promiscuity among bonobos, and monogamy among birds?  By explaining everything, it explains nothing.  Evolutionary theory does not predict the behavior observed among emperor penguins, but only tries to attach a story to it after the fact.  The Darwin Party has replaced the science lab with a storytelling pub for lazy scientists (see 12/22/2003 commentary).    A nice film like March of the Penguins may stir our hearts, but whether or not penguins make good role models for humans is completely beside the point.  Darwinism fails to account for the origin of all living things, not just penguins.  Evolutionary explanations are speculative, anthropomorphic, and inadequate.  By moralizing herself in a somewhat haughty tone, Zuk has only reinforced the reality that humans care about right and wrong.    As for the penguins, they are getting pretty tired of all this evolutionary speculating, too.  See Eco Inquirer for the story….(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

South African Nation Brand continues to rise as a globally competitive Nation Brand

first_imgJohannesburg, Wednesday 28 September 2016 – Brand South Africa today welcomed South Africa’s rise of two places in the annual World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive Index. South Africa now stands at 47 of 138 – up from 49 in 2015 – countries measured on 12 pillars.According to the 2016 study, South Africa has demonstrated sustained improvements in its performance from 2015. The Nation Brand has improved in 10 of the 12 pillars:1. Goods & Market Efficiency – 10 positions (28/138 countries)2. Labour Market Efficiency – 10 positions (97/138 countries)3. Higher Education & Training – 6 positions (77/138 countries)4. Macroeconomic environment – 6 positions (79/138 countries)5. Innovation – 3 positions (35/138 countries)6. Infrastructure – 4 positions (64 of 138 countries)7. Health & Primary Education – 3 positions (126 of 138 countries)8. Business Sophistication – 3 positions (30 of 138 countries)9. Financial Market Development – 1 position (11 of 138 countries)10. Technological Readiness – 1 position (49 of 138 countries)South Africa declined in the area of market size, down to 30 from 29 in 2015 and institutions down to 40 from 38 in 2015.Brand South Africa’s CEO Dr Kingsley Makhubela says that South Africa’s improved performance in the Global Competitive Index is positively correlated with the policies and programmes being implemented by the Nation Brand to strengthen the economy and the way in which it is able to respond to contemporary social issues.“The results in the 2016 WEF Global Competitiveness Index indicates that South Africa is indeed resilient in the face of global headwinds and a range of other challenges. More importantly, these results confirm that we are on the right path as a nation in terms of the solutions we are implementing to strengthen our economy. The strides we are making in collectively executing the National Development Plan and 9 point plan for economic development are yielding positive results for the country and our people.”“Brand South Africa expresses its appreciation to all citizens of the country for your steadfast commitment to ensuring that the Nation Brand strengthens its value proposition for citizens in particular and the international community in general,” concluded Dr Makhubela.According to the World Economic Forum, “South Africa slightly improves both its score and ranking (47th, up two). It has been relatively less affected by commodity price falls than other economies in the region, and has registered marginal improvements in almost all aspects of competitiveness. Most significant areas of progress include enhanced competition, both locally (up 13 places) and internationally (up 16 places); better use of talent in terms of how pay reflects productivity (98th, up 29 places); and a small but important upgrade in the quality of education (up five places), with primary school enrolment also now passing 97 percent.”This is the latest in a series of international instruments which highlight the strengthening of the Nation Brand’s competitiveness. The Institute of Management Development’s Competitive Index and the World Bank’s Logistics Index are amongst the indices where South Africa has improved in its performance.last_img read more

April 23, AJ Baltes

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest We’re hoping to get things dried out enough to maybe get the wheat sidedressed this week. It is almost 70 degrees right now and it dried out pretty well over the weekend. We got three inches last Sunday and we got more rain through the week. One or two mornings we had some snow. It looks like we are supposed to get more rain and then maybe dry out a little. Down south of us it gets a little hillier and most of the wheat has been sidedressed and they have been able to get in to get some manure spread and some field work done.The cover crops are greening up but they really haven’t taken off yet. Once it gets really warm I think they will really take off. Everything seems pretty consistent with the cover crops. There were a few spots that froze out over winter but they are coming along.I was talking to a neighbor recently and he thought May 13 was when they got started last year so this is still pretty normal. We usually don’t get in much before the middle of May.We got some corn and beans sold for in the fall when the prices went up. Now I’d guess the markets will depend on what the weather does.If we don’t get the wheat sidedressed this week that will be the first thing we do when we can get back in. Then we will want to get the fertilizer spread and get started with planting as soon as it warms up enough. We have some custom lime and gypsum applications we need to work in along with everything else.We usually end up planting beans first. We have had better luck doing that.In this area, whatever the lake temperature is, the soil temperature is pretty close. I haven’t looked lately at what it is but it is pretty cold.last_img read more

LOOK: Netizens abuzz over confirmed McGregor-Mayweather bout

first_imgRobredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Fil-Am fan who asked Klay Thompson to sign toaster invited to Dubs’ victory parade LATEST STORIES What ‘missteps’? 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire This won’t be good for anyone except for those making money off it. Terrible idea. Mayweather will work McGregor like a heavy bag. https://t.co/teaCRxdZbp— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) June 14, 2017 The much-anticipated announcement sent shock waves in social media, with fans and professional athletes alike sharing their two cents on one of the biggest matches ever in combat sports.In true McGregor fashion, the Irish UFC lightweight champion reignited the rivalry by taking a jab at his counterpart’s age.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout Floyd/Pac had 4.4 million. I’ve seen estimates as high as 5.0 million for Mayweather-McGregor. seems like it will be close at least. https://t.co/FnukVWxw86— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) June 14, 2017 Mayweather v McGregor will last two rounds. Three, maybe, but only if Floyd wants it to. pic.twitter.com/iNe1T6Grzj— Rob AF. (@RobForbesDJ) June 14, 2017 Several athletes, on the other hand, expressed their desire to participate in the historic card, including retired NFL-wide receiver Chad Johnson and UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miotic, who called out his boxing counterpart Anthony Joshua.I want to fight on Mayweather-McGregor undercard— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) June 14, 2017 — #UFC214 #LetsGoChamp (@criscyborg) June 14, 2017Others, meanwhile, weighed in on the blockbuster fight’s effect on boxing’s future.  /raThere’s no way Conor vs. Floyd on August 26 doesn’t hurt Canelo vs. GGG three weeks later. Mac vs. May is obviously the bigger fight.— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) June 14, 2017 Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Hey @anthonyfjoshua let’s have a proper tussle and still have time for tea and crumpets before the main event! #MayweatherMcGregor— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocicufc) June 14, 2017Elite female striker Chris “Cyborg” Justino also expressed her desire to face female boxing champion Cecilia Brækhus in the undercard.Imagine @FloydMayweather vs @TheNotoriousMMA #MayweatherMcGregor with @criscyborg vs @1LadyCecilia on the #lasvegas event! @MayweatherPromo https://t.co/HLq18LYhDR Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. center_img Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken After almost a year of endless teasing, the Conor McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather Jr. crossover bout is finally set in stone.READ: Mayweather, McGregor agree to August super fightADVERTISEMENT THE FIGHT IS ON. pic.twitter.com/KhW0u3jRft— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) June 14, 2017Pundits, meanwhile, are already questioning McGregor’s chances, this being his first professional boxing match. The fact that he’ll be facing an undefeated defensive tactician only made people doubt his chances of victory even more.ADVERTISEMENT World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage Man, much respect to Floyd Senior still getting a few rounds in at the gym. I hope I can still train at that age.Respect. pic.twitter.com/Q2jv4Lffgd— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) June 13, 2017 Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ McGregor is going to get battered, I reckon. Tbf though, I’d let Mayweather knock me out for a few million. https://t.co/L03DBwoxF9— Kirk McKeand (@MckKirk) June 14, 2017Twelve rounds of defensive boxing with Connor throwing hard and missing a lot. The build up will be fun though! https://t.co/UpXY55x3OH— Dan Hardy (@danhardymma) June 14, 2017 View commentslast_img read more

Touch And Go

first_imgFive Australian Touch Football representatives featured in the Australian Women’s Sevens team in the final of the London Women’s Sevens tournament last weekend.The Australian team finished runners-up to host nation England, going down 36-7, with two wins and a loss in their pool rounds, setting-up a quarter-final clash with Russia (33-7) and semi-final against the USA (28-7).2013 Super Trans Tasman Touch Football representatives, Alicia Quirk, Charlotte Caslick (Women’s Open) and Evania Pelite (18’s Girls) along with 2012 Trans Tasman representatives, Emilee Cherry (Women’s Open) and Nikki Etheridge (Mixed Open), made up almost half the 12-woman squad that were defeated by England in the final.The team will be back on the field this weekend, this time at the final round of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series event in Amsterdam; enroute to Moscow for the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens event in June, where they will aim for back-to-back titles.Touch Football Australia congratulates the players on achieving dual International status and wishes them the best of luck for the Amsterdam Sevens and World Cup Sevens event next month. Related LinksTouch And Golast_img read more

2013 Queensland Junior State Championships

first_imgRepresentative teams from across Queensland will converge on the Cyril Connell fields in Rockhampton this weekend for the 2013 Queensland Junior State Championships. 36 teams from Queensland’s six regions will compete in the 12’s, 14’s and 16’s Boys and Girls divisions. The event will commence on Friday, 30 August, with round games to be played on Friday and Saturday, before finals are played on Sunday. The South Queensland Sharks will be hoping to take out back-to-back state champions region titles this year, following winning four titles in 2012. The weekend will also be used as a selection event for the 12’s state merit teams as well as Queensland’s 14’s and 16’s representative teams who will travel to Melbourne in December for their annual high performance tour. To keep up-to-date with all of the latest news and information from the weekend, please visit the Queensland Touch Football website – www.qldtouch.com.au. Related LinksQLD Jnr State Champslast_img read more

Anton Gill Had To Turn Off His Cell Phone Because Of All The Texts He Received After Game vs. N.C. State

first_imgAnton Gill goes up for layup vs. NC State.Twitter/‏@CBSSportsCBB Earlier, we posted a photo of little-used sophomore guard Anton Gill getting mobbed by his Louisville teammate. Gill hadn’t scored since February 28 and had played just 23 total minutes in March before last night’s game, when he came in for 11 minutes and scored seven clutch points, hitting all three of his shots from the field. Gill’s surprise performance helped Louisville outlast N.C. State in the Sweet 16 match-up, and afterwards, he told Sports Illustrated‘s Pete Thamel that he received so many texts that he had to turn his phone off.Anton Gill after his big night. “I had to turn my phone off.” Said he had 30-35 texts.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) March 28, 2015Louisville can use another big left from Gill tomorrow, when the Cardinals face Tom Izzo’s upstart Michigan State Spartans for a chance to make the Final Four.last_img read more

A warrior by heart Indigenous people enlisted to monitor pipelines

first_imgCALGARY – Gerald Scott’s perspective has shifted since he spent 10 days on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota which — until early last year — was the site of months of high-profile protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline.Scott, who is from the Swan Lake First Nation in Manitoba, wanted to take a stand against what he saw as trampling of Indigenous rights.“I’m a warrior by nature. I’m a warrior by heart.”Scott has since focused his fight on making pipelines safer. More than a year after Standing Rock, he was one of 60 Indigenous people from Western Canada to complete a three-week pipeline monitoring program at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary.The course, a pilot project, delved into inspection techniques, pipeline operations and safety — all through an Indigenous lens. With the classroom portion complete, trainees will embark on either a research project with an industry mentor or a work placement. Some students will train this summer with a dog handler to learn how potential leaks can be sniffed out.Armed with his new knowledge, Scott says he can better represent his First Nation’s interests in talks with his employer, Calgary-based pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. The company’s extensive Line 3 project crosses Swan Lake land, and knowing what specific inspections and maintenance work to demand could be helpful.“Now I’m still a warrior, but I just want the best deal for people.”Scott started working for Enbridge as a digger, but has more recently acted as a community liaison. The company encouraged him to take the monitoring course and he’s hoping for a pipeline safety career that will allow him to stay close to home.Fellow trainee Kelsey Jacko from Cold Lake First Nations says he’d like to use his training to work with an Indigenous organization monitoring pipelines.“My dream job is looking after my people, make sure their livelihood is looked after, their health and well-being for the future, for the kids yet to come.”Heavy oil is big business around Cold Lake in eastern Alberta and Jacko is concerned about its effect on the environment, particularly on caribou.He says the industry’s presence is a reality.“We can’t turn back time, but it’s a struggle. Where’s the balance between economics and the environment?” Jacko says. “Our First Nations have to get out of poverty. A lot of our First Nations are living in Third World living conditions.”Engineer Deanna Burgart, a member of the Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation in Saskatchewan, was a program instructor and helped develop its curriculum.She says it was important that Indigenous students could see themselves reflected in the course material — by drawing on case studies relevant to their experiences, for instance.“I just firmly believe that the improvement of the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and industry and government will happen when we are all more engaged and we’re all more informed and we’re all empowered.”The program was conceived through InnoTech Alberta, a subsidiary of provincial research and development agency Alberta Innovates. Its $566,000 budget came from provincial and federal grants.Shauna-Lee Chai, an InnoTech scientist who managed the pilot, says the course was in high demand with 200 applicants for the 60 available spots.She says she believes Indigenous people are uniquely positioned to watch for problems along pipelines that often cross through remote areas.“The traditional way of life that many Indigenous people still practice have them out on the landscape. They’re living in remote communities. They’re hunting, fishing, trapping, collecting berries and medicines,” Chai says.“They have that vested interest. The lands that they are monitoring are their backyards, and so it’s in their interest to keep it healthy.”last_img read more

Calgarybased cinema chain sold for 123 million

first_imgCALGARY – Canada’s second-largest chain of movie theatres is being sold to a Belgian firm for about $123 million.Calgary-based Landmark Cinemas says a deal to be purchased by Kinepolis Group of Ghent, Belgium, is expected to close by year-end if it receives Canadian regulatory approvals.Landmark, founded in 1965, operates 44 cinemas and a total of 303 screens in Western Canada, Ontario and the Yukon.Kinepolis reports in a news release that Landmark expects adjusted earnings of $17 million this year. It said it posted $156 million in revenue in 2016, with 58 per cent from ticket sales, 38 per cent from sales of snacks and beverages and 2.5 per cent from screen advertising.Current management will remain in place to oversee Landmark and its 1,450 employees, Kinepolis says, adding it will transfer its “self-learning and self-innovating company culture” to the new organization.Kinepolis says it has 48 cinemas and 500 screens in Belgium, Netherlands, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Poland.last_img read more