Some columnists and editorial writers are gaining boldness to attack the Darwin-only rule in science education. Some examples:Senator Rick Santorum (R., Pennsylvania) in The Morning Call advocated a balanced approach to teaching evolution.Brian Fahling in The Union Leader took up the charge to defend Georgia’s “critical thinking” stickers (see 01/13/2005 entry).Neal McCluskey, writing for the Cato Institute, argued that the Georgia case is a reason for vouchers. The “one-size-fits-all” method of teaching means someone will always be offended: “Why is it acceptable to force them [Christians] to use their tax dollars to teach their children something to which they strenuously object, but unacceptable to place a sticker on textbooks that asks other people to consider, even for a moment, beliefs contrary to their own?” The answer, he thinks, is privatization. Get government out of education and let the parents exercise consumer choice.John Whitehead, Constitutional attorney, writing for Accuracy in Academia, agreed with Phillip Johnson that “It’s the Darwinists who are religious dogmatists.”Jeff Gardner wrote a scathing rebuke of PBS in the Albuquerque Tribune, after New Mexico affiliate station KNME pulled the intelligent-design film Unlocking the Mystery of Life from its schedule after first agreeing to air it, under pressure from scientists and the ACLU. He mercilessly castigated “the rabidly anti-Christian voices that squeak like greaseless wheels in the so-called science community” for this act of “censorship,” and decided PBS is not only wrong, but irrelevant in today’s TV market.Want to take part in one of the biggest revolutions of modern times? Take up the pen, not the sword, and let your eloquence help bring down the idol of King Charlie the Usurper, where it can join its mates in the fantasyland section of StalinWorld.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Author, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, wrote the book Jock and the Bushveld in Barberton. The sculpture of Jock stands outside the town hall.(Images: Barberton Community Tourism) Barberton was home to the old Transvaal’s first stock exchange. The Barberton daisy was first discovered here by Robert Jameson in 1889.MEDIA CONTACTS • Astrid ChristiansonMarketing ManagerBarberton Community Tourism+27 13 712 7119Romaana NaidooIt might look unassuming, but the quaint Lowveld town of Barberton, in the foothills of the Makhonjwa Mountains, is a winner in the heritage stakes.Founded in the late 1800s, this town in Mpumalanga’s De Kaap Valley can lay claim to some of the country’s firsts: the first stock exchange in the old Transvaal; the first double-storey building in that province; the first swimming pool in the old Transvaal; and the longest and only cable car that crossed into another country (Swaziland).Barberton is a geological, cultural, ecological and botanical treasure trove well known for its gold-mining history. Fringed by the oldest mountains in the world, which date back 3.5 billion years, the town – some 43km south of Nelspruit – is home to some of the oldest exposed rocks on the planet.Barberton Community Tourism marketing manager Astrid Christianson says thousands of scientific papers have been written about the Barberton Greenstone Belt, or the Barberton Mountain Land, which has the best preserved and most easily accessed Archean rocks in the world.Most recently, microscopic fossils of primitive single-cell organisms were found in the area, which indicate the emergence of life occurred a billion years earlier than previously thought.Also known as the “Genesis of Life”, this greenstone belt contains fossils of the earliest life forms on Earth as well as evidence of an ancient meteorite strike.Gold was discovered in the area over 120 years ago, marking the beginning of industrial development in South Africa, and the mines that flourished then are still producing the oldest gold on the planet.Christianson, who describes Barberton as a bowl of crumpled hills dressed in flat-crowned thorn trees and dusted with aloes and daises, says gold laid the foundations of the town.“The valley has scarcely a creek or a cave that has not been panned or peered it into since the Barber brothers made their gold strike back in 1884. Almost every inch has been gone over with a fine tooth comb – or at least a hand shovel – in the hope of instant riches.”Evidence of the early gold rush can be seen at numerous sites, including Bray’s Golden Quarry, which was once a source of a rich ore deposit, and at Rimers Creek, where the Barbers struck gold. Sheba Mine, said to be the oldest operating gold mine in the world, is tucked away in a hillside, while Fairview Mine has the only biox plant in South Africa for the extraction of gold, and still operates a ropeway for conveying ore to the crusher.However, gold is not the town’s only treasure – the area’s botanical riches are a draw card for those seeking green gold. The biodiversity of the Barberton Centre of Endemism is said to be rivalled only by the Cape Floral Kingdom.“Cynics say this is simply because there have been more botanists in this area than elsewhere – and perhaps there is a fragment of truth there – but the botanists came because of the plants. The reason for the rich variety of plants is the area’s exceptional geology,” said Christianson.The Makhonjwa Mountains which surround Barberton – from Jeppe’s Reef to Oshoek and all the hills between, from Shiyalongubo to Queen’s River and Jambila to Songimvelo and Elukwatini – also have important high-rainfall catchments that are protected in terms of several proclaimed nature reserves.“Spend a day exploring the valley on quad bike, mountain bike, horseback or foot, or view it from the air in a microlight or hang-glider, or let it zoom in on you while sky-diving,” says Christianson. “Explore old mine shafts, or hunt for rare butterflies on the bald hill that was once crowned with ephemeral Eureka City, the town that had hardly boomed before it went bust.”The area is also home to an abundance of wildlife, and walking through the town one can catch sight of the elusive Narina trogon, flashes of crimson from the wing of the purple turaco – and even baboons.The cultural history of the region is also significant, encompassing the colonial and apartheid eras, as well as that of the Swazi nation. Today, Barberton is home to many cultural groups that have played a role in shaping the town’s heritage.Christianson says, “On the darker side, Barberton has played a role in three great wars: the Anglo-Boer war and the two World Wars. Barberton Prison, made famous through Bryce Courtenay’s novel The Power of One, housed many a freedom fighter in the apartheid years, among them Helen Hendricks, Dorothy Dlamini, Dorothy Kubheka, Jean Middleton and Esther Barsel.“Esther was later private secretary to Chris Hani and a close friend of Nelson Mandela, who himself was held in the Barberton Prison before being sent to Robben Island.”Heritage walks through the town, which include visits to restored late Victorian residences, offer a peek into life during the 1880s mining boom. The local museum is housed in the renovated Barberton Iron and Steel Foundry building.Adjacent to the museum is the Umjindi Jewellery Project, which trains young people in jewellery design and manufacture. It also has a coffee shop and an interesting collection of arts and crafts.East of the town, on the old wagon road, is world-renowned Outsider artist Nucain Mabuza’s Stone Garden. Author Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and his dog Jock travelled this route and the book Jock of the Bushveld was written in Barberton.A chunky sculpture of Jock, created by Ivan Mitford Barberton – a descendant of the town’s founding brothers – stands outside the town hall.
mike melanson Before you go freaking out, Facebook’s new facial recognition feature isn’t there quite yet – your latest photobomb won’t result in the victims sending you angry Facebook messages as the service identifies your snarling mug in the background. For now, facial recognition simply means recognizing that a face is present and leaving it at that. The feature, just added last night, hopes to make the tagging process quicker and simpler, as part of a larger effort on Facebook’s part to improve the entire photo uploading, browsing and tagging process.According to Facebook, more than 100 million photos are uploaded daily – a statistic that looks to rival that of YouTube’s 24 hours of video uploaded every minute. In addition to the sheer volume, there is barely a person on the social network that hasn’t been part of the photo uploading process, with 99% of the more than 400 million users having uploaded at least one photo. What Facebook’s new product manager for photos Sam Odio is trying to point out here in his blog post is that uploading photos is massively popular and in need of some streamlining, likely to the benefit of Facebook’s servers. Odio was the founder of Divvyshot, the company behind the facial recognition technology that was acquired by Facebook two months ago. For now, facial recognition will identifiy that a face is present in an uploaded photo, asking the user “Whose face is this?” According to Facebook, the feature is in limited testing, so you may not see it yet, but this and more will be coming for all soon. “Stay tuned,” Odio writes, “for future posts about other work on browsing, uploading and tagging.”We’re hoping this does help to clearly tag photos, rather than ending up with names popping up between two people when you mouse over their rubbing elbows.While others, such as Endgadget’s Tim Stevens, lament that the facial recognition won’t go as far as saying who’s face the software is seeing, we have to say we’re glad Facebook hasn’t taken this leap. And surely, when they do, we’ll see a privacy setting for whether or not we want our face to be identified on any and every photo uploaded to its service, right? Related Posts Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Tags:#Facebook#news#NYT#web A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos
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Florida Solar Energy Center offers a 12-week Webinar designed to help building professionals and homebuyers sort through details of zero-energy constructionBeginning next month, the Florida Solar Energy Center, a research and training department of the University of Central Florida, will present a 12-session online course designed to help builders, contractors, designers, educators, energy auditors, energy raters, engineers, prospective homebuyers, and utility representatives familiarize themselves with strategies for constructing and operating zero-energy homes.The series of sessions, which begins June 3 with a course titled “Defining a Zero Energy Green Home,” is spread out over 22 weeks and covers subjects such as design fundamentals, highly efficient water heating systems, key characteristics of NZEH windows and walls, HVAC systems, PV system strategies, selecting appliances, and monitoring and operating techniques.The sessions are presented by FSEC staff and include video case studies. The cost of each course is $69. Click here for the registration page; click here for a PDF of the course brochure.
Fishermen busy with their daily choresArms thrown out, failing to balance myself, I gingerly trod up the moss-covered boulders that rose in a strange formation on the beach. The surface was slippery, washed by giant waves. Any minute, I could land into the water below. But I wasn’t bothered. In front of me, a few feet below in a crevice, a fierce fight was on: two large palm-sized crabs were having a vicious go at each other. As I watched, slowly one of them began gaining the upper hand, and the other, quickly realising he just wasn’t cut out, slowly slunk away.I was disappointed that my free entertainment had come to an end. Ordinarily, I am no fan of combat sport. And on any other day, a crab fight would not even have registered as a blip on my mindscape. But this was no ordinary day. Faced with a long weekend, and wanting to go neither very near nor very far from Bangalore, Sri Lanka seemed tailor-made. And so, just an hour’s flight out of Bangalore, a further 90-minute ride, and I was at Bentota, south of Colombo, a stunningly beautiful beachside location, made further sweet by Taj Exotica which stood facing the vast expanse of water.The Deluxe Room at Taj Exotica overlooks the seaA sprawling structure, Taj Exotica personifies its title: red-roofed and set amidst grassy stretches with golden sands and the sea for an enviable background, it is indeed exotic. The entire hotel speaks about space and luxury, especially the invitingly large lobby area populated with plus sofas and chairs. My room was an extension of the same theme: spacious with lovely furniture.Strangely, even though I had mentally stamped this trip as my bolt hole, with nothing on the agenda except lounging around. I was up early in the morning and decided to become a beachcomber. A couple of hotel guests as well as a few locals were on the beach. The sea seemed like a comfortable companion: spread out in a soft blue expanse, waves gently discharging their energy on a shore, the water cool but not cold. A cluster of boulders beckoned and as I climbed up and lay down to let the sea’s rhythm wash over me, I became a spectator at the crab fight-fest.advertisementJiva, the spa at Taj ExoticaFight over, and with the sun rising into the sky, the spell was broken and I headed back into the hotel for a lovely breakfast at the shaded restaurant overlooking the sea. I opted instead for local delicacies such as hoppers, spicy chicken curry, an assortment of sambols. A lot of it looked familiar, but was distinctly different on the tongue and left me with that pleasant feeling.In the mood for some more pampering, I made my way to Jiva, Taj’s signature spa, which was like an oasis of calm and serenity. It is styled like a traditional Kerala house, with a huge central courtyard, and the verandah lined with comfortable wicker sofas and loungers. I chose a relaxing massage and my petite masseuse mixed a range of aromatic oils and got to work. The soothing music in the background further added to my sense of ease, while the masseuse coaxed out the stubborn knots and chased away my aches and pains. I felt like a new person.The sprawling Taj Exotica property at BentotaInvigorated and strangely hungry again, I was debating what cuisine to choose from, when Resident Manager Sandeep Kachroo, who I knew as chef when he was back in India, took the decision out of my hands. “I want you to taste something that we have been planning to put on our menu.” ‘Something’ turned out to be a three-course Sri Lankan ‘thali’, a veritable feast for the senses at the Sea View Restaurant. Many things stood out–Seared Prawn Salad, kottu (shredded Sri Lankan parantha mixed with slivers of veggies and meats and grilled), mildly spiced cashew, pea and carrot curry, a fiery fish, Ambul Thial (creamy curry), all of which was accompanied by fluffy Samba rice. For dessert, I had Coconut Wandu, a creamy concoction with treacle syrup.In the evening I went for a leisurely stroll, watched fisherfolk repair their nets and prepare for the next day, and gaped at a sunset that was breathtakingly beautiful. As darkness fell, I made my way to the S.H.A.C.K, the hotel’s seafood restaurant designed to look like one. A tempting array of seafood was out on an ice-bed and I feasted on an assorted platter of prawns, lobster and fish.advertisementA toddy tapper at Bentota beachThe next morning I wanted a change of scene so I drove to Taj Samudra in Colombo, also located near the sea. Located conveniently in the middle of the capital’s business hub, the hotel is also far enough for a leisurely holiday. Set amidst landscaped gardens, the hotel faces the sea. Since it is a business cum leisure hotel, the ambience is one of understated luxury: high ceilings and comfortable furniture. Almost all the restaurants are located on the ground floor. The hotel has over 290 rooms.For lunch, I opted for a meal at the Golden Dragon restaurant, the signature Chinese restaurant serving Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine, and thoroughly enjoyed the steam boat experience. Though full from the meal, I was keen to check out the shopping scene, but was not interested in the run of the mill. “Then go to these places,” Niranga, the hotel’s communications executive told me, handing me a list, and I set out for some serious shopping. Seared Prawn SaladAt Paradise Road (yes, that’s the name of the shop) I was taken in by the charming boutique housed in a lovely white building which was crammed with locally made items like cane and bamboo artefacts, spices, handwoven fabrics and an array of things just too many to name. At the end my hands were groaning from the weight of my shopping.Back at the hotel I rushed down to Navaratna, considered to be the best Indian restaurant in Sri Lanka. I soon realised the title was not unjustified. The fare was traditional and done in the way it should really be done–fluffy rotis, delicious kebabs, aromatic spicy mutton biryani, and the best thing of all, the raan, with the meat so tenderly cooked that it was almost falling off the bones.The suite at Taj SamudraThe next morning, it was time to head back home. It was a lovely and relaxed trip. As usual, as at the end of every vacation, I was a tad wistful about leaving. And then I reminded myself that Colombo is only an hour’s flight away, and I could just hop when the mood overtook me. I was wistful no longer. Fact fileParadise Road, a lovely boutiqueGetting there: Sri Lankan flies to Colombo from major Indian cities. Fare from Bangalore is Rs. 15,000 (approx). Visa is on arrival.When to go: Throughout the year.Plus saysStay: Taj Samudra, Galle Face Centre Road, Colombo; tel: +94 11 244 6622Taj Exotica, Bentota; tel: +94 34 227 5650Eat: Sambol, kiribath (milk rice) and lunu miri (red onions and spice mix).Shop: Artefacts from Paradise Road boutique.See: Visit the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple. It is one of the most impressive Buddhist temples in Colombo.Hot DealTaj Samudra at Colombo is a spacious property with lots of greeneryEnjoy Sri Lanka: Stay for 2 nights each at Taj Samudra and Taj Exotica at Rs. 25,999 per person with return airfare and Colombo city tour. Tel: (011) 4620 6600FYIadvertisementTravel tips: There are certain things you need to be careful about while travelling around the country. One of them is practice of never showing your back to a deity in a Buddhist temple. So, you must not stand and pose in front of a Buddha statue for a photograph.