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first_imgDinosaur farts may have caused global warming on Venus.Alternate universe #3652908 may have had the conditions for the evolution of silicon life.Mutation in a newt may have caused men to be more hairy than women.Cosmic rays could have started the geysers on Enceladus.Unseen planets between the galaxies might host advanced civilizations. (Visited 26 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Anything goes in secular science news these days; it’s Alice in Wonderland meets Stephen Hawking, like Bob Berman said of modern cosmology (10/06/04).  Notice that mentioning current-day observational facts (like a meteor crater, a roundworm, or a fossil) does not validate a speculative claim.  The presence of a connectome in a roundworm says absolutely nothing about the human brain.  A crater on Europa says nothing about life.  Don’t be fooled; none of the observational props provide necessary or sufficient conditions to establish scientific validity to any claim that is (1) speculative and (2) incapable of verification.  You can observe a robin in your yard; that does not give you the right to claim in the name of science that it got its avian lung from the ancestor of a monitor lizard 270 million years ago.  “Well, it might have” is no excuse.  Scientists need to stop imagining things; they need bigger vigor in their scientific rigor.center_img Things no one could possibly ever know are being reported by science journals and news sites as things worthy of scientific faith.Here are some far-out speculations coming from science sites recently:Asteroid that killed dinosaurs might have sent life to Mars (BBC News).A roundworm’s mind may be the first step toward understanding the human brain (Live Science).One-way breathing may have evolved 270 million years ago (Live Science).An ancient “fig wasp” lived 100 million years before figs evolved (Science Daily).A meteor may have delivered the building blocks of life to Europa (Space.com).Exoplanet hunters may find ET by glut of alien corpses (New Scientist)Life was possible in the early universe in the cooling glow of the big bang (Nature News).  This weakens the Anthropic Principle and the need for a multiverse.For the last claim in the list above, comments to PhysOrg‘s version of the story came from many who felt the subject was far too speculative and therefore unscientific.And yet these same priests and prophets of scientism, who take on the role of delivering scientific truths to the masses, routinely become filled with rage at critics of Darwinism, claiming they are enemies of science, that they don’t understand science, that they are religious nuts.  Casey Luskin just reported on Evolution News & Views a new case where bullies threatened disruption of a non-credit, optional class on intelligent design vs. evolution, and succeeded in getting the administration to cancel the class (for fear of bad publicity).  Hypocrites; the bullies belong to a group that calls itself the “Freethought Oasis.”Not a single one of the claims in the above list could be demonstrated by observation or experiment.  The perhapsimaybecouldness index for each one is exorbitantly high to the point of fantasy.  Any one of us could speculate wildly on similar subjects with equal credibility.  Try it; it’s fun:last_img read more

first_img29 July 2002Cape Town is many cities – and, indeed, many countries. Sometimes it is San Francisco, lights twinkling with the sea in the background; sometimes it is New Orleans, with the old lacy balconies of Long Street tarted up to resemble that steamy city of the American South; sometimes it is a French street scene; sometimes a German landscape.Or it can present itself simply as an anonymous but breathtaking backdrop – a swathe of green mountainside, a gorgeous beach, a cool, dark forest.South Africa’s oldest city is her newest high-profile actress. Cape Town is starring in commercials and feature films from all round the world, and has become a favoured location for filmmakers keen to make use of the city and its environs’ natural beauty as well as to employ a technically advanced film industry that can compete with that of Europe or the US for skills and savvy.Renowned for some of the world’s finest wines, the vast fertile valleys of the Cape winelands could be mistaken for similar locations anywhere on earth. (Photo: Moonlighting Film Production Services)It also helps that when Northern European or American filmmakers translate their dollars or euros into rands, their budgets suddenly seem to have grown tenfold.South African film: looking backThe film industry in this country goes back a long way. The first newsreels ever were shot in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War at the turn of the previous century. The weekly cinema newsreel African Mirror was launched in 1913 and ran until the 1980s.In 1916, the magnate IW Schlesinger set up Killarney Studios and began an extraordinary run of productions (43 movies until 1922) that included De Voortrekkers, a piece of Afrikaner nationalist propaganda celebrating the Great Trek from the British colony of the Cape to new pastures further north, and Symbol of Sacrifice, about the Anglo-Zulu wars.As leading South African cinema academic Keyan Tomaselli put it, these movies “were rooted in the ideological outlook of the present, with Boer and Briton standing together under the flame of unity and civilisation against barbaric hordes”.Schlesinger’s production line declined in the Twenties, access to international markets having become limited. What Tomaselli calls a “30-year lull” began, broken by the beginnings of Afrikaner establishment investment in the film industry in the 1950s.What emerged then, and continued into the 1970s, was a plethora of state-funded light entertainment for Afrikaans-speaking whites starring the likes of singer Ge Korsten and comedian Al Debbo.A prominent genre of the time, too, was ‘the border film’, in which South African soldiers fended off the perceived communist-inspired threat on the country’s borders. There was also the international success of Jamie Uys’s politically suspect comedy The Gods Must be Crazy in 1980, but that was a bit of a one-off.South Africa has yet to produce a movie to match it for fame around the world, which is rather embarrassing.In the meantime, though, anti-apartheid cinema had grown as the Afrikaner-dominated state entrenched itself. Lionel Rogosin made the semi-documentary Come Back Africa in 1959, using real denizens of the vibrant and soon-to-be-demolished Sophiatown area in his tale of how the new regime was warping life in this country. Exiled filmmaker Lionel Ngakane contributed to this genre with Vukani Awake in 1964 and 1966.In the 1970s, movies critical of apartheid were made within South Africa by a first wave of true independents. They included Jans Rautenbach’s Jannie Totsiens and the series of films Ross Devenish made with playwright Athol Fugard. Another playwright to move into cinema, though briefly, was township troupe-leader Gibson Kente, though his How Long Must We Suffer? received only a very limited release.In the 1980s, the state funded low-budget feature films specifically for black audiences, and gave tax breaks to foreign companies wanting to churn out cheap product for the straight-to-video market. Some people made money, and many learned new skills, but few of these movies were worth seeing.The real cinema of South Africa was semi-underground, being made by mavericks with low budgets: Darrell Roodt’s Place of Weeping and Jobman, Oliver Schmitz’s Mapantsula, Manie van Rensburg’s The Fourth Reich, Katinka Heyns’s Die Storie van Klara Viljee, and Andrew Worsdale’s Shot Down.In the new post-apartheid era, the South African film industry is still struggling to find its feet when it comes to the kind of feature films seen on screens around the world. Neal Sundstrom’s Inside Out was a pleasant comedy playing with South African stereotypes, and Gavin Hood’s A Reasonable Man is a serious study of tradition versus modernity that has been seen at festivals around the world.A new black cinema has shown signs of coming into being: Ntshaveni wa Luruli’s Chikin Biznis launched the genre of township comedy, and Ramadan Suleman translated Njabulo Ndebele’s short story Fools to the big screen.But the biggest recent commercial success has been Leon Schuster’s excremental comedy Mr Bones, which is now among SA’s top-grossing films in this market, and is making some headway in markets abroad. It seems to be reaching the “lowest common denominator”, if nothing else.Signs of a rapidly maturing industryYet the industry is rapidly growing toward maturity. Infrastructure is expanding all the time, and our industry is networking itself all over the world.Cape Town is the host of Sithengi, the annual Southern African International Film and Television Market, now in its seventh year. Taking place every September, it is attended by some 1 000 delegates from this country and all over the world.About the same number attended the International Public Television Conference, in the same city, this year – the first time the event has taken place outside Europe or the US.A new international festival is also on the cards for Gauteng, when the Jozi Summit Film Festival takes place alongside the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August 2002. There will be workshops and training sessions, with the participation of leading industry players, as well as a host of screenings (more than 600 showings of some 100 movies) at venues ranging from commercial cinemas in shopping centres to township locations.Ongoing festivals such as the Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival have a long history, and many foreign countries have annual festivals in South Africa showcasing the best of their national product to an appreciative audience.The audience is there, certainly, as are the technical skills and the lauded locations. As far as the growth of a homegrown movie industry is concerned, more development needs to take place in the realm of scriptwriting and directorial skills, but workshops such as Scrawl, as well as programmes at universities and other educational institutions, are filling the gaps.The potential is huge, as filmmakers have realised. Investment in basic infrastructure is growing fast: the large Sasani Studio has sprung up at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, while the same city’s Longkloof Studios are being upgraded to the tune of R20-million. German equipment-rental company CineLicht has established a subsidiary in Cape Town, and British lighting company AFM now has a base in Johannesburg.And movies are being made. Cape Town, once again, stars in several: The Piano Player, featuring Christopher Lambert and Dennis Hopper, recently finished shooting there, as did Manhunt, with SA-born Mummy star Arnold Vosloo; Borderline, starting Sean Patrick Flannery, is in production.Co-productions based on South African subject matter, with international backing, to be shot somewhere in South Africa, are in the works: pre-production work is well advanced on producer Anant Singh’s version of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, and JM Coetzee’s controversial and acclaimed Booker Prize-winning novel, Disgrace, is now casting, to be directed by British director Charles Sturridge.Movies based on the story of Amy Biehl, the young American slain in a Cape township, and that of the “Bang Bang Club” of Eighties news photographers, are in development. Not to mention the slate of German TV movies and the Scandinavian reality TV show The Fear Factor.World-class commercialsBut the biggest, fastest, most lucrative part of the film industry in this country, the part that really gets international filmmakers enthusiastic, is the commercials industry. Over the past few years the number of foreign commercials being shot in South Africa, particularly Cape Town, has just grown and grown.French, German, British, American, Israeli, Belgian, Italian, Scandinavian and even Turkish commercials have been shot in Cape Town, all contributing to the estimated R2-billion total worth of the industry in this country.Cape Town has the looks, and she’s definitely our cover girl, but Gauteng also has considerable resources at its disposal, and accounts for a very substantial portion of local film industry revenue. Cape Town may have the locations, but Gauteng has the sophisticated studios and the editing suites.Between these two centres, and with the whole of a diversely beautiful country waiting for its close-up, it’s hard not to believe that filmmaking in South Africa can only continue to burgeon. We are becoming ever more a part of the international film, television and commercials industry, and soon we’ll be making masterpieces of our own.Shaun de Waal, twice-winner of the Pringle Award for best movie critic in South Africa and former arts and books editor of the Mail & Guardian, is the author of several books and a graphic novel. Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

first_imgDine With Khayelitsha fosters nationa building and social cohesion. (Image and video: Redbull Amaphiko)Nation building and social cohesion are some of the outcomes of South Africa’s National Development Plan or Vision 2030 – and it all comes together when ordinary people put in a little effort.Nine friends from Khayelitsha, in Cape Town, founded Dine With Khayelitsha, a monthly dinner hosted in Site C, Khayelitsha, which brings together people of different races and social classes. The aim is to have frank conversations about social issues and break down racial boundaries.“We’re just a bunch of kids trying to change the hood,” Mpumelelo Sefalane, a co-founder, told Redbull Amaphiko. “That’s what we’re doing with Dine With Khayelitsha.“When white people come to the township, they usually come for charity work or as tourists. We want to change that and create a space where they can come and we can discuss real issues, and show them what township life is really about.”THE HOSTINGThe group of friends host dinners at nine houses on the first Friday of each month. Each house has its own theme, anything from entrepreneurship and leadership to land reform. The programme is run according to the dinner’s menu.Learn about Dine With Khayelitsha:“During the first course we’ll introduce everyone to each other and have a little ice-breaker to calm everyone’s nerves. For the main course, we discuss the topic of the night,” Sefalane said.It’s not all talk and no show though.“We want people to actually implement what we’ve been discussing throughout the night. So during dessert we get everyone to share how they’re going to change whatever we’ve been talking about.”The dinners also offer isiXhosa classes thanks to a partnership with social enterprise Ubuntu Bridge.KEEPING IT LOCALEverything from the food consumed to the entertainment is sourced from local suppliers. The food is cooked by aspiring chefs in Khayelitsha and after the dinner, guests head to Vintage Lounge, a local night spot, to wind down.Sefalane and his team want to break out of South Africa and take the concept of Dine With across the continent and all over the world. “We want to take this internationally – whether it’s London or Abu Dhabi. That’s our biggest vision.”PLAY YOUR PARTAre you playing your part to help improve the lives of the people around you or the environment? Do you know of anyone who has gone out of their way to help improve South Africa and its people?If so, submit your story or video to our website and let us know what you are doing to improve the country for all.last_img read more

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The deadline to apply to be the next America’s Pig Farmer of the Year is quickly approaching. Applications are being accepted through March 13 at americaspigfarmer.com. The award recognizes a U.S. pork producer who demonstrates excellence in raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and in sharing his or her story with the public.On March 7 at 6 p.m. CST, the 2015 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year, Keith Schoettmer from Tipton, Indiana, will hold a conference call for those interested in applying this year. During the call, Schoettmer will answer questions about the application process and his experience with the award. The information for the call is below and can also be found at americaspigfarmer.com.“It wasn’t a light decision for me to apply last year. My family and I decided to apply because we felt like it was a great way to give back to an industry that has taken good care of my employees and family over the years,” Schoettmer said. “I encourage all pork producers to apply for this award.”Any U.S. pig farmer, who is 30 years of age or older on Jan. 1, 2016, can apply through March 13. Anyone that knows of a deserving pig farmer can also nominate a producer for this award. Instructions and frequently asked questions can be found at americaspigfarmer.com or via a link on pork.org.Third-party judges, along with the American public, will help determine the final award recipient, which will be announced during National Pork Month in October. In early September, videos of the award finalists will be displayed at americaspigfarmer.com and on the Pork Checkoff’s social media outlets for the public to vote.last_img read more