Two small Christian colleges take a stand against Nike over its Colin Kaepernick ad campaign

first_imgBy Cindy Boren | The Washington PostNike’s new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling demonstration during the national anthem started a controversy that engulfed the NFL last season and drew the ire of President Trump, has cost it a relationship with at least two small colleges.Truett McConnell University, a liberal arts school with about 2,600 students in the northern Georgia community of Cleveland, will no longer offer Nike products in its campus store. And athletic teams …last_img read more

Can a Cell Improve by Lowering Its Standards?

first_imgThe title of a paper in PNAS is intriguing: “Artificially ambiguous genetic code confers growth yield advantage.”  An international team claims to have created a beneficial mutation.  They removed the editing ability of a protein involved in translating the genetic code, and got it to survive in a nutrient-starved environment.  They suggest that the resulting misspellings might have provided a primitive cell with more options for evolution.    The protein they mutated is one of the family of 20 molecular machines that hitches the correct (canonical) amino acid to its DNA template (anticodon).  One of these aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases has a hard time distinguishing between two very similar amino acids, isoleucine and valine, so an additional “editing” step corrects any “typos” that occur.  These scientists essentially removed the editor.  Then they gave the cell stronger concentrations of valine and other noncanonical amino acids, some of which are toxic.  On the one hand, the wild-type (normal) strain with the editor did better under high concentrations of toxic noncanonical amino acids.  But when starved for isoleucine, the mutated strain, without the editor getting in the way, had more options.  This apparent flexibility led the scientists to suggest that such looseness in standards could have been an advantage during the early evolution of the genetic code:In summary, a stable and robust strain with an ambiguous code, and thus harboring statistical [e.g., non-coded] proteins, was created by irreversible ablation of the editing activity of a single tRNA synthetase.  The WT [wild-type, or normal] strain, with its full complement of editing activities, has the decided advantage of being more resistant to the potential toxicity of elevated concentrations of noncoding amino acids (for example, norvaline) (Figs. 3 and 4).  However, the editing-deficient strain with its statistical proteins has the capacity to use noncanonical amino acids to fill in at codons specifying (but starved for) particular amino acids such as isoleucine.  This capacity is advantageous in circumstances when the organism is confronted with modest concentrations of various amino acids that might have been the only available building blocks for proteins in an early environment.  The lack of both specific resources and competing species may have favored early organisms that could maximize yield and therefore maximize the chances of spreading to new resource patches that would otherwise go unused.  Thus, organisms with the capacity to generate statistical proteins could plausibly have served as intermediates in the evolution of early living systems.1Pezo et al., “Artificially ambiguous genetic code confers growth yield advantage,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0402893101, published online before print May 26, 2004.If lies and nonsense make you angry, you should be angry at this paper.  You should not be intimidated by the fact it was written by nine PhDs.  You should not be swayed by its presence in the journal of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.  You should not be dazzled by the jargon.  If it’s baloney, it stinks as bad in a castle as in a shack.    These scientists, drunk on Darwinism, are trying to make us believe that lowering your standards makes you stronger.  By analogy, firing the proofreader makes the newspaper better.  Firing the coach makes the athlete stronger.  Firing the sergeant makes the army squad better prepared for the contingencies of battle.  Baloney, baloney, baloney.    When in a restaurant, will you maintain better health by restraining your baser appetites and restricting yourself to a well-balanced meal?  Of course.  But if you were trapped in a candy store, could you survive a little while on chocolate?  Delicious in small quantities, and better than going hungry, that doesn’t mean you should make it your daily diet.  These scientists forced normal cells to be starved for isoleucine, an essential nutrient for healthy proteins.  The normal cells did not want to eat the unhealthy ingredients that were available; they had a coach ordering them to keep off the chocolate.  But other cells, free of such discipline, engorged themselves and at least didn’t starve.  So the fatsos outqualify the hunks for the Olympics.  If you can believe that, you can believe the phony baloney premise of this paper.    Darwinian articles often dodge personal responsibility by (1) flat-out bluffing, or (2) using passive voice verbs that cover up their own shame.  Look at this example: “The modern genetic code appeared ~3 billion years ago [Sez who?  Were you there?] …. The code itself is thought to have started in a primitive form [Who thought so?  Own up, you Darwin Party dogmatists], perhaps with codons composed of two rather than three nucleotides [where is the evidence for that?] and with different amino acids not precisely assigned to specific codons” [who made up this howler?]  It sounds pompously aloof to say “It is thought” rather than “I think this elaborate, complex system of codes and translators began from random letters in a primitive soup.”  By saying It is thought and leaving the subject undefined, the propagandist gives the reader a subliminal impression that somebody important thinks so, somebody authoritative thinks so, or that everybody who knows anything thinks so.  Don’t be fooled.    Did these scientists find any evidence that their lowering of editing standards actually made their variants fitter?  No.  Did they demonstrate that the incorporation of noncanonical amino acids into the protein conferred any new functional advantage?  No.  Did they provide any empirical evidence that the genetic code began in a primitive state, without proofreading?  No.  Did they provide any historical evidence, or any analogies from present systems, that a complex, proofreading system can improve by lowering standards?  No.  Did they use certified lab techniques?  Yes.  Did they use their brains?  No.    One thing they did do: they won Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  “Because they could opportunistically use whatever amino acids were available to complete a protein sequence, organisms harboring statistical proteins could have had a selective advantage in a primitive environment.  Also, by having many closely related versions of the same basic sequence, variants with a particular catalytic activity could be produced.  These microvariants might have special adaptive advantages, much in the way that one or more mutations in an enzyme can enhance its activity or broaden its specificity.  The selective advantages of more complex organisms that were able to produce their own amino acids and are dependent on higher specificity eventually forced replacement of the ancient statistical systems.  Remains of ambiguous codes are still observed in nature as in the Leu/Ser ambiguity in Candida sp. [prove it].”  Coulda, woulda, shoulda.  Gimme a break.  I thought I was in science class, not Fantasyland.    As explained earlier (see 07/21/2003 and 06/29/2003 headlines), the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase family of enzymes comprise an exquisite, complex system that relies on accuracy, and they know it.  They admit, “The genetic code is established in reactions catalyzed by aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, in which each amino acid is covalently joined to its cognate tRNA.  The tRNA bears the complementary nucleotide triplet of the code corresponding to the attached amino acid.”  In cases where similar amino acids might incorrectly attach, “Certain synthetases, including isoleucyl-tRNA synthetase (IleRS), have a second active site that clears mischarged amino acids and thereby removes errors of aminoacylation.”  The existence of code-translation and quality-control systems are hallmarks of intelligent design.    Furthermore, they admit that incorrectly attached amino acids can be toxic: “Valine is the obvious starting point because of its structural similarity to isoleucine.  However, the effects of valine are difficult to measure because of its general toxicity in minimal media, caused by feedback inhibition of the isoleucine biosynthetic pathway.”  In other words, not only are there systems to edit out the wrong amino acid, but there are feedback pathways to ensure the toxic substance does not proliferate in the cell.  They admitted that the noncanonical amino acids were toxic: “As expected, high concentrations of valine or norvaline ultimately became toxic in the editing-deficient strain but not in its WT counterpart.”    Only in a very specific environment, where the normal cell was starved and their carefully-engineered mutant was given preferential treatment, did they see it outcompete the champ.  And on this, they want us to believe that life, the genetic code, its translation machinery, molecular factories of tens of thousands of protein motors and enzymes “emerged” by chance into streamlined tunas, fast-focus cormorant eyes, human composers, and all the rich and varied life forms today.  Thereon hangs a tale: not a tale of science, but a fairy tale about a fictional place where one needs to believe six impossible things before breakfast – Fallacy in Blunderland.(Visited 5 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Grahamstown arts take to the streets

first_imgWest African performance artist Gregory da Silva, otherwise known as the Famous Egg Man, on the streets of Grahamstown during the National Festival of the Arts.Khanyi Magubane As the 1820 Settlers Monument perched on a hill overlooking Grahamstown comes into view, the place seems like just another quiet Eastern Cape town. But as our car draws closer, eventually winding into the broad boulevards of High Street in the town centre, the crowds of people, buskers, actors, traders, street performers and more are anything but quiet.They’re all here for the National Festival of the Arts, a 10-day feast of performance that invades this small university town every midwinter. Now in its 35th year, globally the Grahamstown Festival is second in size only to Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival.This year’s festival, held from 2 to 12 July, offers the usual feast of drama, dance, jazz, stand-up comedy, arts and crafts, food galore, student and street theatre.The theme is “10 DAYS OF AMAZ!NG”. But with over 400 stage productions on offer – and average of 40 a day – for me it might be more a case of 10 days of the Amazing Race, from venue to venue. It’s my fourth time at the festival, but even I feel a little overwhelmed.Grahamstown in midwinter is normally a forbiddingly cold place, but this year the weather is surprisingly balmy, so we take a stroll about town to see what’s up.There are street musicians, an artist producing portraits on the pavement, and throngs of young Grahamstown kids, their faces painted white, performing for passersby. There’s also the Famous Egg Man, Gregory da Silva, a performance artist from West Africa with a his signature headdress piled with, you guessed it, eggs.Among the festival-goers, musicians and markets we suddenly see a group of men in orange prison overalls running down the street, with others in police uniforms in pursuit.After the initial shock we realise that, of course, it’s some kind of performance. In fact, it’s guerilla marketing for Prison Codes, a gritty play about life in the Western Cape’s gang-dominated prisons, told from the perspective of the notorious 27s gang. The actors stage their mock-escape through the streets of Grahamstown to get people into their theatre.George Hill, the play’s producer, tells me that festival-goers sometimes don’t realise it’s just advertising. “Some of them were scared for real,” he says. “We hope this will give them a taste of what’s to come in this hard-hitting production.”The Prison Codes cast aren’t the only ones to use these tactics, with this year’s 234-page programme proving there’s a lot of competition. With both the main and fringe festivals boasting strong productions, casts, directors and producers use aggressive marketing campaigns to fight for audiences.Actors wander the streets, dressed in their costumes, handing out flyers and begging everyone to see their plays.One production that isn’t shy to make an impression is YES!, an adult-humour play that explores the quirky side of sex. The cast can be regularly seen parading the streets in nightgowns – the women in pink and the men in blue.A woman in pink approaches me, handing me a business card with the production’s details. Then she looks me in the eye and asks, “What makes a person a better lover?”While my cheeks heat up, another actor puts a small bottle in my hand. It turns out to be something called Afrodité, a gel with apparent libido-enhancing properties, designed specifically for women. A man nearby is given a male version of the product, and seems as unable to conceal his bewildered embarrassment as me. They certainly got our attention.But the performers on the streets aren’t all brazen actors punting their shows. There are plenty of street musicians, such as the marimba band Sibonile. Established in 2006, the band is made up of six men and a woman, all of them from Grahamstown – and all of them blind.Richard Nzwana, the group’s spokesperson, says they experimented with a number of instruments before they hit on the marimba – a large percussion instrument, similar to a xylophone, made of wood.“We started playing the bongo drums and the piano, and then we heard of marimbas, and we decided to try them,” he says.The band taught themselves to play, later securing the services of a marimba coach, who taught them by encrypting Braille on the instruments. Sibonile performed at the festival’s opening ceremony on 1 July, and will be taking part in the annual National Marimba Festival taking place on 25 to 26 July in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg.“We are currently the defending champions,” says Nzwana. He’s confident they will walk away with the first prize again this year.Putting together a festival of this size does not come without hefty costs, so it’s run with sponsorship from a number of institutions. The principal sponsor is Standard Bank, which was been supporting the festival for 25 years.Other sponsors include the National Lottery, the National Arts Council, the Eastern Cape Government, with media sponsors The Sunday Independent newspaper and satellite television broadcaster MNet.Other than the main and fringe festivals, there’s also the Spirit Festival, for those with a faith perspective on arts, which includes a gospel music workshop. Then there’s the Children’s Arts Festival, which offers theatre, performances by clowns, and as films made for children.Amazing arts, all of it.Related articles Lennox sings for HIV/Aids Words come to life at book fair South Africa’s rainbow salsa Art for all at Joburg Art Fair SA films scoop awards at Fespaco Useful links National Arts Festival Standard Bank National Lottery National Arts Councillast_img read more

Being objective about the markets (in a wet planting season)

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest With the constant rain in Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, southern Illinois and western Ohio, farmers are getting worried they won’t get corn planted. Some are surprised the market hasn’t responded with a rally. Prices likely haven’t increased for the following reasons. As a percent of the total U.S. production, these areas collectively don’t produce a lot of corn. These areas only account for about 10% of total acres and not every acre is a loss. The trade learned in 2015 that heavy rains throughout the Corn Belt may drown some areas, but other areas will thrive and see increased production.Last year many farmers in these areas finished planting the last week of May and the first week of June and still had a reasonable sized crop. It’s important to remember the entire Corn Belt will never have perfect conditions. There will always be areas affected not only negatively, but positively as well. In the end, late spring weather usually won’t impact the market nearly as much as weather 40 days from now.This past week when discussing the eastern corn belt’s weather, a farmer told me that I just didn’t understand how bad it was in his area. Maybe, but I think by not living there it was actually easier to gain perspective. By looking at weather maps, rainfall totals, and average yields in his area compared to surrounding counties, state and region I determined the issues he was suffering from were largely isolated to a very small region that didn’t produce enough corn for the market to really notice (at least not yet).Over the last two weeks social media was “flooded” with pictures of cornfields looking like lakes. If I was a farmer in this area and only looked at posts and tweets, I would think it was time to build an ark. Nobody posts pictures of the many fields throughout the country that have had no problems and crops look great. Those pictures aren’t as interesting as a farmer wakeboarding in his cornfield.Throughout my career in grain marketing, I’ve noticed that most market participants (i.e. farmers, end users, analysts, etc.), tend to “talk their position.” Since most farmers have a lot of 2016 and 2017 crop to sell, they want, hope and need the market to rally. On the flip side, end users want, hope and need the market to go lower. Analysts want the market to go in the direction that is most profitable to their current positions, so they’ll push that agenda. With all of these conflicting agendas, it’s difficult to sift through the media/trades to get a clear understanding of where the market is headed.Interestingly I listened to an analyst speak about the corn market direction in the short-term. After hearing the analyst talk, a farmer told me he thought the analyst was bullish. I then asked him how much of ’16/’17 grain was still unpriced and he told me all of it. I thought the analyst presented a more neutral perspective, but I have much of my ’16 and some of my ’17 corn sold/marketed. Both of our opinions might be based upon our positions.Many people like to read information that confirms what they believe or hope will happen. This kind of thinking can be disastrous to a farmer’s bottom-line though. I recommend trying to read marketing information from several sources, both bearish and bullish. I also recommend sticking to the same analysts to better understand their tendencies. Switching analysts each week makes it difficult to understand how they developed their strategies over the last few months.It’s hard to stay objective when it comes to grain marketing, but there are two “rules of thumb” farmers may consider when listening to grain marketing information.Often when bulls and bears agree, the market tends to move in that directionOften if an analyst is usually bullish and starts pulling back or becomes neutral, it’s a sign of an upcoming bearish trend (vice versa for bearish analysts). When a bull turns into a bear, it tells me more than when a bull is a bull or a bear is a bear.Note, I watched the wakeboarding farmer video twice. Once, because it was cool. Second, I wanted to put this into perspective and estimate his lost acres. In the video it looks like about 20 feet of corn is under water for nearly a half mile. This equates to roughly 1 acre. I also noticed pivots on the field, which in Nebraska probably means it’s about a 150-acre field. So the flooded part of the field is realistically less than 1%, which is obviously very small. Yet, several large Midwest papers picked up the story and talked about how wet it is out there. This is another reminder to always keep perspective and don’t get carried away with sensational stories. Market actionFollowing is the detail and rationale of a recent trade made in late February, that expired Friday:Expected Market Direction 2/27/17 — Probably sideways with some upside potential into early summerTrade detail — Sold June $3.80 straddle for 30 centsPosition Size — Trade represents 10% of my 2016 productionExpired — 5/26/17 — After corn planting is complete, but before the weather markets take over, based upon July futuresPotential Benefit — If July futures close at $3.80 on 5/26, I keep the 30 cent premiumPotential Concern — Reduced or no premium if the market moves significantly.For every penny lower than $3.80 I get less premium until $3.50. At $3.50 or lower a previous corn sale is removed. For every penny higher than $3.80 I get less premium until $4.10. At $4.10 or higher I have to make another corn sale at $4.10 against July futures. What happened?When the market hit $3.74 on Friday, I bought back the put portion of the straddle for 6 cents. This meant after commissions my net profit was 24 cents. This is what I hoped would happen. Why didn’t you buy back the calls?Since prices were well below the $3.80 strike price, I didn’t see the need to pay additional commissions to get out of that part of the trade. Ultimately, they ended up expiring worthless. New tradeI expect the market to continue trading sideways. And, considering my recent success with straddles, I’m going to continue my straddle position moving forward. Following are the details of my new trade:Expected market direction — sideways into late summerSold Sep $3.70 straddle for 38 centsTrade represents 10% of 2016 OR 2017 productionExpires 8/25/17 after crop conditions are knownPotential benefit: If Sep futures close at $3.70 on 8/25, I keep the 38 cent premiumPotential concern: reduced or no premium if the market moves significantly.For every penny lower than $3.70 I get less premium until $3.32. At $3.32 or lower a previous corn sale is removed, but any profits gained on that trade can be added to a future sale. For every penny higher than $3.70 I get less premium until $4.08. At $4.08 or higher I have to make another corn sale at $4.08 against Sep futures. If a Sep sale is initiated then I can move this sale to Dec futures and pick up about 10 cents of premium and thus have a $4.18 sale in place. At this point the sale would likely be against my ’17 crop. What does this mean?This Sep straddle trade provides a lot of flexibility:If the market goes down, I will apply it to my ’16 productionIf the market rallies, I will apply it to my ’17 crop.If the market goes sideways, I make some added profit and can apply it wherever I want. And, I don’t have to decide that until 8/25/17.Jon grew up raising corn and soybeans on a farm near Beatrice, NE. Upon graduation from The University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he became a grain merchandiser and has been trading corn, soybeans and other grains for the last 18 years, building relationships with end-users in the process. After successfully marketing his father’s grain and getting his MBA, 10 years ago he started helping farmer clients market their grain based upon his principals of farmer education, reducing risk, understanding storage potential and using basis strategy to maximize individual farm operation profits. A big believer in farmer education of futures trading, Jon writes a weekly commentary to farmers interested in learning more and growing their farm operations.Trading of futures, options, swaps and other derivatives is risky and is not suitable for all persons. All of these investment products are leveraged, and you can lose more than your initial deposit. Each investment product is offered only to and from jurisdictions where solicitation and sale are lawful, and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations in such jurisdiction. The information provided here should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research before making your investment decisions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC is merely providing this information for your general information and the information does not take into account any particular individual’s investment objectives, financial situation, or needs. All investors should obtain advice based on their unique situation before making any investment decision. The contents of this communication and any attachments are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances should they be construed as an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation to buy or sell any future, option, swap or other derivative. The sources for the information and any opinions in this communication are believed to be reliable, but Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy of such information or opinions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC and its principals and employees may take positions different from any positions described in this communication. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. He can be contacted at [email protected]last_img read more

Odisha RS bypolls: Cong. stalls House proceedings

first_imgMembers of the Congress party stalled the proceedings of the Odisha Assembly several times on Wednesday demanding a clarification from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on the ruling Biju Janata Dal’s support to Bharatiya Janata Party’s nominee Aswini Kumar Vaishnaw in the Rajya Sabha bypolls in the State.‘Mining mafia links’The issue was raised by Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra who accused Mr. Vaishnaw, a former IAS officer, of being hand in glove with the mining mafia. He claimed to have documents to show in how many mining scams Mr. Vaishnaw was involved.Mr. Mishra alleged that the BJP nominee’s name also “figured in the list of beneficiaries in the discretionary quota scam” pertaining to allotment of land and houses to influential persons in the State. The veteran Congress leaders sought to know how Mr. Vaishnaw’s candidature will help protect the interest of the State.Mr. Mishra criticised the BJP for making Mr. Vaishnaw its candidate for the Rajya Sabha. “The BJP has no moral right to claim to be the Opposition party in Odisha because it is hand in glove with the BJD,” he said.Slogans raisedSeveral Congress members also rushed to the well of the House raising slogans against the BJD and the BJP, alleging that both parties had nexus with mining companies.Speaker Surjya Narayan Patro adjourned the proceedings of the House at least five times before holding an all-party meeting to end the deadlock.Mr. Vaishnaw, who was in the Assembly premises to enquire about his candidature for the Rajya Sabha polls, told media persons that he had nothing to hide and will talk about the controversy once the election process was over.While announcing the names of Amar Patnaik and Sasmit Patra as BJD’s candidates for the Rajya Sabha bypolls, the Chief Minister had announced that his party will support the BJP nominee for the third seat.last_img read more

Evan Adams was one of the stars of Smoke Signals now guess

first_imgAPTN National NewsA former Indigenous actor has been making waves in a new industry lately.Dr. Evan Adams is best known for his work in the film ‘Smoke Signals’ alongside Adam Beach.Now he’s the Chief Medical Officer for the First Nation Health Authority.APTN’s Jaydon Flett caught up with him to talk about the work he ahead of [email protected] @jaydononolast_img

Hughton Decisions favored Liverpool

Hughton Decisions favored Liverpool

first_imgBrighton manager Chris Hughton felt that the bulk of decisions went Liverpool’s way in their 1-0 home defeat to the league leaders.Mo Salah converted from the spot to give Liverpool a crucial 1-0 win at Brighton after the Egyptian was judged to have been fouled by Pascal Gross.Hughton, however, had no complaints about the penalty but believes that plenty other decisions favored them.“There’s no intent and referees have a hard job, but sometimes you feel things go your way and sometimes you feel some of the decisions don’t go your way,” Hughton told Sky Sports.“I felt today it was one of those days. No malice or anything towards the referee but I thought the bulk of decisions favored Liverpool today.Roberto Firmino, LiverpoolVirgil van Dijk praises Roberto Firmino after Liverpool’s win Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Virgil van Dijk hailed team-mate Roberto Firmino after coming off the bench to inspire Liverpool to a 3-1 comeback win against Newcastle United.“On the balance of play, I thought we deserved something.“They are such a good side and the opportunities they had were when we were trying to get back into the game and put bodies forward and made the game a bit more open. I thought we restricted them to minimal chances.“Pascal Gross’ chance [a shot in the second half] was probably as good as any of their chances.“We were always in the game and discipline was really good from the team, which it has to be because they can open you up.“In the latter part of the game we went for it a bit and showed a real intent to get back on level terms and I thought for the feel of the game that we deserved something.”last_img read more