Star Children for Darwin

first_imgWhy should we be looking for alien intelligence around other stars when it is right behind your eyeballs?  You may not have known that you are a star child, but that’s what a leading astronomer called you.  As a good star child, you need to pay tribute to Charles Darwin.    In New Scientist, Lawrence Krauss called on children of spaceship Earth to “Celebrate evolution as only star children can.”  In this, he tied together the International Year of Astronomy 2009, the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first use of the telescope on the night sky, with Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday.  He recounted the epochal discoveries in astronomy and biology that he feels neatly combine in modern evolutionary theory, the theory of everything:Darwin’s theory of evolution, and the science of genetics which followed, demonstrate that humans and the rest of life on Earth share not just a common heritage, but virtually everything else.  At a molecular level, the distinction between humans and bacteria seems almost superficial.  All forms of life on Earth share a common genetic method of replication and energy storage.  Yet it is truly remarkable that from so simple a set of molecular building blocks such diversity can arise.Krauss did not seem to consider the theistic alternative at all that explains the same evidence: the same God who created stars also created mankind from the dust of the ground.  Both worldviews produce the same observations.  Stars and humans are made of atoms and molecules.  Actually, he did quote Darwin’s ending sentence in The Origin about “originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one,” but he had just described cosmic evolution leading seamlessly into biological and human evolution.  Somehow global politics emerged in his conclusion: Accordingly, the two discoveries we herald this year carry an important message for our future: the intimate connections between humanity and the entire cosmos, as illustrated by both evolution and astronomy, suggest that the only sensible perspective of humanity is a global one.  The need for a global perspective is of vital importance now, as we are the first generation in history that must seriously confront global limits to our future on Earth, from energy to climate change.Christians might call this a non-sequitur or a half-truth.  They do not deny our connectedness, but explain it in terms of all creation (stars and humans) being the handiwork of a single Creator.  And instead of seeing a global perspective as the only sensible option for humanity, they might take the very same observations and point out the duty of each individual to its Maker.The same mythology gets repeated over and over in the media.  Carl Sagan was talking this starstuff lingo back in the 1980s.  It’s all glittering generalities and logical fallacies.    Darwinism and the U.N. are not the only perspectives that explain the observations.  Krauss begs the question.  What does the connectedness imply?  If there are at least two competing explanations for that connectedness (i.e., that stars and humans are both made of atoms), he cannot simply assume that his worldview is the only sensible perspective.  In what other contest does a contender declare himself the winner before competing in the race?    Don’t follow his bluff like robots toward socialism and global politics.  Thinking is done by individuals.  If you follow the global crowd after the Darwin bandwagon, and it falls into a sinkhole, you will not be able to shift responsibility to them; you took the steps.  Think for yourself.    You might even think a profound thought: that thought cannot emerge from stars, or else it wouldn’t be thought at all.  It would be a hodgepodge of contingency and determinism.  The essence of thought is to purposely order one’s conceptual resources, independently of the material substrate that conveys them, toward principles that obey the laws of logic.  Our theories and explanations of stars employ logic, but stars don’t.  Do stars take philosophy and hold debates?  Of course not.  Then what kind of twisted logic can believe that logic is an emergent phenomenon of matter in motion?  If that were so, how could any human brain have any confidence that its reasonings were true?  It leads to that “horrid thought” that plagued Darwin: “whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.  Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” he said.  If a monkey doesn’t have a mind or convictions, you can be sure that stars don’t.  Stop thinking horrid thoughts.  Think wise thoughts.  Daniel the statesman wrote, (“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” Daniel 12:3).(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Access to China key factor in maintaining meat export growth

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The U.S. red meat industry has achieved outstanding export growth in recent years, enhancing profitability for all members of the supply chain. In 2014, both beef exports ($7.13 billion) and pork exports ($6.67 billion) shattered previous records for export value. Beef exports have steadily increased in value in each of the 11 years since global markets began to reopen after the first U.S. case of BSE. For pork, export value has increased in 15 of the past 20 years.In 2015, several headwinds have made it difficult for the U.S. industry to maintain this positive trajectory. Severe congestion in the West Coast ports — the result of a prolonged labor impasse — impacted our first-quarter results. Unusually large supplies of European pork and Australian beef have poured into key Asian markets, buoyed by favorable exchange rates that make them very attractive to price-sensitive buyers. Key competitors have also achieved gains due to free trade agreements that reduced import duties on their beef and pork products.These are all important factors affecting U.S. exports, but they are issues over which we have little or no control. The same cannot be said about one of the biggest obstacles U.S. exports currently face — lack of access to China.China is one of only a handful of international markets that never reopened to U.S. beef following the 2003 BSE case. At that time, and for several years thereafter, China was not a large importer of beef. But that changed dramatically in 2012, when beef import demand in China surged due to strong economic growth and a sharp decline in domestic production. China now imports more beef every month than it did in an entire calendar year in 2011. In the first half of this year, imports totaled nearly $910 million — up 28% from a year ago.While the U.S. industry remains on the sidelines, Australia, Uruguay, New Zealand, Argentina and Canada are all gaining a strong foothold in China. Being shut out of the Chinese market also affects the prices U.S. beef cuts command in other Asian destinations, as China has begun to exert significant influence on global beef trade. For the U.S. beef industry, the lost opportunity due to our lack of access to China is currently estimated at more than $100 per head.Considering that we export to about 100 countries, all of which have determined that U.S. beef is safe, it would be easy to view China’s import conditions as overly strict. But a growing number of major beef producing and exporting countries are meeting China’s requirements, aware of the market’s potential global impact on beef demand. In mid-2014, for example, China began testing beef imports from Australia for hormone residues, citing a hormone ban that had been in place for more than a decade, but had only been sporadically enforced. Australia responded quickly, implementing a certification program to meet China’s requirements.When Canada confirmed its most recent BSE case in February, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency voluntarily suspended export certificates to China and began consultations with its counterpart agencies in China to restore access. Trade resumed in early April. A similar situation just occurred in Argentina, where trade was suspended due to a finding of vesicular stomatitis (VS) in dairy cattle.With regard to U.S. pork, the Chinese market is not entirely closed. The U.S. technically has access for a full range of pork and pork variety meat products (with the exception of processed products), and recently gained access for pork fat. But a significant percentage of U.S. pork production is ineligible to ship to China due to ractopamine use and other factors that conflict with China’s import requirements. This has made it very difficult to capitalize on significant growth opportunities in China that have emerged this year due to high domestic prices, and which are presently being captured by European suppliers.China produces and consumes about half the world’s pork. And while it is largely self-sufficient in production, even a small fluctuation in China’s need for imported pork can shake up the global market. The U.S. industry has benefitted from these fluctuations in the past — especially in 2011 and 2012, when exports to China were very strong. But with the enforcement of its import requirements and only a small number of U.S. plants being eligible to serve China, we saw a major slowdown in the second half of last year. So far in 2015, exports are down nearly 50% from a year ago. In the meantime, EU export volume to China is more than one-third higher year-over-year.Similar to the beef complex, China has no lack of suitors who want a piece of its imported pork market. In addition to the EU, Canada and Chile compete aggressively in China and Mexican pork is a recent entrant into the market. Ractopamine is not an issue for suppliers from the EU and Chile (where it is not approved for use), but other competitors are also undeterred by China’s demands. Canada, in fact, has created a ractopamine-free verification program that even includes segregation at the cold storage facility level. This is another instance in which exceptional opportunities for export growth carried the day.last_img read more

Add Atmospheric Texture to Your Production with Haze or Fog

first_imgTake a look at how you can use haze or fog to increase the production value of your next shot by adding texture and ambience.If you do a quick search on cinematography blogs, you’ll find that one of the most common questions is How do I create the texture of blinds on a wall? There are two parts to the equation: a hard light source and atmosphere. Typically, this atmosphere is a haze or a fog, which allows you to see the light’s path of your frame. In fact, I remember learning this exact lesson in science class. When you shine a laser pointer from one end of the classroom to the next, without any texture in the air, all you see is the dot on the wall. Spray some hairspray, then shine the laser again — you’ll see the full beam cutting through the air. Basically, the same practice applies to filmmaking when we introduce atmospheric texture. And creating the look of blinds on the wall is just the tip of the iceberg. So, let’s take look at several ways to create this atmosphere. The Industry-Standard OptionThe DF-50 Hazer is the industry standard. You’ll find it at every rental house, and it’s a breeze to use. Typically, it creates an oil-based haze. This formula helps the haze hang in the air for longer, so you’re not constantly re-hazing the scene. While it’s not the cheapest rental, it’s consistent, and you’ll find it on most professional sets.  The Indie-Standard OptionImage vie Vlue.A Halloween (or party fog machine) is a cheap and efficient option. In fact, you can purchase a fog machine for roughly the same price as the hazer rental. You can find them at most party stores, especially around Halloween. However, there are some drawbacks. The fog they create is water-based, so it doesn’t hang in the air quite as long as the fog from an oil-based hazer. You’ll find yourself re-fogging a room much more often. Also, you typically don’t want the fog to look like fog on-screen. You want to fan it around and give it time to settle to make it more uniform throughout the scene. This can slow you down a bit.The DIY OptionImage via Cinecom.If you can’t get your hands on the DF-50, and you need more out of your inexpensive party machine, there are a few tricks you can pull to improve the quality and dispersion of your fog. Or, if you’re handy enough, break out your tools and build a few inexpensive rigs that you can power will household equipment to get truly epic interior fog.The Budget OptionIf you’re on a budget (or working as a one-man band), Atmosphere Aerosol is a great alternative. The compact cans fit right into your camera bag, which is great to keep around for whenever you need fog in a pinch. Cover image via Roberto Sorin.Looking for more video production tips and tricks? Check out these articles.Using Foreground Elements to Elevate your Next ProductionTips for Rewriting Your Screenplay Without Starting Completely OverHow to Get The Best Results When Filming In Natural FogHow to Use Calibration Tools for Footage, Sound, and MonitorsThe Essential Guide to Finding Deals on Video Production Gear The Outdoor OptionIf you need to fog an outdoor scene, you’re going to need a bit more horsepower than a party machine and a fan. With an insect fogger and your own fog tube of death, you can create beautiful, dreamy environments that, with the right approach in post-production, you can turn into perfect horror or fantasy sequences.Overall, adding texture to the atmosphere of your next shoot is a great way to add production value. If you’re looking for a way to make your work more cinematic, fog or haze may be the perfect option.And if you’re in a pinch, or working with someone else’s footage, we’ve got you covered with smoke, fog, and vapor overlays.last_img read more