first_imgI’ve noticed this week the gardens have taken a real leap forward in both growth and colour. There are lots of flowers starting to peak out, such as Snowdrops, Winter Aconites, Viburnums, Rhododendrons and Witch Hazels.The lines between Spring and Winter have been blurred by the unusual warm soil which the growth is benefiting from. Indeed current soil temperatures of 6C are common, with covered soil (ie covered in black plastic) reaching 10C. This warm soil has been encouraging strong root growth on plants, aswell as activating the fertility in the soil, which in turn has led to this early growth and flowering on many garden plants.Oakfield Park in Raphoe has a substantial display of snowdrops coming into flower at the top of the main lawn, in a lovely combination with yellow flowering Winter Aconite. Likewise Dunmore House in Carrigans has avenues of Snowdrops coming into flowering up their main driveway, and then large clumps throughout the garden.Snowdrop displays like these don’t happen overnight, it takes many years to get sizeable displays. Many years have been spent lifting and dividing these clumps, spacing them out to encourage naturalising.Snowdrops also reproduce from seed, dropping their seeds in the Spring for germinating the following year – in turn this process can take 5-7 years for this seed to flower. Also any displays of Snowdrops you’re like to enjoy won’t like sitting under 10” of leaves, so removing a heavy leaf-fall  in December is vital so that the snowdrop flowers are able to be enjoyed.2 plants heavy in perfume I was drawn to this week was a Sweet Box in Rathmullan House, this 3’ tall evergreen shrub produces a small, almost unnoticeable flower, which is wonderfully scented when you stick your beak in! Sweet Box is a glorious plant for a large container outside a window.Another great scented plant that stopped me in my tracks this week was a glorious Witch Hazel, just outside the walled garden in Dunmore House.The colour and perfume was wonderful. Witch Hazels make great garden specimen trees/large shrubs and are especially suited to small gardens, and if the garden is enclosed or sheltered their scent can hang about.You’ll find Witch Hazels, Snowdrops, Sweet Box and loads of winter/spring flowering shrubs for sale now in your local garden centre.Remember if the plant has been kept outside in the garden centre then it’s suitable for you to plant straight away, but if the plants has been kept in a polytunnel or under protection then you should follow good practice and gradually harden the plant off before planting in its final position. The three gardens mentioned- Oakfield Park, Dunmore House and Rathmullan House are all closed for the season (but don’t worry Rathmullan House re-opens shortly! And Dunmore and Oakfield reopen in Spring).Next WeekThe Lenten RoseGARDENING WITH GARETH – DONEGAL GARDENS ARE COMING TO LIFE! was last modified: January 29th, 2016 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:columnGardening with GarethgardensGareth AustinLifespringwinterlast_img read more

Warriors postgame video: Kerr says team stopped playing after big lead

first_imgThe Los Angeles Clippers stunned the Golden State Warriors after the team came back from a 31-point deficit. In his postgame interview, Steve Kerr said Golden State stopped playing after halftime. They lost focused and eventually gave up the momentum, which was hard to get back he said.The Warriors coach also offered up some details to the left quad injury of center DeMarcus Cousins. He said it was significant and Cousins will be out for a while.The Warriors will try to bounce back against …last_img read more

Evolutionizing Religion: Who’s Assuming What?

first_img“Findings from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, cultural anthropology and archaeology promise to change our view of religion,” said Pascal Boyer in Nature.1  His essay summarized studies that offer an evolutionary explanation for mankind’s propensity to embrace religion.  “We can probe the shared assumptions that religions are built on, however disparate, and examine the connection between religion and ethnic conflict,” he said.  “Lastly, we can hazard a guess at what the realistic prospects are for atheism.”    Boyer weaved together evolutionary explanations for several features seemingly common to all religions: belief in things for which there is no evidence, ritual, morality, metaphysics, and social identity.  There is no one place in the brain, a “religious center,” he said.  Rather, “religious thoughts seem to be an emergent property of our standard cognitive capacities.”  Just as the brain was not made specifically for music, politics, ethnic groups and family relations, religion is just an emergent response to “super stimuli,” he said.  “Religious concepts and activities hijack our cognitive resources, as do music, visual art, cuisine, politics, economic institutions and fashion.”  In evolutionary terms, the brain evolved for skills to aid survival, but religion simply takes advantage of those cognitive faculties and meshes them in an unexpected way.  “The mind has myriad distinct belief networks that contribute to making religious claims quite natural to many people,” he said.    Central to Boyer’s case are that religious people make tacit assumptions they never notice.  They may be able to describe their core beliefs, “But cognitive psychology shows that explicitly accessible beliefs of this sort are always accompanied by a host of tacit assumptions that are generally not available to conscious inspection.”  The details of religious beliefs may differ, he said, but the tacit beliefs underlying all religious are remarkably similar.  To him, this can only mean that we have similarly evolved brains that exercise the tacit assumptions in diverse ways.    He began his essay with a listing of various reactions to the scientific study of religion:Is religion a product of our evolution?  The very question makes many people, religious or otherwise, cringe, although for different reasons.  Some people of faith fear that an understanding of the processes underlying belief could undermine it.  Others worry that what is shown to be part of our evolutionary heritage will be interpreted as good, true, necessary or inevitable.  Still others, many scientists included, simply dismiss the whole issue, seeing religion as childish, dangerous nonsense.    Such responses make it difficult to establish why and how religious thought is so pervasive in human societies – an understanding that is especially relevant in the current climate of religious fundamentalism.  In asking whether religion is one of the many consequences of having the type of brains we come equipped with, we can shed light on what kinds of religion ‘come naturally’ to human minds’Those human minds, we can safely assume he believes, are also products of evolution.  Throughout the article, Boyer promotes the idea that gods and beliefs are not real, but rather manufactured by the cognitive and social psychology of humans and their evolved brains.  Imagining supernatural beings may be a “natural way,” he said, for human products of evolution to process information:The findings emerging from this cognitive-evolutionary approach challenge two central tenets of most established religions.  First, the notion that their particular creed differs from all other (supposedly misguided) faiths; second, that it is only because of extraordinary events or the actual presence of supernatural agents that religious ideas have taken shape.  On the contrary, we now know that all versions of religion are based on very similar tacit assumptions, and that all it takes to imagine supernatural agents are normal human minds processing information in the most natural way.Implicit in this idea is the position that atheism is a more scientific world view.  His last paragraph, though, gives little hope for his fellow atheists to gain a foothold in the culture: the evolutionary deck is stacked against them. Some form of religious thinking seems to be the path of least resistance for our cognitive systems.  By contrast, disbelief is generally the result of deliberate, effortful work against our natural cognitive dispositions – hardly the easiest ideology to propagate.For previous entries on the evolution of religion, see 03/16/2005, 02/02/2006, 09/25/2006 and 05/27/2008.1.  Pascal Boyer, “Being human: Religion: Bound to believe?,” Nature 455, 1038-1039 (23 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/4551038a.How otherwise intelligent people can continue to be so blind to their own biases after decades, nay centuries, of philosophers and theologians and logicians pointing them out, is stunning.  Nature has just published another in a long series of self-refuting essays.  A freshman CEH reader can probably refute this article in a sentence or two.  If not, you need to apply yourself to stopping by here more often.    What is it about their brains that predisposes evolutionists to think this way?  You notice that we put the shoe on the other foot.  That’s fair, because to him, we are all equally evolved.  By what standard of measure can he insist that his tacit assumptions are better than anyone else’s?  By the standards of science?  Ha!  Only if he is a logical positivist – another self-refuting belief system.  If this is not obvious, go back and read Wolpert’s ideas from the 10/16/2008 entry and the commentary on logical positivism from 05/10/2007 before continuing.  If Boyer assumes that “testable predictions” render evolutionary psychology scientific, he has not learned about the dubious logic of predictive success in science.  It’s the main reason Karl Popper rejected predictive success as a criterion of science, and promoted falsification instead.  (Falsification, alas, was also later rejected as a foolproof criterion.)    Boyer came close to recognizing the self-refuting nature of his beliefs by mentioning people who “worry that what is shown to be part of our evolutionary heritage will be interpreted as good, true, necessary or inevitable.”  (For elaboration on that point, see the 05/09/2006 commentary, bullet 5.)  He should be worried.  To what universal standard could he appeal to decide that religion is an emergent property of the brain, but science is not?  And why would he lament that atheism is hardly the easiest ideology to propagate?  At least he admitted it is an ideology.  But to what universal moral standard would he appeal to say that propagating his atheistic world view would be a good thing?  He said that science may one day find that religion contributed to fitness in ancestral times.  On what grounds, then, can he say it hijacked man’s cognitive abilities?  If it produced fitness, it is just as much an intrinsic benefit to human evolution as the brain itself.    Boyer’s essay is plagued with other fallacies.  For one, he generalizes all religions, no matter how opposite, in a highly simplistic manner: he puts the witch doctor and the Oxford Scholar into the same “fundamentalist” bucket, also a form of ridicule.  By excepting his own reasoning from those of religious nuts, of course, he has also divided the world into us-vs-them, the either-or fallacy: i.e., you either belong to the People of Science or to the “People of Faith” (whatever that broad-brush category means).  Students want extra credit can hunt for begging the question fallacies, non-sequiturs, the post-hoc fallacy, misuse of circumstantial evidence, reductionism, subjectivity and other fallacies.    The card-stacking fallacy is notable in this article.  He only offered three responses to the idea that religion evolved: (1) Worry by religionists that it will undermine their beliefs.  (2) Worry by evolutionists that religion, if part of our evolutionary heritage, will be seen as “good, true, necessary or inevitable.” (3) Disgust by scientists that religion is “childish, dangerous nonsense.”  Why did he not consider the possibility that theologians and knowledgeable scholars will consider his evolutionary theory or religion to be regarded as childish, dangerous nonsense?  Is that not what we have just illustrated?    Another example of his card stacking was to list only things like ritual, metaphysical beliefs, social identity and moral codes as the characteristics of religion.  Why didn’t he mention evidence – and apologetics?  Those things may be lacking in the cultic or ritualistic religions, but the Bible is filled with historical references that can be cross-checked, and appeals to remember what the people knew to be true from evidence, reason and eyewitness testimony.  Paul and Peter claimed to be eyewitnesses of the risen and glorified Christ and emphatically denied that they were following cleverly devised fables.  They also warned people against falling for fables.  If Boyer likes prediction so much, he should consider the prediction Paul made in II Timothy 4:4 that in the last days people will “turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths,” of which evolution is a prime example, because the evidence for God is clear from creation (Romans 1:18-20).  Peter, similarly, predicted the coming of belief in uniformitarianism.  He predicted that mockers would deny the evidence for creation and the flood (II Peter 3:3-9).  Do those predictions count?  Must be consistent.    Boyer and his fellow atheistic evolutionists arrogate to themselves the chair of science, but have no floor to put it on: not a scientific floor, or a philosophical floor, or an evidence floor.  He needs the Judeo-Christian floor to be able to reason about truth, morals, and evidence at all.  Like Yoda, he speaks ex cathedra from some exalted plane above the rest of humanity, telling us about our tacit assumptions while ignoring his own (08/13/2007).  He tells others what makes them tick without understanding that what makes him tick is rebellion against his Creator.  He couldn’t slap his Father’s face without first sitting in His lap.  Pascal Boyer should sit quietly like a good boy and read Pascal.(Visited 55 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Colorado theatre shooting suspect was brilliant science student

first_imgJames Eagan Holmes came from a well-tended San Diego enclave of two-story homes with red-tiled roofs, where neighbours recall him as a clean-cut, studious young man of sparing words.Tall and dark-haired, he stared clear-eyed at the camera in a 2004 high school yearbook snapshot, wearing a white junior varsity soccer uniform – No. 16. The son of a nurse, Arlene, and a software company manager, Robert, James Holmes was a brilliant science scholar in college.The biggest mystery surrounding the 24-year-old doctoral student was why he would have pulled on a gas mask and shot dozens of people early on Friday in a suburban Denver movie theatre, as police allege.In the age of widespread social media, no trace of Holmes could be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter or anywhere on the web. Either he never engaged or he scrubbed his trail.A longtime neighbour in San Diego, where Holmes grew up, remembers only a “shy guy … a loner” from a churchgoing family. In addition to playing soccer at Westview High School, he ran cross country.The bookish demeanor concealed an unspooling life. Holmes struggled to find work after graduating with highest honours in the spring of 2010 with a neuroscience degree from the University of California, Riverside, said the neighbour, retired electrical engineer Tom Mai.Holmes enrolled last year in a neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver but was in the process of withdrawing, said school officials, who didn’t provide a reason.As part of the advanced program in Denver, a James Holmes had been listed as making a presentation in May about Micro DNA Biomarkers in a class named “Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders.”advertisementIn academic achievement “he was at the top of the top,” recalled Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White.Holmes concentrated his study on “how we all behave,” White added. “It’s ironic and sad.”From a distance, Holmes’ life appears unblemished, a young man with unlimited potential. There are no indications he had problems with police.Somehow, the acclaimed student and quiet neighbour reached a point where he painted his hair red, called himself “The Joker,” the green-haired villain from the Batman movies, according to New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who said he had been briefed on the matter.Holmes headed for the theatre in body armour, armed with an assault-style rifle, a shotgun and two Glock handguns, authorities said.Police said he started his attack by tossing a gas canister into the theatre, where he had bought a ticket for the midnight showing of “The Dark Night Rises,” the new Batman movie.A federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing probe into the rampage, said Holmes bought each of the four guns from retailers in the last two months.Holmes bought his first Glock pistol in Aurora, Colo., on May 22. Six days later, he picked up a Remington shotgun in Denver. About two weeks later, he bought a .223 caliber Smith & Wesson rifle in Thornton, Colo., and then a second Glock in Denver on July 6 – 13 days before the shooting, the official said.last_img read more

Panasonic’s Eluga A is a phone for budget shoppers

first_imgJust weeks after launching its flagship Android phone, Panasonic India on Wednesday launched the Eluga A. The device, which has a 5-inch screen with 854×480 pixels resolution, is priced at Rs 9,490. It will be available from August 15.The Eluga A uses Android 4.3 (JellyBean) and runs Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor. It is a quad-core processor with a speed of 1.2GHz. The device has 1GB RAM, 4GB internal storage, 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.3-megapixel front camera, support for up to 32GB microSD cards, 2000mAh battery and support for two SIM cards.According to Panasonic, the smartphone sports “fit home” user interface with features such as “Kwik Lock”, where the user can double tap the home screen to lock it. The company says that the “fit home” interface makes using the Eluga A with single hand easy.”Through Eluga, Panasonic will bring advanced technology to the Indian smartphone users. The Eluga A has advanced technology for audio enhancements, voice clarity, faster charging, longer battery life and local language features, in tune with the needs of the Indian consumer,” said Manish Sharma, managing director of Panasonic India.In the market, the Eluga A will compete against the likes of Asus Zenfone 5 and Motorola Moto E. While the Zenfone 5 has a similar price, it offers consumers better hardware, including a 720P screen and 2GB RAM. The Moto E, meanwhile, has similar hardware except the screen size and camera functionality. But it costs almost Rs 2,000 less than the Eluga A and offers consumers unmodified and latest version of Android.advertisementlast_img read more

Gay purge lawsuit settlement expanded to include more people who suffered

first_imgOTTAWA – The federal government has agreed to expand the scope of a landmark deal to financially compensate members of the military and other agencies who were investigated and sometimes fired because of their sexual orientation.A revised version of the class-action settlement over the so-called “gay purge” explicitly includes people whose careers suffered as early as 1955 — seven years prior to a previously agreed date.In addition, the settlement creates an “exceptions committee” that will look case-by-case at those who might otherwise fall through the cracks.They could include people affected before 1955, individuals who worked for agencies not listed in the settlement, or those who were targeted even though they were not gay or lesbian.An agreement in principle in the court action was drafted last November, just days before the government delivered a sweeping apology for decades of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.However, a number of people seeking redress fell outside the parameters of the original agreement, including some who were singled out by superiors because they were perceived as gay, or because they vocally stuck up for colleagues, said Doug Elliott, a lawyer behind the class action.“Those people were really victims of the purge, too and we felt if there were such people that they ought to be included, because even though they were not gay, they were suffering because of this anti-gay policy,” Elliott said in an interview.A former Air Force member who was investigated in the late 1950s and forced out in the early ’60s represents one of the earliest cases in the legal action, Elliott said.“I really didn’t expect there was going to be anyone around who was going to put their hand up from that earlier period and say that they had been purged. But a few elderly people did come forward.”The settlement, still subject to Federal Court approval, includes at least $50 million and up to $110 million in total compensation, with eligible individuals each expected to receive between $5,000 and $175,000.The first phase of a program to notify potential members of the class action is underway.Hundreds of people have already joined, and Elliott has a “working estimate” of up to 2,000 participants. “I expect that it will probably exceed a thousand. But how far north of that it will go is very difficult to predict.”Elliott said one theory holds that gay people don’t like to admit they were in the military and military members don’t like to acknowledge they’re gay, something called the “double-closet phenomenon.”In addition, the AIDS epidemic took its toll on many members of the gay community.“Despite the government’s great efforts to create a list of every homosexual in Canada, they never succeeded,” Elliott said with a chuckle.“So we don’t know who these people are. Even if we knew who they are, we don’t know how many of them are still alive. And among those who were affected and still alive, we don’t know if they will step forward.”He personally knows two eligible men who have not yet signed on.“And I think in their cases, that it’s because this is a horrible experience they had in their past. No amount of money in the world is enough to make them revisit it, they just want to forget about it.”There will also be several reconciliation and remembrance measures, including a national monument, a Canadian Museum for Human Rights exhibition, declassification of archival records and a citation akin to a medal for affected people.Elliott said the citation is extremely important to many of his clients, particularly former Armed Forces members.“When they went into the military, that’s one of the things they were looking forward to, was earning a medal one day,” he said. “And then they never got a chance. So this is some small recognition of the fact that they too served and that they suffered in the service of their country.”The Liberal government has also introduced legislation that would allow people to apply to have their criminal convictions for consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners erased from the public record.The Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act would provide for the destruction and removal of records for the offences of gross indecency, buggery and anal intercourse.At a Senate committee studying the bill Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called it an “important and overdue step in the right direction.”— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitterlast_img read more