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SCV Food Pantry seeks gift cards for holiday meals

first_imgNEWHALL – The Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry is seeking donations of grocery store gift cards so families in need can buy the food they need for holiday meals. The goal of the “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Holiday” program is to collect enough gift cards to distribute $10 per family member to qualifying families who use the food pantry to supplement their food budgets. “We can accept gift cards at any time. Either mail them or drop them off at the food pantry and we will distribute them to our clients,” said Jan Fear, secretary of the board of directors for the pantry. The “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Holiday” program is being introduced in conjunction with the communitywide Holiday Storefront/Toy Drive hosted by the county Sheriff’s Department. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals The program is a collaborative effort involving the Sheriff’s Department, Single Mothers Outreach, the Santa Clarita Community Center and the local domestic violence center. Local sheriff’s deputies will initiate the toy drive and will distribute the toys in December, while the food gift cards will be distributed by pantry volunteers. The Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry distributes supplemental food to more than 3,400 clients, half of them children. About 60 volunteers work together to sort food, prepare bags and assist clients. Those who want to donate to the “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Holiday” program can mail grocery gifts cards to, or drop them off at, the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry, 24133 Railroad Ave., Newhall, CA 91321. For information about food donations or volunteering, call center director Belinda Crawford at (661) 255-9078. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Earth Uniqueness Up; SETI Down

first_imgOur earth seems special – maybe because it is.  Some astronomers are seriously considering that life might be rare or unique on our rare (or unique) planet.  If so, hopes for finding sentient aliens on the celestial radio dial drop accordingly.  The 50th anniversary of the first SETI search came, unfortunately for search enthusiasts, at a time when funding is harder to get. New Scientist has been running a series called “Existence” for the purpose of examining big questions about the origin of the universe, life, and consciousness.  Most of the articles try to give atheist answers to arguments of intelligent design.  In “Why is the universe just right for us?” for instance, Marcus Chown tried to explain away fine-tuning arguments with responses that physical constants might be interconnected, or are not as finely tuned as they seem, or that the multiverse hypothesis provides a way out.  Even so, he could not explain away the incredibly “fortuitous” dark energy parameter. In “Where did we come from?” Stephen Hawking presented the standard big bang scenario with inflation, but admitted at the end that “many huge mysteries remain,” leaving the solution in the future.  In “Why is there a universe?” Amanda Gefter tried to explain how something can come from nothing via quantum fluctuations.  MacGregor Campbell posted a cartoony animation trying to convince puzzled readers that “nothing” and “something” might be one and the same – i.e., that our physical universe, including us, might really be nothing.  At the end, though, Gefter realized this is not a satisfactory answer: None of this really gets us off the hook, however. Our understanding of creation relies on the validity of the laws of physics, particularly quantum uncertainty. But that implies that the laws of physics were somehow encoded into the fabric of our universe before it existed. How can physical laws exist outside of space and time and without a cause of their own? Or, to put it another way, why is there something rather than nothing? Readers of these articles might well ask how nothing could know anything. Live Science put forth a new idea by David Spiegel [Princeton U] and Edwin Turner [U of Tokyo] that allows for sentient life being so rare that we might be alone in the universe.  Using Bayesian analysis, they showed mathematically that there is no way to prefer the belief life is common over the belief life is rare, even using the famous Drake equation.  When you have only one data point, “Our own existence implies very little about how many other times life has arisen.”  Accordingly, it is just as scientifically reasonable to believe life is unique in the universe as to argue it must be common. In a Nature News article, M. Mitchell Waldrop announced royally, “SETI Is dead – Long live SETI.”  By that he meant that “The closure of the Allen Telescope Array shifts the search for extraterrestrial intelligence away from big science.”  California’s budget crisis has shut down hopes at the Hat Creek site to scan the skies for intelligent signals.  With that comes the graying of the true believers: The melancholy vista at Hat Creek makes it easy to entertain equally melancholy thoughts about the SETI enterprise itself. It’s the ultimate in high-risk, high-payoff science, pursued by only a handful of passionate researchers. In 50 years of searching, they have turned up nothing — and they can’t quite shake an association in the public mind with flying-saucer sightings and Hollywood science fiction, all of which is so easy for cost-cutting politicians to ridicule that any substantial federal funding for SETI is impossible. Private support for the search is getting tighter because of the global recession. And many of the pioneers who have championed the search are now well into their 60s, 70s or 80s. SETI Institute research head Jill Tarter remains optimistic, however, because smaller, cheaper searches are still continuing, and all searches over the past half century have only represented a tiny sample of space.  Bottom line, though, is that nothing has been found, and even the most optimistic proponents cannot provide any reasonable estimate of the chances of success, despite the self-reinforcing opinions of those whose reputations depend on high hopes (Space.com). It really is kind of sad to see weeds grow around the Allen Telescope Array, built, like one of the designers said, “in a time of irrational exuberance, [that] ended in the great recession.”  For one thing, it is sad to see any money wasted.  For another, it kept the SETI people busy on a project unlikely to succeed instead of employed in possibly more damaging work (like Darwin Party Enforcers).  And lastly, the SETI hype gave us a lot of material for Stupid Evolution Quotes of the Week.  SETI is dead; SET your I on ID.(Visited 46 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

SA in offshore oil, gas exploration deal

first_img “We believe South Africa has significant potential and we will continue to look for additional opportunities there,” said ExxonMobil Exploration president, Stephen Greenlee. The Tugela South Exploration Right covers about 2.8-million acres offshore Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. It has water depths extending from the coastline to approximately 6 500 feet [about 1.98 kilometres]. The future exploration rights cover an additional 16-million acres offshore with water depths extending from the coastline to approximately 9 800 feet [2.99 kilometres], ExxonMobil said. “Separately, the ExxonMobil affiliate also has executed a technical cooperation permit with the South African government to study the hydrocarbon potential of the Deepwater Durban Basin covering approximately 12.4-million acres offshore Durban,” the company said. The permit allows exclusive rights to study an area for a year. SAinfo reporter 19 December 2012 The world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company, Exxon Mobil, has signed an agreement to begin offshore exploration activities on the east coast of South Africa through its affiliate ExxonMobil Exploration and Production South Africa, the company announced on Monday. The agreement was signed with Impact Africa Limited – a subsidiary of British Impact Oil and Gas Limited – to acquire a 75% participating interest and become operator in the Tugela South Exploration Right. Under the agreement, ExxonMobil Exploration also has the right to acquire 75% interests in future exploration rights in three offshore areas, subject to South African government approval.last_img read more

Penny Heyns: realising the new South Africa’s Olympic gold dreams

first_img“I didn’t grow up with a dream about Olympic gold,” says Penny Heyns. (ZwemZA) • Penny Heyns +27 83 255 8504 zelda@pennyheyns.com • Inspirational Josiah Thugwane • Natalie Du Toit: ‘It is important to swim your own race’ • South Africa loses punching power, not hope • Carrying the hopes of a nation • Women’s sport in the spotlight with gsport Sulaiman PhilipPenny Heyns did not know she had just made history. Standing on the podium at the Atlanta Olympic Games with the gold medal around her neck, she had no idea she  had won South Africa’s first Olympic gold medal in 44 years.It was 23 July 1996. Heyns had already broken the 100m breast stroke world record in her quest to reach the final. With her in the starting blocks was Australian Samantha Riley, her biggest competition. In Heyns’s mind, she had already won the race and beaten Riley into second place.Before the gun, before her second gold in the 200m two days later, there was this race to finish. Heyns tensed, waiting for the starter’s pistol: the crack that would release South Africa’s greatest hope for a medal into the pool.“I only found out long after the race. On the podium I remember thinking that I should feel emotional and overjoyed; instead I was feeling sad for Samantha [Riley].” Riley was Heyns’s long-time rival and a former world record holder. She picked up a bronze in that race. Heyns doubled her medal haul two days later in the 200m race, becoming the first female swimmer to win both Olympic titles. Before her triumph, South Africa’s last gold was also won in the pool: Joan Harrison’s backstroke struck gold in Helsinki in 1952.Like Heyns, Harrison was the prodigy of her day. Born into a sporting family – her mother swam competitively and her father played rugby – she was a national record holder by the age of 13. At the 1950 Commonwealth Games – aged 14 – she smashed the 440-yard freestyle record by an unbelievable 13 seconds. The Helsinki Olympics was only her second international competition. She went on to win South Africa’s first and – until Heyns’s in Atlanta – only swimming gold.By the age of 17 Harrison had retired from competitive swimming to concentrate on field hockey instead. Like Heyns she seemed to rise above the terror and expectations of competing and concentrated instead on the challenge of beating the high standard she set for herself. Finding new challengesToday, Heyns is a motivational speaker and swimming coach. The best piece of advice she shares with a roomful of executives or kids learning to swim is this: “No matter the stage think of it as just another challenge. Stick with what you know works. Do the absolute best you can on the day and remember to enjoy the moments.”Heyns grew up in Springs on Gauteng’s East Rand, and was swimming by the age of two. By the time she turned seven, she was swimming competitively. Today the pool where Heyns learnt to swim is called the Penny Heyns Swimming Pool, and it makes the publicity-shy hero self-conscious. “I am a very private person so I try to avoid the attention, but I do still get recognised and with that comes the autograph and photo requests.”Heyns retired as the best female breast stroke swimmer of the 20th century. Over her career she broke 14 world records, including an astonishing run of 11 new records in three months in 1999. She has found other challenges and only rarely misses her athletic career. She admits that she took her career and her achievements for granted, but that was a lapse of youth. “When you are young you tend to take a lot for granted. Some days I miss being as fit as I was in my younger competitive days, as well as the solitude that swimming offered. Sometimes I miss the adrenalin rush and the feeling of invincibility that youth and competitive swimming offered.”Growing up a devout Christian Heyns never considered swimming a career but felt that her God-given gift needed to be explored fully. Her deeply held beliefs also influenced which sporting heroes she wanted to emulate. “I respected, and tried to emulate, athletes who displayed good sportsmanship, both in victory and defeat. Athletes should be admired more for their character and sportsmanship – not their achievements only.”South Africa won other medals between that day in Helsinki and South Africa being banned in 1960 – seven silver and 10 bronze – but Heyns’s gold was special. For South Africa, a newly democratic country, she offered the promise of a future filled with shining achievement.Ever the competitor though, for Heyns, memory of that gold is still tinged with a little regret: “I was very relieved and happy to have won the Olympic gold, but the time in which I won was slightly slower than my world record swim from the prelims, so, in that sense both my coach and I were a little disappointed.”last_img read more

Spring Forage Update

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Russ QuinnDTN Staff ReporterOMAHA (DTN) — Kimberly Meier has sold about twice as much alfalfa seed this spring as she normally does.Her region of northern Illinois saw high rates of alfalfa winterkill this spring after a winter of colder-than-normal temperatures. The Ridott, Illinois, farmer and seed dealer said, because of that, she sold about 120 bags of alfalfa this spring, while a normal season would be closer to 60 bags.“We had bad winterkill in this area this year,” Meier told DTN. “And it’s whole fields — I have never seen it this widespread.”The condition of forages across the Midwest is about as diverse as the region itself. The cool, wet spring has afforded ample moisture to most areas, which should be good news when the weather finally warms up, but which has also slowed growth of many forages, potentially affecting overall yields.LOTS OF WINTERKILLAlfalfa winterkill seems to be an issue this spring throughout Wisconsin and stretching into surrounding states such as northern Illinois and eastern Minnesota.Meier said the situation started last fall with extremely wet conditions followed by warm temperatures in January. Then, that was followed by extreme cold in February. While they did have some snowfall around Christmas, most of the snow was melted in the January warmup, exposing the alfalfa plants to the cold during February.From talking to agronomists in the area, most seem to believe this is why the region has seen higher incidents of winterkill, Meier said. The fields most affected appear to be newly seeded field and older stands.Meier said alfalfa producers in her area often flirt with danger by taking a last cutting in the fall and not allowing for much regrowth before winter hits, which can weaken plants and lead to winterkill. This appears to be a growing season in which squeezing in that last cutting may have not paid, she said.“This is a tough deal, as around two-thirds of the alfalfa is gone now,” she said. “There is going to be even less forage available, as most will only get one or two cuttings with the spring-seeded alfalfa.”The University of Wisconsin published a report evaluating and managing alfalfa stands with winterkill. It can be found at: https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/….Other areas appear to have escaped widespread alfalfa winterkill. Jared Goplen, a University of Minnesota Extension crops educator from Morris, Minnesota, said the alfalfa situation in western and central Minnesota is generally OK, for the most part.Winterkill appears to be contained to hilltops and valleys. Most fields in the area were covered in snow most of the winter, which would have protected crown roots from the cold. There may have been some ponding in fields for an extended period of time this spring, so some low spots may have been drowned out, he said.“Overall, I would say a majority of the alfalfa fields have some level of winterkill and drown-out areas, but the bulk of fields are growing well,” Goplen said.The situation is similar farther to the west in North Dakota. There wasn’t much winterkill in alfalfa there thanks to plenty of snow that insulated the crop from extremely cold temperatures, according to Marisol Berti, North Dakota State University Extension forage and cover crops specialist.What the cold spring has done is slowed alfalfa growth somewhat. Most of the crop in the state is not even 6 inches tall, which will delay first cutting, probably into mid-June or even later if it stays cold, she said.“That is about two weeks later than normal for first cut alfalfa,” Berti said. “I am sure some farmers have already run out of hay to feed cows, so this delay will affect them.”SLOW-GROWING GRASSFarther to the south and west, forages are also somewhat behind normal in growth.Seth Wilbanks, a livestock and grain farmer from Hughesville, Missouri, said his forages are delayed with the cool conditions seen this spring. He said, last year around this time, he began to cut some grass hay. However, this year with the increased amount of moisture and the shorter crop, he doesn’t think much hay will be harvested anytime soon.Fescue is a popular grass for Missouri forage producers. Normally, by late May, the crop is headed out and about knee high. This year it is considerably shorter, Wilbanks said.Despite concerns about a delayed crop, Wilbanks believes his forage crops could end up yielding close to average — and maybe even above average — thanks to the plentiful moisture. Last year, his central Missouri area suffered through a severe drought, he said.“Once it does get warmer, I think we are going to more tonnage with maybe some issues with quality,” said Wilbanks, who grows corn, soybeans and several different types of forages for his cow-calf herd.Perennial forages in Nebraska will be grazed later than normal, said Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension forage specialist. Yields on cool-season grasses could be lessened some due to the cold spring.“I think these cool-season grasses could really be short this year,” Anderson said.On the plus side, warm-season grasses in the state could see great growth once the temperatures begin to rise. Soil moisture levels are high, so when the heat comes, yields should be fairly decent, he said.Some farmers in Nebraska face a challenging growing season after devastating floods tore through the state in mid-March, destroying fences and depositing large amounts of sand on pastures and hay fields.Anderson said he fielded many calls from livestock and forage producers this spring who face limited or no forage production. In many cases, farmers affected by flooding may turn to annual forages on acres not flooded, he said.The most common cool-season small grain for forage is oats, but others such as cereal rye, triticale, wheat and barley could be planted. Warm-season forages that could be planted include sudangrass, sorghum/sudangrass, forage sorghum, pearl millet and German (foxtail) millet.Other plant species, such as brassicas, can be used for summer annual forages. This would include plants such as forage radishes and turnips.After the floods in mid-April, DTN wrote an article about choosing the right forages for your operation. To read the article, visit: https://www.dtnpf.com/….Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.comFollow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN(AG/SK)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Consumer Electronics 2.0: MIT’s Henry Holtzman on The Internet of Things

first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts Internet of Things Concepts & IssuesI asked Henry Holtzman what other concepts are interesting him currently, as well as what issues are still to be overcome in the emerging Internet of Things. He talked about using sensors as an “additional sense,” by putting a tag reader on people. Not dissimilar to another Media Lab project we wrote about recently, a wearable internet system which aims to become a “sixth sense.” Holtzman said that possible uses for sensors on people include: finding objects (for example your keys), raising an alert (e.g. a safety warning), a memory assist device, being a bridge between what you do in the real world and what gets recorded on your social network (e.g. Facebook updating when you’re in certain locations; which we mentioned here). As for issues: while currently light and temperature sensors are popular, Holtzman thinks that we need to do better job with location. But this is where RFID comes in.One big issue that Holtzman is concerned about is identity. He told me that mobile phones that interact with objects using NFC (Near Field Communication) will need to work out how to federate around the same ID for a user. This is perhaps similar to the identity issues that the browser-based Web has.Privacy and security are two other important issues that Holtzman has been focusing on of late.It was great to speak with Henry Holtzman – someone with extensive experience, both theoretical and practical, in the Internet of Things. Let us know your own thoughts in the comments. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting richard macmanus A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img During my visit to MIT earlier this year I met up with Henry Holtzman, Chief Knowledge Officer of the MIT Media Lab. We discussed the Internet of Things, which Holtzman has been actively involved in since the 90s. Holtzman said that consumer apps for Web-connected objects are becoming more common; he refers to this as an emerging “ecology of devices.” There are many real world objects being connected to the Internet nowadays, he said, and they are beginning to act in concert. Read on to find out which Internet of Things products have most impressed Henry Holtzman lately, plus we explore some of his own projects.Editor’s note: This story is part of a series we call Redux, where we’ll re-publish some of our best posts of 2009. As we look back at the year – and ahead to what next year holds – we think these are the stories that deserve a second glance. It’s not just a best-of list, it’s also a collection of posts that examine the fundamental issues that continue to shape the Web. We hope you enjoy reading them again and we look forward to bringing you more Web products and trends analysis in 2010. Happy holidays from Team ReadWriteWeb!I started off by remarking that the Internet of Things is ramping up in 2009. Holtzman replied that it’s been many years in the making – for example he did a project back in 1997 involving putting RFID tags onto Pokemon figures. Indeed Holtzman created a commercial company in 1998 to output Internet of Things products. Consumer Electronics 2.0A Wired article from February 2000 outlines how Holtzman founded Presto Technologies in 1998, with fellow MIT Lab professors Andrew Lippman (see our recent post featuring Lippman) and Michael Hawley. The Presto network embedded RFID tags in objects. It was an early version of Internet of Things. The vision for Presto was to make it an e-commerce tool – “products become roving portals for the companies that make them,” according to the 2000 Wired article. While it was too early for that vision to transpire fully, Presto is still operating. One of its current products, PrestoPass, allows consumers to make purchases “by simply waving a card, key tag, or even a wristwatch.” Nowadays Holtzman refers to this trend as “consumer electronics 2.0.” He cites an MIT spin-off company, Ambient Devices, as one to watch in this area. One of their products is the Ambient Clock, which can hook up to your Google Calendar.Henry Holtzman’s Favorite 2009 ProductsAs we’ve been reporting here on ReadWriteWeb this year, there are plenty of Internet of Things products making their presence felt in 2009. I asked Holtzman which products from the current era have particularly impressed him? He replied that he really likes Violet, the company behind the Nabaztag (a cute robot rabbit that can deliver anything from ambient information, through lights and sounds, to verbal information). We reviewed Violet back in May. Tags:#Features#Internet of Things#NYT#Trends#web Touchatag (formally known as Tikitag) is another company to have impressed Holtzman. As we wrote in February, Touchatag allows you to program your own RFID tags so that they can do anything you want. Holtzman said that he’s been very impressed by the decisions the company has made, for example using adhesives. He also likes their ‘web 2.0 savvy’ – they host everything, but let the users create the content. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Five accused behind terrorist’s escape from SMHS hospital in NIA custody

first_imgThe National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday took the custody of five accused arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in connection with the escape of Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Mohammed Naveed Jhatt from the SMHS hospital, an official spokesman said here. The NIA spokesman said the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate here granted a two-day transit remand of the five accused who had been nabbed by the police on February 8, two days after the escape of 22-year-old Jhatt alias Abu Hanzalla from the busy hospital in the city. The five accused — Shakeel Ahmed Bhat, Tika Khan, Syed Tajamul Islam, Mohammed Shafi Wani and Jan Mohammed Ganai — were arrested by the police for allegedly conspiring in the escape of Jhatt. All the five accused are residents of Pulwama. The NIA re-registered the case pertaining to the escape from custody of Jhatt from the SMHS hospital where he was brought in for treatment on February 6. The accused will be produced before the NIA special court at Jammu tomorrow for seeking police custody, the spokesman said. The designated court for the NIA is in Jammu, the winter capital of the state. Two policemen — head constable Mushtaq Ahmed and constable Babar Ahmed — of the Jammu and Kashmir Police were killed by Jhatt and his accomplice on the fateful day. Bhat is believed to be one of the masterminds of the escape of Jhatt and his motorcycle had been used in the escape of the terrorist, police said. Khan, a resident of Pulwama, is alleged to have provided his car for further transportation of Jhatt out of the city, police said. Jhatt is at present believed to be in the Pulwama area of South Kashmir, they said. Shafi, who is from Narbal on the outskirts of Srinagar city, had posed as a patient to provide cover for the terrorists escape. Jhatt had managed to escape on February 6 after at least two other militants attacked the police escort team at the SMHS Hospital here, killing two cops.last_img read more