Monkey Raspberries Created Speech

first_imgWhat was this evolutionist thinking when he proposed that human language evolved out of the lip smacking and buzzing sounds made by monkeys?W. Tecumseh Fitch didn’t get any ridicule at all on Science Daily for proposing that “Monkey Lip Smacks Provide New Insights Into the Evolution of Human Speech.”  Nor did he from PhysOrg, which dutifully reprinted the press release from University of Vienna that stated, “Intriguingly, chimpanzees also make communicative sounds with their lips, including both loud lip smacks and lip buzzes (‘raspberries‘).”  The monkey on Fitch’s shoulder in the accompanying photo appears to be knocking on his master’s head, wondering, “Anybody home?”Fitch’s theory is not a hoot, the press release assures us.  “Scientists have traditionally sought the evolutionary origins of human speech in primate vocalizations, such as monkey coos or chimpanzee hoots,” the article stated without describing whose tradition deserved respect.  “But unlike these primate calls, human speech is produced using rapid, controlled movements of the tongue, lips and jaw.”  Fitch did his grunt work using cineradiography to analyze the lip-smacking behavior of macaques.  He found that the lips move faster than they do when monkeys howl.  He did not explain, though, how non-vocal lip movements could be a precursor of language, since monkeys are still smacking and buzzing raspberries without having evolved more advanced oratory, despite having millions of years more time to evolve than their upright primate brethren presumably had.  Didn’t they at least evolve envy?In his paper published by Current Biology (31 May 2012, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.04.055) with three colleagues, Fitch recognized his hunch has some missing links:Yet, there are striking differences between the two modes of expression, the most obvious of which is that lip-smacking lacks a vocal component (though a quiet consonant-like bilabial plosive or /p/ sound is produced when the lips smack together). Thus, the capacity to produce vocalizations during rhythmic vocal tract movements seen in speech seems to be a human adaptation. How can lip-smacking be related to speech if there is no vocal component? … Our data only address the evolution of vocal tract movements (the filter component) involved in speech production.It also cannot be tested:Because most traits involved in speech—the vocal production apparatus and the brain—do not fossilize, we are left with only the comparative method for investigating the evolution of speech. By comparing the behavior and biology of extant primates with humans, we can deduce the behavioral capacities of extinct common ancestors.The press release agreed, ending, “the origin of the ‘singing’ component of speech, which requires voluntary control over the larynx, remains mysterious.”  Much more mysterious, yet unstated, would be how to evolve Shakespeare from lip-smacking.Update 6/7/2012: Nature reported on Fitch’s hypothesis, giving it no raspberries but a serving of whipped cream.Fitch did not do his job as a scientist.  He should have considered all the alternative hypotheses.  As usual, he ruled out intelligent design or creation from the get-go, but there are other evolutionary theories he could have tested without abandoning the Cult of the Bearded Buddha that requires all observations to be fit into the Grand Myth.He could have, for instance, tested the Raspberry Theory of Language that proposes language evolved from the other end of the digestive tract, another body part that produces buzzing sounds.  Over millions of years, it is just as imaginable that an unguided process would give monkeys voluntary control over the pitch, duration and modulation of emitted signals, independent of the larynx.  Another theory is the Hand-Under-the-Armpit Theory of Language.  This proposes that meaningful signals (also independently of the larynx) made by pumping the arm over the hand inserted into the armpit evolved into middle-school boys communicating with one another.Perhaps it’s good Fitch didn’t consider these alternatives.  We wouldn’t want to find his cineradiography going viral on YouTube.Fitch’s shallow reasoning is evident in that he completely ignored meaning (semantics).  Meaning is orthogonal to signal.  It’s conceivable that certain ordered lip-smacks or raspberries could be controlled to communicate S.O.S.  The meaning of S.O.S., however, has nothing to do with the signalling method.  The message could be communicated with flashlights, telegraph, knots on a rope, skywriting, eye blinks or any number of methods.  Suggesting that lip smacking led to language is like saying that flashlights created Morse Code.Fitch’s hypothesis is also self-refuting.  The language he employed in his paper, if considered seriously, has its roots in unguided processes of lip-smacking and the production of buzzing sounds by his ancestors’ lips.  His readers are justified, therefore, by responding in kind.Save this latest evolutionary tale for the day of Darwinism’s spectacular collapse, when intelligent people will hoot and holler at the credulity of Darwinists.  They may well communicate their disdain independent of the larynx, by rolling their eyes and circling their index fingers around their ear, unquestionably employing intelligent design to convey the purpose of their bodily signals. (Visited 25 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Essence of the Growth Path

first_imgYou have come to South Africa some months after the FIFA World Cup. During the World Cup period we projected on the television screens across the world, a country with an enormous capacity to pull off, not only an event with technical excellence but with great spirit. We brought something unusual to the World Cup and we were confident from day one that we were going to be successful. Post the World Cup we’ve been completing the work that this administration has set itself.President Zuma took office in May last year just after our general election and we started to put together a plan to address the employment, social and economic challenges of the country. Within over this decade and a half we’ve been able to achieve a stable democracy. We’ve got a transparent system of governance, we’ve got a free and independent media, and we’ve got a tradition of South Africans engaging very deeply in matters that they feel passionate about. While we’ve achieved a lot for example, a sustained economic growth year after year since 1994. The longest stretch of unbroken growth in recent times in South African history. We have to recognise that there are major challenges.As you drive around our beautiful country you see both spectacular natural beauty, all the examples of a modern country with smart infrastructure but you will also see evidence of the social challenges that we face, of unemployment, poverty and inequality and so we are addressing ourselves with the same minded focus that we brought to the World Cup of addressing the challenges of unemployment. We have set ourselves some ambitious growth targets, that over the next ten years, we want to be able to increase employment by over five million jobs.We have identified a number of areas in the economy where there is significant potential to grow jobs. Some of those not surprisingly are linked to the construction sites that you may have seen all over. We are basically rebuilding our infrastructure, creating a modern advanced infrastructure to take us through the twenty first century. We are doubling our energy generating capacity from 45 000 (forty five thousand) megawatts to about 85 000 (eighty five thousand) megawatts in the next two decades. We’re developing a transport system that builds on what you saw during the World Cup but now seek to expand it across the country. We are investing heavily on rail and we are seeking to ensure that through this investment of energy and transport we create an opportunity not only in the short run through jobs being created but more fundamentally for a greater efficiency in the economy, for reduced costs of doing business and very very importantly for the means of linking up parts of the country that have not sufficiently been part of the economic main stream. This really represented a nation that is confident about its future that believes that it’s worth investing enormous sums of money in creating a physical infrastructure.The growth path goes beyond, it also identifies the opportunities that come from infrastructure investment. We seek to build a solid and competitive manufacturing pace to produce the components of the infrastructure build programme. We need to leverage a lot more financial resources both minerals as well as agriculture and aside from manufacturing the other big story for us is the Green Economy.South Africa is a carbon intensive economy. Our location predisposed us to that. We’ve got a significant coal base, we’ve got cutting edge technologies to convert coal to oil but the consequence of all of this is that we are very coal reliant. In the content of great awareness by all of us of the damage and reality of climate change, we’re now seeking to mitigate the extent of carbon emission in the economy by building a strong green economy.Finally I hope that you have enjoyed your stay in South Africa. We also wish to build on all of that with a significant expansion in tourism.last_img read more

The 4K War: Thoughts on the Future of Video Resolutions

first_img8K cameras exist, so is 4K too late to the party?When talking about 4K resolutions, it’s interesting to do a quick look back over the accelerated growth of high-resolution video during the last decade…Remember when you bought your first HD camera? It may have been about 10 or 15 years ago and it probably only recorded in 720p resolution. 720 resolution is over twice as small as its 1080 counterpart (Wikipedia), but experienced initial popularity for it’s lower price point (on equipment/sets) and smaller file size (for editing and compression).But as the cost of televisions and cameras continued to drop through the 2000’s, broadcasters scrambled to get the higher quality 1080 video to their customers. By 2010 the majority of HD broadcasts were in 1080i. This demand for higher quality has left 720 as an outdated HD format.Now, fast-forward to 2014 and there are some striking similarities between 720 and 4K. Namely, that both 4K and 720 were introduced into markets that already possessed superior video formats.The 4K WarSince 2003, 4K cameras have been available for filmmakers. Nonetheless, there has been a general push-back against the induction of 4K into mainstream film and TV production. Unavoidable problems, including the high cost of 4K TV monitors and the even higher cost of 4K cameras, have made Ultra-HD difficult to sell to the public.However, in recent years some 4K monitors have dipped below $1,000 dollars making them ‘affordable’ to consumers. 4K film cameras have also become increasingly affordable, with some now going for less than $3,000 dollars.That being said, simply having the viewing technology isn’t enough. Broadcasters need to be able to send 4K signals through their networks and that technology is not yet available in America. So as it stands right now, broadcasting 4K in America is a future endeavor that will probably not be a reality until 2016 (via Multichannel). Coincidentally, 2016 is the same year Japanese broadcasting company NHK is set to test 8K resolution satellite broadcasting. NHK predicts that by 2020 they will be broadcasting in 8K resolution. So what does this mean for you and your shiny new 4K camera?4K Longevity4K is likely to be a national broadcasting standard from 2016 to 2020 giving it at least 4 years of dominance in the market (via multichannel). For some filmmakers 4 years of exposure to 4K may likely result in buying 4K cameras – even if they don’t have a 4K monitor. But consumers, who replace their TVs usually once every 10 years (via soundandvision), are less likely to experience 4K in the 4-5 years of it’s standardized broadcasting. If history repeats itself, as it often does, than 4K broadcasting will only last about a third as long as 720p broadcasting (via Oldradio).This doesn’t mean you need to wait until 2020 to buy a new camera. 4K is quickly becoming more of a standard and within the next 2 years we can expect it to be the norm for most professional video productions. So your new Blackmagic 4K isn’t out of date yet, but as a filmmaker you can probably expect about 4 more years of production before 8K consumer cameras roll around. Besides 8K cameras already exist and are smaller than the Blackmagic 4K.What do you think? Is 4K going to be here a while or will it be quickly replaced by 8K? Share your thoughts in the comments below.last_img read more

The state apparatus vanished when floods swept Jammu & Kashmir. But it must get its act together to deal with the aftermath. Is it up to the task?

first_imgA flood victim with her children in SrinagarZinda ho?” As the people of Srinagar return to the forced sham that passes for normalcy two weeks after the fury of the Jhelum changed their lives forever, that brutal, forthright question seems to have been transformed into a straightforward term of endearment.,A flood victim with her children in SrinagarZinda ho?” As the people of Srinagar return to the forced sham that passes for normalcy two weeks after the fury of the Jhelum changed their lives forever, that brutal, forthright question seems to have been transformed into a straightforward term of endearment. The ‘Assalaam aleikum’ will come later, perhaps next week or the week after. Today, just these words, part-reassurance-part-statement, are enough. Are you alive? Already, Srinagar’s world is being circumscribed by the events of the last fortnight. Seven days ago, by September 12, the fury of the flood was abating a week before that, on September 6, it was just about beginning. As reminiscences of those hours take over, survivors report their slow oscillation between a crowded bunch of memories-and emptiness.The slow rise of water as it, surprisingly, lapped at your feet that unforgettable morning of September 7 in the kitchen, at about 6.30 a.m. So you step out of your ground floor apartment in Jawahar Nagar to see where it is coming from, open the small gate that leads to the street and look right. There’s a wall of water moving rapidly in your direction, about 8-10 feet high, carrying a whitecoloured Scorpio vehicle in its wake. You step back and run back home, fear overwhelming your thudding heart. The next hour is taken up in transporting the goods of your elderly landlord from the second to the third floor. By the time you return to your own ground-floor apartment, the gas cylinders are floating in the water, hitting your chest. You can hardly keep your grip on the floor. It is impossible to retrieve the hand-written, 250-year-old Koran normally kept on the top shelf, out of reach of children and all other harm, that has been especially gifted to you by the family.advertisementNearly two weeks later, as Srinagar fights to hold on to a semblance of its old dignity, the fragility of its citizenry is exposed for all the world to see. On the Bemina-Tengpora road close to the airport, several people displaced by the waters have set up tents on the flyover’s central verge. By the middle of November, winter will set in, which means they have two months to find a house to live in. In these parts, the winter is so severe that cement doesn’t take long to freeze over. The normally short working season, from April to November, has just become even more truncated.In Jawahar Nagar and Raj Bagh, colonies of the middle bureaucracy and the new rich, the water is still chest-high. But several residents have already returned home to protect the remainder of their worldly goods. That’s because the looters, allegedly shikarawallahs offering a helping hand to victims desperate to get away, are said to return in the dead of night. What the Jhelum gives, it also takes away. Meanwhile, two heavy-duty pumps sent by the Central government started working in the Rajbagh area more than a week after the disaster. But as the water level recedes, local volunteers are finding more and more bodies of those who didn’t make the escape.Apathy fuels outrageAcross Srinagar, old men grown grey with unkept promises made by successive governments are slow to anger, as you ask them about that morning and how and why the Jhelum broke its banks. Younger men, fed on a cyclical diet of conflict and resentment, curfew and hartal as well as much bigger words such as “intifada”, have a much shorter fuse. But as they ride the waters in wooden boats, some of them converted from coffins borrowed from the local masjid, their anger wells over into cursing beneath their breath.Flood waters inundate Lal Chowk, the commercial hub of Srinagar”Where are our MLAs? They haven’t shown their faces to us in our hour of need. This Nasir Wani, before he got elected as the National Conference MLA from Amirakadal constituency, used to have a monthly account in my provision store in Jawahar Nagar and would often find it difficult to pay up. Today he is a very rich man. Where did he get his money from? All these men know is to make money off our pain and our grief,” says Mushtaq, riding on a local volunteer’s boat to shore up supplies at home.This mounting anger against an apathetic political class, which failed to stand by its people as the life-giving river became a river of death, is fuelled by an insensitive civil administration which preferred to fall back on bureaucratic lethargy and red-tapism rather than cut short the rules in the distribution of food supplies in this hour of crisis. Stories abound of godowns full of rice and wheat which could not be opened because the man who had the key to the lock had gone to Jammu. In an exclusive interview with INDIA TODAY, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah admitted that 24 crucial hours were lost in one instance because officials insisted that trucks carrying supplies would need to be first registered, their dispatch order signed and only then released.advertisementBut the anger that manifests against Abdullah’s government is also spilling over into resentment against the army, the air force as well as National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel, who are being increasingly perceived as demanding gratitude from an ingrate people-although, Kashmiris admit, they have all performed yeoman service. As they put it, “a completely insensitive mainstream media” has changed the tone of the army/air force/NDRF rescue, by forcing Srinagar’s citizenry to publicly admit homage.”Don’t get us wrong,” says Manzoor Ahmed, a retired driver who lives in downtown Srinagar. “We know that the Indian Army saved hundreds of people in this flood, and we are grateful for that. When the army men went in with their boats, they didn’t worry whether people were Kashmiri or tourist, Muslim or Pandit, their only concern was who was in greater danger and needed to be rescued first. We appreciate that very much. But when your media keeps rubbing it into our face that we are ungrateful for all that is being done for us, then it really bothers,” he adds.Ahmed says people should also not forget that hundreds of Kashmiri civilians also put themselves into grave personal danger by taking their shikaras into the roiling waters of the Jhelum and rescuing ailing men, pregnant women and children. Several worked alongside the army, several alone. “We must all acknowledge their contribution,” he adds.Asked why he and his government were missing from the streets of Srinagar, Abdullah said, “At first, we were constrained by the lack of communications. The telephone network was completely down and even I couldn’t get in touch with my ministers or my senior officials. Then we were trying to get the people out. But I agree, the government needs to be seen interacting with the people in their hour of crisis. The crowds may get hostile, but we have to understand that,” he added.Here and nowIn this volatile climate, Abdullah admits the challenges ahead are grave. Large parts of the city are still under water -notably Jawahar Nagar and Rajbagh, where the Jhelum breached its banks and converted these colonies into a veritable death-trap, as well as parts of Bemina, Tengpora and Batamaloo-and stagnant water is a direct invitation to water-borne diseases such as gastroenteritis, dysentery and diarrhoea. Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, who flew into Srinagar to take stock, and his doctors have advised that all children in the age-group of 0-15 years be inoculated against measles. Dog bites are being reported, and the fear of rabies is rising, as scared and famished street dogs who have survived the flood look to assuage their hunger.advertisementVIP colony Jawahar Nagar is one of the worst-affected areas in SrinagarWith insulin and anti-blood pressure drugs in high demand, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon is believed to have sent a few tonnes of the former from Bangalore. Relief organisations are in fact putting their best face forward, among them the Kashmir Valley in Delhi for Flood Relief (KVIDFR), which started out as a group of well-meaning as well as well-to-do South Srinagar kids from out of town, but has grown into an organised group that has gone into the deepest parts of the city to provide relief to people.The fear of an impending epidemic, especially if the water-logged areas are not cleared soon, gnaws at government and private doctors alike. Old British records from the 1902 flood that last submerged the Kashmir Valley reveal that while only 92 died in the Jhelum’s fury, as many as 15,000 were killed by the diseases that came in the wake of the flood. According to Dr Naqshbandi of the private Ahmed hospital near the Srinagar airport-to which several patients were shifted since the government hospitals were shut-the lack of diagnostic equipment, now lost in the flood, will significantly deter the detection of even simple diseases.Moreover, with the winter looming large, the forced proximity of people is likely to aggravate infections. Orders have also been issued to remove carcasses of animals- chickens, dogs, cows littering street corners. On the outskirts of Srinagar, more than half the cattle at the army’s 330-strong dairy farm have died; the government is still looking for place to bury them. People who were rescued from their flooded homes even 3-4 days after the arrival of the flood and happened to walk past the army dairy, reported a thunderous lowing of the cattle those nights, as if it were a prophecy of doomsday.The telecommunication network, both government owned and private, remains spotty at best. Bitter that the lines are still down, Abdullah holds fort from Hari Nivas, one of several beautifully appointed pleasure houses of the former maharaja of Kashmir. He has finally been able to call a meeting of his council of ministers here more than a week after the flood, as his Secretariat is still under a couple of feet of water. But these elected representatives are said to be mutinous, and don’t want to stay in Srinagar.Volunteers distribute drinking water bottlesStories abound. Health minister Taj Mohiuddin was so keen on leaving the capital that he barely met his wife for an hour before rushing to his constituency, Uri. Revenue, relief and rehabilitation minister Ajaz Ahmad Khan would rather stay in the Jammu region, near his constituency Gool Arnas, as does Minister for Housing, Horticulture, Culture and Sports, Raman Bhalla. None of them have been sighted on the streets of the capital since the deluge, although several were spotted on the freshly mowed lawns of Hari Nivas. Plans are now believed to be afoot to persuade them to accompany trucks of food supplies into the flood-affected areas so that the people, furious at being abandoned in their hour of need, do not take out their pent-up frustration and anger on them.Chief Secretary Iqbal Khandey, also standing on the lawns of Hari Nivas in the company of Bhalla, Urban Development and Urban Local Bodies minister Nawang Rigzin Jora and Abdullah’s confidante Devinder Rana, is unwilling to answer questions about why he and the rest of his civil administration have failed to lead the civilian relief effort. Asked where the government relief camps are located, Khandey at first points to the Dal, upon which a junior official softly interjects to say that most people have left from there, then adds that there are a few in the Nishat Bagh area.Meanwhile, the city has been divided into three zones, one senior official in charge of each to supervise the removal of garbage. Restoring the city’s water supply is a priority, which even in ordinary times was mixed with alum and chlorine; a few days ago 200 tonnes was ordered to be flown in. The army is supplementing the effort by providing reverse osmosis (RO) systems that churn out 300,000 gallons of water a day. But everywhere in the city, in areas like Maisuma considered to be the stronghold of separatist leader Yasin Malik as well as in the innards of Barbar Shah, the filthy streets are being cleaned by the people who live there. Elsewhere in Sheikh Bagh, close to Lal Chowk, shopkeepers have deployed their own hosepipes to pump the water out. If the state is deploying people, they are few and far in between and largely invisible.Certainly, the army has played a stellar role in providing medical services in Srinagar, treating infants as young as four days. As many as 80 medical teams and six army field hospitals have been established, which are likely to remain operational at least for another month.Economy under waterThe loss to life and property in the Jammu region has also been severe. Intersected by the mighty Chenab and the Tawi rivers and their various tributaries and feeders, the shock effect of the late monsoon deluge was felt when a bus carrying a marriage party fell into the river below, killing as many as 63 people, out of the total toll of 164 so far. According to Northern Army Commander Lt-Gen D. S. Hooda, who led the army’s rescue operations in the state, “No one expected the speed at which the water came. Many casualties occurred as people tried to cross causeways,” he said. Luckily, the rains stopped around September 8, allowing the waters to flow onwards into Pakistan in the following 24 hours, making the task of connecting Rajouri and Poonch much easier. Electricity and water supply was restored, as was communication and the vital road supply route.A flooded ward in SMHS hospital, the valley’s top general hospitalAccording to Shakeel Qalander, entrepreneur and member of former PM Manmohan Singh’s economic advisory council, back-of-the-envelope calculations puts the estimated loss to the Jammu & Kashmir economy at a staggering Rs 100,000 crore. With the floods also having affected several districts in south Kashmir like Anantnag and Pulwama, about three lakh houses (out of approximately 20 lakh in the state) have been either fully or partially destroyed; the stagnant water is expected to undermine the plinth by about 25 years. The expected loss in this sector alone amounts to Rs 30,000 crore, even as the government has announced Rs 75,000 for a damaged house and Rs 3.5 lakh for death. Abdullah said he had requested the central government to extend insurance against fire also to floods. Other key sectors, namely agriculture and horticulture -the current standing crop of paddy and apples respectively- shaves off another fraction of the state GDP.Tourism, including hotels, houseboats and commercial establishments (and each shop’s goods worth about Rs 25 lakh), will set the state back by another Rs 25,000 crore. Additional losses from the extensive damage to infrastructure- roads, bridges, etc-add up the rest. “This has been a huge flood which has caused such extensive damage that we will take decades to recover. We are grateful to civil society and state governments elsewhere in the country for helping the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but we also demand that the Central government allow foreign countries such as the UK, as well as international organisations such as the UN, to disburse aid to us in our time of need,” Qalander said.Winter threatAs the winter looms large, officials point out that the state only has until the middle of November to carry out its major tasks. Kashmiris are hoping that national infrastructure companies will build prefabricated houses and supply them quickly perhaps, some wealthy enterprises will even adopt villages or parts of Srinagar city. Operationalising the national highway and keeping it open is another priority as that is the lifeline of the Valley. The Srinagar-Baramullah railway track has just been restored, but it will take some time to normalise the link to Banihal. The exodus of outside labour, back to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, will add to Kashmir’s woes.Victims take shelter in boats in PulwamaCertainly, the 2014 flood has irrevocably changed the way Srinagar looks at itself, as well as the rest of the country. But as it waits for its fate to change, it focuses on tales of heroism that no one can take away. Like the story of Fazil, a 22-year-old small-time businessman dealing in tiles, who bought a boat for Rs 5,000 on the morning of September 7 and didn’t rest until he had rescued over a 100 people from the watery jaws of death in Jawahar Nagar.Or like the story of Talha Jahangir, satirist and much loved broadcaster on Radio Kashmir, who was in conversation with a government official the evening before the waters struck, just as the Jhelum began her assault of the city. The well-meaning official, hoping to avoid a general panic, kept assuring the Kashmiri people on air that there was nothing to fear from the encircling rumours of devastation, until Jahangir gently told him that the water had reached his feet inside the studio and that he was cutting short the show. Radio Kashmir as well as the local Doordarshan station shut down soon after.Or even like the rescue of Srinagar’s very important people on Church Lane, carried out by jawans of the CRPF’s 79th Battalion in the adjacent Badami Bagh cantonment area: senior bureaucrats, including chief secretary Khandey, three senior judges besides Chief Justice M.M. Kumar, as well as the state’s intelligence chief B. Srinivas were taken out, along with 40-50 hired help who had been left behind. All the government ministers for whom they worked had fled the previous night, warned by news of the impending tide. Even in its worst hour of crisis, Kashmir’s elite had not been afraid of invoking a caste system of entitlement.With inputs from Manu PubbyFollow the writer on Twitter @jomalhotraTo read more, get your copy of India Today here.last_img read more