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Residents Call for Changes at Intersection Where Fatality Occurred

first_imgIn June, Dr. John Albert urged City Council to make safety improvements to the intersection where his stepson was fatality struck on May 25. By Donald WittkowskiThe stepfather of a vacationer who was struck and killed while crossing the street over the Memorial Day weekend made an impassioned plea Thursday night for Ocean City to overhaul what he called an unusually dangerous intersection.“In the military, we call it the ‘kill zone,”’ Dr. John Albert told City Council while describing the intersection of Eighth Street and Bay Avenue.Albert’s stepson, Thomas F. Gibbons Jr., died after being struck May 25 while crossing the intersection with his wife, Stephanie, who was also hit by the same motorist. Stephanie Gibbons was taken to a hospital but survived her injuries.Gibbons, 47, an engineer from Lansdale, Pa., is also survived by two teenage daughters. He was a frequent Ocean City vacationer and was visiting over the Memorial Day weekend.“In the warmer months, Ocean City, N.J., was always his favorite destination; whether it was the boardwalk, beach or bay, Tom loved it all,” his obituary said.In a press release, police said the vehicle was going west on Eighth Street and turned left on Bay Avenue when it hit Gibbons and his wife.The driver was not immediately identified. An investigation is being conducted by the Police Department’s Traffic Safety Unit, the department’s Detective Bureau and the Fatal Accident Investigation Unit of the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office.Some residents believe the intersection of Eighth Street and Bay Avenue should be rebuilt to protect pedestrians and bicyclists from motor vehicle traffic.Choking back tears, Albert appealed to the Council members and Mayor Jay Gillian to reconstruct the intersection of Eighth and Bay to prevent other tragedies from happening. He was joined by other members of the audience who stood up to state that they had narrowly avoided being struck at the same intersection in close calls over the years. They, too, called for changes at the intersection.“It’s extremely dangerous,” said Gregg Wolfe, a 30-year resident of Ocean City who was nearly hit by a car while riding his bike last summer at Eighth and Bay.Albert described a series of measures he believes the city should take to reconfigure the intersection, including new turning lanes and a crosswalk that would be controlled by traffic signals.He said he and his wife were also nearly struck at the same intersection last year.“That intersection is dangerous, and I’m going to prove it tonight. It needs to be changed,” Albert said, while displaying a diagram he had of the streets.While speaking to the Council members, he repeatedly urged the city not to waste any time in rebuilding the intersection to make it safer.“I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m looking for action,” he said.Members of Council say the city will do whatever is possible to heighten safety at the intersection.The Council members commended Albert for his remarks about the intersection. They also said he showed a “tremendous amount of courage” while speaking about his late stepson. They pledged that the city will do whatever it can to improve safety at the intersection.“It certainly puts things in perspective,” Councilman Bob Barr said, echoing the sentiments of the other members.Afterward, Albert huddled with Mayor Gillian in the hallway outside the Council chambers. The mayor assured him that the city would examine the intersection, but also told him that Bay Avenue is a county road.Speaking later with reporters, Gillian said city officials plan to contact the county to immediately begin discussing possible changes to create a safer intersection.“We’re going to start tomorrow,” he said.While expressing his sympathy over Gibbons’ death, Gillian said the accident reflected “a bigger issue” in which motorists should be more careful while sharing the streets with pedestrians and bicyclists.As the two men spoke, Albert told Gillian, “When you drive around these streets, it’s the Wild West out there.”Dr. John Albert, left, confers with Mayor Jay Gillian in a hallway outside the Council chambers.Albert lives in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., but owns a vacation condominium in Ocean City at Eighth Street and West Avenue, only one block from where his stepson was fatally hit.In an interview with reporters, Albert said the intersection of Eighth and Bay is deceptively tranquil. He believes there are myriad distractions, including the surrounding homes, parked cars and the nearby Route 52 Causeway bridge, that make the intersection particularly dangerous.Shadows that occur in fading sunlight also obscure the view of the intersection and heighten the hazards for both motorists and pedestrians, he said.“It looks like a pastoral, little setting. Let me tell you, it’s a kill zone,” he said.last_img read more

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10bet nets highest profile deal with Juventus FC

first_img LiveScore adds new leagues to streaming offering August 12, 2020 StumbleUpon Share Share Marek Suchar: “As esports betting grows, we will no longer speak about it as one sport” June 18, 2020 LiveScore celebrates streaming service launch with Serie A partnership June 17, 2020 Related Articles Online sportsbook 10bet has announced its biggest sponsorship agreement to date, after becoming the official ‘Gaming & Betting Partner’ of Juventus FC – Serie A’s most successful and popular football club.A revamped 10bet secures a three-season arrangement with Italian football’s ‘Old Lady’, detailing its Juventus sponsorship as a key directive in the bookmaker’s aggressive European growth strategy, boosting its brand presence and coverage to diverse football audiences.“10bet is thrilled to be partnering with such a prestigious brand as Juventus and both brands share the same values and principles,” read the company’s statement. “We are passionate about presenting our audiences with the most unique and entertaining products and we’re confident this will be a mutually beneficial long-term partnership.”Juventus have won the Italian Serie A title eight times in a row between 2011-2019 and a total of 37 times during its 122-year history. They have also been crowned European Champions League winners twice making the famous black and white kitted team Italy’s most successful domestic club.Giorgio Ricci, Juventus, Chief Revenue Officer, said: “We will work exclusively outside Italy together with a partner for whom entertainment and engagement are the core activities.“The particular attention paid to the global markets and audiences, a key theme for 10bet and the Club, attests to the perfect synergy between our companies. In fact, this agreement fits ideally into the ongoing international growth project that has been in development by Juventus for years now.” Submitlast_img read more

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Quietly great: Padres’ Chris Paddack did lots of good in 2019, though mostly under the radar

first_imgThis offseason, we’ll look at players around the majors whose 2019 seasons were overlooked for various reasons. This week’s edition focuses on Padres pitcher Chris Paddack. He didn’t throw enough innings in 2019 to qualify for any leaderboards, but in the 140.2 that Chris Paddack tossed for San Diego, his walk rate (5.5 percent) matched Jacob deGrom’s and his strikeout rate (26.9) matched Aaron Nola’s and was a tick higher than Clayton Kerhsaw’s. With a full season, Paddack might not be a part of this series, but in his somewhat limited time in 2019 he showed potential to be one of the top pitchers in the National League as he develops. Paddack was on an innings limit in 2019, so the Padres shut him down in September. He made his last start on Sept. 17 against the Brewers, striking out nine batters in five innings and giving up just one run on a homer to Lorenzo Cain. He was on an innings limit because in the minors, Paddack had not thrown more than 90 innings in a season and missed part of 2016 and all of 2017 because of Tommy John surgery, so the limitations the major league club put in place made sense.ALSO QUIETLY GREAT: Lance Lynn | Yoan MoncadaEven with the reduced innings, Paddack was impressive. He had a 3.33 ERA and a sub-1.00 WHIP. He struck out 153 batters in 140 innings. In 26 outings, Paddack had 10 quality starts this year. He was very good, but he garnered little attention.Why did we sleep on this guy?Before his semi-breakout this season, the most notable bit of trivia regarding Paddack was that he had been traded from the Marlins — the team that drafted him in the 8th round in 2015 — for Fernando Rodney.Eighth-round picks have to be really, really good in the minor leagues to attract a lot of attention, and Paddack didn’t pitch enough to get the prospect hype that he deserved. He also wasn’t in the minors long enough to climb very high on any prospect rankings.Paddack was 23rd in the Padres’ system going into 2018, and he climbed to 35th overall by the end of that year. At the start of 2019, MLB Pipeline put Paddack at 18th in its Top 100 list. This is high for a pitcher drafted in the eighth round out of high school, but within the Padres’ system, Fernando Tatis Jr., Francisco Mejia and fellow pitcher Mackenzie Gore drew more attention.There’s also the reality that the Padres as a whole don’t get a lot of love, and they haven’t for a while. Some of that is because they haven’t finished above .500 since 2010 and have finished last in the NL West three of the past four seasons. They generated some buzz last winter by signing Manny Machado, but until the Padres climb back to the top of their division, it will be harder for players like Paddack to get attention for their performances.And then there was the aforementioned innings limit, which likely contributed at least a little to Paddack not getting as much notice as he should have.What’s ahead in 2020?Obviously, the biggest question next season will be how many innings Paddack can pitch. He’s not the first pitcher put on a limit, but given the sparse number of innings he threw as a minor leaguer, it is probably not reasonable to expect his innings total in 2020 to jump significantly.  It is encouraging that he pitched consistently well throughout the season last year and didn’t show signs of fatigue, so as his innings increase, his performance shouldn’t dip. Paddack’s average fastball velocity in April was essentially the same as it was in September, and he was still pitching into the fifth and sixth innings of his starts in the last two months of the season. He never threw 100 pitches in a game but got to at least 90 four times in his last month, from Aug. 16 to Sept. 17. He will turn 24 at the start of the new year and has been otherwise healthy aside from his Tommy John surgery three years ago.What Paddack showed in 2019 should continue next season. His 3.95 FIP indicates that a 3.33 ERA was not an aberration, and he does a lot of key things well. His strikeout rate is high and walk rate low, and he keeps the ball on the ground reasonably well. Paddack could stand to do it more, however, because his HR/FB rate (14.6 percent) is well above average. Paddack averaged 1.47 home runs per nine innings last year, so forcing more ground balls would help drop that average as well as his hard-hit contact rate (42.1 percent).As Paddack’s workload increases and the Padres work their way up the standings, he’ll get more love for the quality of his pitching.last_img read more

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Astros cheating scandal timeline, from the first sign-stealing allegations to a controversial punishment

first_imgAstros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow lost their jobs as a result of the findings, as did since-departed coaches Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran with their new organizations, but active players were not punished.MORE: Red Sox scandal | Yankees allegationsHere’s a timeline of key events in the sign-stealing controversy that undermined the integrity of Houston’s 2017 championship:September 2016: Sign-stealing scheme outlined in presentation for Jeff LuhnowAs reported this year by The Wall Street Journal, operation “Codebreaker” was presented to Luhnow by intern Derek Vigoa, who would eventually be promoted to director of team operations. The Powerpoint set forth the premise of a systematic sign-stealing scheme in which the Astros would illegally use cameras to get live intel into what pitch was on the way and pass that information to hitters in real time. The possible advantage there, of course, was astronomical. Luhnow also reportedly received two emails about the practice once it got underway. He said he never read them all the way through.April 2017: Astros implement ways to communicate stolen signsBy the start of the 2017 campaign, MLB’s report says, the Astros had fully committed to stealing signs electronically. At first, this happened by relaying information to runners on second base, who then signaled incoming pitch types to batters. Veteran Carlos Beltran and bench coach Alex Cora were primary on-the-ground figures in executing the plan, though most players became involved in some capacity or at the very least were well aware of what was happening.June 2017: Trash can banging becomes primary method of communicationAs the 2017 season progressed, the Astros refined their methods to increase effectiveness. Around June, MLB’s report says, they figured out they could put a monitor near the entrance of their dugout and bang a trash can when an off-speed pitch was coming. Internet sleuths have since gone back to game-by-game video and found the banging was indeed extremely prevalent.Houston, by the way, held a 54-27 record at the end of June — 8 1/2 games better than any other AL team.September 2017: Danny Farquhar notices trash can banging while on moundDanny Farquhar, then a reliever for the White Sox, provided an on-the-record account to The Athletic that helped inform the publication’s 2019 report first exposing Houston’s cheating. Farquhar said he noticed a weird sound coming from the Astros dugout whenever he was about to throw an off-speed pitch, leading him to signal he knew something was up.“There was a banging from the dugout, almost like a bat hitting the bat rack every time a change-up signal got put down,” Farquhar said. “After the third one, I stepped off. I was throwing some really good change-ups and they were getting fouled off. After the third bang, I stepped off.”October 2017: Astros win World SeriesMLB’s report states that the Astros used their nefarious cheating methods throughout the playoffs. They beat the Dodgers in the World Series with the help of 15 home runs in seven games.December 2017: Mike Fiers granted free agency, signs with TigersThe Astros let right-hander Mike Fiers — the eventual whistleblower of their scheme — leave via free agency following the 2017 season. A minor move at the time, it set in motion their eventual downfall. After all, there’s no guarantee Fiers would have spoken up had he never moved on from Houston.August 2018: Mike Fiers traded from Tigers to A’sFiers joined Houston’s primary AL West rival in the heat of a pennant race. The A’s threatened the Astros for the division lead briefly in late August but could not keep up through September, settling for a wild-card bid.Fiers re-signed with Oakland following the campaign and remains with the organization.September 2018: A’s complain about Astros to MLBOakland filed an official complaint to MLB about its suspicions Houston was illegally stealing signs.From a Yahoo report a month later:”During a late-August game against Oakland, A’s players noticed Astros players clapping in the dugout before pitches and believed they were relaying stolen signs to pitchers in the batter’s box.”October 2018: Indians, Red Sox share concerns about AstrosBy October 2018, paranoia about what the Astros (and several other teams) were doing had become the subject of public complaints and accusations from organizations. Cleveland warned Boston of attempts to steal signs after losing to Houston in the ALDS — a development reported by Yahoo at the time.A man associated with the Astros named Kyle McLaughlin was caught taking photos of the Indians dugout with his phone in Game 3 of the ALDS and Game 1 of the ALCS.Also in Yahoo’s report was the first mention of rivals catching on to Houston’s trash can banging scheme as a specific method of cheating.October 2019: AJ Hinch mocks Yankees over cheating chargeThe Astros reached their third straight ALCS this past season, meeting the Yankees in a series that went six games.Early in the series, New York accused the Astros of whistling from their dugout to convey signs to hitters. Hinch mocked the idea Houston would cheat.”We talked about this the other day,” Hinch told reporters. “And in reality it’s a joke. But Major League Baseball does a lot to ensure the fairness of the game. There’s people everywhere. If you go through the dugouts and the clubhouses and the hallways, there’s like so many people around that are (responsible for security).”And then when I get contacted about some questions about whistling, it made me laugh because it’s ridiculous. And had I known that it would take something like that to set off the Yankees or any other team, we would have practiced it in spring training. It apparently works, even when it doesn’t happen.”October 2019: Jose Altuve hits walk-off ALCS home run, keeps shirt onJose Altuve finished off a dramatic at-bat against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman with a walk-off Game 6 blast to send Houston to the World Series. Just before Altuve reached his teammates at home plate to celebrate, he told teammates they shouldn’t remove his jersey. While MLB did not find wrongdoing in that plate appearance, rival fans and players have used the moment to accuse Altuve of concealing a buzzer underneath his shirt. There has not been insider evidence to back the claim.November 2019: The Athletic reports on Astros sign-stealing allegationsThe Athletic published its detailed report on Houston’s history of cheating with on-the-record quotes from Fiers, who spent 2 1/2 seasons with the club, as well as former members of the organization.November 2019: MLB launches investigation into AstrosIn response to The Athletic’s report, MLB said it would launch a probe into the matter.It should be noted MLB did not announce a comprehensive investigation of this scale after the A’s, Indians and Red Sox complained in 2018.January 2020: MLB releases findings on Astros, hands out punishmentsCommissioner Rob Manfred released the results of MLB’s investigation into Houston’s conduct from 2017 through 2019, finding the team used illegal sign-stealing methods through the 2018 campaign.The league handed out the following punishments:One-year suspensions for Hinch and Luhnow$5 million fineLoss of first- and second-round picks for 2020 and 2021Crucially, the league publicly pinned the scandal mostly on players (and Cora) and said it could not definitively say Houston’s front office acted in bad faith.January 2020: Astros fire Jeff Luhnow, AJ HinchThe Astros dismissed their manager and GM immediately following the report.”Neither one of them started this, but neither one of them did anything about it,” Crane said.February 2020: WSJ report outlines front office knowledge of schemeThe Wall Street Journal’s report on operation “Codebreaker” signaled that Luhnow knew about the scheme as early as late-2016, a significant allegation considering MLB’s assertion that the Astros’ cheating was player-driven.February/March 2020: MLB players roast AstrosA wave of harsh comments about the Astros arrived when baseball players began reporting to camp this year.Here’s a sample of what people around the league had to say:Mike Trout: “It’s sad for baseball. They cheated. I don’t agree with the punishments, the players not getting anything. It was a player-driven thing.”Cody Bellinger: “I mean, these guys were cheating for three years. I think what people don’t realize is (Jose) Altuve stole an MVP from (Aaron) Judge in ’17. Everyone knows they stole the ring from us.” As much as they would like it to disappear, the Astros have not escaped the cheating scandal that struck earlier this year. It will likely return to greater prominence in national baseball conversation once regular-season games begin Thursday.An MLB investigation revealed that Houston engaged in systematic electronic sign-stealing through trash can banging communication and other means in 2017 and 2018, and reporting suggested that methods were first plotted in 2016. Sean Manaea: “It’s a very, very unfair advantage. It’s like giving your brother the junk controller with the button that doesn’t work and then just whooping his butt all the time.”Nick Markakis: “To see something like that, it’s damaging to baseball. It’s anger. I feel like every single guy over there needs a beating.”Trevor Bauer: “You guys think you are better than everyone and you don’t have to abide by the rules? F— you. You know? That’s how I feel about their whole operation.”last_img read more

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NZ all rounder Jimmy Neesham trolls ICC for posting the ‘Rahul – Kohli challenge’

first_imgImage Courtesy: Getty/AFPAdvertisement y4673NBA Finals | Brooklyn Vs1irbph0Wingsuit rodeo📽Sindre E376( IG: @_aubreyfisher @imraino ) b5l7pWould you ever consider trying this?😱4e9Can your students do this? 🌚5ml8Roller skating! Powered by Firework The International Cricket Council (ICC) may have lost all its fixtures amidst the novel Coronavirus pandemic, but the cricket lovers are getting some entertainment thanks to social media. On their official instagram account, ICC recently posted a challenge for their fans to find out Team India skipper Virat Kohli’s face amongst many faces of KL Rahul. However, the post was just the material needed for Jimmy Neesham to poke fun towards cricket’s global governing body.Advertisement Image Courtesy: Getty/AFP“👥📸 Can you spot Virat Kohli in this sea of KL Rahuls? 😀” is the caption ICC’s Instagram post of today came with. The photo featured many faces of Team India’s superstar wicket keeper batsman KL Rahul, and hiding among them is just one face of the Men in Blue skipper. The challenge for the fans was to find out Kohli’s face. Check out the photo below and try for yourself-Rahul himself joined in the comment section, with a couple of emojis. The fans were quick to find out the 31 year old captain, as the stormed the comments with answers.However, the most hilarious response came from Jimmy Neesham. Rahul’s Kings XI Punjab teammate found the perfect opportunity to take a witty jib at ICC.“You guys really have lost the plot 😂” the Kiwi all rounder commented.Image Courtesy: Instagram(@icc)With no fixtures at hand and all major events cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, its all ICC can do to keep the global cricket audience engaged, along with promoting some memorable old cricket matches, as the world fights the virus pandemic.Neesham featured in the first match of the ODI series against Australia back in mid-March, befopre the rest of the series was cancelled due to the Coronavirus crisis.Neesham was picked up by Kings XI Punjab ahead of IPL 2020, which would mark the former Delhi Daredevils star’s return to the blockbuster cricket league after a gap of six years.However, now that the tournament is postponed to 15th April as of now, the 29 year old Black Caps star will have to wait some more before teaming up with Rahul for the 13th edition of IPL.Also read-Shane Warne picks his all time Indian XI – and here’s why he left out Dhoni and Kohli! Advertisementlast_img read more

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ONE WINNING SANTA ANITA PICK SIX TICKET PAYS $98,243.80; ‘ALL BURGER’ PURCHASED FOR JUST $72 AT GOLDEN GATE FIELDS

first_imgWith a pool of $183,912 up for grabs, there was just one winning ticket in Santa Anita’s popular two dollar Pick Six on Sunday, with the ticket worth $98,243.The winning ticket was purchased for just $72 at Golden Gate Fields, located in Berkeley, Calif.  There were just nine winning consolation tickets with five winners, each worth $4,678.20.Racing resumes at Santa Anita on Thursday, with first post time through Memorial Day, Monday, set at 2 p.m.  With an eight-race card on tap Thursday, the Pick Six will begin with race three.last_img read more

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Francis: Hughes’ results mean he should expect to be under fire

first_imgFormer QPR boss Trevor Francis believes current manager Mark Hughes can have no complaints about the pressure he is under.Disgruntled fans want Hughes out following a dismal run that has seen the team fail to win a league match this season.And Francis told Sky Sports News: “If you haven’t won a game and it’s the middle of November, you expect to be under pressure.“I think Mark expected his team to do better. They were desperately close to getting relegated last season and Mark actually predicted that he would never be in that position again – but that’s where they find themselves.“I’ve watched QPR live twice this season and on both occasions I was somewhat disappointed with the manner in which they defended.“Until they start keeping clean sheets they’re going to have huge problems.”Click here for Wednesday’s QPR quizShould Hughes keep his job? Click here to voteSee also:Listen to Hughes insist QPR are ‘very close’ to turning things 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 Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

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Evolution Worked Magic in Plants

first_imgSome evolutionary papers are filled with verbs like arose, emerged, and originated.  Do these convey scientific understanding, or are they veils concealing ignorance?  Is it like saying “abracadabra” to say something “arose” by evolution?  A recent paper about sophisticated metabolic enzymes in plants is a case in point.In a paper by Weng, Philippe and Noel in Science (29 June 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6089 pp. 1667-1670; DOI: 10.1126/science.1217411), the magic starts right in the title: “The Rise of Chemodiversity in Plants.” It rose to a crescendo throughout the overture to evolution’s uncanny power to bring things forth out of nothing.1  In the following excerpts, the magic words, hedging words and personifications are highlighted in bold:The Emergence of MetabolismNew metabolic branches continuously arose throughout land-plant evolution….Since its origin as a fundamental property of the cell, metabolism is generally regarded as having evolved toward increasing order and catalytic efficiency….Primary metabolism likely arose from promiscuous primeval metabolic reactions and evolved toward greater catalytic precision and efficiency. Specialized metabolism likely emerged from primary metabolism.Even deleterious changes appearing in one paralog may be tolerated and not eliminated by selection, when the other paralog contributes to fitness. In such cases, the evolution of advantageous activities can now be favored in new environments.….increased catalytic promiscuity likely molded the evolution of specialized enzymes.Once a duplication-derived progenitor emerged, mutations may have loosened the energetic interdependencies….For instance, the evolution of rosmarinic acid biosynthesis in Lamiaceae herbs arose from gene duplication of a BAHD acyltransferase.The emergence of rosmarinic acid synthase (RAS) in Lamiaceae likely followed substrate permissiveness of its evolutionary progenitor HCT, a more conserved enzyme ubiquitous in land plants.By exploiting the broader substrate recognition of ancestral DFR, I. gesnerioides evolved a red flower color….After a gene-duplication event, one gene copy likely was selected for increased activity toward this substrate, resulting in the emergence of a new metabolic step….Recurring Patterns of Metabolic EvolutionThe phenotypic outcome of an evolving plant-specialized metabolic system relies on the recruitment of multifunctional enzymes…In addition to the recruitment of individual enzymes into emerging pathways, enzymes with expanded substrate recognition that act consecutively in a particular pathway can reappear, operating on disparate metabolites.Surely the authors attempted to explain how things “emerged,” didn’t they?  Indeed, they did in a couple of places.  But the magic words are there again:In contrast to primary metabolism, in which selection constrained mutations to maintain the most stable and functional enzyme forms, we hypothesize that specialized metabolic enzymes may have emerged through early gene duplication, followed by mutations that broadened substrate selection and flattened activation barriers of their catalyzed reactions. The resulting mechanistic elasticity allowed single enzymes to catalyze multiple reactions and biosynthesize multiple products (Fig. 1A). This scenario is consistent with directed evolution focused on enzyme promiscuity and the biochemical characterization of mutant libraries derived from phylogenetic relationships in several plant-specialized metabolic enzyme families….A little later, they stated:Supporting this view, a number of current specialized metabolic enzymes exhibit, on average, a greater ability to accept a broader range of substrates and to employ multiple energetically similar reaction mechanisms than related primary metabolic enzymes. Moreover, these enzymes seem to traverse functional space more easily than their structurally related cousins in primary metabolism to evolve new and often several metabolic products while retaining a modicum of their original function…. Diminished catalytic efficiency of multifunctional metabolic enzymes probably coincided with greater substrate permissiveness and the occurrence of several mechanistic routes to multiple products with little cost to the fitness of the host population. As long as the enzyme that must produce multiple products by virtue of its chemical mechanism yields at least one conferring a fitness advantage, the enzyme can be retained, barring issues of by-product toxicity. An enzyme does not have to evolve to perfection or absolute product specificity; it merely has to produce enough of the desired compound for the gene to be maintained in the population. As populations experience fluctuating abiotic and biotic ecological changes, one of the minor metabolites may also assume an advantageous function, thus resulting in fixation of the multifunctional paralog.It’s not clear, however, that suggestive terms like “mechanistic elasticity,” “enzyme promiscuity,” or “substrate permissiveness” provide visible light or black light.  They may be merely giving the illusion of making emergence glow without aiding understanding of how unguided processes produced highly complex, functional molecules that human researchers have a hard time duplicating.  A critical reader might wonder why these scientists are helping themselves to “barring issues of by-product toxicity,” for instance.  Poison kills.  Can they sweep this problem away by arbitrarily barring it?  And without defining functional space, which by all accounts is an extremely tiny subset of a vast sequence space (most of which is functionless or toxic), they seem to be taking liberties to say that mutated molecules will traverse functional space in a finite time.  “Mechanistic routes” are, by definition, mindless and without purposeful aim.  Manufacture of these metabolite molecules, furthermore, requires coded information in the genome, and molecular machines to assemble them.In the “Future Directions” section at the end, the authors’ Darwinian proclivities emerged amidst of flock of stage doves:Although a few studies have interrogated the minimum set of mutations that dictate the emergence of specific functions in divergent plant-specialized metabolic enzymes,, no particular study has addressed all viable mutational paths in these metabolic systems. This limits our ability to postulate evolutionary scenarios consistent with the stepwise assembly of mechanistically divergent metabolic pathways within the framework of Darwinian evolution2 and to quantify the incremental emergence of new activities with each mutational step. Could specialized metabolic enzymes and their pathways evolve along a wider set of evolutionary trajectories than their cousins in primary metabolism?To make sure the audience appreciated the difficulty of their magic act, they wrote in conclusion:The remarkable chemodiversity in plants and its underlying metabolic diversity are reached via exploration of sequence space restrained by enzyme catalysis, protein stability, emerging and extant metabolic pathways, and, ultimately, organismal fitness. The ability to bridge the fields of evolutionary biology, chemistry, biophysics, and mechanistic enzymology to cooperatively tackle the complexity of specialized metabolism will provide a more informed understanding of the amazing tapestry of plant-specialized metabolites that are so essential to the sessile lifestyle of plants.This implies that their understanding, if any, was less informed than it should be.By contrast, another paper in the same issue of Science had little to say about evolution, but a lot about revolution.  In “Mining the Biodiversity of Plants: A Revolution in the Making” (Science, 29 June 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6089 pp. 1658-1661, DOI: 10.1126/science.1217410), four scientists from Brock University were excited about the potential health benefits for humans of “mining” the diversity of plant metabolites for medical applications:Approximately two-thirds of new drugs in the past 25 years have originated from the discovery of particular secondary metabolites derived from natural biodiversity. This success has been attributed to the structural complexity of molecules found in living organisms, which have an average of 6.2 chiral centers per molecule as compared to an average of 0.4 chiral centers found in combinatorial libraries. Such chemically complex molecules are very difficult and costly to produce efficiently by chemical synthesis….…but plants do it so well for us, the message continued, we can and should exploit their design prowess for our benefit.  These authors didn’t use the word “originated” in a magical sense.  The new drugs “originated” not by unguided processes, but by intentional search and discovery, a form of intelligent design.1. The authors’ job was not to describe degradation or variations of existing functional molecules, but to explain how new cellular machines (proteins and metabolites) that provide new, useful functions arrived: i.e., how plants that did not have these functional molecules got them.  Darwinians need to start from the bottom up; creationists start from the top down.  Creationists do not discount natural variations, but question the ability of an unguided, aimless, purposeless process like neo-Darwinism to “innovate” new complex functions possessing more genetic information than before.  Every scientist knows, furthermore, that entropy cannot be ignored.2. In a similar vein, they stated, “Positing that protein functional promiscuity serves as the starting point for functional innovation through natural selection….”Caught in the act!    The authors of the first paper just admitted, in print, that they have limited their thinking to postulating “evolutionary scenarios consistent with the stepwise assembly … within the framework of Darwinian evolution.”    How to we translate that into plain English, class?  Storytelling!  What’s a scenario?  A play.  What’s a framework?  A stage.  What’s the plot?  Darwinian evolution only.  And what is the acronym for “Darwin Only, Darwin Only”?  D.O.D.O.  We just watched a comedy!  It’s tragic.It’s tragic, and it’s magic.  These authors did little more than wave their hands and shout “Abracadabra!”  Behind black curtains, they pulled Darwin rabbits out of Darwin black hats under Darwin black light, and then had the gall to tell you the rabbit “emerged, arose, originated, occurred.”  The fast-talking magicians distracted you with a steady stream of impressive phrases like “substrate permissiveness,” “mechanistic elasticity” and “evolutionary trajectory”.  They even tossed in a little sexual titillation, talking about “enzyme promiscuity.”  SUCH WORDS CONVEY NO UNDERSTANDING.  They are the tools of snake oil salesmen and charlatans, used only to distract and impress you while they steal your watch.Think of CEH as your backstage guide to show you how the Darwin magic tricks are done.  They tried to steal your watch, but you watched them steal.  You were ready.  You were alert.  When you know the secret, and you train your mind not to be distracted by the irrelevant jargon, the act looks more like what it is: an act.  Sorry to spoil the show, but you need to know.  Now teach someone else.  Better yet, bring them to daily CEH deprogramming sessions. 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Life for Kapil Dev, artist and allrounder extraordinaire, comes full circle

first_imgRedeemed: Kapil Dev hugged by wife Romi after receiving the awardWhen Kapil Dev stepped up to slap palms with Viv Richards and receive the trophy for the Wisden Indian Cricketer of the Century, it was both recognition and redemption.It has been less than two years since he resigned as Indian,Redeemed: Kapil Dev hugged by wife Romi after receiving the awardWhen Kapil Dev stepped up to slap palms with Viv Richards and receive the trophy for the Wisden Indian Cricketer of the Century, it was both recognition and redemption.It has been less than two years since he resigned as Indian coach in the wake of the match-fixing controversy. A teary appearance on television, a very public distancing from all cricket and occasional jibes at the Indian team-all the bitterness looked to have vanished when he stepped up to receive the award.When asked whether the award was a vindication, he lashed out: “If this is vindication, then it is the sweetest thing I have ever known.” The margin between the top three was excruciatingly narrow-Kapil pipping Tendulkar to top place by, it is believed, a single vote with Gavaskar coming in a mere three points behind.Kapil’s career will forever be studied in two halves: first the outstanding allrounder and athlete who played for India from 1978-79 to 1994. Then, the former player-turned-coach trapped in the match-fixing scandal that rocked world cricket. The Wisden award is the endorsement of Kapil Mark I.The best tribute to Kapil came from his English rival Ian Botham: “Kapsy kept me on my toes. I’d look in the papers and see, ‘Oh, Kapil’s taken a five-fer, I’d better get six. Kapil’s got a hundred I’d better get 150.”Richards launched into a passionate defence of the Indian allrounder: “I never believed it of this individual- the way he played his cricket with competitiveness and enthusiasm.”advertisementKapil himself said of his experience: “When some people try to destroy you but the cricket fraternity sees you differently, you get your faith back.”At the exclusive Long Room dinner, Kapil was emotional and expansive, filling guests’ glasses with champagne. He had hugged both his rivals on the podium, singling Gavaskar out for his powers of concentration, confidence and his strong sense of Indianness.Of Tendulkar, he had a story: “Just before he played for India, I bowled to him in the nets and he hit me for two straight sixes … I thought then, ‘Old man … your career is finished’.”Life for Kapil Dev, artist and allrounder extraordinaire, has come full circle.last_img read more