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first_imgWalshyHe wishes he had Patrick McBrearty’s eye for goal and Mark English’s legs. But then he just wouldn’t be himself. Paddy Walsh is back with Donegal’s favourite sports column.McBREARTY PASSES ALL TESTSOnce upon a time in the far – very far – distant past, I sat for the Leaving Certificate examination. Actually make that twice upon a time as I was forced to repeat it but no call to go into the finer details here particularly as there were no finer details. But that era in my educational life came into my head while I was watching the highlights of Donegal’s victory over our cross border neighbours in Ballybofey in the opening round of the Allianz National League.I wondered why and then I realised I was thinking of that time a few short years ago when a 17 year old Patrick McBrearty burst onto the inter county scene.He looked a lively prospect then and one for the future. And, as they say, the future is now. What a performance he put in last Saturday and while a highlights package can’t provide the full picture, the glimpses of him showed enough to tell us that here is a real talent. Took his scores superbly and didn’t allow the Derry defence to settle.And I thought back those couple of years when he himself was sitting his Leaving but was still showing a maturity beyond those teenage years. And I wondered how I would have coped with an All-Ireland title on the horizon and an important school examination to deliver had I been good enough to turn out for Donegal (or even good enough to sit the Leaving). Can’t imagine I would have been mature enough back in the day to cope with that double demand but the Kilcar man has certainly proved himself and will surely be an automatic starter in Rory Gallagher’s line-out for the rest of the year. Not a classic performance by the home team but, quite often under the tenure of Jim McGuinness, they countered a disappointing one half with an impressive second. And with the veteran pairing of Christy Toye and Neil Gallagher showing they have lost nothing in terms of what they brought to the Donegal table during the McGuinness era, there are plenty of grounds of hope.The ground they’ll perform on next weekend will be the one they’ll hope to revisit in the third week of September and I fancy Donegal to put one over the Dubs at Croker even if certain Dubs in close proximity to this column may be sniggering in the background. MARK’S DOUBLEMark EnglishA double triumph for Mark English last weekend. On Friday night, he was named Donegal Sports Star of the Year and followed that up by helping the Irish team to smash the world medley relay record in New York.The Irish quartet which also included Ciaran O’Lionard, Brian Gregan and Declan Murray, came home – not literally now! – in a time of 9:25:37 with the Letterkenny man clocking up 1:48:59 over his 800 metres distance. They finished second behind the host nation in the New Balance Indoor Games. Due to his American commitment, English wasn’t in a position to be present in the Mount Errigal Hotel to accept his sports star award but there to receive it for him was his father, Joe, and, by all accounts, the latter gave an inspiring address on behalf of his son.Some weekend and some year for the affable former Letterkenny A.C. man who took that never to be forgotten bronze medal in the 800 metres at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in the summer.You suspect being named sports star of the year in his home county might even edge his achievement in New York on the personal satisfaction rating.And what about Danny Mooney? He breasted the tape in first place in the 1,500 metres at the AAI Games in Athlone and in the process registered a European indoor qualifying time of 3.42.69. The Letterkenny athlete has, as a result, confirmed his place at the European Championships in Prague in March. Two international sports stars that we can call our own and there’s no doubt there will be more rewards and medals for both down the track.Meanwhile, glowing tributes to all those sports people who were recipients at the awards ceremony in Letterkenny and to everyone nominated. NO, NOT YOU THIERRYSo you get wind of a rumour that a French striker is being linked with Finn Harps and you think – surely not, surely not HIM? Would he want to end his playing career at Finn Park and show us that he could mix it in the First Division of the League of Ireland?But no, it appears he’s going to continue watching the Gunners at the Emirates and has no interest in being handed (sic) a chance to really make a name for himself.In any case, the French striker who did turn up, one Wilfried Tagbo, marked his first – let’s hope the first of many – game for Harps with the only goal in a pre-season win over the side who finished runners-up in the Premier League last season, Cork City.Tagbo was recommended for a trial with Harps and partnered former Carlisle United and Fleetwood Town striker, Greg Peel, in the frontline against Cork in the game played in Roscommon, both apparently impressing.And strikers are what Harps urgently require to ensure the burden of scoring doesn’t fall on the ageing shoulders of Kevin McHugh who, I have no doubt, will, despite a mixed campaign last time out, deploy all his experience and guile to typical effect in the new season.Should Tagbo and Peel remain on the striking problems might just be resolved but if they leave, the search can only go on. T.V. OR NOT T.V.Nora StapletonNever mind the Super Bowl, the Six Nations is almost upon us. And Ireland will, the pundits and experts are telling us, start as favourites after last season’s championship triumph and impressive performances, and results, in the November internationals.So that’s that then, no title win this year which might not be the worst thing that could happen in a World Cup year – just as long as they don’t collapse completely in the Six Nations – with that big fish to fry.Meanwhile, let’s hope the Women’s Six Nations championship will receive due television coverage as it, too, gets underway this weekend.Not that it will be much good to the family of one of Donegal’s rugby women, Nora Stapleton, who don’t even have a T.V.Interesting interview with the Fahan woman in a Six Nations supplement in the ‘Irish Times’ this week during which she confessed: “As a child I wouldn’t have known anything about rugby, really. I didn’t come from a very sporty family. We didn’t sit in front of the T.V. watching sports because we didn’t even have a T.V. growing up.”Apparently her parents had decided their children could provide their own entertainment and got rid of the box in the corner. And they still don’t have one to this day.If it weren’t for televised sport, there’d probably be a lot of us doing the same.WINDOW SMASHERLate into transfer window deadline day it was beginning to look like the whole thing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be until along came the story of the year to take the pane out of it.Kieran McDaid transferred from Buncrana Hearts to Exeter City! Twitter had all the latest on it with one tweet from a City supporter declaring: “Makes me laugh that we all know we’ve signed someone, yet official ECFC won’t announce it.” Wonder why?!Even SKY Sports were hoodwinked and, unlike Exeter, DID announce the signing. Not that the news was appreciated everywhere, least of all from one Jack Stirling who tweeted: “Why have we signed a 23 year old striker from Ireland who plays in a park?”But, for a spell, it seemed they had, reports circulating that McDaid had signed an eighteen month contract with the SKY BET League 2 side. “Big thanks to all at Buncrana Hearts for all they’ve done. Looking forward to my next opportunity….”, Kieran took to social media to acknowledge his gratitude.But as Exeter supporters were getting to grips with the news of the latest arrival to St. James Park –and wondering (a) who he? and (b) where’s Buncrana? – it was left to the local media outlet, the Express & Echo, to deliver the bombshell: “No, Exeter fans, Kieran McDaid did not sign for City last night” before going on to reflect on those fans left red faced with the transfer day prank.To those behind it, a heartiest well done. Full-time score: Buncrana Hearts 1 Exeter City O.Great prank, lads. Oh look, there’s another one: Wilfried Zaha, Manchester United to Crystal Palace…  MEDALS AND MAGHERAFELT They could have lined Magherafelt’s main street with the haul of medals that Donegal’s juveniles took home from the Ulster and Northern Ireland indoor athletics championships over the weekend.Representing clubs from Finn Valley, Letterkenny, Lifford, Cranford and Tir Chonaill, the county’s young athletes claimed honours in all disciplines in track and field in the Meadowbank Sports Arena. Well done to them all and indeed to those who may not have returned with a medal around their neck but were still prominent performers.There were early morning departures on both Saturday and Sunday for athletes, coaches and parents – dedication that was to be rewarded with some glittering returns.Cold it was. Freezing in point of fact. And that was inside the Meadowbank arena. When they tell you you’re running in the heat, they don’t mean it literally here. For an indoor venue it fairly sends the shivers through you though the performances on and off the track would quickly warm us all up.Outstanding show by all our young athletes and the Glenshane Pass looked particularly spectacular on the way home. LEAGUE OF DUBLIN Brilliant. Just when you think the League of Ireland authorities couldn’t make a bad situation worse, along they come and do just that. Out go Shamrock Rovers ‘B’ from the First Division – they should never have been allowed into the league in the first place – but in comes Cabinteely F.C. to replace them.The head count of Dublin clubs in the League now stands at seven and you can include Bray Wanderers in that considering they’re only a short Dart ride from the rest of them.Just how big a city do the authorities believe our capital is? Certainly not big enough to facilitate seven clubs. The support base surely cannot justify such a selection. U.C.D.? A couple of Bus Eireann coaches would comfortably hold their regular home attendance tally with a few seats to spare. Bray Wanderers? Derek Wilkinson could transport their supporters to the Carlisle Grounds in the back of a handful of his Daihatsus.And while the likes of Shelbourne might have a somewhat greater contingent of fans, I can recall a match in Finn Park towards the end of last season when they were still in the hunt for automatic promotion and brought along a mere mini bus load of followers.And now we have Cabinteely entering the fray. They will be operating out of Stradbrook, home of Blackrock Rugby Club but it’s hardly likely the rugger types will be lending their support come match days.To be fair about this, the Dublin club may have been the only one to actually apply for league membership. But surely had they been pressed other non-league clubs around the country could have been persuaded to make an application?Social media highlighted the case this week for the inclusion of the likes of Tralee Dynamos and Killarney Celtic from deepest Kerry but in a county where Gaelic football rules supreme, they may not have been the best options. One comment online summed up another potential problem: “Kerry teams would struggle in the League of Ireland. Imagine having to field a side for a midweek game against Finn Harps.”And the very same Harps would hardly savour another country length trek to Tralee or Killarney, particularly as they already have matches in Cobh, Waterford and Wexford to contemplate.We may be looking at the last hurrah for the First Division of the League of Ireland and for someone who has always advocated a promotion/relegation scenario to keep the interest alive for clubs at the bottom end of the Premier League and the top ranks of the First,that would be a bitter pill to stomach.Not that the league authorities appear to care too much. TOUCHDOWN (ON THE OLD SCRATCHER)I had little or absolutely no intention of staying up to watch the Super Bowl live from Arizona. But once I got settled into the start of it and the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks got down to brass tacks and the ball carriers bounced off another tackle and the cameras scanned the stadium and caught sight of Mark Wahlberg and that fellow who used to play with the Beatles, I still had no intention of staying up for it and headed off to the leaba.The next morning brought news of a 28-24 win for the Patriots and history being made in the form of their 37 year old quarterback, Tom Brady, smashing Joe Montana’s touchdown record.But I was still glad I didn’t stay up until the wee small hours watching it. Touching down on the old scratcher at a reasonable hour is much more preferable to watching Paul McCartney sitting in the free seats. PENALTY SPOTAfter their 5-0 tanking at the Emirates, Aston Villa have now gone a full ten hours and twelve minutes without finding the back of the net. Not the first time the Villa Park outfit have hit such a barren spell but this is particularly worrying (Adrian Shiels, I feel your pain) and despite a couple of chances against the Gunners they rarely looked like ending the run.Even the award of a penalty might open the way for a resurgence in front of goal but Villa are one of just two clubs in the Premiership who have yet to be given a spot-kick this season.The other club? Step forward none other than the team everyone tells us gets all the refereeing decisions, Manchester United.BETTING SCAMA couple of weeks ago this column may have given the impression – a reasonably good impression at that – that it had won €17,000 in an eleven game accumulator at Ladbrokes.Until I was approached in the street the other day congratulating me from someone who heard it from someone else, I thought nothing more of it.Sadly – except, of course, for the individual who actually did win it – it’s not true and your average church mouse continues to share the same account as me.Though should Ladbrokes feel it necessary to send a pile this way for all the free publicity, I wouldn’t say no. But I wouldn’t bet on that either.McBREARTY’S CLASS ACT AND THE DONEGAL TRANSFER PRANKSTERS – IT’S WALSHY ON WEDNESDAY was last modified: February 4th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Walshy on Wednesdaylast_img read more

Animals Are “Overengineered” for Navigation

first_imgAnimals outshine us in many ways, but one capability that should humble us is animal navigation.  From spiders to mice, from birds to bees, the ability of animals to find their way around is truly astonishing, and James L. Gould of Princeton has raised our awareness of just how astonishing in a short article in Current Biology (March 23, 2004).1    He starts by explaining that navigation is more than just knowing which way you are pointed: “Nearly all animals move in an oriented way,” he says, “but navigation is something more: the directed movement toward a goal, as opposed to steering toward or away from, say, light or gravity.  Navigation involves the neural processing of sensory inputs to determine a direction and perhaps distance.”  As an example, he mentions how honeybees have to correct for the angle of the sun from morning to afternoon.  This involves much more than orienting at a fixed angle.  The bee has to use changing sensory information to maintain its internal map.    Gould mentions four stumbling blocks that prevented early investigators from appreciating the navigational abilities of animals.  Researchers apparently assumed natural selection was sufficient to explain it all.  He writes, “Several trends reflecting favorably on natural selection and poorly on human imagination characterized early studies of navigation.”  The stumbling blocks investigators have had to get over include:Spectral Breadth:  Early researchers assumed that animals were limited to our own human senses, but found out they can utilize a shopping list of cues invisible to us: ultraviolet light, infrared light, magnetic fields, electric fields, chemical pheromones, ultrasonic sounds and infrasonic sounds.  We were “blind to our own blindness,” he says, “and there is no reason to assume the list is complete.”Complexity: Another “crippling tendency” of early investigators was “what navigation pioneer Donald Griffin called our innate ‘simplicity filter’: the desire to believe that animals do things in the least complex way possible.”  Perhaps it was from our own pride of place, but according to Gould, we should be humbled:Experience, however, tells us that animals whose lives depend on accurate navigation are uniformly overengineered.  Not only do they frequently wring more information out of the cues that surround them than we can, or use more exotic or weaker cues than we find conceivable, they usually come equipped with alternative strategies – a series of backups between which they switch depending on which is providing the most reliable information.Recalibration:  Early studies assumed animals just needed to learn a trick once (a phenomenon called imprinting, true in some short-lived animals.)  Then they found out that some animals are able to recalibrate their instruments.Cognition:  The school of psychology known as behaviorism, which denies instinct, “puts a ceiling on the maximum level of mental activity subject to legitimate investigation,” Gould chides.  As a result of this bias, “most researchers deliberately ignored or denigrated the evidence for cognitive processing in navigating animals.”  Not all animals exhibit cognitive intervention, Gould admits.  But he then makes a very unDarwinian countercharge: “However, the obvious abilities of hunting spiders and honey bees to plan novel routes make it equally clear that phylogenetic distance to humans is no sure guide to the sophistication of a species’ orientation strategies.”    He gives an example: “One of the problems we inherited from behaviorism was the assumption that exploratory behavior must be rewarded.  However, many species examine their surroundings voluntarily and, in fact, do so in detail.”  (See example on mice below.)Let’s look at just a few of the “believe it or not” examples Gould showcases in the article:Honeybees:  Here is an example of switching inputs to get the most reliable information.  “A honey bee, for instance, may set off for a goal using its time-compensated sun compass.  When a cloud covers the sun, it may change to inferring the sun’s position from UV patterns in the sky and opt a minute later for a map-like strategy when it encounters a distinctive landmark.  Lastly, it may ignore all of these cues as it gets close enough to its goal to detect the odors or visual cues provided by the flowers.”Mice:  Here is an example of the “overengineering” Gould spoke of.  Many field animals, like mice, have a strong drive to acquire information about their home range in advance of need, whether or not (as behaviorism would expect) they get an immediate reward.  “Consider mice,” he says,which not only gallop endlessly in running wheels, but actually prefer difficulty, such as square ‘wheels’, or wheels with barriers that must be jumped.  Given a 430 meter long opaque three-dimensional maze of pipes, mice will work out the shortest path within three days, and without reward.Navigation requires determining direction:This can be achieved in two ways, and mice use both: they can use another landmark from their mental map and triangulate the direction of the goal, or they can use a landmark-independent compass like the earth’s magnetic field.–and they never joined the boy scouts.  What’s more, mice “can also navigate perfectly well, even if the habitat fails to provide useful landmarks.  They will remember the direction and length of each leg of their outward journey and integrate the result when they are ready to return and set off home,” even without a trail of bread crumbs. Pigeons:  Daytime provides celestial cues.  “…once the relationship between azimuth and time of day is memorized,” Gould says, “the animal has a highly accurate compass.”  We’ve all heard about the navigational feats of homing pigeons.  They can discern ultraviolet (UV) light, which accentuates polarization patterns of scattered sunlight, for drawing their mental map, and add to it individual data points like “the average of a night’s attempts to escape from a cage, or some other directional measure.”  The cues help them derive a mean vector, with direction pointing to the goal, and length representing scatter.  When all the cues line up, they’ve got their bearing.Migratory birds:  Birds who migrate between nesting grounds and wintering grounds can use sun cues, star cues, magnetic fields and landmarks to find their way.  Not only that, they can recalibrate the cues for seasonal changes, latitude, and longitude.  This requires recalibration:To infer the pole point through broken clouds, the animal’s map of the sky must be updated.  And as the migrants move south in the fall, new sets of stars in the southern sky appear, while northern stars slip below the horizon.  Clearly, changes in both season and latitude make relearning the stars essential.  Only fairly recently has this constant updating been demonstrated.”In fact, for unknown reasons, “nocturnal migrants calibrate their star pole to the magnetic pole.  Instead of simply taking the pole point as the true guide, the birds constantly recalibrate the magnetic pole to the geographic pole, and then the geographic pole to the magnetic pole.”Latitude: Fish, turtles, lobsters, and birds all determine their latitude by the angle of the magnetic field.  “In theory,” Gould says, “animals could obtain the same information from the sun’s noon elevation, but I know of no case in which this traditional human solution is used.”  The critters must know something we don’t.Longitude: house wrens, pigeons, sharks, salmon, sea turtles and spiny lobsters have all conquered a navigational problem that “bedeviled human navigators until very recently,” the problem of determining longitude.  How do they know distance east from west?  How can house wrens find their way back, unerringly, to the same nest box after a long flight at a different time of year from when they left?  “The apparent answer to this conundrum is provided by a map sense,” Gould answers.  The earth’s magnetic field provides both a map and a compass – just the tools you would need if released in an unfamiliar area. Pigeons again:  When homing pigeons circle around before heading home, they are reading the local map of magnetic gradients and extrapolating it from the one they learned at home.  How do pigeons detect the earth’s magnetic field?  They actually have magnetite grains in their heads, in the ethymoid sinus.  Experiments have shown that magnetic anomalies make the birds disoriented.  A sharp pulse of magnetism can severely impair their compass.  But remagnetize the organ by putting it into a magnetic field, and the bird is back to normalGould ends by pointing out two of the biggest challenges to researchers studying animal navigation: (1) the nature of the map sense, and (2) the issue of recalibration, which is still puzzling.  “The interaction of these specific learning programs,” he promises, “doubtlessly holds many magnificent secrets.” 1James L. Gould, “Magazine: Animal Navigation,” Current BiologyVol 14, R221-R224, 23 March 2004.Wow.  Thank you, Dr. Gould.  This article contains absolutely no hints about how such abilities could have evolved; in fact, it contains a couple of off-handed swipes at the notion that natural selection could explain them, or that skill correlates with “phylogenetic distance.”  This is surprising, considering that James L. Gould is a member of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton.  It could just as well have been written by Dr. Gary Parker at the Institute for Creation Research.  It’s a wonder the editors of Current Biology let this one get by without the required pinch of incense to Emperor Charlie.    Notice that these highly refined and accurate navigational skills are possessed by a wide variety of animals: mammals (e.g., mice), insects (e.g., Monarch butterflies — see 05/23/2003 and 07/09/2002 headlines), birds (e.g., Pacific golden plovers, which can navigate over open sea to the Hawaiian islands without having ever seen them), reptiles (e.g., sea turtles), crustaceans (e.g., lobsters), and fish (e.g., salmon).  Skill does not scale with presumed evolutionary advancement: for instance, the spiny lobster wins the prize for magnetic mapping (see 01/06/2003 headline).  Even bacteria and plants can orient themselves with respect to environmental cues.  Humans were given ability to build tools that can navigate a spacecraft to Saturn, but we must surely stand in awe of a God who could put technology that outperforms NASA into a bird brain.  This article goes to show that the film “Incredible Creatures That Defy Evolution” could become an infinite series.  Click your way back through the “Amazing” chain links for many more examples.(Visited 22 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Auction of Ohio’s prison farm dairy cattle begins

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections are following through with a plan set last month to terminate the state’s prison farms as the auctioning of state-owned dairy cattle began Monday.On Monday, 42 dairy cows from the Marion Correctional Institution were scheduled to be sold at Mt. Hope Auction in Holmes County. The sale was the first of many in order to liquidate the 1,000 head of state-owned dairy cows.The Columbus Dispatch reported the animals were removed from the prison earlier in the day, though the transport didn’t go unnoticed. About 100 people from the Ohio Civil Services Employees Association, a union representing prison workers, picketed the prison on auction day in opposition of the decision to close the state’s prison farms.Gary Mohr, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, announced last month that all 10 prison farms around the state would be phased out by the end of the year and the land used for said operations would be sold. The change to the century-old program comes during a time of high land prices. The sale of any land will require approval by Ohio legislators.Many critics have responded to the action by saying it axes a valuable teaching tool of the Departments while also making an irresponsible use of the state’s resources. A newly installed dairy facility at the Marion Correctional Institution has been a major component of that argument.The department holds that purchasing milk from private suppliers is advantageous financially. There are 30 prisons listed on a recently added “Invitation to Bid” for milk providers, aiming “to obtain a contractor(s) to furnish and deliver milk to state agencies in Ohio.”The next dairy cattle sale is set for May 26 at Mt. Hope. Pickaway Correctional Institution is scheduled to have 416 cattle up for bid. Dairy cattle auctions will also be held on June 8 at the Lebanon Correctional Institution and again on June 9 at the London Correctional Institution.last_img read more

Tweetmi: Another Twitter Search Engine with a Twist

first_imgTags:#news#Product Reviews#twitter#web The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Become a FanOne feature that makes Tweetmi unique is that it gives users the option to become ‘fans’ of a certain topic. While this is definitely an interesting concept, users actually have to send out a tweet about the fact that they are now fans of ‘RWW’ or ‘Follow Friday,’ which somehwat limits the usefulness of this feature. Another feature we liked is that the application can show you a list of all the Twitter users who tweeted a popular link. Like most Twitter search engines, Tweemi displays a list of the most popular links about a topic in a sidebar.Given that there are already numerous Twitter search engines and more comprehensive real-time search engines like OneRiot on the market, Tweetmi will probably have a bit of a struggle to attract a dedicated user base. It is however, a perfectly capable Twitter search engine that offers all the typical features you would expect and definitely worth a try. A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Related Posts There are, of course, already numerous Twitter search engines at this point and every new one will have to offer users a very good reason to switch from their current favorite. Tweetmi is jumping into the fray with a Twitter search engine that focuses on presenting users with a more personalized view. While the service also works well as a regular real-time Twitter search engine, users who sign in to Tweetmi will also see the most active users in their Twitter stream and the top stories from the people they already follow.In addition, Tweetmi allows users who are signed in through Twitter’s Oauth login mechanism to quickly reply and retweet any story. In this respect, Tweetmi is quite similar to Twazzup, which also gives users the ability to interact with Twitter directly. Unlike Twazzup, though, Tweetmi doesn’t offer the ability to save searches, however. Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… frederic lardinoislast_img read more