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The Spider, the Fly and the Octopus: Invertebrate Designs

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first_img(Visited 184 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享1 Small animals without backbones are cleverly designed, leaving evolutionists scratching their heads.SpidersJumping spiders are “masters of miniature color vision,” Science Daily says. National Geographic put it, “Surprise: Jumping Spiders Can See More Colors Than You Can.” Their eyes are tiny compared to ours, but new research shows that they can see in three color channels, just like human eyes do.  Science Daily appealed to Darwin’s bag of tricks:The “spectral filtering” the researchers discovered had never before been described in any spider. That makes this visual strategy a remarkable example of evolutionary convergence.Not surprisingly, the paper published in Current Biology had little to say about how evolution converged on trichromatic vision in a little spider, or how this “innovation” came about:This suggests that a shift from dichromacy to trichromacy may have played an important role in the evolution of the distinctively colorful courtship displays of Habronattus jumping spiders. Future studies will examine if improved color discrimination ability, conveyed by intraretinal filtering, represents a key innovation that enabled the extensive radiation and success of the genus Habronattus.I.e., stuff happens. Maybe someone will figure it out some day.In conclusion, our study offers a solution to the long-standing puzzle of how some salticids see color and opens the door for future studies on co-evolution of color vision and coloration. Future work should focus on the taxonomic extent of this filter-based trichromacy, as well as the adaptive benefits most likely to have favored its evolution. In particular, we suggest that trichromatic species may realize significant advantages when foraging in prey communities that include red and yellow aposematic prey.Australians have been freaking out over “spider rain” (NBC News), but it’s not really raining spiders. It’s the season for their migration. Many species of spiders spin little strands of silk that catch the wind and can transport them long distances.  You, too, can freak out. “This is going on all around us all the time,” an arachnologist (spider expert) said. “We just don’t notice it.” National Geographic shows a picture of a piece of ground coated with spider webs like snow. (Not to worry; this poses “no danger to people. It’s a spectacular natural history occurrence.”) It may seem disgusting to some, but the article uses the event to discuss the “Wonders of Silk”—Silk has been a “huge evolutionary breakthrough,” he said, and “this is one more example of why spiders have been a successful group.“For a spectacular example of spider coloration and mating displays, see the Peacock Spider dance video embedded in this article at Evolution News & Views. Look how much color and skill is packed into a little guy just five millimeters in size!FliesA news item in Nature explains how flies use an “internal compass” to build a map of their surroundings. Fruit flies are tiny little guys; they have a compass in their pinheads? Sure; experiments with flies placed into a “virtual reality arena” shows them orienting their heads as they explored the virtual space. Their control traces down to the neurons in their little heads: “Neurons in the central complex showed highly tuned responses that encoded the fly’s orientation relative to a visual cue from the arena.” Once again, though, the explanations resort to speculative processes of convergence in spite of no evidence for evolution:The possibility that ring-like attractor networks are evolutionarily conserved [i.e., unevolved] raises the exciting prospect that similar internal computational principles are used to calculate orientation in disparate species.As stated in yesterday’s entry (5/19/15), flies share another “convergence” with humans. Current Biology says, “A recent study shows that brain connectivity in Drosophila melanogaster follows a small-world, modular and rich-club organisation that facilitates information processing. This organisation shows a striking similarity with the mammalian brain.”A paper in Nature reveals another remarkable correspondence between fruit flies and people: “Together, these results indicate that recursive splicing is commonly used in Drosophila, occurs in humans, and provides insight into the mechanisms by which some large introns are removed.” Recursive splicing is a multi-stage step requiring precise placement of molecular machinery on certain “ratchet points” in the transcribed gene. These ratchet points are “evolutionarily conserved” (unevolved) in the tiny fly’s genes, as to “structure and function”.Ant MathAn article in Science Daily says that “Ants’ movements hide mathematical patterns.” How did ants learn math? When they go exploring for food sources, they choose “collective routes that fit statistical distributions of probability,” known as Gaussian and Pareto distributions. Surprisingly, these little creatures, unrelated to vertebrates, “converge” again on similar strategies used by higher animals:Scientists have yet to discover the mechanisms explaining how flocks of birds, shoals of fish, lines of ants and other complex natural systems organise themselves so well when moving collectively.If they can figure it out, they can share the secrets with robot designers who would love to use the same mechanisms. “For example, they could be used to design the coordination of a group of micro-robots or small robots to clean a contaminated area or other tasks,” one of the researchers said.Another ant trick shows skill with mathematical physics. National Geographic shows a video clip of a trap-jaw ant using its powerful lightning-fast mandible to fling itself out of a sand trap. “It’s like popcorn. They go bouncing everywhere,” an observer said.Here’s another ant surprise: they see color really well. PhysOrg says, “their colour vision is likely to be as good as that of humans and old world primates and significantly better than that of other mammals such as dogs, cats or wallabies.” That packs a lot of technology into tiny eyes and brain. It’s so good, robot designers want to learn about microminiaturization from the ants, the article says.Insect DazzleAccompanied by a photo of a brightly-colored weevil, PhysOrg headlines an article, “Within colors of bees and butterflies, an optical engineer’s dream is realized.” Why so?Evolution has created in bees, butterflies, and beetles something optical engineers have been struggling to achieve for years—precisely organized biophotonic crystals that can be used to improve solar cells, fiber-optic cables, and even cosmetics and paints, a new Yale-led study has found.Engineers have had a hard time manufacturing the precise geometric patterns at the microscopic scale that produce interference patterns that intensify colors seen in insects. Evolution somehow achieved what intelligent design has been unable to do:“Arthropods such as butterflies and beetles, which have evolved over millions of years of selection, appear to routinely make these photonic nanostructures using self-assembly and at the desired optical scale just like in modern engineering approaches,” said Richard Prum, the William Robertson Coe Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and senior author of the paper.Bee GenesHoneybee hives are models of collective behavior with social organization, division of labor and economic efficiency. How did that evolve? An article on PhysOrg tries to discern clues in the genes for a phenomenon that has been an evolutionary puzzle for 155 years:Explaining the evolution of insect society, with sterile society members displaying extreme levels of altruism, has long been a major scientific challenge, dating back to Charles Darwin’s day. A new genomic study of 10 species of bees representing a spectrum of social living – from solitary bees to those in complex, highly social colonies – offers new insights into the genetic changes that accompany the evolution of bee societies.But do the genes just “accompany” the behaviors, or cause them? That’s a deeper philosophical question. Gene Robinson (U of Illinois) believes they co-evolve: “It appears from these results that gene networks get more complex as social life gets more complex, with network complexity driving social complexity.” So is the unit of selection the gene, or the network? Surprisingly, evolution works against natural selection in this case:A third major finding was that increases in social complexity were accompanied by a slowing, or “relaxation,” of changes in the genome associated with natural selection. This effect on some genes may be a result of the buffering effect of living in a complex, interdependent society, where the “collective genome” is less vulnerable to dramatic environmental changes or other external threats, Robinson said.Nature just made a beeline to a special section this week on bees. Here are links to the features:Lauren Gravitz writes about bee instincts, their waggle dances, and their “leaderless organization” that creates a “hive mind.”Lucas Laursen writes about the “lone ranger” wild bees: solitary bees that are unsung heroes of pollinization.Neil Savage writes about bumblebee aerodynamics and the attempts by robot designers to mimic their acrobatic flights. “The flight of the bumblebee is a remarkable feat,” evidenced by the difficulty of playing Rimsky-Korsakov’s virtuouso piece by that name. The tiny hairs on the bee’s body provides sensory data and also dampens aerodynamic forces. Did you know that these champion flyers have been found flying higher than Mt. Everest?Alla Katsnelson writes about bee guts. That’s right; “By analysing bacteria that live in the digestive tracts of bees, researchers hope to learn about the role of microbes in insect health.” The bacteria inside bee guts “have evolved to make a living in one of the most extreme antibiotic environments on the planet,” one biologist says.A slate of seven entomologists discusses “the biggest challenges faced by bees and bee researchers.”Sarah DeWeerdt waxes poetic about “the beeline” – i.e., the “long and interwoven history” between humans and honeybees.GlowwormA new glowing millipede in California was announced in PNAS. The title promises to show “the gradual evolution of bioluminescence in Diplopoda,” but once again, the innovation just appears over and over in different organisms. Whether or not it gets brighter over time (in their speculative evolutionary timeline) is a much less challenging question:Luminescence in Motyxia may have initially evolved to cope with metabolic stress triggered by a hot, dry environment and was repurposed as a warning signal by species colonizing high-elevation habitats with greater predation risk. The discovery of bioluminescence in X. bistipita and its pivotal evolutionary location provides insight into repeated evolution of bioluminescence across the tree of life.OctopusThe octopus, a cephalopod (“head-foot”), is one of the most complex invertebrates known, with eyes rivaling the human eye in design, a myriad of complex behaviors, skin that can instantly change color and shape, and eight flexible, highly-maneuverable arms. Another wonder just surfaced: the octopus (and other cephalopods) can “see” with its skin. Science Magazine says that rhodopsin molecules are found in the skin, apparently giving the animals the ability to sense light. (See this ability in an unrelated animal, the brittlestar—an echinoderm, 8/23/01). A press release from UC Santa Barbara says that octopus skin can “see” even without input from the eyes and brain. Though the skin only senses brightness, it’s enough to help the octopus adapt its camouflage quickly, as the embedded video clip shows.How could this evolve? As usual, the explanation involves innovation and convergence:According to Oakley, this new research suggests an evolutionary adaptation….Ramirez wants to understand how these two groups are related. “Do they all come from the same ancestral source or did they evolve multiple times?” he asked.Science Magazine’s speculation tosses some co-option into the Darwin brew: “light-sensing ability may have originated with an ancestral mollusk, which over time cephalopods have drafted to facilitate their unique behavior.”Octopus arms are the focus of three recent articles by engineers who want to imitate them for robotics: PhysOrg (“Octopus inspires future surgical tool”), Live Science (“Octopus-inspired robotic arms can multitask during surgery”) and The Conversation (“How we made an octopus-inspired surgical robot using coffee”). Coffee? Kaspar Althoefer explains that their robot uses the same method of “granular jamming” used to pack coffee in cans. “In fact, the granules used in the STIFF-FLOP robot prototypes are actually ground coffee granules because of their excellent jamming behaviour.” It allows the robot to “freeze” the robotic arms in specific positions. The octopus, with its arms always in motion, doesn’t need the caffeine.Since these three articles were focused on mimicking the octopus’s excellent engineering, they did not venture into speculations about how the octopus might have evolved.Evolutionists evolve their theories by blind, unguided processes of chance. Creationists reason up their theories by intelligent design.last_img read more

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Rooibos yoghurt fights cancer

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first_imgThe wonder plant rooibos can be used in a multitude of ways. (Image: SA Rooibos Council) Rooibos tea is made from the bush’s needle-like leaves. (Image: SA Rooibos Council)Janine ErasmusThe first yoghurt ever to be made with rooibos extract has received the green light from the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa).The organisation’s Smart Choice emblem identifies the yoghurt as a key element in a healthy, cancer-preventing lifestyle.Dairy farming company Fair Cape’s line of Free Range rooibos (Afrikaans, meaning red bush) yoghurts are the first to earn the Cansa Smart Choice logo, indicating their proven health benefits. Yoghurt and rooibos are both recognised as important health foods in their own right, and the combination of the two takes their benefits to a new level.The Smart Choice logo is not awarded to just any product. Candidates have to comply with a stringent set of criteria, such as the percentage of fat, sugar or fibre. In addition, the Free Range line is supplied in transparent tubs made of recyclable plastic.Cancer preventionStudies carried out on the indigenous rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia) plants by Dr Jeanine Marnewick of South Africa’s Medical Research Council have established the plants’ ability to prevent mutagenesis, or damage to cell DNA.This damage is thought to signal the potential onset of cancer and is caused by prolonged exposure to a mutagen such as cigarette smoke, sunlight, or carcinogenic chemical such as hydrogen peroxide or benzene.Marnewick’s research was published in several international science journals.Cansa’s head of research Carl Albrecht concurred with her findings. He said that eight years of research and an investment of US$130 000 (R1.2-million) has convinced the organisation that rooibos is indeed a potent source of cancer-preventing chemicals. “Glutathione, in the reduced state, is the body’s own antioxidant,” said Albrecht, “but it decreases over time as we age and due to other factors, including smoking. Glutathione is linked to lower heart attack and cancer risk and also counteracts ageing.”Albrecht explained that Cansa’s research proved that rooibos raises the ratio of reduced to oxidised glutathione in the body by 100%, with the intake of six cups of tea a day. In healthy cells, over 90% of glutathione is found in the reduced form, and less than 10% is oxidised. An increased level of oxidised glutathione is an indicator that toxic substances are harming the cells. “We are indeed fortunate that rooibos is an indigenous South African tea which is affordable and easily accessible to the public at large,” he added. Natural productThe milk used by Fair Cape to produce Free Range yoghurt is completely natural and free from synthetic hormones or additives, as some additives have been linked to cancer. The preservative is also natural and is not absorbed into the blood.Each serving of rooibos yoghurt contains rooibos extract equivalent to one cup of tea, and this extract is also 100% natural.Furthermore, the level of probiotic bacteria – a dietary supplement of beneficial live microorganisms – in this yoghurt product is particularly high. Research into probiotics suggests that they, too, can help lower the risk of cancer, especially cancer of the lower intestine, by deactivating certain intestinal compounds that may damage DNA.Wonder plantRooibos is a woody shrub and member of the legume family. It is grown only in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape, where the summers are hot and dry, the winters wet, and the soil suitably sandy.The plant’s leaves have been used medicinally for hundreds of years, initially by the indigenous Khoi people. Its low tannin and zero caffeine content have made it popular as a contemporary health drink in South Africa for many years.A fresh way to enjoy rooibos is in the form of red espresso, which is concentrated rooibos put through an espresso machine and served in the style of the popular coffee beverage. The new drink won the Global Food Award for innovation at the first-ever awards ceremony of the International Union of Food Science and Technology, held at the end of 2008 in Shanghai, China.Iced rooibos tea is a firm favourite with parched South Africans, especially during the heat of summer, and it may also be used in a host of other ways in cooking.Rooibos, and honeybush, are gaining increasing international popularity as consumers abroad begin to appreciate their powerful health benefits.Not only does rooibos contain significant amounts of antioxidants, but it also contributes to the recommended daily allowance of calcium, manganese and fluoride.A daily helping of rooibos can help to lower cholesterol, soothe colic-stricken babies, alleviate nervous tension and problems with allergies and digestion, enhance the function of the liver, boost metabolism, and improve the skin.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Contact Janine Erasmus at janinee@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.Related articlesRooibos gets a makeoverAn infusion of innovationUseful linksFair CapeCancer Association of South AfricaSA Rooibos CouncilMedical Research Councillast_img read more

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IMC appoints new CEO

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first_imgAppointment expected to bring leadership to the organisation during a defining time in the life of South Africa’s Nation Brand 10 March 2010, Johannesburg – The International Marketing Council of South Africa (IMC), responsible for overseeing the marketing of Brand South Africa around the world today announced the appointment of Mr. Miller Matola as Chief Executive Officer. Matola had been CEO of the Durban ICC since 2006.“Miller brings a dynamic strategic and operational skills set to the IMC. His international, domestic and local experience, and, understanding of the National imperatives will inform his leadership of the IMC. This is critical as we strive to contribute to national economic growth by ensuring that South Africans buy into, and, live the brand promise made in the country’s marketing campaigns,” said Anitha Soni, IMC Board Chairman.“Throughout his career, his responsibilities have required engagement with a myriad of stakeholders, to achieve greater coordination and unlock synergies. We have every confidence that he is the ultimate fit to lead the organisation during a defining time in the life of South Africa’s Nation Brand,” she said.Brand South Africa vision“The IMC’s mandate is to develop and implement a proactive and coordinated international marketing and communication strategy for South Africa. It is our aim to position the country as an attractive destination and partner for trade and investment as well as tourism; and to help the country realise its international relations objectives,” said Matola.“The South African brand has recently entered a new, collaborative era in presenting the country to the world. The launch of the singular commercial identity is one example thereof,” he said.“Looking beyond the World Cup, the IMC will take Brand South Africa into offering a competitive value proposition, which will deliver on our country’s national growth imperatives.  said Soni.Leadership expertiseMatola began his career in education, which fuelled his interest in the tourism sector. He joined the Department of Tourism where he developed frameworks for key service areas within the sector.    He then moved to SA Tourism to lead its Business Tourism Unit.  He was thereafter charged with the management of the Americas portfolio for South African Tourism.   The Americas portfolio included the USA, South America and Canada. During his time at SA Tourism, he won the prestigious SAA award for ‘most outstanding individual in the industry’ (2002). Prior to taking on the challenge of heading up the Durban ICC (2006), he was CEO of KwaZulu-Natal Tourism. His passion for the powerful role that tourism can play in community development is unprecedented, with his active participation therein including the establishment of a Kruger National Park lodge for a displaced Maluleke community.He has a Bachelor of Arts in education (University of the North), has completed the Wits Business School management advancement programme and is in the process of completing his MBA through Thames Valley University.Matola takes over the reins from Acting CEO, Paul Bannister who stepped into the role on a temporary basis in 2009 whilst the agency sought to fill this permanent position. “We extend our sincere gratitude to Paul for his passion and dedication for South Africa that he has exhibited during his term as acting chief executive,” said Anitha Soni, IMC Board Chairperson.Responding to the announcement of a full time CEO at the IMC, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane welcomed the stability a full time appointment would bring the organisation. “The appointment of a CEO brings stability to the IMC. Critically, this comes at a time when we are all well geared towards a programme of delivery in positioning South Africa as a country ready and open for business,” said Chabane. Chabane is the Cabinet Minister responsible for the IMC.For further information: Margaret Dingalo Director: Stakeholder Relations International Marketing Council of South Africa Tel: +27 11 483 0122 Web: Brand South Africalast_img read more

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London pays tribute to Nelson Mandela

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first_img4 March 2014 Nelson Mandela “represented the possibility of a better human society, not only in South Africa but in the world at large,” South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe told the nearly 2 000 people that filled London’s Westminster Abbey on Monday for a special service celebrating Mandela’s life. Nelson Mandela, who passed away in December aged 95, joined a select group of non-Britons – including former Botswana President Seretse Khama, Jamaican Prime Minister Alexander Bustamente and Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies – who have been honoured by a service of thanksgiving at the 1000-year-old church where Britain crowns and buries its kings and queens. The guests at Monday’s service included Prince Harry, representing the Queen, British Prime Minister David Cameron, former prime ministers John Major and Gordon Brown, members of the Mandela family, and actor Idris Elba, who played Mandela in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.Thanks ‘for a truly great man’ Dean of Westminster John Hall, conducting the service, reminded the guests that a thanksgiving service for South Africa was held in the Abbey 20 years ago to celebrate the country’s first democratic elections. “At that time, all who were here, and people throughout the world, thanked God for the triumph of a spirit of reconciliation, and for peaceful transition,” Hall said. “It is hard to imagine that any of this would have been possible without the grace and generosity shown by Nelson Mandela. “Today we join together, representing the people of South Africa, of the United Kingdom, and of the Commonwealth, to give thanks to almighty God for a truly great man.” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, in his address, thanked anti-apartheid campaigners in UK for their support during the years of apartheid rule. “Thank you to the elegant ladies who boycotted South African oranges,” said Archbishop Tutu. “Thank you to those who followed a long-haired Peter Hain [the British Labour Party politician who was a noted anti-apartheid campaigner in the 1970s].” Hain, who also addressed the congregation, said that Mandela never forgot the tens of thousands of British citizens who supported South Africa’s struggle, adding that he would have been humbled by Monday’s service.‘History will judge us in light of Mandela’ President Motlanthe said that Mandela had been shaped by his country’s struggle, “which shunned confrontation but held values of compassion and solidarity that went beyond simple opposition to apartheid”, and that his inheritors were now faced with the challenge of making his dream come to pass. “Humanity must consciously strive to free political activity, democracy, and the right to differ without the prospect of imprisonment, torture and assassination,” Motlanthe said. “The most enduring monument we can build to Mandela’s memory is to strive for human solidarity, to conquer racism and sexism, to eradicate social inequalities, educate the masses, make health accessible to all, and uphold a human rights culture. “Posterity will look at the current generation in the light of the Mandela experience. If we fail it will not make sense to future generations that while Mandela evolved into a rugged moral force that edged humanity higher on the plane of civilisation, those who followed him either failed to live up to his philosophy or simply destroyed his dream.” Westminster Abbey announced on Sunday that it would be honouring Mandela with a memorial ledger stone, to be unveiled later this year. Mandela was welcomed to the Abbey in July 1996 when, during a state visit as president of South Africa, he laid a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. South African President Jacob Zuma, who was unable to attend Monday’s service due to work commitments, issued a statement on Sunday thanking the British government and people and the Abbey in particular for hosting the memorial service.
 He said South Africa was humbled by the gesture, “which demonstrates yet again the impact of Madiba in the world. “This service demonstrates how this global icon that is Madiba touched many lives and hearts and was able to transcend geographical boundaries in spreading messages of peace, unity and the need for a better world.” SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

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Timeline Trimming Shortcuts in Premiere Pro

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first_imgDiscover how to use the J/K/L keyboard shortcuts in Premiere Pro for trimming in the timeline.  A surefire way to supercharge your video editing workflow.In this post we’ll show you how to speed up your timeline editing in Adobe Premiere Pro by utilizing keyboard shortcuts.Heads and Tails FootageAs with clip trimming in any non-linear video editing application it’s important to have head and tail footage on the clips you use.  This will give you all kinds of options and can save you from problems down the line.What do I mean by head and tail footage? Well, if you look at the picture below…… the red arrows show extra footage in the clip that isn’t being used on the timeline.  So, the footage to the left is ‘head’ footage (i.e. extra unused footage before the ‘in’ point for the clip) and the footage to the right is ‘tail’ footage (i.e. extra unused footage after the ‘out’ point for the clip).If you are ever involved in shooting a production you’ll know that it is always useful to roll the camera for a good 5 to 10 seconds before any ‘action’ takes place…and for 5 – 10 seconds after the ‘action’ has completed.  Doing this will allow you to capture good head and tail footage which can be used for a number of things in post.First, this footage can provide good ambient audio – something that people often fail to realize is important until they need it!  For example, if you wanted to record extra speech after the filming and make it sound like it was recorded at the same time and in the same place it is almost impossible to get it to match unless you have some ambient audio which you can put under the new recording (room tone).Second, head and tail footage gives plenty of room for applying transitions.  If you want a crossfade to work, you need footage to apply the crossfade to.  This cushion is useful for applying many different types of video transitions.Third, and most important for our discussion of trimming shortcuts, having plenty of head and tail footage can allow you to do slip, slide and rolling edits.Timeline Shortcuts in Premiere ProTo get into ‘Trim’ mode, with the sequence panel selected, simply tap the T key and you should see the following changes in the program monitor and on the timeline …Program Monitor In Trim ModeTimeline In Trim Mode With Rolling Edit Tool SelectedWhat you can see in the timeline is the play-head snapping to the nearest edit point and the ‘rolling edit’ tool becoming active. To change to another tool simply hold the shift key and tap T repeatedly and you will cycle through the tools until you come back to the rolling edit tool.Now let’s do some editing.So, L plays forwards, J plays backwards and K stops.  These are the very basic keyboard shortcuts of all video editing apps.As long as you have head and tail footage linked with the clips in your timeline and you are in Trim mode, hit L or J to play to the point where you would like the edit to move to and then tap K and the edit will snap to that point – it’s as simple as that!  And, because we are using the Rolling Edit tool, when it comes to the end of any head or tail footage available, playback will stop.However, if you were using the Ripple Edit tool (Yellow) it would ripple edit as long as you let playback continue and there is head or tail footage.Ripple Edit ToolThe same is true with the Trim Edit (Red bracket) but only to the end of the clip and then playback would stop again.Trim Edit ToolOne last thought – what about slow motion use of JKL?Well, although you can playback in slow motion using the shift + J/L keys, you can’t edit using this function. The nearest you can get to this is moving one frame at a time in either direction.What you need to do when in Trim mode is HOLD the K key and then tap either the J or L keys to trim backwards or forwards. Repeated tapping of the J and L keys will move your edit point forward one frame at a time.Then, to move to the next trim point use the up and down arrows and you’ll move up and down edit points in your timeline.  As you can see, J/K/L shortcuts are not just useful for playback, but also in trimming on the fly in your Premiere Pro project!last_img read more

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India ends Manchester CWG with record haul of medals, but performance lacked class

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first_imgTEAM WORKS: Indian women’s hockey XI celebrates”Forget this win. Celebrate and forget it. Our performance is not up to the mark even of the last Asian Games.” That’s shooter Ashok Pandit, Commonwealth Games gold medallist from 1990 to 1998, talking about India’s mass of medals from Manchester 2002.Oh, shouldn’t he,TEAM WORKS: Indian women’s hockey XI celebrates”Forget this win. Celebrate and forget it. Our performance is not up to the mark even of the last Asian Games.” That’s shooter Ashok Pandit, Commonwealth Games gold medallist from 1990 to 1998, talking about India’s mass of medals from Manchester 2002.Oh, shouldn’t he be shot himself? For throwing a bucket of cold water on celebrations full of cash prizes and the hot air of speeches.But Pandit knows and understands. India’s big bag of 72 medals from the Games may be its biggest in any multidiscipline event, but sadly it is not a sign that India is about to become a formidable sporting power. The shooters come homeTo crunch some quick numbers: of the 72 Indian medals, 30 came from weightlifting and 24 from shooting. Golds in women’s hockey, boxing and wrestling, and silvers and bronzes in boxing, table tennis, badminton, judo and wrestling made up the remaining. In shooting, Indians are genuine contenders but not yet championship-class at the world level. The cream of the world’s shooters come from outside the Commonwealth. At the World Shooting Championships that were held in Finland just before the Manchester Games, India won a bronze. The highest-ranked Commonwealth country on that medals table was Britain, tied 20th. India is a power, though a slipping, sliding one, in women’s weightlifting, which made its debut in Manchester: as a result, lifts well below the Indians’ personal best were enough to win them medals.The athletes don’t shy away from this truth. Shooter Anjali Vedpathak Bhagwat, who won four golds in Manchester, says, “Oh, we expected to do well…  the Asian Games are going to be much, much tougher.”advertisementTriple gold-medallist lifter Kunjarani Devi says, “The emphasis this time was on results, medals… we were conserving ourselves for the Asiad.”For the recordsClick here to EnlargeWhile celebrations are in order, over-the-top euphoria, they will tell you, is not. But national shooting coach Sunny Thomas snaps, “We didn’t buy medals or beg for them. We went out and won each one of them.” The best of this bunch did it in a manner befitting all champions.Like the women’s hockey team that has survived two months that would have made Job scream at his God and lose his religion. Reversals of all kinds cost it a spot in the World Cup: just before a qualifying series, the US team fled India, citing security threats. When the tie was rescheduled, the Indians discovered the US team had been given advance warning, arriving early in England, the neutral venue, and worse still, occupied hotel rooms meant for them.SHOOTING STARS: Gold-medallists Bhagwat (left) and Shirur broke the Games recordIn the four-nation tournament meant as a warm-up for Manchester – the Indians lost a contentious final to England on the back of poor umpiring. Which then continued in the qualifier versus the US. And it was all followed up by the Games – where an Indian penalty stroke was disallowed, a 0-3 deficit had to be turned into a 4-3 win and – to top it all – a golden goal in the final was first turned down.Only after 35 minutes of waiting was the gold medal finally India’s. “Fight karne ki aadat ho gayi (Fighting has become a habit),” grins Mamta Kharab, scorer of the golden goal. The squad that averages 5 ft and 50-55 kg against the world norm of 5 ft 5 in and 60 kg, didn’t win gold on “oriental” skill or fitness alone, but because of the size of the fight they packed into their small frames. If it comes to small frames and big ambitions, they have company in light-flyweight boxer Mohammed Ali Qamar, sixth of seven children, a 22-year-old alley cat from Kidderpore, Kolkata. The judges in his final against Darran Langley of England didn’t seem to notice every time he landed a legitimate punch, so Qamar decided to help them along, raising his hand every time he struck. It earned him points, gave him “josh” and got the crowd booing.RING LEADER: Qamar had to overcome biased judges tooHe pretended they were cheering him instead and a five-point deficit going into the last round was turned into India’s first Commonwealth boxing gold. Next stop? “We’ve got close to an Olympic medal but it’s never happened. I’d like to be the one to do it.” When he beat an Olympic quarterfinalist in the first round, his astounded Kenyan opponent said, “India, Sri Lanka… only cricket. But boxing?”They don’t ask that of the shooters any longer. Ever since topping the medals table last year at the Commonwealth Championships, India was clearly the team to beat at the Games. “But it’s not easy to do that anymore,” says Bhagwat, ranked No. 6 in the world, a soft-spoken 32-year-old whose sure words carry the authority of a rifle crack.advertisementRelative ValuesClick here to EnlargeBhagwat, with more than 10 years of shooting behind her, is no unsure rookie but a World Cup winning silver-medallist this year, the first Indian to qualify for an Olympic final (finishing eighth in Sydney 2000) and the first to win a qualifying berth for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. In a sport where a single point separates medal winners from also-rans, Bhagwat and her partner Suma Shirur smashed the Commonwealth Games record by 17 points.Morad Ali Khan, a Tata Steel executive, and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, an armyman, were originally not cleared to compete in the Games, a fallout of a long-running squabble between the national federation and the Government.In the double-trap event, they beat Aussies Mike Diamond, a former world champ, and Mark Russell, Olympic silver medallist. The shooters will agree that the experience of regular internationals has toughened them. But for two years, they have not received enough ammunition for home-range practice.Pandit talks of his own kind, but speaks for all athletes saying, “Why isn’t the Government as generous with money when it comes to training like it is when we win medals? It’s all connected, you know.” If their hurdles still remain, the heroics of the Commonwealth champions will be in vain.last_img read more

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