Church Street Marketplace RESEARCH REPORT: Intercept Interviews of French-Speaking Quebec visitorsLabor Day Weekend, 2008 (Friday, September 1 through Monday, September 4, 2008)Introduction: The Greater Montréal, Quebec Market: More than three and one-half million people live just two hours north of Burlington, Vermont. Montréal is Quebec’s largest city and Canada’s second largest next to Toronto. The 2007 Canadian Census (Statistics Canada, Population of census metropolitan areas), reported 1.6 million people residing in the city of Montréal proper. More than 3.6 million live in the Montréal Census Metropolitan Area (Greater Montréal Area). French is the language spoken by 70.5% of the population (as of the 2006 census). Montréal is the largest French-speaking city in North America; second in the world after Paris. (STATCAN)Understanding French-speaking Quebecois: French-speaking Quebecois’ consumer behavior reflects continental French lifestyles in many ways. In general, French-speaking Quebecois spend relatively more money on food for home consumption, clothing, personal care and health items, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages (versus other Canadians).Why do Quebecois visit and shop in Burlington? Taxes and variety. In Quebec, two taxes are applicable on goods and services: the GST (5% Goods and Services Tax) and the PST (7.9 5% Provincial Sales Tax). Whenever the Canadian dollar moves close to parity with our dollar, American goods (minus a GST and PST) offer Canadians a better value. The size of the US market also plays a part in Quebec’s attraction to Vermont and the U.S., as our national stores, in particular, can offer a greater variety and depth of products.French-speaking Quebecois on Church Street: French-speaking Quebecois have always frequented Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace. But cross-border shopping by all Canadians, according to Statistics Canada, began increasing “significantly” in the last half of 2007 as Canada’s dollar reached parity with the U.S. dollar. Businesses on the Church Street Marketplace witnessed a dramatic increase in Quebec shoppers and diners throughout the summer of 2008.Intercept Interviews with French-speaking Quebecers over Labor Day Weekend, 2008: The Church Street Marketplace conducted 80 intercept interviews of Quebec visitors on its Mall block, between Bank and Cherry Streets during Labor Day Weekend, 2008 – Friday, September 1 through Monday, September 4. Here are the results (Source Questions 1 & 2 below):QUESTION # 3 What is the purpose of your visit? Tourism and shopping were the two largest responses gathered. Many people said they came to Burlington for the day to shop, dine and explore.Airport (1)Ambience (1)Boating (1)Camping (4)Dining (3)Events: Burlington Criterium/Bicycle Race (2)Go to beach (1)Hockey tournament (1)Concert: @ Fairgrounds (1)On Motorcycle Tour (1)Outdoor Sports (2)Shopping (15)Tourism (52)Visit with Family, Friends (7)Wedding, relatives, etc. (1)QUESTION # 4.What specific purchases did you make? French-speaking Quebecois visiting September 1-4 were either brand conscious, coming to the Street to purchase specific clothing brands not available in Canada, or price conscious, seeking out lower prices and bargains.Abercrombie (4)Advertise pizza restaurantsAeropostale (2)Ann TaylorArt suppliesBanana Republic (3)Bargains (4)Barnes & NobleBCBG OutletBen & Jerry’sBirkenstockBooksBooks, Gardener’s supplyBordersCappucino, boating suppliesCheddar CheeseChicoClothes (7)Electronics storesEMSFoodFood at Farmer’s MarketFoot LockerGood prices (4)Groceries (2)Hardware ACEHollister (2)HurleyJ. CrewJC PenneyJewelry (2)Kiss the CookLevisLindt Chocolate (3)Lots of stores not found in CanadaMacy’s (6)Men’s clothingNorth Face (2)Not so sweet iced teaOutdoor Gear (3)School Supplies for kidsScuffer RestaurantShoesShopping (14)SouvenirsSouvenirsTeenage brandsTimberlandToys, BeddingVictoria’s secret (2)WaterfrontWomen’s Clothes Yankee CandleQUESTION 5What can we do different or better to encourage you to return? Following are comments from those individuals surveyed. While those surveyed often responded about a number topics, individual responses have been separated out and categorized to identify trends and priorities.a. WAYFINDING SIGNAGE / INFORMATION / INFO IN FRENCH: This category elicited the most responses. Respondents suggested more wayfinding signage, particularly getting to and around the downtown. Signage in French was viewed as recognition of and appreciation for French-speaking Quebecois in the downtown. Requests for regional information on Church Street (hiking, biking, recreation) were also identified.* Better sign for University Suites; run down hotel.* City is bicycle friendly* Maps of bike routes* Need bike path info* More educational signs about town* Improve signage to tell people how to get to Marketplace. Put in French* Information about North Beach on Church Street* Hiking info on Church Street* More French signs on Church Street* Put in cross reference maps in the parking garages so that visitors can find stores and services by category.* Need Walking tours* More signs in French; sales people who speak French* Make area map more user-friendly.b. PARKING & TRANSPORTATION* More garage parking so we don’t have to feed the meter* More parking; clearer direction markings in garages; cross reference maps on street corners so visitors can find stores by category.* Better & less expensive parking* No direct flights from Toronto to Burlington; would like info on busses between Burlington and Montréal ; Burlington & Toronto; Seems to be no coordination between trains, buses, etc.; Need an info clearing house for ground transportation.* Parking for motorhomes close to ferry. Forced to park in Williston; a lot of confusion with recreational vehicles, lost market.* shuttle bus from Colchester to Church Street* parking is well organized; shuttle buses are a help.* Border crossing long; like it here, safe and close by; like the ferry crossingc. RETAIL: Respondents who came to shop were looking for trendy, national brands, good prices and later store hours. Because each retail store on Church Street sets its own business hours, the Street as a whole does not offer the customer uniform hours.)* More chain stores* Stores close too early for Montréalers, even on Saturday* Prices are higher than expected; would like to see lower prices* Tax discount provided in store for being Canadian; 11% at Macy’s who files for tax refund later with Canada* More stores for clothing; more trendy brandsd. ACCOMMODATIONS: Comments received focused on the need for more hotel rooms with lower prices.* Motels expensive and dirty* Need more hotel rooms;* Hotels; too expensive* Would like lower hotel costs; like that you are doing surveye. DINING* More seafood restaurants; not expensive at water’s edge* Need restaurant recommendations* Put in a fried dough stand* Website confusing for Burlington; prices not posted for hotels; map of Burlington on website.* Need Menus in French* Heat Breakwaters for a longer season with outdoor heaters.f. EXCHANGE RATE: For those Labor Day respondents who identified the exchange rate as important, they asked for greater acceptance of the Canadian dollar by Church Street merchants.* Some felt we should accept the Canadian dollar at par;* Many felt that all stores should accept Canadian dollars and calculate the exchange rate as necessary.* Some were quite offended that that was not the case.* Increase acceptance/recognition of Canadian dollar;Many merchants we’ve spoken to after this survey said accepting Canadian at par is problematic; they’re not willing to absorb any losses. This may be due in part to contracting profit margins.g. PUBLIC RESTROOMS* Need more public restrooms, better marked locations* Need street corner rest roomsh. SAFETY: Safe and Non-Threatening. Those who participated in focus groups in Boston and Montreal, as part of the 2007 Burlington Branding Study, described Burlington as safe, non-threatening, and manageable: almost like ‘a city outside America’ and ‘more Canadian’ than even Americanized Toronto.i. PARKS* Need a Downtown playground for children to use while parents shop.* Love the dog parkGENERAL COMMENTS from the Labor Day, 2008 Interviews:* Don’t change. Love the small town feel compared to Montréal. Rural areas are so close by. Love how authentic you are (4 responses compressed, combined)* Need a room-finder service for hotels.* Need Information for vacationing in this country;* Need more Canadian flags displayed as well as discounts, free stuff, Quebec music, teen stuff, giveaways.* Great visit* Happy (21 similar responses)* Good prices* Like the happy, polite sales staff* Just got here. Like the ambience. The “un-Montréal .”* Keep it like it is; Like it fine as is; Like it here; quiet like the beach* Love farmer’s market; friendly, open attitude.* Love the friendly atmosphere of the street; Love the opportunity to sit outside in a clean, safe, fun environment. Street entertainers are excellent; Love the pedestrian mall and all the street vendors* No changes. Like how friendly and informal it is compared to Montréal* Regular visitors once a year* Very happy, love the bilingual signs as a gesture of friendshipTo assist our primary audience- business owners and managers on Church Street who are selling to our Quebec visitors – this report includes excerpts from the 2007 branding study, conducted by Charism Advisors for the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce. These findings both validate the Labor Day survey and provide guidance on marketing to French-speaking Quebecers.* Montréalers want to think of Burlington as different: a border crossing to a ‘whole new world.’ For Montréalers: Burlington is a world away, but very accessible. It is the architecture, signage, landscape (“It’s massive,” green, clean, open, wide angle), food, and customs. Burlington is about great shopping. Stores they can’t get in Montréal (Victoria’s Secret) and “great deals.” It can be a stopping off point en route to Southern New England or destination in itself.* Burlington as a Get Away: According to the Branding Study, Montréalers think of Burlington as a “get away” — a place that allows urbanites to escape to the country and to town. Burlington offers escape and relaxation, even while enjoying it’s more urban-like dimensions (food, art, design, music, relative sophistication).* Escape, not Retreat: Quaint and charming came up frequently in focus groups, particularly in reference to Church Street, Inns, and residential architecture. A Montréaler in a focus group said, “It really looks like that!” There is a fantasy, picture-postcard aspect Burlington. It is an escape, but not a retreat. This differentiates Burlington from smaller more rural destinations.* Authenticity: People coming to Burlington are searching for a simpler, cleaner, greener, slower place that is also living, real, contemporaneous, and vital.* Acceptance: Chill not Frosty: Montreal and Boston focus groups described Burlington as welcoming, non-judgmental, supportive, and collaborative. As one Montréaler said, people are chill (vs. “frosty”), and mind their own business. But, when you talk to them or ask for help they are very nice. Being respectfully distant while collaborative, supportive, and accepting of all opinions and lifestyles, creates a very positive climate for our visitors, according to the study.SOURCE QUESTIONS:1. What is your POSTAL CODE? The majority of those visiting from September 1-4 were from Montréal and suburbs south of the city. A smaller portion of those visiting were from the Eastern Townships G0A1H0, Quebec City, QC G1E5M7, Beauport, QC G1L1B1, Quebec City G5Y3R2, St.-Georges-Est, QC G6T5K4, Victoriaville, QC G6V8Z2, Levis, QC H1K4L7, Montréal, QC H1P2N5, Saint-Leonard, QC H1P3E9, Saint-Leonard, QC H2B2P5, Montréal, QC H2B2V9, Montréal, QC H2E1M3, Montréal, QC H2E2Z1, Montréal, QC H2G2H1, Montréal, QC H2V3W1, Outremont, QC H2X3R4, Montréal, QC H3H1H5, Montréal , QC H3P2J3, Mont-Royal, QC H3R2N7 Mont-Royal, QC H3Y2K9, Westmount, QC H3Y2T5, Westmount, QC H3Y3A4, Westmount, QC H3Z1M2, Westmount, QC H4A1H1, Montréal, QC H4A1L8, Montréal, QC H4A3N3, Montréal, QC H4B1Z2, Montréal, QC H4B2W4, Montréal, QC H4H1B5, Verdun, QC H4V1B2, Cote Saint-Luc, QC H4W3H8, Côte-Saint-Luc, QC H7M3B5, Laval, QCH7M5Z2, Laval, QCH7N1B5, Laval, QCH7W4R4, Laval, QCH7X1M2, Laval, QCH8Y2W8, Roxboro, QCH9G2O7, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, QCH9H4Z5, Kirkland, QCH9W4R5, Beaconsfield, QCJ0E1A0, Abbotsford, QCJ0E1M0, Dunham, QCJ0E2L0, Valcourt, QCJ0L1B0, Kahnawake, QCJ2K2L6, Cowansville, QCJ3H6J8, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, QCJ3L5W1, Chambly, QCJ3P5N3, Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel, QCJ3Y8G8, Saint-Hubert, QCJ4B5S9, Boucherville, QCJ4B8L8, Boucherville, QCJ4G2L2, Longueuil, QCJ4H3G4, Longueuil, QCJ4K2T8, Longueuil, QCJ7R5M1, Saint-Eustache, QCJ7V0G4, Vaudreuil-Dorion, QCK1C1C6, OntarioK1R0A2, OntarioL3P2T5, OntarioL9H2B1, OntarioM2R3E7, OntarioV8S3V4, British ColumbiaV9T4M3, British ColumbiaQUESTION # 2 Description of party: men, women, children: Surveyers asked respondents for the total number of people in their party including men, women and children. We were not specific about age of adults or children. Largest percentages of visitors were women; this may be due to the Street’s dominance in women’s apparel and accessories. Total PercentagesMen/Hommes 96 38%Women/Femmes 117 46%Children/Enfants 40 16%*Total number of people in party surveyed. 253 100%Additional Sources:* Statistics Canada; http://www.statcan.ca/menu-en.htm(link is external)* Bank of Montreal: The State of Retail in Canada:http://www4.bmo.com/popup/0,2284,35490_15688524,00.html(link is external)* Promoting consumer goods and services in Quebec, Canada’s distinct, French-speaking market Business America, Nov 1, 1993 by Julie Snyder. Copyright 1993 U.S. Government Printing Office; Copyright 2004 Gale Group;* Burlington Branding Study, Charism Advisors, January, 2007.Prepared by Ron Redmond, Executive Director, Church Street Marketplace District; Edited by Scott Hendrickson.
Our January issue is live and on newsstands now! Be sure to pick up your FREE copy, download it from iTunes, and enjoy all stories and more here on BlueRidgeOutdoors.com!DepartmentsEditor’s Note20 Years of YouFlashpointIs Atlantic Oil Drilling Inevitable?The DirtMarathon winner DQed / Four year old climbs 50-foot tree / New A.T. doc / Land conservation wins at ballot box / Sprinter chases Olympic dream / Bear balancing act / Raising hell to save salamandersThen and NowA tale of two iconic outfitters and their evolution.The GoodsThe latest in wintersports gear technology to carry you into the new year.FeaturesBest of the Blue Ridge AwardsAfter four weeks and over 5,000 votes, the results are in. Readers selected their favorite regional races, faces, and places.Roads to NowhereThe Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Plan proposes more roads and logging—and fewer trails and wild places.Man on a WireHighliner Edward Yates conquers the Chattanooga skyline.
“A broader investment universe will thus not automatically mean that the Bank actually invests the fund in unlisted equity,” they said.“If the Ministry does permit unlisted equity investments, the Bank will approach investment opportunities and build expertise gradually, invest via and alongside others in a responsible manner that safeguards the fund’s ownership interests, and share relevant information with the public,” the men wrote.They said the detailed investment strategy for private equity would be set by Norges Bank’s executive board later on, based on more analysis.NBIM agreed with the ministry’s idea that the bank should have responsibility for deciding how much should be invested in private equity, as was the case with the fund’s allocation to unlisted real estate.Real estate was removed from the GPFG’s benchmark index from 1 January 2017, but the asset class remains part of the investment universe, effectively allowing NBIM to decide on the allocation up to a stipulated upper limit.NBIM said the ministry could set an upper limit for private equity too, and suggested this could be about 4% of the fund, or 6% of its equity portfolio.This was the allocation indicated if the fund’s stake in the private equity sector were to equate to its average stake in companies included in the benchmark for equity, it reasoned in the letter.“The Ministry could also choose to set a lower limit,” Olsen and Slyngstad added.The pair said it would “take a long time to build up a portfolio”.NBIM noted in its letter that other SWFs had allocated 8.5% of their capital on average to unlisted equity at the end of 2016, up from around 4% in 2000.Back in August, the ministry appointed two expert groups to review aspects of how the GPFG invests, including one to assess whether it should be allowed to invest in unlisted equities, and the other to analyse the performance of its active management. The manager of Norway’s giant sovereign wealth fund is recommending the government allows the fund to extend its investment universe to include unlisted equities.In a letter to the Norwegian Finance Ministry, the leaders of Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) suggested a cap of 4% on any allocation to private equity. This could amount to as much as €35bn based on the Government Pension Fund Global’s (GPFG) NOK8.5trn (€881bn) investment portfolio.The letter – signed by Øystein Olsen, chairman of the central bank Norges Bank, and Yngve Slyngstad, NBIM’s chief executive – was in response to a request from the ministry made at the end of June for the manager’s opinion on whether the investment universe for the fund should be expanded to include investments in unlisted equity.The pair emphasised that NBIM would only make investments if individual deals would help boost the fund’s overall risk-return profile.
Delray Beach police say they’ve been collecting hundreds of toys to give to kids, now they’re scrambling to get enough toys in time for Christmas.The annual Christmas toy drive has turned into a sort of Christmas crisis for police.“Once you open it up, you’ll notice you’ll immediately smell mold in here,” police spokesperson Ted White said as he was about to walk inside a metal shipping container.“You can see the presence of a lot of moisture, a lot of mold,” White said.Police say hundreds of toys being stored in a metal shipping container at the police station appear to be ruined, contaminated with mold. The toys were going to be distributed to underprivileged children for Christmas. White says police were not aware until now that the shipping container had leaks.“This is devastating because a lot of these toys were going to help more than 2,200 children in the community,” he said.Mold is clearly visible on some of the boxes. Police say a few new bikes can be saved, but they estimate about 3/4 of the toys will have to be thrown out.The toys came from collection boxes at dozens of local restaurants and businesses. John Goldstein, a retired teacher and school principal who now lives in Delray Beach, says he gave toys to the police toy drive this year. “Luckily, my children never went with a Christmas without toys and I can’t even imagine what it’s like for any child to go through any holiday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa without the joy of toys,” he said.Goldstein says given the situation with the mold and the toys, he’ll try to donate another toy. “I feel that all children should feel the wonder of the holidays,” he said.Police hope people will see this story and drop off toys at the police station or at the more than 60 businesses in Delray that have collection boxes.They plan to start distributing the toys next Thursday.Questions? Call Delray Beach Police at 561-243-7841.
President Trump will speak at the Turning Point USA conference this Saturday in West Palm Beach.The annual gathering of young conservatives already had an A-list roster of speakers, including Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz., R-Florida.Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk is ardent supporter of the president. In October, Kirk joined the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., for a speaking event at the University of Florida.Also on the agenda is Ken Starr, who led the investigation that resulted in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, as well as Trump Jr., and former White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.The White House statement read:“On Saturday, Dec. 21, President Donald J. Trump will address Turning Point USA’s 5th annual Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach, FL.While there, the President will speak directly to 3,000 student leaders from across the country to tout his Administration’s accomplishments and priorities.This event occurs on the evening before the two-year anniversary of the passage of the landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which played a role in today’s booming Trump economy that Americans of all ages are benefiting from.
Still looking for a place to take in the big game tonight? Check out these watch parties and deals:Broward:W Fort Lauderdale401 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; (954) 414-8300 or Marriott.com and Eventbrite.comThe hotel’s Living Room Lounge will kick off its free 6 p.m. watch party with beer samples from Wynwood’s Concrete Beach Brewery, $35 bucket specials, $6 drafts and football-themed bites from chef Stephen Starr as game day action plays on nearby jumbo screens.Royal Pig Pub350 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; (954) 617-7447 or RoyalPigPub.comThis gastropub will broadcast the game on all 31 of its TVs. They are offering a burger, French fries and a beer for $10, along with bottomless Grey Goose cocktails for $27.97 starting at 5 p.m. There also will be Bud Light seltzer samples from 6:30 to 8 p.m.Township219 S Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale; (954) 338-4070 or TownshipFTL.comEnjoy $5 Grey Goose and $5 Cazadores cocktails, 5-for-$19 buckets of Bud Light and Bud Light Seltzer and 20 percent off sharables and pretzels. There will also be cornhole, ping-pong and Jenga on the patio and a 96-inch projector screen showing the game.Legends Tavern and Grille10 SW Sixth St., Pompano Beach; (754) 220-8932 or LegendsTavernAndGrille.comGet 75-cent wings, $3 Bud Light drafts and $4 High Noon hard seltzers, plus restaurant raffles throughout the day for Legends-branded gift cards and a 55-inch 4K TV.American Social721 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; (954) 764-7005 or AmericanSocialBar.comWatch the game on 15 TV screens. They will also feature $15 beer buckets, $6 smoked chicken wings and $4-$6 shots of select liquors.Bamboo Beach Tiki Bar4040 Galt Ocean Drive # B1-A, Fort Lauderdale (behind Ocean Manor Beach Resort); (954) 566-7500 or BambooBeachTikiBar.comMmeet wide receiver Andre “Bad Moon” Rison (1997-99 with the Chiefs), who will be appearing with NBA legend Dennis Rodman during Bamboo’s all-day watch party. The party will also feature $25 Bud and Bud Light buckets, along with 13 flat screen TVs and two projectors blasting the big game.The Wharf Fort Lauderdale20 W. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; (954) 372-7606 or WharfFTL.comTwo giant screens, and DJs spinning during commercial breaks. RSVP via: Eventbrite.com.Palm Beach:Deck 84840 E. Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach; (561) 665-8484 or Deck84.comThe eatery will serve half-off drinks at the bar and high tops during the game, plus pre-game live music from 2 to 5:30 p.m.Batch Gastropub14813 Lyons Road, Delray Beach; (561) 877-0000 or BatchGastropub.comEnjoy $15 unlimited boneless wings, $4 Bud Light drafts and $5-for-$20 buckets of select domestics.Renegades Country Bar and Grill600 Village Blvd., West Palm BeachAll-you-can-eat-and-drink for $50. Upgrade to call drinks for $65 (not including gratuity). The game will be shown on Renegade’s 50 flat screens and seven giant projectors. RSVP via Eventbrite.com.West Palm Brewery and Wine Vault332 Evernia St., West Palm Beach; (561) 619-8813 or WestPalmBeer.com$10 one-topping Neapolitan-style pizzas (normally $13-$17), $4 pints of dry-hopped blonde ale and $4 12-ounce pours of red saison.The Butcher Shop Beer Garden and Grill209 6th Street, West Palm Beach; (561) 812-2336 or ButcherShopBeerGarden.comThe Butcher Shop will salute the Chiefs during its 2 p.m. tailgate party, dishing out Kansas City-style smoked ribs and wings, smoked brisket and pulled pork sliders, $5 wells and 5-for-$15 beer buckets. During the watch party, kicking off at 5 p.m., specials will include $5 quarter rack of ribs and $10 smoked wings.850 WFTL reminds you to party responsibly. Enjoy the game!
You have to give credit to anyone who tackles a big problem head-on, regardless of whether you agree with their solution. Two recent papers take on one of evolution’s biggest challenges: the Cambrian Explosion. Assuming the evolutionary timeline, this represents a “brief” 5 million year period back 530 million years ago when most of the major animal phyla appeared. It was called an “explosion” of evolutionary emergence even decades ago, when scientists thought the interval was eight times longer, or 40 million years. More refined dating estimates have only exacerbated this problem which was known even in Darwin’s time. Somewhere between 48% and 82%, most likely around two thirds, of all animal phyla (major groupings) and subphyla appeared in this period, fully formed, and without ancestors. At most four had possible precursors up to 40 million years earlier in the Precambrian, but these are doubtful (e.g., see 08/19/2004, 12/23/2002). How brief was this explosion of life? According to Meyer, Ross, Nelson and Chien,1 if the entire evolutionary timeline were compressed into a 24-hour day, the Cambrian Explosion would represent one minute, or 0.11% of the timeline. Even if that estimate were an order of magnitude off – ten minutes, representing 50 million years – the comparative brevity of the interval would be still be remarkable. In that blink of a geologic eye, the world saw the emergence of molluscs, echinoderms, brachiopods, jellyfish, worms, arthropods (like trilobites) and many other complex organisms, compared to the prior three billion years or more when, except for a few multicelled organisms like flatworms and sponges, single-celled organisms ruled the world. To be fair, the Cambrian examples of the new phyla seem primitive by comparison to later representatives. The first chordates (those with a notochord or simple nerve chord) looked like worms, although representatives of early jawless fish (subphylum vertebrata) have been found recently in the early Cambrian strata (01/30/2003, 08/21/2002). Think how diverse the vertebrates became: everything from giraffes to turtles to hummingbirds and horses. Later arthropods in the fossil record include flying insects and lobsters and spiders. Still, to have over two-thirds of all animal body plans appear so abruptly is astonishing. The new Cambrian animals had specialized tissues and organs, presupposing that huge increases in biological information and specialized functions appeared almost overnight. Evolution isn’t supposed to happen this way. Darwin’s book presented a slow, gradual tree of life branching from ever more primitive ancestors. Where are the transitional forms? Punctuated equilibria theory has a similar problem – just on a more jerky scale. Since the Origin of Species, evolutionists have admitted that the Cambrian Explosion is one of their most vexing problems (see 07/29/2004, 12/22/2005). Intelligent design theorists and creationists have not hesitated to remind them that the Cambrian fossil record doesn’t look like evolution; it looks like creation. A recent paper tackling this problem was published by Eric Davidson (Caltech) and Douglas Erwin (National Museum of Natural History, DC) in Science.2 They mention the difficulty somewhat delicately: “A notable feature of the paleontological record of animal evolution is the establishment by the Early Cambrian of virtually all phylum-level body plans.” (Emphasis added in all quotes.) Their explanation revolves around gene regulatory networks (GRNs). “Development of the animal body plan is controlled by large gene regulatory networks (GRNs), and hence evolution of body plans must depend upon change in the architecture of developmental GRNs,” they begin. Some of these networks appear hierarchical, and the “kernels” are resistant to change. Consequently, they argue, “Conservation of phyletic body plans may have been due to the retention since pre-Cambrian time of GRN kernels, which underlie development of major body parts.” This, however, seems to focus on what didn’t change, not what did. Nevertheless, they think they are on the right track, compared with earlier explanations:Classic evolutionary theory, based on selection of small incremental changes, has sought explanations by extrapolation from observed patterns of adaptation. Macroevolutionary theories have largely invoked multi-level selection, among species and among clades. But neither class of explanation provides an explanation of evolution in terms of mechanistic changes in the genetic regulatory program for development of the body plan, where it must lie.Photos in the article show some of the diverse body plans of Cambrian animals. Their explanation of body plan diversification takes on a distinctive cybernetic flavor. By picturing genetic networks as “kernels” resistant to change (because “change in them is prohibited on pain of developmental catastrophe”), with “plug-ins” that get co-opted to developmental programs, “switches” that turn on these programs and so act as “input/output (I/O) devices” within the network, and even “differentiation gene batteries,” they envision a multi-level architecture, in which changes can have anywhere from dramatic to fine-tuning effects depending on what level it occurs. All this computer lingo, however, still sounds more like design than evolution. Smart people design computers and networks. Do Davidson and Erwin succeed in getting unaided natural forces to surprise the world with the sudden appearance of new complex animals? A key to their answer lies in assuming a “deep divergence” in genetic networks a hundred million years earlier. (Another key must, alas, await future discoveries.)We predict that when sufficient comparative network data are available, there will be found conserved network kernels similar in complexity and character to those of Fig. 2 [examples of “putative GRN kernels”], which program the initial stages of development of every phylum-specific body part and perhaps of superphylum and pan-bilaterian body parts as well. It would follow [sic] that these kernels must have been assembled during the initial diversification of the Bilateria [animals with bilateral symmetry]and have retained their internal character since. Critically, these kernels would have formed through the same processes of evolution as affect the other components, but once formed and operating to specify particular body parts, they would have become refractory to subsequent change. Molecular phylogeny places this evolutionary stage in the late Neoproterozoic when Bilateria begin to appear in the fossil record, between the end of the Marinoan glaciation at about 630 million years ago and the beginning of the Cambrian. Therefore the mechanistic explanation for the surprising fact that essentially no major new phylum-level body parts have evolved since the Cambrian may lie in the internal structural and functional properties of GRN kernels: Once they were assembled, they could not be disassembled or basically rewired, only built on to. Between the periphery of developmental GRNs and their kernels lies the bulk of the network architecture. Here we see skeins of special cross-regulatory circuitry, plug-ins, and I/O connections; and here is where have occurred the changes in network architecture that account for the evolutionary novelties [sic] attested in the fossil record of animals.Their conclusion is that there are at least three hierarchical levels of network architecture, “with extremely different developmental consequences and rates of occurrence.” The alert reader will notice, however, that the explanation above focuses on stasis of the kernels, and elsewhere only assumes that evolution somehow came up with all the highly diverse body plans in the other parts of the network. Meyer et al. pre-criticized this explanation by saying that the amount of genetic information required would be astronomical, and by saying the “deep time” supposition lacks any fossil evidence. They also pointed out that the molecular comparisons used to support divergence in deep time give highly different results, depending on whose data compares which genes. One notable part of Davidson and Erwin’s conclusion is that it differs markedly from “current microevolutionary thinking” that assumes change occurs in a “temporally homogeneous way.” They argue, instead, that “different levels of change that have occurred in evolution are imperfectly reflected at different levels of Linnean classification,” i.e., from species up through families up to phyla, “and we think that these inhomogeneous events have been caused by architectural alterations in different locations in the underlying GRNs.” Architectural alterations – is that a euphemism for mutations? They use the word alterations for all the other levels of the network, too. Here comes their cadenza. Amidst all the machine and network language, look for any unguided mechanisms that explain the origin of new body plans:To the extent that kernel formation underlies critical morphological innovations, some kernels must indirectly be responsible for major events in Neoproterozoic niche construction. Motility, predation, digestion, and other canonical features of the Bilateria followed from the evolutionary appearance of the genetic programs [sic] for the respective body parts. These innovations became an engine of change that irreversibly altered the Earth’s environment and, thus, the probability of success of subsequent evolutionary changes. We believe that experimental examination of the conserved kernels of extant developmental GRNs will illuminate the widely discussed but poorly understood problem of the origination of animal body plans in the late Neoproterozoic and Cambrian and their remarkable subsequent stability.So, in other words, we have the framework for a new theory, and a lot of work remains to be done – stay tuned. But would this answer be enough to silence the ID critics? Paul Nelson of the Discovery Institute doesn’t think so. He posted an anecdote on Evolution News about how he had met Eric Davidson years ago and heard him admit that single base-pair mutations would not produce genetic networks. He also quoted Davidson asserting that “Neo-Darwinism is dead.” After reading this latest Davidson paper, Nelson noticed a problem for getting new information into the system: “If changing the wiring takes down the whole system, well, then, obviously the wiring can’t change – a developmental instance of what has come to be known as the Principle of Continuity.” Another, more complete survey of the Cambrian Explosion and possible solutions has been made available in a preprint to the upcoming 2006 Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Science. Visit a future entry for a look at whether this paper succeeds in countering what Darwin called “the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory.”31Stephen C. Meyer, Marcus Ross, Paul Nelson and Paul Chien, “The Cambrian Explosion: Biology’s Big Bang,” Darwin, Design and Public Education (ed. John Angus and Stephen C. Meyer), Michigan State Univ. Press, 2003, pp. 323-402. This is a good semi-technical overview of the Cambrian Explosion problem and evolutionary attempts to explain it away. The timeline analogy by paleontologist Jun-Yuan Chen is mentioned on p. 326. See also the Discovery Institute Fact Sheet (PDF) about the Cambrian Explosion.2Eric Davidson and Douglas Erwin, “Gene Regulatory Networks and the Evolution of Animal Body Plans,” Science, 10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, pp. 796 – 800, DOI: 10.1126/science.1113832.3Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, ch. 10: “But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely-graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the fossil record.” Yet 140 years has not filled in these gaps, as Darwin had hoped; in fact, the situation has only become worse. Most paleontologists now admit that the fossil record is essentially complete; most new finds fit within existing categories and do not fill in the gaps; see 10/25/2002 2nd entry and 02/14/2005 entry).Ha! Another example of Darwinian hand-waving. It’s worth the effort of learning a little scientific jargon to see how these spinmeisters work their magic. Imagine some hypothetical “architectural alterations” coming up with the inconceivably complex functions of motility, predation, digestion and every other piece of hardware and software a Cambrian animal needed to live and reproduce. Unbelievable faith. The bottom line: this paper is constructed on euphemisms for random mutations and natural selection, sprinkled with plagiarized jargon about networks, engines, I/O modules, kernels, plug-ins and other intelligent-design concepts. Any fossil evidence? Nope. Any realistic genetic mechanism that could produce a trilobite with complex eyes (09/18/2003) or a starfish, or a calcified shell (06/26/2003), or an animal with a backbone and nervous system? Nothing but a vivid imagination, verbal magic and the power of belief (e.g., 10/25/2002). Go get ’em, ID.(Visited 17 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
21 December 2011In 2011 South Africa’s national cricket team, the Proteas, produced some superb performances, but, ultimately, the sum of the team’s parts failed to deliver what they could have.Considering that the side featured the world’s leading test bowler, Dale Steyn, and the man third in the rankings, Morne Morkel, along with the great Jacques Kallis, and other outstanding batsmen in Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, who were one and two in one-day international batting rankings, it should have achieved more.Against both India and Australia, they drew test series after taking the series lead with dominant victories that suggested they had a clear edge on the opposition.World CupAs it was for every major cricket playing nation, 2011 was a big year for South African cricket because of the World Cup, which was hosted by India. It was also an opportunity for the Proteas to undo many past disappointments by claiming the Cup.Unfortunately for South African fans, the World Cup once again ended in bitter disappointment.In the round robin phase, the Proteas were in fine form in Group B, winning five out of six matches to convincingly top the standings.They beat the West Indies by seven wickets, the Netherlands by 231 runs, eventual champions India by three wickets, Ireland by 131 runs, and Bangladesh by 206 runs. A warning was sounded, however, when the Proteas lost to England by six runs when chasing only 172 for victory.As the number one team in Group B, South Africa faced the fourth placed team from Group A in the quarterfinals, which turned out to be New Zealand. The Proteas failed to fire in an ill-tempered match and were well beaten by 49 runs.Spinners’ successSpinners Robin Petersen and Imran Tahir provided some light, however, finishing near the top of the list among wicket takers, with 15 and 14 respectively.Petersen averaged only 15.86 per wicket, while Tahir’s average was an astounding 10.71, the best in the tournament. His strike rate of a wicket every 16.9 balls also led all bowlers. And he was among the best when it came to exuberant wicket taking celebrations.AB de Villiers led the batsmen, despite playing in just five games because of injury, totalling 353 runs at 88.25, with centuries in successive matches against the West Indies and the Netherlands.A number of South Africans did, however, taste success at the World Cup, with India coach Gary Kirsten and his support staff leading the hosts to the title. Later in the year, Kirsten was appointed coach of the Proteas.Innings’ victoryAmong the other highlights of the year were South Africa’s victory by an innings and 25 runs over India at Centurion. In that match, Morne Morkel knocked over 5 for 20 and Dale Steyn captured 3 for 34 as the Indians mustered only 136 in their first innings.Jacques Kallis then scored a maiden test double century, finishing on 201 not out, while Hashim Amla weighed in with 140 and De Villiers with 129, as South Africa declared on a massive 620 for 4.India fought hard to score 459 in their second innings behind Sachin Tendulkar’s 50th test century, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a comprehensive South African victory.AmazingIn November, one of the most amazing test matches ever took place at Newlands. Batting first, the visitors, Australia, posted 284 all out, thanks to a splendid 151 from captain Michael Clarke.South Africa, in reply, were skittled out for just 96 as only the openers, Jacques Rudolph and Graeme Smith, reached double figures. Shane Watson excelled with the ball, taking 5 for 17.The Aussies began their second innings with a seemingly insurmountable lead of 188 runs. Incredibly, though, they were blasted out for only 47, having at one stage been on 21 for 9! Debutant Vernon Philander finished with figures of 5 for 15, while Morne Morkel took 3 for 9, and Steyn 2 for 23.South Africa then made the pitch look relatively easy, chasing down the victory target for the loss of only two wickets to win the match inside three days. Smith struck 101 not out, while Amla contributed 112.ResultsIn other results, a two-test series against Pakistan in late 2010 was drawn 0-0, the Indian series finished 1-1, as did the Australian series.The Proteas edged a five-match one-day international series against Pakistan 3-2, won 3-2 against India, and lost 2-1 to Australia.The Aussies also beat the Proteas 2-1 in a Twenty20 international series. South Africa won 2-0 against Pakistan in the shortest form of the game and lost their only T20 against India.Player of the YearIn 2011, Jacques Kallis, South Africa’s Player of the Year, passed 12 000 runs in tests, placing him fourth on the all-time list, with a higher average than the three men above him. After a two-test series against Australia, he had also claimed 271 test wickets, good for 28th all time, and fourth on the South African list of wicket takers.With 169 catches, he is also sixth on the all-time list among fielders. Clearly, the term “great” is not misplaced in this instance.Dale Steyn achieved a milestone when he went over the 900 point mark – an achievement similar to the four-minute mile in athletics – in the test bowling rankings.He remains far and away the leading test bowler in the world, a massive 87 points ahead of the man in second place on the list, England fast bowler James Anderson.South African Sports Star of the YearHashim Amla proved to be one of the most popular sportsmen in the country and was voted South African Sports Star of the Year in August.In domestic action, the Cape Cobras won the SuperSport Series four-day competition, while the Knights triumphed in the 40-overs-a-side MTN40.The Cobras added another title in the Standard Bank Pro20 Series, while the Warriors finished runners-up in the Champions League T20, a competition featuring the best T20 provincial teams from around the world.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
Limit the extreme registers of highlight or shadow detail using the Soft Clipping feature in DaVinci Resolve.DaVinci Resolve and a drool worthy color grading suite [via Blackmagic]A small but powerful feature in Davinci Resolve called “soft clipping” makes a huge difference in the way I work. A component of the software for several years now, soft clipping allows me to bend footage far further than I normally could by limiting the extreme registers of the highlight or shadow detail. Since I use it in every single session, I really can’t undersell using this powerful feature.Soft clipping is found inside the Color page, in the middle, bottom-half of the screen within the first Curves tab. Select the second drop-down to modify the soft clipping. You’ll see the red, green and blue curves, but these react differently than the main curves; here, you won’t be able to draw points on the curve to change the contrast of the image. Rather, you’ll be able to change where the high and low ends of the shot begin clipping.You can change the soft clip of the channels individually, but by default the three channels are grouped, or “ganged,” together. Unless you’re dealing with an image that has, say, a bright red traffic light that causes a spike in only the red channel, the default ganged style is my my choice each time.In practice, a colorist can initially limit the highlights on a particularly bright image where, for example, light bulbs or sunlight are blown out, as you’re performing your primary grade. As you balance the image, you can white balance the highlights to taste as you’re controlling the clipping or utilize the soft clip while you’re lifting any part of the image. I find it useful when working with commercial clients who are trying to achieve a bright, saturated look where the image is naturally dark. Consider an image of several people inside a living room with bright afternoon sunlight outside. The filmmakers have exposed for preserving the highlights that are streaming in, leading to an underexposed interior where the people are. This is a perfect time to use soft clipping.Pumping the mids and highlights will only get you so far before the upper range of the image begins to clip. To continue brightening the image, the soft clipping rolls off just the last few percent of the image and allows you to keep cranking in brightness. The effect is similar to that of using an S-curve in the standard curves feature, but it’s a quick way to limit the high or low-lights when you are working in a quick commercial atmosphere. You can also quickly wreck the image if you use the curves improperly, but this doesn’t seem to happen as much with soft clipping.My usage of soft clip can go extreme, depending on the shot and what the client’s trying to achieve. I often max out the High Soft at 100 to preserve as many highlight details as possible. I use this maximum value that Resolve allows as a sort of bar for determining if I’m pushing the image too much. If I really need an extra push, I can also pull the sides of the channels down to limit the highs or lows even further.Preserving highlights is the name of the game. It is much more important to preserve highlights than to have overly crushed blacks, although in a video featuring very high contrast I will frequently limit the darks to have that detail in there. Still, having detail in the highlights is one of my highest priorities, as any clipping means a dip in the overall video quality, even so much as to make it look much less filmic, or beautiful, to many people. I would say it is one of the defining characteristics of good filming technique.Have you had success with the soft clipping feature? Have you seen any downsides in using it or find it difficult to work with? Let us know in the comments.