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Experiment: Take a Darwinist to Church

By on December 19, 2019

first_img“Go to church and breathe easier,” announced an unusual entry on EurekAlert.  A study at Temple University found a positive correlation between religious activity and lung function.  They said that “religious activity is emerging as a potential health promoting factor, especially among the elderly.”  In addition, “going to church provides social contact and emotional support, thereby reducing the isolation that afflicts many elderly and boosting psychological well-being.”    Meanwhile, a group of hard-core atheists, many of them prominent evolutionary scientists, is on a campaign this Christmas season to rid science and society of religion.  Read about their Beyond Belief 2006 conference on Evolution News and Uncommon Descent.  There were no reports of singing at their conference.Do this experiment: invite a hard-core Darwinist to a quality Christmas concert at a good old-fashioned, Bible-believing church in town – you know, the kind that actually believes Jesus was born in Bethlehem as the Son of God, with angels singing and all the rest.  We realize this is somewhat risky to your friend’s health, at least at first.  The shock of seeing such joy may be too much to endure.  He or she will undoubtedly become very conflicted, trying to Darwinize the overwhelming display of artistry, factual content, confident hope and love as manifestations of sexual selection and selfish genes.    A Christmas Concert with instruments, choir, soloists, a short sermon and the involvement of a happy audience with talented and committed Christian musicians carries a message with a wallop that will be hard to explain away.  In only 90 minutes, a Christmas Concert intertwines elements of history, music, light and color, theology, emotion, intellect, reasonable faith and love in ways that a scientific paper and website cannot possibly convey.  It will be hard for your poor Darwinist friend to rationalize the lovely lilting voice of the soprano as glorified ape grunts, or the incomparable blend of rich male voices with female voices in the choir, each with their characteristic sonorities combined with human language expressing intelligent communications, artfully woven into rich aesthetic harmonies, as manifestations of sexual selection.  Then a good preacher can wrap this all around a solid message based on the real events that occurred in Bethlehem and Jerusalem in recorded history (you know, about Herod, Caesar Augustus and the rest of those mythical characters in the Christmas story), showing that this is not just some social ritual a few steps up from the jungle.  Any Darwinist with a piece of soul left will have to ponder, Have I been missing something?O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie,Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light;The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given;And the government shall be upon His shoulder,And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.    The spiritual dimension that makes humans unique in all creation will be displayed in a loving, thought-provoking, uplifting atmosphere where everyone can breathe easier.  Darwinism doesn’t have a song that can compare with such a spectacle.  Music plunges into a soul where argument cannot reach.    You won’t need to say anything afterwards except, “Thank you for joining me!  I’m so glad you could come.  Merry Christmas!”  If your Darwinist friend can manage to endure the initial pain of withdrawal that night alone at home, then he or she, too, might be drawn to take their first, real, invigorating, breath of fresh air.PS: Be sure to follow up with an invitation to the Easter Concert.(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Pele offers SA football advice

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first_img7 March 2006Brazilian star Pele, perhaps the greatest footballer ever, believes that South Africa’s footballing style is similar to that of world champions Brazil, and that the solution to the country’s football woes may be found close to home.He was speaking to Business Day after a coaching clinic in Soweto, south of Johannesburg, on Monday.Pele is in the country as part of the launch of a World Cup-branded Mastercard credit card.South African style“Everybody says SA’s style is the same as Brazil’s because of the similarity in skill, ball control and talent,” Pele said. “No doubt I think we have the same style.”Since South Africa’s dismal performance at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt in January, there has been much speculation on a new coach for the national football team.Pele said that he had discussed the question of the South African coach with former teammate Jomo Sono. Sono was South Africa’s coach at the 2002 World Cup.Brazilian coachPele, the scorer of 12 World Cup goals, said that a Brazilian coach may not be the answer, and that a suitable coach could be found closer to home.The names of two Brazilians, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Carlos Alberto Parreira, have been mentioned in connection with the Bafana Bafana coaching position.“There are good Brazilian coaches and there are bad ones,” Pele said.“If you can find a very good Brazilian coach, well and good. If you land up with a bad one, you will only have the same problems you would have with a bad coach from any other country.“Sometimes the man is already in your country but you do not know it yet.”African World CupAlthough South Africa will be sitting out the 2006 World Cup, the country will be watching the efforts of the African qualifiers – Angola, Tunisia, Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast – with keen interest.In 1977, Pele predicted an African victory in the World Cup before the end of the 20th century. While that did not happen, Pele believes that the continent will soon surprise the established football powers of the world.“Africa has an opportunity to win in 2010. The World Cup is a box of surprises and Africa has an excellent opportunity to play very well in 2010.”SouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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Former teacher empowers others through creativity

By on December 18, 2019

first_imgMarjolein Gamble is a former pre-primary and primary school teacher who was inspired by a fondness for creativity to create sustainable products and empower local workers.Marjolein Gamble has made a living from her pencil drawn greeting cards, as above, and shweshwe fashion designs. Most of her products are made from recyclable materials. (Image: Carte-Blanche.com)Marjolein Gamble started with blank cards on which she drew with colour pencils and printed on recycled local paper. This is where the name ‘Carte-Blanche’ came from. According to the Oxford dictionary, this French term means “a blank piece of paper to be filled in as the possessor pleases”.Today Gamble sells a variety of products such as: artistic blank greeting cards; notebooks made from recycled card and paper; shweshwe shoulder bags; reversible peak hats, shirts and shorts; shweshwe and canvas aprons; printed shoulder bags; and decorative glow in the dark shapes.Sustainability is the key focus for Carte-Blanche and Gamble sources locally manufactured and environmentally friendly materials.Carte-Blanche is in its infancy but already creates a lot of regular work and employs a few locals on a part-time and contract basis.Carte-Blanche invites you to buy good quality products and clothes which are affordable, artistic and which support our local artisans and resources.Their website is www.carteblanchecards.com.last_img read more

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Building an Energy-Efficient Home on a Budget

By on December 16, 2019

first_imgDouble-Stud Walls Is Double Stud-Wall Construction the Path to Efficiency on a Budget?Choosing a High-Performance Wall AssemblyChoosing the Right Wall Assembly (2013)Choosing the Right Wall Assembly (2015)All About Larsen TrussesA Superinsulated House in Rural Minnesota A Thick Cocoon of Cellulose Protects This Superinsulated HouseSix Proven Ways to Build Energy-Smart Walls Q&A: Moisture Control in Double Stud Wall Q&A: Double Wall Construction Q&A: Questions about the Larsen Truss for retrofit applicationsEnergy Solutions: Cellulose Insulation RELATED ARTICLES John Holscher has done enough research to know there are many ways of building and insulating an energy-efficient home. Options include double-stud walls, 2×6 walls with rigid foam on the exterior, and structural insulated panels.Now he has to figure out which one makes the most sense for his Cape-style home in New England.“So many options, so little time,” he writes in his Q&A post.“I’d also like to avoid (as much as I can) petrochemical-based products and use as many natural and/or recycled products as possible,” Holscher adds. “I understand the argument that using foam insulation in the end saves more oil than is used to produce it, but if I can get equal or better results using natural/recycled, all the better.”First, start with a smaller, simpler house“The most cost-effective approach to an efficient home is to build only the space actually required for basic shelter, which is generally no more than half of what the typical American believes they need,” writes Robert Riversong.center_img No matter what materials you use, or how the house is built, using fewer resources by building smaller lowers both operating and maintenance costs, Riversong says. “A half-sized house can have half the R-value and still be energy efficient.”Riversong’s recommendations for the most cost-effective approach are simplicity over complexity. “The most cost-effective building system for a temperate climate?” he asks rhetorically. “Structural straw bale with earthen plaster, cordwood masonry with earthen floor, or scribed log construction, with no interior plumbing or wiring, a simple woodstove or Rumford fireplace, a shallow well with windlass bucket or gravity-fed spring and a rain barrel, and a pleasant composting outhouse.”James Morgan likes the “small” part, but not all of Riversong’s details. “The very first concern for an aspiring green builder should be to build no larger than necessary,” Morgan writes. “Sadly, most of the featured ‘green homes’ we see, including even the plans featured on Sarah Susanka’s ‘Not so Big’ Web site, set expectations of well over 2,000 s.f. for a modest three-bedroom home.“Oddly, as a result of poor planning and fussy detailing, many of these oversized homes feel anything but spacious.”Double-stud walls or a Larsen truss?“When it comes to high-R walls, the most cost-effective option in most areas is a double 2×4 wall with a total thickness of about 12 inches, insulated with dense-packed cellulose,” writes GBA senior editor Martin Holladay.But in areas with very high labor costs, he adds, it may be less expensive to build 2×6 walls covered on the exterior with 2 in. to 3 in. of polyisocyanurate foam.Riversong still designs double-stud walls for some customers, but he prefers another approach. “I’ve modified the Larsen Truss to make a 12 in. thick, nearly thermal bridge free wall, out of locally-sourced rough-sawn (often green) lumber, which uses no more wood than a standard 2×6 house,” he says. “And all above grade insulation is dry cellulose with borates, the very best of all the commonly available insulation options (short of straw bale and earthen plasters).”Riversong also includes a link explaining his approach to building.The house he describes can be heated with a cord of wood, even in New England.Insulating the roofHolscher is planning on using the second floor of his Cape for bedrooms, so what he needs is an insulated cathedral ceiling. What’s the best way of tackling that?Here, says Holladay, the best option isn’t necessarily the most cost-effective. “As far as I’m concerned, the best option would be a [structural insulated panel] roof covered with a layer of 2-in.-thick rigid foam above the SIPs, with the top layer of foam lapping over the SIP seams,” Holladay wrote. “Then 2×4 sleepers, eaves to ridge, for ventilation. Then another layer of roof sheathing (ideally plywood or boards, not OSB), followed by roof underlayment and the roofing of your choice.”Holscher asks, Why not a thicker SIP, without the extra layer of foam?First, says Holladay, adding 2 in. of polyisocyanurate foam to a 12-in. panel gets the R-value up to 56. And second, the failures in SIP roofs in Juneau, Alaska, occurred at the seams, where effective air sealing is tough. Adding the foam layer on top of that solves the problem.Graham Mink, who is building a double-stud wall house in Vermont, had another idea. “For the cathedral roof we used 2×12 rafters, then gussetted 2x4s to the interior to create an extra 12 in. cavity,” he writes. “This 23-in. cavity will then be dense-packed like the walls. We chose to go unvented in order to align the air barrier (Zip system roof sheathing) with the insulation layer. A vented assembly can be done this way as well. I am not sure if its the best way, just the way we are doing it.”Hang on a minute, says Rivesong. An unvented, non-breathing roof is “not the best partner for cellulose.”His suggestion: “Rather than extending the frame outward with a truss chord, extend the rafters inward with an additional non-structural framing member under each rafter connected by gussets (or webs) to reduce thermal bridging and create a deep enough insulation cavity to still leave room for venting under the roof sheathing, which would require continuous baffles from eave to ridge.”last_img read more

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A One-Room Insulation Challenge

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first_imgThe one-room addition on Emerson W’s home is not what anyone would realistically consider over-insulated: R-11 batts in the walls and R-19 at most in the ceiling. But the immediate issue is the floor. There’s no insulation at all there, and because the addition sits on concrete piers, there’s nothing to stop the wind from blowing freely below.“As you can see, outdoor air can simply pass through the open space under the floor,” Emerson writes in a post in the Q&A Forum. “When the flat EPDM roof needs to be replaced in 5 to 10 years, we will install exterior foam board outside the roof deck. Heating is primarily warmed air from rest of house or from the propane fireplace. Cooling is AC from rest of house.”Emerson is weighing a plan to excavate below the room to a depth of 2 feet before installing batt insulation between the joists, adding 1 or 2 inches of rigid polyisocyanurate insulation over the joists, and covering the assembly with OSB or plywood.“What approach would you take?” Emerson asks. That’s today’s Q&A Spotlight. Insulating Low-Slope Residential RoofsCrawl Spaces vs. SkirtsGBA Encyclopedia: Pier FoundationsBuilding an Unvented Crawl Space How to Insulate a Cold Floor Digging out is a good ideaGBA Editor Martin Holladay has some suggested reading for Emerson (see the “Related Articles” sidebar below), but in general suggests that digging out the soil from beneath the room is a good first step. RELATED ARTICLES Working in a tight space isn’t easyIt’s one thing to suggest insulation and air sealing below the floor, and another thing to drag tools and materials underneath the addition and actually do it.“I’ve done what you are contemplating and it’s a lot of work,” says Malcolm Taylor. “To get adequate space to fasten sheet goods to the bottom of joists you need about 2 feet. The work is done on your back. It’s very hard to get the good, tight joints needed to keep pests out, and the language used is generally unsuited for children.”He suggests Emerson think though each step carefully: add perimeter blocking for the insulation layer early as a guide, make some plywood jigs to hold one end of the sheet in place, and get the right tool. In this case, that’s a short, 12-volt impact driver for fasteners.Installing batts in the joist bays and then adding rigid foam is in itself pretty easy, he says, providing you install a perimeter of 2-by material. The plywood protecting the insulation can be nailed to this perimeter piece, and screwed to the joists through the foam.“Also it’s a lot easier if you have marked the joist locations on the perimeter 2-by,” Taylor adds. “I’d think about bedding the plywood in caulk at the edges, and caulking or taping the seams to keep carpenter ants and other pests out.”Codes in Taylor’s area forbids the use of untreated material close to grade. Just how long the plywood lasts will depend on how well the area beneath the room can be drained. “That may be your biggest challenge,” he says. “The work is just unpleasant. But then a lot of building tasks are.” “Excavating the soil under this addition is obviously a good idea,” Holladay writes. “So is adjusting the grade nearby, if possible. If you can afford to put in a real crawl space foundation (with concrete walls), all the better.”If Emerson keeps the pier foundation, opting not to spend the money on a full crawl space foundation, there are some sound strategies for insulating the floor. But a key consideration in all of this is how any excavation below the addition will affect drainage.“Once you have done digging the area out, you have a new problem: drainage,” Holladay says. “Unless the grade around the outside of the building is properly adjusted, the crawl space might become a mosquito-breeding pond. So you have to think this through. (That’s where the advantage of a traditional crawl space with concrete foundation walls starts to shine.)”Insulation in the floor could be either spray foam or a continuous layer of rigid foam below the joists (with fluffy insulation between the joists), he adds. Spray foam might do a better job with air-sealing the floor, but if the insulation contractor is conscientious, rigid foam insulation also could be just as successful, as long as it is carefully air sealed. Tackling the problem from the inside“What about installing rigid foam on the interior?”, Jon R asks.After a week of cold weather, with temperatures in the 20s, the idea has some appeal to Emerson. The addition has been the coldest room in the house — drafty, cold, and uncomfortable in the morning, he says — so “lifting the wood floor seems easier than digging a foundation.” Or, he adds, maybe he just needs a thick rug.Adding a layer of rigid foam over the existing floor is not a bad idea, Taylor tells Emerson, but there are some caveats. “Apart from the insulation, new subfloor, and flooring, you also have to deal with new trim, cutting down doors, and the transition in height between the old and new floors,” he says.Ceiling height is a concern. Emerson says that because of the low ceiling the room already has, he is considering of a “cut and cobble” approach: cutting pieces of insulation so they fit between the floor joists, with the possibility of adding a single layer above the joists to reduce thermal bridging.“Depending on the depth of the joist, this would get us to R-20 or so,” Emerson says. “Given the current room for improvement, I think we are seeking a ‘good enough’ solution, and bang for our buck. We can also reduce ceiling penetrations (eight recessed lights in a 12×12 room), and perhaps increase ceiling/attic insulation.” Consider roof insulation as wellThe roof has insulation issues of its own. Emerson describes the roof as flat and covered with an EPDM membrane. He’s met with the roofer who did the work and learned the roof is not vented.“His visit led me to discovering the ‘decorative soffits’ and also some fungus on the ceiling rafters under the EPDM roof. The fungus was white in color on the wood, with some black in color on the aluminum soffits. There are no leaks, and I am told the EPDM will be OK for 15 more years.”The fungus is visible on the rafter tails on the exterior of the addition. Emerson had a look by peeling back a section of the aluminum soffit on the roof’s 2-foot overhang. But the bottom line is the roof is not vented, and the situation is complicated by the manner in which the rafters over the addition are connected to the main house.“I had planned on blocking the joist bays where the low-sloped rafters intersect with the main house (i.e. extend into second floor joists — currently wide open on both sides),” Emerson explains. “This would block the colder air from entering the second-story joist bays.” That may have to do until the EPDM is replaced.Yes, Holladay replies, if rafters in the flat roof are continuous with floor joists in the main house, he absolutely needs airtight blocking between the rafters where the insulation ends. Our expert’s opinionGBA technical director Peter Yost added these thoughts:The first tough question is whether to move to a crawl space or stick with concrete piers? An important consideration, other than cost, is skill set. Sticking with piers is less expensive and simpler, involving only semi-skilled hard work. Replacing the foundation is going to involve mechanical excavation, temporary support, and casting the perimeter walls. In my book, that sounds expensive and complicated.The second tough question on this project is whether to work from underneath or from above. I know that working from underneath sounds more like a prison break than a retrofit, but the easiest and best way to get continuous insulation and good air sealing is from below.I am going to add two details to the pier floor assembly:First, include an air space between the subfloor and the cavity insulation. See Joe Lstiburek’s Building Insight on this topic. The space will not significantly change the energy efficiency of the assembly but it will improve thermal comfort for all those walking in that room in bare or stocking feet. I made this mistake on my own SIP kitchen addition, when I did not leave an air space in the pier floor assembly.Although the need for insulation and airtightness in the floor is no different than walls or ceiling, you don’t walk on the walls or the ceiling. When it gets cold and stays cold, the floor temperature of the addition is at least 5 F° cooler than the kitchen floor over the basement. When I tried to explain the science to my wife one cold morning, she said, “It never ceases to amaze me that you understand so much about buildings and so little about people.”The thermal images below help explain what I’m talking about.Second, protect the rigid insulation with galvanized metal lath or stainless-steel mesh. Coincidental to this work, I was just on the phone with Terry Brennan of Camroden Associates doing an interview for an upcoming feature article for BuildingGreen. (The likely title is “How Buildings Fail Their Users.”) He was relating how many times all sorts of buildings get infested with Norway rats, voles, squirrels, and the like. They love finding down-low weak spots to chew their way to warm and cozy nesting sites.And if you need to protect against termites or carpenter ants, maybe move from metal lath to stainless-steel mesh. I say maybe because Terry is not completely sure that the mammals will be thwarted by the mesh like the insects will. You might think that protecting the whole floor with sealed mesh or lath sounds extreme, but the only thing worse than carefully installing continuous rigid insulation and plywood would be having critters move in.last_img read more

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