Sweet success of Xhosa honey drink

first_imgTamara O’ReillyMead may not make the list of popular alcoholic drinks among locals, but Americans seem to have acquired a liking for the South African variety of this age-old bittersweet drink.The Makana Meadery, housed in the picturesque town of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, has been exporting the drink called iQhilika, which is made by the alcoholic fermentation of honey, to the United States, which takes three containers-full annually.While this may not seem a terribly impressive figure, consider that bees produce honey at a slow rate and the quality and quantity they produce determines how much mead can be made and subsequently exported.As honey is crucial in the making of mead, in addition to keeping their own bees, the sweet golden liquid is sourced from around 300 beekeepers in the Eastern and Southern Cape to meet the demand. It is then mixed with water and fermented – using equipment invented by one of the founders, Garth Cambray, as part of a project during his studies in biotechnology – then filtered, flavoured and bottled.ConsumersThe drink arrives in Connecticut before it finds it way to tables in 37 states in the US.Who’s buying it? Cambray said among consumers are 30-somethings, the children of winemakers and connoisseurs.“America is our biggest market and although we have a limited local market because of factors like distribution and shelf life, there are a few stores locally that stock our mead,” said Cambray.“But we ensure that we continue to make African-style meads with a global approach, using advanced recipes and filtering, and packaging that is both attractive and pleasant to consumers.”The idea for the meadery began in 1997 when Cambray as a student was assisting Dr Winston Leukes in his bee laboratory to earn money to replace a stolen bicycle.He soon developed a passion for bees equivalent to that of his mentor. They began investigating the iQhilika brewing process with a view towards developing a commercial production system. Today the company not only handles the process from start to finish, but has adopted environmentally friendly ways in which to do so.“We believe in the triple bottom line approach, which is people, the environment and profit. These are intertwining factors and we take it very seriously. Beekeeping is one of the only activities that pumps money into communities without destroying the environment,” says Cambray.The company has its own sawmill, which processes invasive wood that is cut into planks. The wood is used to make beehives, which he supplies to the beekeepers that supply him with honey. Biodiesel, also manufactured on the premises using ostrich fat and old cooking oil, is used to operate some vehicles and machinery.According to the Makhana Meadery website, there are many other types of mead unique to every nation in Africa. Most African mead is sold for immediate consumption and sophisticated marketing and packaging channels are not well developed. European mead is produced in small quantities and is marketed as a curiosity because of the scarcity of honey and even if a bottle of mead is present, it is more often talked about than consumed.Useful linksMakana Meadery Beeslast_img read more

Wandering the Whale Trail

first_imgRichard Holmes Watching whales from the limestone cavesalong the coast of the De Hoop NatureReserve, the home of the Whale Trail. A southern right whale cruises the water,her young calf huddled beside her. Pristine fynbos.(Images: Cape Nature)MEDIA CONTACTS• Liesl BrinkCape Nature+27 21 659 3446+27 72 488 [email protected] ARTICLES• Slackpacking in the Cederberg• Walking for Eden, and elephants• Hiking the dragon’s back• Unforgettable SA hiking trails • Garden Route’s new national parkThe Whale Trail could easily have been called the Bottlenose Dolphin Trail, the endangered Black Oystercatcher Trail, the Deserted Beaches Trail or the Pristine Fynbos Trail. We saw all of these and more on the five-day, 55-kilometre wander through the De Hoop Nature Reserve, but in the end the best part of all remained the daily whale acrobatics.Lying 240 kilometres east of Cape Town, the De Hoop Nature Reserve is known as the jewel in the crown of Cape Nature, the Western Cape’s nature conservation body. The reserve covers around 34 000 hectares, but the offshore marine protected area is just as important. Stretching five kilometres out to sea, it is one of the largest protected ocean areas in Africa and provides a sanctuary for an array of marine life.Marine life like the whales gambolling just behind the breakers, and the pair of African black oystercatchers that keep me company as I grab a seat on a rock to jot a few notes in my Moleskine.But let me go back a few days.Despite its name the Whale Trail starts a dozen kilometres inland in the shadow of the Potberg. It’s here that new arrivals settle into the first night’s hut, get briefed by conservation staff about do’s and don’ts for the trail, and get set to tackle five days of wilderness.Not that the trail is all about hardship. Each of the five overnight huts is well equipped with bunk beds, hot showers, flush loos and cosy living areas. What’s more, you can pay a little extra to have your luggage portaged from one hut to the next, so you only have to walk with a day-bag for your lunch, camera and raingear.The trail has rapidly become one of the country’s iconic hikes, so popular you need to book months in advance if you want to walk it during the peak whale season from August to October. Even if you walk out of season, when whales are few, it remains one of South Africa’s most incredible walks.Day oneIf the weather plays ball you’re bound to see one of the trail’s highlights a few minutes into the first day’s walk, as you ascend the slopes of the Potberg. The 611-metre peak will certainly get you puffing, but the sight of endangered Cape vultures – Potberg is home to the last breeding colony in the Western Cape – soaring on the thermals will make you forget all about those aching legs.The summit is worth the huffing and puffing too, offering magnificent 360° views, with the Breede River and Langeberg Mountains to the north and the dazzling Indian Ocean to the south.You won’t reach the sea on your first day. From the top the path winds its way through unspoiled fynbos, down into the Melkhout River (a great spot for lunch and a swim) and then over one last hill to the hut at Cupidoskraal. Boots off, shower on (or grab a swim in the nearby dam) and celebrate: the most strenuous day is behind you.Day twoNot that the second day’s route is a walk in the park. Make an early start, as you’ll have 14.7 kilometres to cover, and the first stretch heads straight up the flanks of the Hamerkop. The fynbos is just as stunning as the Potberg, but luckily it’s only 45 minutes to the top and then a long meandering stretch towards the sea.Take your time and keep an eye out for some of the reserves smaller beauties. Delicate ericas, rustling restios and colourful watsonias – along with hundreds of other fynbos species ¬– hide among the thick stands of protea.As you drop off the sandstone mountain onto the limestone cliffs, the changing vegetation is the first clue that you’re approaching the coast. Through a riverbed, past a flock of blue cranes (South Africa’s national bird), around a bend and … there it is, Noetsie, the first of three spectacular coastal huts you’ll call home for the most impressive section of the Whale Trail.As I arrive and drop down my pack a southern right whale cruises into the small bay, her young calf huddled beside her. Just 50 metres from the shore, they skirt the rocks and linger in the shallows for a minute before moving on. Spectacular.It’s almost as spectacular as the dolphins that use the bay as a playground that evening. Up to 40 bottlenose dolphins glide, leap and hunt through the stormy waters in a grand show of bravado, either for us or themselves. I brave the chilly waters for a quick swim, but the currents can be swift here so I don’t venture deeper than my waist before heading back to the braai fire at the scenic seaside lapa.Day threeDay three is perhaps the best of the entire trail. You’ll feel your calves working on the steep climbs up and down the eroded limestone hills, but you can rest them in the calm pools of Stilgat come lunchtime, and long flat sections along the cliff-tops allow ample time for spotting whales, dolphins and birds. Apart from oystercatchers, you’ll see white-breasted cormorants, Hartlaub’s gulls, terns, sandpipers and – bizarrely – Egyptian geese along the trail.The restless sea has eroded the limestone cliffs into fantastical formations, but it has also claimed its fair share of victims. Apart from countless shipwrecks along this coast, the last steps of the day wander past the small granite memorial to Daniel de Wet, washed off the rocks here in 1933. The pounding surf has carved some lovely rock pools to explore at low tide, but it’s a stark reminder to always keep one eye on the sea.A kilometre from where De Wet met his end, the Hamerkop hut is perfectly situated just behind the dunes. A wonderful two-story cottage, the second-floor deck is the best spot for sundowner whale-watching. Even after dark you should keep an eye out for wildlife; Hamerkop Hut is home to a curious spotted genet, who regularly visits to see what all the fuss is about.Day fourThe penultimate day dawns and a long beach walk lies ahead. But it’s only 7.8 kilometres to the next hut, so take it easy on the soft sand beaches and enjoy the sensation of a beach with no other footprints but your own. The route wanders past Lekkerwater, once the holiday home of former President FW de Klerk.Keep an eye out for the camouflaged nests of the oystercatchers: they lay their eggs just above the high-tide mark. From sand and up onto more cliffs, you’ll wander past magnificent blowholes where the high tide blasts up through gaps in the soft limestone.It’s the same limestone the last night’s hut is perched on. Vaalkrans has the most dramatic position of all the overnight stops, clinging to a cliff some 50 metres above surf crashing onto wave-cut platforms. More spectacular sunset spots are hard to come by.Day fiveIt takes no more than three hours to walk the final stretch to Koppie Alleen, but leave plenty of time to explore at Hippo Pools, a wonderful network of rock pools where you can cool off before catching the shuttle-bus back to Potberg.Whether you walk for the whales or the vultures, the fynbos or the wide open spaces it’s easy to see why hikers from across the globe are flocking to this wonderful trail through the Overberg. Dust off your hiking shoes, book some leave and come and wander with whales.last_img read more

Energy centres to power rural SA

first_imgQunu in the OR Tambo District Municipality is one of the areas in South Africa with an electrification backlog and the IEC initiative makes sure the people of the district have a source of energy. (Image: MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more free photos, visit the image library) An Integrated Energy Centre (IEC), recently established in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, will hopefully broaden access to power in the rural village and address poverty in the region. The centre is a one-stop energy hub owned and operated by the local community. It provides safe and sustainable sources of energy and gives villagers information on how to handle and utilise them.Launched on 14 January 2011 by Sasol and the Department of Energy, the IEC will supply locals with paraffin, diesel, petrol, gas burner stoves and solar-powered devices.With the centre close by, villagers will no longer have to walk vast distances to source their energy, mostly in the form of paraffin and candles. There are still parts of the region that lack access to electricity.The centre, which cost R8-million (US$1.2-million) to establish, forms part of Sasol’s R20-million (US$2.9-million) drive to set up energy hubs in disadvantaged areas. Similar plants have been built in Limpopo, Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and North West.At the Qunu launch, Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters said: “Last week the president stressed the need for us to focus very strongly on job creation. We believe that this IEC and the local enterprises that it could support will create the necessary jobs in this area.“The Qunu IEC is the first one to be linked to a library to ensure that information is accessible to local people. This would be enhanced by access to more information via the internet connected to the computers on site,” added Peters.The IEC also has an information centre and community room that can be used by people living in the area.Sasol media manager Nothemba Noruwana said: “The aim of these centres is also to inject profits back into the community by building schools, clinics and various other projects.”The IECs also have a village vendor network consisting of women and youngsters who go out and sell the energy products to people living further away from the centre so their travel costs are minimised.Mandela’s place of birthQunu is the birthplace of the first democratically elected president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela describes Qunu as the place in which he spent most of his happiest moments as a child.Peters said: “The department has embarked on a special intervention to try and accelerate the electrification programme in the area. Funds are being allocated directly to the municipality to undertake electrification in Eskom’s area of supply.”Eskom is South Africa’s national electricity utility.“In the Qunu area, 300 connections were completed in December 2010 and a further 300 households will be connected by the end of January 2011. There is a backlog of 179 318 houses without electricity … the challenge for the department will be to ensure that sufficient funding is allocated in the following years so that the universal access is achieved by 2014,” added Peters.Petroleum giantSasol is an energy and chemicals company which uses coal to produce petrol and gas.It was established in 1950 and today operates in more than 30 countries with about 35 000 employees.The company also sponsors various sporting teams and artistic and organisational events such as South Africa’s national rugby team, the Springboks; Banyana Banyana, South Africa’s national women’s football team; the annual Sasol Rally; the Sasol New Signatures art competition; the Black Tie Ensemble and the South African Youth orchestra.Sasol is listed on the Johannesburg and New York stock exchanges.The petrochemical company offers a bursary scheme which enables students from disadvantaged backgrounds to study engineering, science and commerce.last_img read more

Increased internet access in South Africa

first_img1 July 2015South Africa is forecast to see a massive jump in internet traffic as more people switch to smartphones and other smart devices.This is according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index 2015, which predicts that there will be 27 million internet users in South Africa by 2019, up from just 15 million in 2014. Internet protocol (IP) traffic is also forecast to grow six-fold, representing an annual growth rate of 44%.Cisco said that a significant percentage of that growth would centre on internet video consumption, with South Africans expected to download 43 billion minutes of video content by 2019.“South Africans are well on their way to adopt video and by 2019 the citizens would have streamed 43 billion minutes of video content. This stat highlights that consumers and businesses alike are using rich media clips as they head towards the digital era with the internet of everything,” said Vernon Thaver, the chief technology officer of Cisco South Africa.Mobile video traffic in South Africa is also expected to grow at 73% as people increasingly stream video content to smartphones.Mobile devices and usagePrevious research conducted by other organisations has also explained how important smartphones are to South Africa’s internet landscape.In a study produced by Orange Horizons on the provision of wi-fi in Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha in Cape Town, 94% of respondents said that their primary means of connecting to the internet was a smartphone.Viewing social media, downloading content and streaming made up the most of the users’ activities, according to the study.Meanwhile, Cisco’s research indicated that by 2019, smartphones would cement their position as the primary internet tool, commanding 30% (57.5 million) of all networked devices, up from 22% last year in South Africa.The demand for video would also drive new internet video services which were expected to account for 78% of all IP traffic, the company said.“Residential, business and mobile consumers continue to have strong demand for advanced video services across all network and device types, making quality, convenience, content/experience and price key success factors,” said the Cisco report.Cisco also predicted that South Africa’s average broadband speed would grow to 10mbps in 2019, up from 3.5mbps, resulting in the correlated growth of machine to machine communications and smart TVs.“We are entering into a very dynamic technological era and the rapid increase in connected devices will benefit a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, transportation, oil and gas, utilities, government, health care, sports and entertainment, education, in terms of increased efficiency, reduced costs, and, most important, improvement of the lives of citizens,” said Thaver.Source: News24Wirelast_img read more

Mixed Signals for Solar Power in the U.S.

first_imgOver the past four days, the New York Times and industry news source RenewableEnergyWord.com have published stories that indicate solar power adoption in the U.S. is increasing, if sometimes plodding.The RenewableEnergyWorld post, for example, cites a draft report by the nonprofit Interstate Renewable Energy Council that highlights the relatively rapid solar adoption rate in Italy. In February 2007, Italy replaced a program offering tradable green certificates (based on the megawatts of power generated by a solar installation) with a feed-in tariff (FIT) program, which pays an above-market rate for solar-generated electricity fed back into the grid.Responding to FITsItaly’s FIT program seems to be working: the country is on track to see 1,500 MW of solar power installed by the end of 2010. The U.S. is no stranger to the FIT concept, of course, but FIT programs here have been deployed regionally rather than nationally and sometimes involve complex calculations – based on the rate schedules of the utility companies serving FIT participants – to determine the payments customers receive when their solar installations feed power back into the grid.More often than not, FIT schemes in the U.S. work, but the program in Italy seems to be working better. According to the IREC report, in 2009 Italy installed 740 MW of solar power (most of it on rooftops, the REC story notes), while the U.S. installed 435 MW. A more pointed comparison in the IREC report is that Italy (population: about 60 million) averages 250 MW of added photovoltaic capacity every two months, which is more than the PV capacity being added in a year in California (population: about 40 million, and one of the biggest PV markets in the U.S.).Private investors pay attentionStill, interest in solar power for residential customers in the U.S. isn’t drying up. A recent post on the New York Times Green blog page focused on a $55 million investment, led by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, in San Francisco-based SunRun, which leases rooftop solar power installations to homeowners. This investment round, announced on Tuesday, was the second for SunRun that included Sequoia and other investors, who had earlier approved $30 million for the firm. SunRun and a Silicon Valley-based competitor, SunCity, also are tapping into tax equity funds – of $100 million and $190 million, respectively – set up for them by utility holding company PG&E Corporation and U.S. Bancorp, the Green blog notes.“We’re seeing early signs of an inflection point in the market where the cost of offering a solar solution is becoming cheaper than utility pricing,” Warren Hogarth, a partner at Sequoia, told the paper. “We’re moving from people buying solar because it’s a nice thing to do to buying solar because it makes economic sense.”A renewable-energy program stalled by Fannie, FreddieOne increasingly popular financing mechanism for residential solar has been the Property Assessed Clean Energy bond, whereby money raised through municipal bond issues is loaned to homeowners for solar installations, with the debt added to the property’s tax bill. The debt, amortized over 20 years, stays with the tax bill if the property is sold.So far, 22 states have authorized the use of PACE programs, and the Department of Energy has allocated $150 million in stimulus funds to help municipalities set up and administer PACE programs, many of which become fully subscribed quickly. A key feature of PACE loans is that they, like most special property taxes levied by municipalities, have “super-priority lien” status, meaning they take priority over whatever private financing a homeowner may have, including a conventional mortgage. This encumbrance, as a recent New York Times story explained, is not viewed favorably by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two companies that guarantee most residential mortgages. The super-priority energy-related liens, Fannie and Freddie worry, will further burden taxpayers if the homeowners default on their mortgages, since property taxes take first priority when a foreclosed property sells.On May 5, the Times notes, the companies sent letters to mortgage lenders to remind them that “an energy-related lien may not be senior to any mortgage delivered to Freddie Mac.” Beyond that, though, mortgage lenders were offered no further guidance on the issue, which has communities shying away from PACE over fears that lenders who sell loans to Fannie and Freddie will no longer approve first mortgages or refinancing unless the homeowners first pay off their PACE program loans.A general counsel for one of the housing agencies told the paper that it is “working expeditiously” to respond to concerns by PACE program supporters – a group that includes, most prominently, the Obama Administration. That Fannie and Freddie decided to focus on PACE loans, rather than any number of special property taxes that communities may impose, puzzles state and local officials.Ben Pearlman, a commissioner for Boulder County, Colo., said that the county had financed energy-efficiency upgrades and solar installations for 600 homes but suspended its residential program because of the Fannie and Freddie letters.“Because they touch so many mortgages in this country,” he said, “it makes it impossible for us to proceed.”last_img read more

Remee & The Lucid Dream Of Crowd Funding

first_imgWhat Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star… How to Get Started in China and Have Success The Crowd Funding BluesWasn’t that kind of depressing? “Dreams? Those are for people who sleep!”It seems that building the Remee, an inspired mission though it was, just turned out to be another grueling, low-margin hardware grind. Kickstarter allowed me to go shopping for an aspirational gadget, an accessory, and some talented guys knew they could ship it. They did what they set out to do in a bare-bones way. And that’s it. It’s a gadget, but nothing more.I don’t see this thing taking off. It’s awesome to have one, but it’s not easy to use. They could never do the kind of support they’d need to do to keep a bunch of run-of-the-mill customers happy. It’s an early-adopter-only product. This seems endemic to the Kickstarter model for gadgets.I talked to my friend (Disclosure: friend.) Micah Daigle about this matter. He’s a UX, branding and campaign designer currently consulting under the banner of Collective Agency, and crowd funding is one of his favorite tools to use and problems to solve.“People just get buried under how much they have to do,” Micah says. “This is sort of the dark side of crowd funding. When you have three investors, you only have to impress three people.” When you have thousands, you’re orders of magnitude more accountable whether you succeed or fail. Crowd funding might get products out the door, but is it really a better way than business as usual? The Wild WestCrowd funding platforms operate on a continuum. The real Wild West is Indiegogo, which has no screening process, and it has flexible funding, meaning projects can keep their funds even if they don’t make their goal. Giving to an Indiegogo campaign is a straight-up donation. You either have to believe in it or not care if it doesn’t work out.Kickstarter is more constrained. It dictates what kinds of campaigns can be run. “They created Kickstarter because they wanted to see creative projects get off the ground supported by patrons from the community,” Micah says. It was ideal for films and artistic works like that. Of course backers wanted to see the dream come true, but it was also designed to be about joining a movement.“What they nailed was a user experience format,” Micah says. They bundled the best storytelling device, namely video, a simple, clear call to action, and tiered rewards as an up-selling incentive. Backing a Kickstarter makes you feel like a part of something.As Micah helped me realize, this foundation gave rise to two basic kinds of crowd-funding project. There’s the kind where you give because you believe in the cause, and there’s the kind where you’re speculatively pre-ordering a product. Enterprising gizmo makers saw this and thought, “Oh, this is a great platform on which to pre-sell my project.” As with Remee, Pebble and others, it works after a fashion. But Kickstarters for physical products are set up for a letdown.Business More Like UsualThere are no guarantees about the end-to-end experience of a Kickstarter project because art has no guarantees. These gizmos are art, just like the films. “It’s a donation,” says Micah. He thinks there need to be more rules and explicit expectations about the differences between funding art versus gizmos, and they’re starting to emerge. “Kickstarter is not a store,” as its staff wrote in September.But there are also new crowd funding platforms coming out with stronger assumptions. Christie Street is exclusively for physical products, which are heavily vetted and come with more buyer and inventor protections. There are also more formal arrangements like Crowdfunder, which is trying out crowd-funded equity for small businesses, which Kickstarter explicitly does not allow.Failure Of ExpectationsBut just as much as we need new models for bringing great ideas into the world, we also need to adjust our expectations. “What we need to do is be a lot more understanding of failure as a culture,” Micah says. In Silicon Valley start-up culture, “fail fast” is a pervasive mantra. Failure is how you learn and get better. “We need to teach that to people and reset expectations around things,” Micah says.If we’re more okay with failure, that makes the risks of crowd-funded projects more acceptable. I knew when I backed Remee that I might not get it, and that even if I did, it might not work. In my mind, it’s not a failure. It’s a work of art.If I had walked into a store in a mall and bought this on a shelf, I’d probably want my money back. But I got this whole long, interesting Kickstarter experience alongside my programmable LED sleep mask. Who cares if I never actually had a lucid dream? For me, it was worth it for the story alone.  China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culture Related Posts Tags:#Crowd Funding#Kickstarter jon mitchell It’s time to talk about the downside to these Kickstarter gizmos we keep buying. Do we have any bummed-out Pebble watch buyers in the house? Anybody buy an iPhone dock on Kickstarter only to have it obviated by the Lightning connector before you got it? I suspect there are many different versions of Kickstarter gizmo disappointment. Mine is the Remee lucid dream mask from Bitbanger Labs.Yes. I backed an LED sleep mask for stimulating lucid dreams on Kickstarter. I am a hippie-nerd like that. And now I’m paying the price.A Brief Foray Into Lucid DreamingLucid dreaming is a highly desirable state of consciousness in which you realize you’re dreaming, but you remain asleep. With practice, lucid dreamers can learn to control their dreams, fly around, breathe underwater, talk to Aristotle, go to a Jimi Hendrix concert, whatever they can conjure. Lucid dreaming was celebrated in cult films like Waking Life (my favorite movie ever), and there’s an awesome list of other references on Remee’s Kickstarter page.Conventional wisdom holds that one way to begin lucid dreaming is to remind yourself that you’re dreaming. That’s what the Remee lucid dreaming mask is supposed to do. It uses a timer, and its red LEDs blink patterns over your eyelids while you sleep. If you time it right, allegedly, you’ll see visual disturbances while you dream that will jar you into lucidity.I’ve had one lucid dream that I can remember. I was about 18, visiting Hong Kong, jet-lagged out of my mind. I dreamt I was back at my old elementary school, which was uncanny enough that I realized I was dreaming. I immediately tried to fly. It worked for a few seconds. I got about 20 feet off the ground before my expectations about the laws of gravity set in, and I sank back to the ground, forgetting I was dreaming. It was briefly amazing, though. I’ve wanted to regain that power ever since.Awakening From The DreamSo I backed the Remee. I knew it was an act of blind faith, and that the thing might not work — if I even got it at all. But I wanted to believe, so I voted for it. The Remee’s funding goal was $35,000, and the $80 level got you a mask. It raised $572,891, so it was a pretty massive hit. My mask took seven months to arrive, but founders Duncan Frazier and Steve McGuigan were communicative throughout the process, so I kept the faith and was psyched when I got it. In my first few weeks of testing, though, I’ve had zero results.For a while, the lights woke me up, so I used the Web-based, light-sensitive programming tool to adjust the timing and patterns, a totally cool and geeky experience. But now I just sleep through it every night.I didn’t exactly expect a magic bullet, but I loved what the founders wrote about dreaming on their Kickstarter. They seemed even more jazzed and inspired than I was. So I contacted them to talk about Remee. And that’s where the real bummer set in. Dreams Are For People Who SleepThey wouldn’t take a call with me. Too busy. So I settled for an email interview. I sent in five questions that I thought gave plenty of opportunity for creative answers. But I got a minimum viable email instead:ReadWrite: What got you into this problem? Why the interest in lucid dreaming? And where did you encounter the idea that this kind of technology could be used to stimulate them? Bitbanger Labs: We’ve both been lucid dreaming since we were kids, but it just happened to come up in conversation in the summer of 2011. We had already been working on some tech projects and were intrigued at the idea of marrying the two ideas.ReadWrite: How did you know there was a market for this? How widespread is the knowledge of the possibility of lucid dreaming?Bitbanger Labs: We weren’t entirely sure how large the market would be — Kickstarter is a perfect match for a product like this, because it allows you to gauge interest while you seek backers. We were, of course, blown away by the response. I think we had an inkling that the community of lucid dreamers on the Web was aching for a new product, but we had no idea how many people to whom we’d be introducing the concept.ReadWrite: What went into the particulars of the design decisions you made: number of LEDs, kinds of patterns available, timings of the intervals, that sort of thing?Bitbanger Labs: We wanted to find a nice middle ground between effectiveness, comfort and low power draw. Six LEDs worked well for our relatively small power source, a CR2032 battery. The patterns and intervals, all of which are customizable, were mostly trial and error. We had a lot of time with the mask prior to launch to really fine tune stuff like this.ReadWrite: How’s business? Has the idea caught on?Bitbanger Labs: People are still interested! I think the idea of controlling your dreams is compelling enough that even someone who has never thought about it can get hooked on the concept pretty easily. We’re proud of how many folks we’ve brought into the world of lucid dreaming, whether they decide to support Remee or not.ReadWrite: How have your dreams changed since you finished building this thing?Bitbanger Labs: Dreams? Those are for people who sleep! But really, we’re finally getting to a point where things are settling back down and we’re getting a normal amount of sleep. We’re definitely still wearing Remee ourselves, not just for the effects but to continue to work towards making it better.last_img read more

New rules will benefit India: Roelant Oltmans

first_imgIndia’s high performance director Roelant OltmansIf you look at the attrition rate of India’s foreign hockey coaches, it would probably be an unofficial world record.As the start of the Asian Games in this port city gets closer, the men’s and women’s hockey teams have been training hard, knowing full well that excuses won’t work this time. Hockey has been provided the best possible inputs in the form of foreign coaches, physios, doctors and also a video analyst.As the women’s team waited to step into the team bus for its training session on Wednesday afternoon, Mail Today caught up with high performance director Roelant Oltmans and the women team’s assistant coach CR Kumar.Oltmans said the men’s team had an off day after three days of hard training while Wednesday was all about drills for the women’s team. The Dutchman spoke about the weather in Incheon being kind and how conditions were good for hockey.Not one to indulge in glib talk, Oltmans feels the new rules can benefit the Indians. So is the new pattern of four quarters in a match good or bad for Indian hockey and would it help the physically stronger teams? “I don’t think so at all. In the earlier system of two halves, countries with physically stronger players had an edge. In this new format, players with more skill can do better and stay on the turf for a longer duration,” Oltmans said.He also spoke about the new 40-second rule for taking a penalty corner, which came into effect this month. Though PC conversion has never been India’s strength, in today’s hockey, adapting fast to rule changes is key. In the good old days, when India and Pakistan dominated world hockey with flair and finesse, fitness was not paramount. As playing conditions changed and the game got more demanding on synthetic pitches, European players took advantage.advertisementIn Asian hockey, too, India and Pakistan felt the pressure as teams like South Korea exerted pressure with their physical superiority. This time, there is a lot at stake — winning gold at the Asian Games will secure a direct berth at the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the last Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010, India failed to win gold and had to go through the grind of Olympic qualification before botching up their big campaign in London. Those two campaigns were handled by coaches Jose Brasa and Michael Nobbs.Oltmans says apart from the change in playing conditions, how well the Indian men’s team plays on a given day will matter. He is aware that the job of high performance director means the pressure is as much on him as on the team. Kumar, though, lightened up the conversation. “The women’s team has been training hard for two years and I am aware that winning gold can book us the Rio Olympics berth,” said Kumar.”To have got till here has been thanks to pure hard work. We are aware the women’s teams from China, Japan and Korea are ranked higher than us in the world.”last_img read more

Independence at core of federal prosecution services creation

first_imgOTTAWA — The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is involved in allegations of improper government influence IN two major cases: the prosecutions of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman over allegations he leaked secrets to a shipyard and of SNC-Lavalin on charges of bribery and corruption in Libya.Here are five things to know about the prosecution service and its independence:What is the Public Prosecution Service?The service is “a national, independent and accountable prosecuting authority” whose mandate is to prosecute federal offences as well as provide legal advice and assistance to law enforcement.The office may prosecute in cases covered by 250 federal statutes, although it only regularly uses about 40 of those. Its cases include money-laundering, organized crime, terrorism, and regulatory offences. Many of its cases involve drug charges under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. It also handles Criminal Code charges in the three territories, cases that are prosecuted by provincial Crown attorneys in the provinces.As of last spring, the service had over 1,000 employees. It is headquartered in Ottawa with regional offices across Canada.Formerly the Federal Prosecution Service, the 2006 Director of Public Prosecutions Act made the service formally independent of the Justice Department — it answers to the same minister but isn’t part of the same bureaucracy.What was the point of that?The prosecution service was created on Dec. 12, 2006 following a Conservative campaign promise that it would be free of political interference. This was after the sponsorship scandal, and the Tories had been elected partly on a promise that they’d clean up political corruption.“There’s going to be a new code on Parliament Hill,” prime minister Stephen Harper said at the time. “Bend the rules, you will be punished; break the law, you will be charged; abuse the public trust, you will go to prison.”Who’s in charge of it?Kathleen Roussel is its current director. A one-time criminal defence attorney who has been a government lawyer for much of her career, including in environmental law and the program that enforces gun-control rules, she was appointed in June 2017 for a term of seven years.“The relationship between the attorney general and the director is premised on respect for the independence of the prosecution function and the need to consult on important matters of general interest,” reads a news release announcing the appointment.What does the justice minister have to do with it?According to the legislation, the service’s director acts under and on behalf of the attorney general, the Crown’s chief lawyer, through whom it reports to Parliament.In Canada, the same person is both justice minister and attorney general. Some other places, such as the United Kingdom, separate the justice minister’s job from the attorney general’s, though both positions are held by politicians.Except for Canada Elections Act matters, the attorney general is allowed to direct or even personally take over prosecutions but must do so in writing and with notice published in the Canada Gazette, the official record of government decisions. For general prosecution directives, the attorney general must also consult with the director.Does this happen a lot?Not very often. But Wilson-Raybould used this power as recently as Nov. 30, with a direction in relation to HIV non-disclosure cases, telling federal prosecutors not to pursue charges against people with HIV who have sex without informing their partners, as long as the circumstances were such that there was virtually no chance of transmitting the illness.The law didn’t change but the instruction to federal prosecutors — which only applied in the handful of jurisdictions where they handle criminal cases — changed the way it is applied.Stephen Cook, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Organization representing southern Labrador Inuit condemns jailing of Inuk land protector Beatrice

first_imgTom Fennario APTN National NewsThe organization that represents southern Labrador Inuit condemned the jailing of Inuk land protector Beatrice Hunter.“Clearly the justice system is flawed,” NunatuKavut President Todd Russell wrote in a statement released Monday. “It has not responded appropriately or fairly to those who have demonstrated their objections to the Muskrat Falls project and been charged as a consequence.”Hunter, an Inuk grandmother, was sent to a men’s penitentiary 1,000 km to the south in St. John’s May 29 after refusing a judge’s request to stay at least one km away from the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam.Hunter was in court for breaking a previous court order stemming from an occupation of the controversial multi-billion dollar mega-project in Autumn.The Muskrat Falls project has been facing fierce resistance from Labrador Inuit who say the flooding of the Lower Churchill River will cause the toxin methylmercury to be released into the land.“I felt like I was being bullied into a corner because of what I believe,” Hunter said to the Independent.ca over the phone from prison. “I felt pressured, in a corner and I was like, ‘No, you can’t do this! You can’t tell me where I can go and where I can’t go!’ I haven’t done anything wrong.”Beatrice Hunter, centre with the headband, sits in a court in Labrador surrounded by fellow land protectors.Hunter is in a men’s prison because Newfoundland’s prison for women is full. There is currently no correctional facility for adult women in Labrador.Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Justice Andrew Parsons said in a statement that the Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) is adequately prepared to handle female inmates.“In many ways, the female unit at HMP is like a separate prison. Renovations were made last year at HMP to appropriately and safely accommodate female inmates. The unit is completely self-contained,” said Parsons in the statement.Aside from calling the punishment of Inuit land protectors such as Hunter unfair, Todd Russell’s statement urges the Ministry of Justice to do more to accommodate Indigenous perspectives in the court of law.“We challenge the justice system to do better and find culturally appropriate alternatives and solutions,” Russell said. “We challenge the justice system to respond in a manner wherein Inuit and other Indigenous peoples can have some measure of comfort that justice is indeed being done and is seen to be donefairly and justly.The Ministry of Justice said it wouldn’t respond to Russell’s statement because the case is still before the courts.More than 2,000 people have signed a petition for Hunter’s release – and daily vigils are being held this week outside the penitentiary she is being held in. Hunter is scheduled to have a hearing on Tuesday.last_img read more

Mens Hockey No 7 Ohio State to play Michigan State in final

Ohio State redshirt junior defender Wyatt Ege eyes a shot on goal during the first period of Ohio State’s hockey game vs. Minnesota on Feb. 15. Ohio State lost 4-3. Credit: Nick Hudak | For The LanternRight after winning the Big Ten regular season, the No. 7 Ohio State men’s hockey team (19-8-5, 12-6-4 Big Ten) will play its final regular season game when it hosts Michigan State (11-16-5, 7-11-4 Big Ten) this weekend.Ohio State has once again dropped in the USCHO polls, this time falling from No. 6 to No. 7. Michigan State, meanwhile, remains unranked in the USCHO polls, but has been consistently ranked last in the Big Ten.The Buckeyes went from a seven-game winning streak to hitting a bump in the season recently, having lost three straight games followed by a tie. The tie in the record books was an overtime win against Michigan in the Big Ten standings, giving Ohio State enough points to clinch the conference regular season title.Michigan State has also had a rough patch recently, having won only one of its past five games.Senior defenseman Sasha Larocque believes Ohio State is taking its recent Big Ten regular season win and turning that into positive momentum going into the weekend.“You play some great teams, you play good games and it doesn’t always go your way,” Larocque said. “To win something like [the Big Ten regular season title] the way we did, it is definitely good and should help morale and help us push through.”While the Buckeyes lead the Spartans in offense, defense and win percentage, Michigan State has a higher power play percentage, ranking No. 8 nationally with a 23.89 percent success rate.Head coach Steve Rohlik said Ohio State will need to avoid the penalty box in order to counter the Spartans’ major strength.“We’re going to have to be at our best,” Rohlik said. “We certainly have to be more disciplined than we were this weekend as far as penalties go. The best way to kill their power plays is to stay out of the box.”Michigan State is led by junior forward Taro Hirose, who currently leads the nation with 35 assists and 50 points overall this season. While Hirose is a major contributor, Rohlik believes the entire Michigan State offense is what the Buckeyes should really worry about. “We can’t just try to stop him,” Rohlik said. “That whole line: People forget how good they are. They work extremely hard.” Senior forward Mason Jobst agrees with Rohlik’s sentiment.“They have some very high-end, skilled guys,” Jobst said. “That top line is as good as any other line in the entire country so when it comes to shutting those guys down it’s very important; they’re very good.”No. 7 Ohio State takes on Michigan State for its final regular season games of the season this weekend at the Schottenstein Center. The games begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday. read more