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Monday verdict: Draw with Spurs could have long-term implications for Chelsea


first_imgAfter an encouraging couple of weeks under Roberto Di Matteo’s leadership, the past few days have seen Chelsea brought back down to earth – and could end up having a significant impact on the club’s longer-term fortunes.Four straight wins, including that memorable victory over Napoli, had brought some smiles back to Stamford Bridge – on and off the pitch.But we fans knew deep down that matches against Manchester City and Tottenham would be more of a test than cup ties against lower-division opposition and the home game against Stoke. And so it has proved.The defeat in Manchester and, perhaps more crucially, the failure to beat Tottenham, have probably ended our chances of finishing in the top four.A win over Spurs would have left us just two points behind them and poised to pounce on any more points dropped by an out-of-form side.But a five-point gap with only eight games left to play is probably too much to overturn, especially when our own form is not great.So it looks like fifth place could be the limit of Chelsea’s league expectations this year, which would mean a worst finish for a decade.The Europa League next year could actually make a bit of a change – a few different away trips – but we all know it’s not where Chelsea want to be.If the four wins had begun to spark a small clamour for Di Matteo to get the job permanently, the City and Spurs games have perhaps brought that to an end.He’s a Chelsea man through and through and I hope he keeps a job at the club.But will a lack of Champions League football put off potential suitors? I’d love to see Jose Mourinho back, but would he want to manage a club that isn’t in the Champions League? I’m not sure hewould.And if we can’t get him or somebody comparable, we could look back and feel that a 0-0 draw with Spurs – so uneventful it was featured last on Match of the Day – actually shaped the future of Chelsea for years to come.James Clarke is the author of Moody Blues: Following the second-best team in EuropeFollow James on Twitterlast_img read more


Kurtenbach on the Warriors: Handing out game balls after Game 2


first_imgTORONTO — I don’t know who first said it. All I know is that the rule of the NBA Playoffs is that a series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game.Well, consider the 2019 NBA Finals started.The Warriors’ found the recipe for their patented third quarter magic Sunday night in Toronto, and used it to beat the Raptors 109-104, evening this series at 1-1 as it heads back to Oakland. An 18-0 run in the quarter flipped a five-point halftime deficit and the Warriors held on from there, barely …last_img


Bat Evolution: The Play’s the Thing


first_imgAccording to the Darwinian script, each animal evolved its particular adaptations from an ancestor lacking those adaptations.  Take bats.  They must have evolved their wings and sonar from mouse-like ancestors that lived on the ground.  Is it enough to imagine these things, or should we expect science to provide evidence that is what really happened?    Scientific American published a story entitled, “Taking Wing: Uncovering the Evolutionary Origins of Bats.”  It sounds like the evidence has been uncovered, now to be revealed for the first time, and we are about to look at it.  Actually, reporter Nancy B. Simmons ended with this remarkable admission:Despite many new discoveries about the rise of bats, mysteries remain.  Bat ancestors must have existed prior to the Eocene, but we have no fossil record of them.  Likewise, the identity of the closest relatives of bats is still unknown.  Investigators are also eager to learn when the bat lineage first became distinct from that of the other laurasiatheres and how much of early bat evolution and diversification took place in the northern continents versus the southern continents.  We therefore need fossils that lie even closer to the beginning of bats than Onychonycteris does.  With luck, paleontologists will find such specimens, and they will help solve these and other riddles about the origins of these fascinating animals.Obviously this points back to Onychonycteris and the other “many new discoveries” that will have to support the evolutionary story across the remaining gaps.  What did the article say about these?  Simmons started off by discussing the wonder of bats as we see them today.  She admitted that “their ascension was hardly a foregone conclusion: no other mammal has conquered the air” with powered flight, though several mammals can glide on outstretched flaps of skin.  Powered flight puts severe requirements on many organs, though, and the echolocation found in 85% of these “superb fliers” puts additional anatomical constraints on the skull, mouth, ears and throat.  She spent some time describing all the factors involved after saying, “Indeed, exactly how these rulers of the night sky arose from terrestrial ancestors is a question that has captivated biologists for decades.”    Then she went into her discovery this year of Onychonycteris finneyi in Wyoming, “the most primitive bat ever discovered” (see 02/16/2008 discovery report).  This bat, though possessing shorter forelimbs and longer hindlimbs than extant bats, was still fully capable of flight.  In fact, living mouse-tailed bats have a similar wing aspect ratio, she said.    The main evolutionary question addressed by her find, then, was not how powered flight evolved, but whether it evolved first, or sonar first, or whether both flight and sonar evolved simultaneously.  Earlier fossils did not help in filling the gap, she argued, but Onychonycteris did not appear to have sonar.  The flight-first theoreticians win, she claimed.    “Still, we lack fossils that establish how bats are related to other mammals,” she said in a section about the diversity of living bats.  Genetic studies do not show them related to other gliding mammals.  The nearest ancestors, “an ancient lineage known as Laurasiatheria” consists of “such diverse beasts as carnivores, hoofed mammals, whales, scaly anteaters, shrews, hedgehogs and moles,” – none of which are fliers (although there were flying whales in Disney’s Fantasia 2000).  This leaves a lot of evolutionary space unfilled:Primitive laurasiatheres, however, were probably mouse- or squirrel-size creatures that walked on all fours and ate insects.  Laurasiatheres are thought to have evolved on the ancient supercontinent of Laurasia, which comprised what is now North America, Europe and Asia, probably in the late Cretaceous period, some 65 million to 70 million years ago.  The exact position of bats within this group is uncertain, but clearly a considerable amount of evolutionary change separates Onychonycteris and other bats from their terrestrial forebears.    Some of this change from land dweller to flier may have occurred surprisingly quickly, if recent discoveries in the field of developmental genetics are any indication.  Though short by bat standards, the fingers of Onychonycteris are greatly elongated as compared with those of other mammals.  How could this elongation have evolved?Good question.  Her answer?  Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs).  The genes for these limb-growing proteins are expressed differently in mice and bats.  If we can imagine gradual changes in gene expression of BMPs, then, we can imagine transitional forms, even if none are found in the fossil record:It is therefore possible that a small change in the genes regulating BMPs underlies both the developmental and evolutionary elongation of bat wing digits.  If so, that might explain the absence in the fossil record of creatures intermediate between short-fingered, nonflying mammals and long-fingered bats such as Onychonycteris and Icaronycteris: the evolutionary shift may have been very rapid, and few or no transitional forms may have existed.She apparently did not ask why differences in BMP expression didn’t lead to flying hedgehogs and cows jumping over the moon.  On the other hand, maybe they did; they just didn’t leave any fossils.  That the gap was filled in with imagination is underscored with her final paragraph, quoted above: “Despite many new discoveries about the rise of bats, mysteries remain….”The only transitional bats in Darwin’s belfry are imaginary ones.  Darwin removed the requirement for hard evidence and replaced it with imagination.  That’s why nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution; if you can simply imagine the transitional forms that should be there but aren’t, you can make your theory come true without data.  Suddenly everything makes sense.  Data are such contrary things, anyway.  It helps, too, when you also rule that alternative views cannot be heard.  This was Hamlet’s undoing; Charlie conquered Claudius, took the throne, exiled Hamlet along with his righteous anger, canceled the play, and produced one of his own, featuring all kinds of fanciful chimeras like imaginary transitional bats taking wing.  It was a hit.  It had to be.  The subjects dared not fail to applaud, cheer and beg for encores.  His own play’s the thing to assuage the conscience of the king.  Now you know the rest of the play within the play.(Visited 14 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more


Kashmir Press Club to hold polls after three decades


first_imgThe journalistic fraternity in Kashmir, where 19 scribes lost their lives to unknown gunmensince 1990, will get to elect its first-ever body for the Kashmir Press Club (KPC) on July 15. As many as 252 working journalists and editors will vote for four posts of office-bearers and a seven-member executive committee. Thirty one candidates are in the fray for the July 15 polls. All the candidates wooed voters through a fierce poster, social media and video campaigns in the past one week, promising social security, exigency funds, free legal support etc.“Holding election for professional organisations is always a welcome step. One hopefully looks forward to its promised positive outcome for the profession as well as the larger public good,” said senior journalist Mohammad Syed Malik. He recalled that regular organisational elections were held prior to 1990 to choose the office-bearers of working journalists’ State unit affiliated to the Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ). “The onset of turmoil (in 1990) disrupted all. The rest is history,” said Mr. Malik.Kashmir may be a rare place in the country where setting up a press club remained a no-go area. Successive governments identified land and buildings but never handed them over to the journalists. “In the late 1990s, then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah instructed his Chief Secretary to hand over the keys of a particular building to the media fraternity to start a press club. Later, the Chief Secretary disclosed that the keys of the building had gone missing,” said another senior journalist on condition of anonymity.The setting up of the press club, which was handed over by the previous government to the journalists in 2017, has come at a time when working journalists and editors are under tremendous pressure from many sides in Kashmir.The Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG), a body of editors of local dailies, at a recent meeting said the club “should become a symbol of unity.”Ishfaq Tantry, contesting for general secretary, said, “This election will be a first move towards starting a process of welfare for journalists and their working conditions. It should also become a hub to upscale skills of journalists.”last_img read more