It’s Good to Talk

first_imgThe proposals to dramatically reduce the number of tutorials history undergraduates receive as part of their degree course is part of a worrying trend, and one that shows no signs of stopping until students wise up to the fact that cuts in tutorials will compromise the worth of their Oxford degree. Sixth Formers now see a degree as a commodity to be bought, not as the right it once was. Oxford’s unique selling point is the tutorial system, and before the University goes ahead with tutorial cuts in other subjects, as it already has with philosophy and other humanities, it should consult those who the cuts will affect them most. The focus should be on students, particularly as with dramatically increasing fees over the next few years, we will have more spending power. However over the last week the focus has shifted unnecessarily towards a discussion of the rights of consultation enjoyed by students when changes are proposed. The History Faculty must bear the bulk of the responsibility for this. A situation in which the relevant student representatives (the history UJCC) are only made aware of major changes being made to the teaching of their degrees via a third party and only after changes are all but finalised is clearly unacceptable. There is no suggestion that Oxford is making the slow move from tutorials to classes to improve the quality of undergraduate teaching. If this was the case, it would have been nice of the faculty to explain this to students in recent weeks. The suggestion, by some in the Faculty, that students were suitably consulted because similar proposals were put several years ago to (and rejected by) a previous UJCC is laughable. It would allow any changes to be made without reference to students as long as sufficient time had elapsed since the matter was discussed with them. It should be noted that neither OUSU or the UJCC has ruled out the possibility of supporting changes to teaching methods. The real issue then is why are these changes being suggested? If they follow from a need to save money on undergraduate teaching then the motive is weak in comparison to the future of student’s degrees. The argument that tutorials should be cut to reduce stress on tutors and encourage research does not avoid the label of being resource based and as such should be taken with caution. However, if these changes stem from a genuine wish to improve the educational experience of students at Oxford then they should be welcomed. Conservative attitudes to teaching methods can be just as damaging to standards as finance driven cuts. The onus then is on the Faculty to prove that the changes they propose will improve teaching and that they are committed to a genuine partnership with students to implement reform.ARCHIVE: 4th week TT 2003last_img read more

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Great White Sharks are Florida’s Newest Snow Birds

first_imgThere are at least five great white sharks hanging out off the coast of Florida for the winter like water-logged snow birds.A great white shark, first tagged in Nova Scotia, is now hanging out off the coast of Florida.Unama’ki, a 15-foot female weighing more than 2,000 pounds, pinged off Panama City Beach on Saturday night.Ocearch has been following Unama’ki since 2019 when crews tagged her off Scaterie Island, Nova Scotia. She’s traveled more than 2700 miles since then.Unama’ki is the biggest white shark currently pinging on the shark tracker, Ocearch said.In fact, there are five great white sharks near Key West or west of that area.They include: Nova, male, 11 feet, 6 inches, 1186 lbs. (Last ping: Feb. 4) Brunswick, male, 8 feet, 9 inches, 431 lbs. (Last ping: Jan. 27) Helena, female, 12 feet, 5 inches, 1314 lbs. (Last ping: Feb. 1) Ironbound, male, 21 feet, 4 inches, 994 lbs. (Last ping, Jan. 5)You can track the sharks using the Ocearch Shark Tracker.last_img read more

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Badgers hope to overcome another slow start

first_imgThrough the first four games of the season, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team finds itself winless heading into a big non-conference series this weekend with North Dakota.The good news: they have been in this situation before. The bad news: it is an unfavorable position to be in.Just a year ago, UW went into its third series of the year having been manhandled on the east coast by Boston College and Boston University two weeks prior by a total score of 16-5 between two games.A year before that in 2012-2013, Wisconsin went into December before it won its second game of the season, compiling a 1-7-2 record in the first 10 games of the year.So slow starts aren’t exactly anything new for the Badgers, and just like a year ago when they lost handedly on the road, they got another aptly timed bye week. This year, they actually got back-to-back bye weeks.The two-week period without any games has allowed UW a chance to refocus and get back to the basics, according to senior assistant captain and center Joseph LaBate.“Obviously the games didn’t go how we wanted to, but it’s a fresh start,” LaBate said. “We’ve really gone to work these past two weeks and learned a lot of new stuff.”With 11 true freshmen on this year’s roster after nine seniors graduated a season ago, there has been a learning curve for the whole team.“I wouldn’t say there’s one main thing that we’ve been working on,” senior goaltender Joel Rumpel said. “It’s kind of just the game as a whole. We have so many new guys, it’s kind of just getting everyone on the same page and that’s what we’ve been working on these past two weeks.”The high number of young players on the roster is what makes this year’s slow start unique. With nine seniors and only five freshmen a season ago and a group of 13 upperclassmen back in the 2012-2013 campaign, Wisconsin had a lot more experience to rely on despite the early losses. This season the Badgers have just nine upperclassmen total and three are goaltenders.The sheer lack of older players has forced freshmen and other younger players, who had not logged much ice time previously, into the spotlight in the early going, which has reflected in their goal scoring abilities. After losing seven of the top eight point scorers from a year ago, the Badgers have had trouble finding reliable scoring, and have managed just three goals in the four games.LaBate brought in high expectations this season as the leading returning point scorer from last season, but has yet to manage a point yet through the first two series. He hasn’t been without opportunities though, as has been the case with his fellow line members on the first line in sophomore Grant Besse and senior Brad Navin. But despite the fact that the three lead Wisconsin in shots, they have just one goal to show for it between the three of them, and it belongs to Navin.Head coach Mike Eaves could tell his older players were pressing to score goals in the first four games, something LaBate reiterated, but LaBate said he has loosened up in the past two weeks. He just knows the goals are coming.“It’s not a lack of chances,” LaBate said. “Sometimes you just have to bear down and get back to playing a gritty game, getting a dirty goal. The only way to get started is getting dirty goal. It’s not going to be a highlight reel goal if it’s your first goal. It’s usually going to be a dirty one.”But the offense isn’t alone in its growing pains, as the defense and the goaltending have had adjustments of their own. After another solid season between the pipes last year, Rumpel was arguably the biggest key returning member with a career 2.16 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage. But through his first three starts, Rumpel has allowed eight goals and has stopped just 88 percent of the pucks he has seen.The senior netminder admitted that he wasn’t satisfied with his start to the season, but like his teammates he has continued to progress, especially with the help of the bye weeks.“I didn’t start off as well as I would’ve liked to up in Alaska, but each game I feel like I’ve been getting stronger and I’m kind of getting back into the groove of things,” Rumpel said.Despite a tough start, Rumpel will still be in net Friday against North Dakota. Wisconsin has used both Rumpel and fellow senior Landon Peterson interchangeably at the beginning of the last three years, and Peterson could see time again if Rumpel struggles.Regardless, Eaves made it clear the important thing for Wisconsin right now is building off two solid weeks of practice and transitioning that into a game setting.“The thing about going out and practicing and doing the things we do – at the end of it you feel good about yourself because you worked hard. And that’s the beginning of confidence,” Eaves said. “When you work hard, you feel good about yourself. You solidify that confidence by doing it in a game.”A win against one of the better programs in college hockey this weekend could do a lot for that confidence.last_img read more

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Gauteng, Ford in skills partnership

first_img30 June 2010The Gauteng provincial government and Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa have jointly established a world-class Supplier Incubation Facility outside Pretoria as part of a R100-million investment in skills development in South Africa’s vehicle manufacturing industry.The public-private partnership between Gauteng and Ford serves as a blueprint for future projects, and the provincial government says it will continue to promote such partnerships in the manufacturing sector.Primary growth sectorBlue IQ, the provincial agency responsible for flagship projects such as the Gautrain, Newtown and the Nelson Mandela Bridge, facilitated the new training facility at Ford’s assembly site in Silverton.Blue IQ chief executive Amanda Nair says the agency considers the automotive industry as a primary growth sector in the future of Gauteng.The Supplier Icubation Facility will be attached to the Ford Motor Company’s production facility following its recent R3-billion investment to produce the T6 next-generation compact pick-up truck.An economic impact report recently concluded that Ford’s T6 Model will contribute R79-billion to the Gauteng economy over the next 15 years and create around 700 000 direct and indirect employment opportunities.Skills development and trainingThe Gauteng Government has committed R50-million for the construction of the facility and an additional R15-million for start-up costs for black economic empowerment (BEE) companies. A further R32-million is allocated for training and development programmes at the assembly plant.More than 400 people will be trained during 2010 and a further 50 people will benefit through the incubator programme. A four-year training and development plan is in place to develop skills and ensure the growth of a globally competitive workforce.Government investmentThe Gauteng provincial government has demonstrated its commitment to growth in the automotive industry by including this sector in its industrial policies and future strategies.It has provided the land adjacent to the Ford facility upon which a 7 200 square metre factory will be constructed. At least four new black businesses will be established at this factory to perform value-add sub-assembly work to main suppliers on the vehicle production line.“Our objective is that these [BEE] companies will acquire the skills and experience to eventually become full-fledged suppliers to the South African automotive sector,” said Nair.Supporting economic growth, jobsHuge setup and investment costs have, in the past, limited opportunities for smaller enterprises to participate in the industry, and the new initiative will assist prospective suppliers to overcome these hurdles.A governance board will be established between Ford, its major suppliers and government to evaluate applications, award opportunities to participate and monitor their performance.Blue IQ and its subsidiaries in the automotive sector will provide business training and mentoring while Ford and its suppliers will be responsible for the technical training, quality control and the monitoring of safety standards.At the conclusion of an initial 10-year period, the Supplier Incubation Facility will either be transferred to Ford or continue in its existing form, depending on the requirements of the company at that time.Nair said the project confirmed the value of Blue IQ as a facilitator of strategic infrastructure that supports economic growth and job creation.“The [public-private partnership] model we have put in place is working well. We are delighted that Ford has continued to expand their manufacturing commitments in the province of Gauteng.”SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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New pipeline to secure fuel supply

first_img“Such revisions are common in projects of this complexity, uniqueness and size,” said Transnet acting CEO Chris Wells. “The [pipeline], whose construction is about 33% complete, is the largest multi-product pipeline in the world and will have a lifespan of over 70 years.” State company Transnet is busy building a multi-product pipeline between Johannesburg and Durban – the largest of its kind in the world – to ensure the security of South Africa’s fuel supply while easing congestion on one of Africa’s busiest road corridors. Multi-product pipelines are the safest, most cost-effective and efficient means of moving petroleum products. Source: BuaNews The move to Island View resulted in an 11km increase in the length of the pipeline, affecting the hydraulics and requiring a change of design. It will replace the existing Durban to Johannesburg pipeline, which is both nearing the end of its lifespan and is unable to cater for increased capacity. Complex, unique project The relocation of the construction of coastal terminals from the old Durban International Airport to Island View in the Port of Durban, and some delays in obtaining required statutory approvals, were cited as the main reason for schedule variations. The company has requested an amendment to its construction licence to allow for timeline changes, as the original completion date was set for December 2012. 11 October 2010 Once fully operational, Transnet says, the pipeline will reduce the number of fuel tankers on the road by at least 60%, thereby reducing road maintenance costs and easing congestion on the Joburg-Durban route. The National Energy Regulator of South Africa awarded Transnet the licence to build the pipeline, including a 16 inch inland network and two terminals, in December 2007. The pipeline, the single biggest project in Transnet’s R93-billion five-year capital expenditure programme, is expected to be ready for operation by December 2013.last_img read more

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Done — Well, Almost

first_imgWe are certifiedOur first certification was EarthCraft, primarily because it is required in Decatur to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy, and it was the one we could achieve the quickest. The project is currently certified at Gold level, although I believe we will upgrade it to Platinum once we resolve the Watersense certification requirement.The next certificate was NGBS Emerald. We were surprised and pleased to find out that this is the first house certified under the 2015 version. NGBS had a bad rap early on from green building purists as being too easy, but it is getting tougher, and hitting Emerald level was a big challenge.The house was also certified as Zero Energy Ready, even though there is no solar exposure — the DOE allows a waiver for projects with this condition.We are seeking LEED Version 4 Platinum certification. Final inspection is complete and project is submitted for review. Based on past experience, this will take a couple of months, so I’m not holding my breath.As an added bonus, the City of Decatur Historic Preservation Commission presented the house with their design award for New Construction and Sustainability and Energy Efficiency. We apparently finished just in time for this year’s presentation. Interior finishesThe finish stages of the project went much more smoothly, if a bit slower than the rough phases. I hired an excellent carpenter for the interior trim, and he did a terrific job with the poplar finger-jointed moldings and doors. I am fussy about my trim work and it met my expectations.Our custom cabinet shop was equally skilled, providing us with well-crafted cabinets with excellent low-VOC finishes. We ended up with soapstone counters in the kitchen and bathrooms with a walnut butcher block island. I sought out local stone for the counters, but there was none available – primarily due to the cost. Few vendors bother to stock domestic stone slabs since the imported ones are significantly less expensive and provide more choices. Water, water everywhereI worked hard to design a hot water distribution system that was simple and efficient. Starting with a centrally located Marathon tank water heater, I had the plumbers site build a PEX manifold with ½-inch insulated hot water lines run as directly to each fixture as possible. And it worked! Every fixture gets hot water within about 15-20 seconds, wasting no more than a half gallon of water (or less). I probably could have had them run 3/8-inch lines instead and done even better, but I’m good with the results.We installed American Standard and DXV plumbing fixtures throughout, all Watersense-certified. We specified dual flush toilets and 2 g.p.m. shower heads. Given the cost of water service these days, we’re expecting to keep our bills in line.Laundry equipment is all Energy Star compliant from Bosch, including a condensing dryer. Although it takes a little longer to dry clothes, it is both significantly more energy-efficient than a traditional dryer, and it eliminates the need for an exhaust duct. In a house this tight, the dryer exhaust would have risked significant depressurization, probably requiring some form of makeup air. Final touchesThe house is occupied. We are enjoying the fruits of our labors. My stress level is lower and I’m sleeping better. We still have lots of pictures to hang, window coverings on order, and some furniture to rearrange, but it’s good to be in.Looking forward to seeing how it performs through this summer and next winter. Here’s hoping for very low power bills. HVAC installers had some issuesWe are conditioning the house with three Mitsubishi ductless minisplit heads: one over the front door for the entire first floor, one for the master suite, and one in the upstairs hallway for the remainder of the upstairs.Each is controlled by a Honeywell thermostat. The initial rough-in went well; however, after drywall was installed, I had the indoor heads installed, in order to avoid any problems after paint and trim was complete. Unfortunately, the installers had roughed-in the linesets in the wrong place on the units, so they had to remove drywall to relocate them, requiring some extra patching.Annoying, but manageable at the time. But the problems continued.When the installers returned to complete the installation, they screwed the wireless transmitters to the side of the minisplits with exposed black wires, a truly unfortunate decision. With a bit of coaxing, they agreed to relocate the transmitters to the top of the units where they are much less visible.So everything is wired up and running fine. I think I’m over the hump, and my third-party inspector for National Green Building Standard certification is comparing the equipment to the design and discovers that they swapped two of the heads. They installed a 6-kbtu unit where a 12 was supposed to go. This required, yet again, tearing out drywall to reconnect linesets, this time after all the paint and trim was complete.It is not easy to patch drywall in a tight space between a minisplit, trim, and wall corners, but my painter managed to do a nice job under tough circumstances.I don’t mean to beat on the HVAC contractor, because they generally did a very conscientious job, but they really screwed the pooch on a couple of issues.Now that the installation is up and running, I can say, so far, so good. The building envelope is so tight (.88 ach50) that the house is comfortable and consistent without duct systems. The thermostats have a smart phone interface which allows me to change settings from anywhere – out of town or laying in bed.The thermostats do limit the unit fans to two speeds instead of fully variable, but they also power down the minisplit heads when not calling for conditioning, unlike the supplied remote controls which require manually turning the units on and off unless you want the fans running constantly.So far, keeping doors open keeps the house comfortable. We have a Panasonic 190 cfm exhaust fan located near the upstairs hall unit, ducted into the two front bedrooms, wired to turn on whenever the mini split is running, that will provide enough conditioned air to those rooms when the doors are closed. I installed an override switch to turn off the fan when not needed, which ends up being most of the time. We will use it when guests are in those rooms and keep the doors closed, and possibly in the brief periods of severe cold we see around here.A Broan ERV provides outside air and assists in circulating air around the first floor. Setting up the controller was a bit of a challenge as the instructions weren’t very clear. I ultimately decided to run it full time in circulation mode with 20 minutes of outside air every hour. So far, so good. However the damper for the outside air is louder than I would have expected. It took me a few days to figure out what the periodic “thump” I was hearing came from, but now I am used to it.Humidity has been a bit of an issue, particularly on the frequent days when the temperature is moderate and the humidity high. In retrospect, I probably would have been better off with a venting dehumidifier instead of an ERV to avoid having to run air conditioning when all I need is dehumidification, but that will be for the next house (which isn’t going to happen — I’m done building).I installed condensation sensors on all the bath exhaust fans, and haven’t figured out how their little brains work. They seem to turn on and off whenever they want to, with no relationship to the humidity indoors. I’ve played with the settings with no success. An ongoing project. It has been a busy winter and spring, wrapping up construction. Work on the house and carport were essentially complete in March; however, delays in locating the pervious pavers and an installer for the pervious concrete kept us from completing the site work until mid-April.We wrapped up landscaping and received our Certificate of Occupancy on April 29th. We hired a closet company to fit out our storage shelving. Having had a bad experience with high urea formaldehyde content in these products in the past, I insisted on material documentation on the selected products. We ended up working with the installer who provided a CARB 2 compliant laminated composite board, with no detectable odor when installed.I have not done any indoor air quality testing, but I am comfortable that we have kept product pollutants to a minimum. Walls and trim were painted with Sherwin Williams Harmony zero-VOC paints, floors were finished with water-based Bona Kemi Traffic. We looked at low-VOC stains, but unfortunately were unable to find a color that satisfied our taste, so the stain was a higher VOC content than I would have preferred.Once all the interior finishes were installed, we did a thorough flush of the house over an entire weekend with windows open and fans on, which did a good job clearing out any remaining VOCs indoors (and picked up some credits for green certifications).Lighting was a combination of integrated LED fixtures and standard lights with LED lamps. Even though I have said they are evil, I did ceiling fans, all Haiku by Big Ass Fans. They aren’t inexpensive, but I love the design as well as the efficiency. Several of them have built-in LED lights, and all are operated by remote control, and some even by iPhone if you want. Stepping outThe Boral Tru Exterior trim and siding turned out well, allowing us to create very traditional details with their resawn lap siding, flat stock, and beadboard tongue-and-groove materials. Exterior wood was limited to bed molding, soffit lookouts, and the entry porch, as well as the acetylated material used for the porch floor and rails.The carport trellis was made from additional Tru Exterior ripped into narrow strips on which we are considering growing vines in the future. The thin brick applied to the foundation turned out well, and was a good match to the solid brick used for the front stoop and rear planter.Due to site coverage requirements, we had to install pervious paving for the entire driveway. Concrete pavers were installed over a 9-inch bed of 57 stone which was laid on top of a geotextile fabric, the gaps between the pavers allow for drainage into the sub-base. The pervious concrete driveway was installed on the same base.Locating a pervious concrete installer was a challenge, taking much longer than expected, delaying the entire project for several weeks. Luckily we located a very skilled installer who, while a little temperamental, did an excellent job. Watching pervious paving drain instead of run off always amazes me. I’m not looking forward to the maintenance, including regular removal of debris and period vacuuming, but it will keep the drainage working properly.Our landscape includes no turf grass, and all plants are native or drought-tolerant species. This design requires lots of mulch, and we (or our landscape contractor) will need to do a lot of weeding until ground cover is well established over the next few years.Since this is an all-electric house, we opted for an induction range. I had always heard great things about them, and they live up to their reputation. The heat is fast and very easy to control. The most amazing feature to me is the speed boost which can boil water in about 2 minutes.My personal favorite feature in the house is the Broan exhaust hood over the Big Green Egg on the porch. In my last house I learned that grills on porches lead to very greasy ceilings, so I opted for a hood this time. RELATED ARTICLES Closing InNearing the Home StretchGetting Into the DetailsTopping OutMovin’ On UpThe Third Time’s the CharmMaking Slow Progress on My RenovationFinally! Starting Construction At My HouseGreen From the Start: Small Victory DepartmentGreen From the Start: Home Edition, Volume 2last_img read more

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