Home' Greymouth Star : July 7th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, July 7, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1865 - Four people are hanged in
Washington after being convicted of
conspiring with John Wilkes Booth to
assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.
1883 - Pinocchio, written by Carlo
Lorenzini under his pen name of Collodi, is
published for the first time.
1913 - Britain’s House of Commons passes
Irish Home Rule Bill.
1930 - Death of Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle, British novelist and
creator of Sherlock Holmes.
1960 - In Sydney, Stephen
Bradley kidnaps and holds for
ransom eight-year-old Graeme
Thorne, who later is found
1973 - Actress Veronica Lake dies.
1985 - Boris Becker, aged 17, becomes the
youngest player to win the Wimbledon men’s
1987 - Oliver North begins his
long-awaited testimony at the Iran-Contra
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Ringo Starr, British musician (1940-); Bill
Oddie, British comedian-actor (1941-); Michael
Howard, English politician (1941-);
Carmen D uncan, Australian actress
(1942-); Tony Jacklin, British golfer
(1944-); Joe Spano, US actor (1946-
); Shelley Duvall, US actress (1949-);
Vonda Shepard, US singer (1963-);
Michelle Kwan, US figure skater
(1980-); Alesso, Swedish DJ and
“ Memory depends very much on the
perspicuity, regularity, and order of our
thoughts. Many complain of the want of
memory, when the defect is in their judgment;
and others, by grasping at all, retain nothing.”
— Margaret Fuller, American critic and social
“ For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-
discipline.” — (2 Timothy 1:7).
Petite, blue eyed
music teacher at the
School, Miss Patricia
Low will be the Arts Q ueen in the Greymouth
Civic Centre’s Queen Carnival. She is the
second entry in the three-candidate field.
Miss Beverley Lynam was last week chosen as
Sports Q ueen.
Miss Low learned music at the Greymouth,
Timaru and Hokitika convent schools of
music. She has degrees of LTCL in piano,
violin and singing. She is a full-time teacher
at the Greymouth High School. She also has
several pupils in piano of her own.
Aged 22, she is the daughter of Mr and Mrs
J P Low, of Marlborough Street, Greymouth,
and is well-known in local orchestras and
chamber music groups.
Although the weather has been exceptionally
cold in the Buller district in the last few
days in common with most parts of New
Zealand, there has not been a great demand
for briquettes from ther new factory operated
by the Mines Department at Ngakawau. At
present the plant is only producing on two days
weekly which is sufficient to meet all orders.
There are reports that the works may not
continue production in the summer period if
sales do not increase. Most Buller people seem
to favour the old-fashioned coal and wood.
The Rev Brother Oswald, a former director of
the Marist Brothers’ High School, Greymouth,
died this morning in Auckland. Brother
Oswald was director of the Marist school here
from 1934-41 and again in the last decade.
A popular figure, Brother Oswald was a keen
rugby league follower and a coach of various
uFood for thought
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eep in the bowels of
the All England Club,
an army of employees
from one of the world’s
technology giants are
teaching a computer
named Watson to master tennis.
Seven-times Wimbledon champion
Roger Federer can relax though. A silicon-
chipped cyborg is not about to wreak
havoc on his beloved Centre Court.
Watson is a cognitive computer designed
by IBM that played Gary Kasparov
at chess and beat the most successful
contestant on hit United States game
show Jeopardy in a $1 million challenge.
Its latest task is crunching tennis
statistics and digging through
Wimbledon’s vast historical archives to
help feed the tournament ’s ever expanding
digital output and answer the queries of
the world’s media churning out stories.
Want to know how many left-handers
were in the men’s singles in 1979? How
many aces Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic has
ser ved on the Wimbledon lawns? Was
Wednesday ’s heatwave a record?
Watson, says IBM, will be able to spit
out the answer in around three seconds.
“ What we are doing at Wimbledon is
teaching Watson tennis,” Sam Seddon,
IBM’s Wimbledon Client and Programme
Executive who is at the heart of the
“There is a data set at Wimbledon that
sits in a huge structured database, then
there is Wimbledon’s huge historical
archive. Watson can receive a question
from Wimbledon’s digital team in natural
language, understand if it is a statistical
question or a language question and then
find the answer.
“It means Wimbledon can rapidly get
access to the information with a simple
search question and then they can start
putting context around the content.”
Wimbledon remains the most traditional
of the grand slams, where players still wear
all white, but staying ahead of the game in
terms of digital media is vital for the brand
in a world where people want stories on
A glossy new website was launched this
“The next best thing to being here” is the
mantra and IBM, partners for 25 years,
help Wimbledon deliver it.
“Since IBM became involved, a little
over 10 million have walked through the
gates,” Seddon said. “Last year alone, 63
million people visited the website.
“Some people, like my mum, just want
the scores, others want to know exactly
what Murray’s success rate is on second
ser ve. The website is like peeling away
layers of the onion.”
Away from the strawberries and cream-
chomping crowds, analysts beaver away in
darkened offices below court 14.
Nothing is missed.
A “notification solution” alerts
Wimbledon’s digital team as soon as
anything of interest happens.
“Imagine Djokovic is losing a five-setter
to a wildcard, the media eyes of the world
will be on that, but at the same time on
Court 18 we get the fastest ever ser ve,”
“ Wimbledon would be notified of that
straight away and it can be on social media
in an instant. ”
Out on the 19 courts, data inputters —
many of them players — peer into touch
pads logging how every point of every
match is won or lost.
That data is then processed in the
command bunker and spewed out for use
by commentators, players and fans alike.
One of the favourite tools is IBM’s
Slamtracker system which uses 41 million
data points over eight years to identify
three keys to any match. It then measures
each players’ performance in real time.
“The gladiatorial format of tennis lends
itself to identifying specific factors that are
key to matches, it is easier in that sense
than football,” Seddon said.
While matches are won and lost on
court, not on paper, the analysis offered is
popular with players and coaches.
Players often walk into news conferences
scouring data printouts for break point
conversions, ser ving placements and even
how far they ran.
“ It ’s little things that you can use. It ’s
great to track down your opponent, see
where they like to ser ve,” former world
number one Caroline Wozniacki said.
“Sometimes you feel one thing, but
in reality it was something completely
different. The statistics show you that,
black and white. ”
Even if a match goes wrong, players can
take heart from winning the Twitter battle
with IBM tracking social media traffic
to see who had the most positive “social
Federer, it seems, has few rivals there
Of the 277,891 tweets about him when
he played Australian Sam Groth, 89%
were positive. — Reuters
Recently, in France, an
Islamist named Yahya Salhi
killed his employer, Her ve
Cornara. He attached the
victim’s severed head to the
fence around a chemical plant,
together with a cloth saying
“There is no God but God and
Mohammed is his prophet ”
— and then rammed his
vehicle into a warehouse full
of chemicals hoping (but failing) to cause a
In Kuwait two hours later, Fahd Suleiman
Abdulmohsen al-Qaba’a, a Saudi citizen,
entered a Shi’ite mosque and detonated a
bomb that killed at least 25 people. He was
presumably a Sunni fanatic sent by Islamic
State to kill Shi’ites, who they believe are
heretics who should be killed.
In Tunisia one hour later, 39 European
tourists, most of them British, were
massacred by a 23-year-old man with a
Kalashnikov on a beach in Sousse. The
perpetrator, Seifeddine Rezgui,
was studying engineering at a university
in Kairouan, an hour’s drive west of
Islamic State, which has carved out
a territory in Iraq and Syria that has
more people and a bigger army than half
the members of the United Nations,
immediately claimed responsibility for all
three attacks. Yahya Salhi may have been a
lone-wolf head case, but in the other two
cases the claim was almost certainly true.
But there was another attack that you
probably did not hear about. Kobani,
the Kurdish town in northern Syria that
withstood a four-month siege by Islamic
State troops last year, came under attack
again. About 100 young Islamists in
Humvees and pick-up trucks drove into
town and shot 220 people dead in the
streets and in their houses.
So 64 murders that you heard a lot about,
and 220 others you heard little or nothing
about. There are hundreds of innocent
people being murdered by Islamist fanatics
in Syria every week, so it is no longer news.
Besides, the motive there is obvious: It
is just Islamic State trying to expand its
territory in Syria. But as for the others . . .
Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron,
responded to the deaths of 30 British
citizens in Tunisia by trotting out the same
shop-worn drivel that western leaders have
been peddling for the past 14 years. The
fight against Islamic State is “the struggle
of our generation,” Cameron declared.
Indeed, IS poses “an existential threat ” to
Maybe Cameron does not know what the
word “existential” means. Could somebody
please explain to him that he is saying
that Islamic State poses a threat to the
continued existence of the west? Does he
really think that is the case?
Forgive me for making a cold-blooded
calculation, but sometimes it is necessary.
The population of the west (not counting
the countries of Latin America, which do
not play in this league) is about 900 million.
Thirty-nine “westerners” have been killed in
attacks by Islamist terrorists this month. At
this rate, the west will have ceased to exist
in 1.9 million years. If this is an existential
threat, it is not a very urgent one.
In fact, it is not really about the west at
all. The European victims on the beach
in Sousse were killed in order to destroy
the tourism that provides almost 15% of
Tunisia’s national income, and thereby
destabilise the only fully democratic
country in the Arab world. The extremists’
real goal is to seize power in Tunisia; the
western victims were just a means to that
The bombing of a Shi’ite mosque in
Kuwait was intended to increase tensions
between the Sunni majority and the large
Shi’ite minority in that country, with the
ultimate goal of unleashing a Sunni-Shi’ite
civil war in which Islamist extremists
could take over the Sunni side as they have
already done in Syria and Iraq.
Only the lone-wolf attack in France could
conceivably be seen as directed at the “west ”
— although that might also have been
just a personal grievance wrapped up in an
The rest of the killing was about who
controls the Muslim countries, particularly
in the Middle East, as it has been from the
start. Even 9/11 was about that, designed
not to “bring America to its knees” but to
lure it into an invasion of Afghanistan that
Osama bin Laden believed would stimulate
Islamist revolutions in Muslim countries.
The Islamists do “hate western values”, but
they have bigger fish to fry at home.
Islamic State and the various incarnations
of al Qaeda (the Nusra Front in Syria,
al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, etc,)
pose an existential threat to the non-
Sunni Muslim minorities of the Middle
East, and even to Sunni Muslims whose
beliefs diverge significantly from those
of the Islamists. The west should help
governments in the region that protect
their minorities, and of course it should try
to protect its own people.
But this is not the “struggle of our
generation” for the west. It should be
nowhere near the top of its own list of
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in 45
Islamic State: More massacres
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
People place flowers on the beach of the Imperial Marhaba resort, which was attacked by a gunman, in Sousse, Tunisia.
A detailed study of biological ageing has
revealed that some individuals grow older
three times faster than their birthdays
For others blessed with evergreen genes
or environmental influences, time literally
appears to stand still.
Among a group of 38-year-olds taking
part in the research, biological age was
found to range from 28 to 61.
United States scientists drew up a panel
of 18 measures to determine the speed at
which a person is ageing.
They included tests of kidney, liver, lung
and immune system function as well as
assessments of metabolism, cholesterol,
heart health, lung function, and the length
of telomeres — protective caps on the ends
Researchers also looked at the condition
of tiny capillaries at the back of the eye,
which provide a glimpse of the state of
blood vessels in the brain.
“ We set out to measure ageing in these
relatively young people,” said lead scientist
Dr Dan Belsky, from the Duke University
Centre for Ageing in North Carolina.
“Most studies of ageing look at seniors,
but if we want to be able to prevent age-
related disease, we’re going to have to start
studying ageing in young people.”
The 871 participants had all been
enrolled in the D unedin Study, a major
investigation tracking the health of about
1000 New Zealanders born in Dunedin in
Of the original group, 30 had died by
the age of 38 due to serious diseases such
as cancer, accidents, suicides and drug
The 18 biomarkers were measured when
the volunteers were 26, then again when
they were 32, and finally at 38. Combining
the measurements allowed scientists to
determine each individual’s pace of ageing.
For most participants, chronological age
and biological age kept at roughly the same
But some were found to have bodies
ageing as fast as three years per
chronological year, while others aged
at zero years per year — effectively, not
getting older at all biologically.
Participants with more
ageing scored worse in
tests of balance, co-
ordination and solving
typically given to people
In addition, biologically
reported more difficulty
undertaking physical tasks
such as walking up stairs.
And their faces seemed
older, according to college
students asked to rate their photos.
“Already, before mid-life, individuals
who were ageing more rapidly were less
physically able, showed cognitive decline
and brain ageing, self-reported worse
health, and looked older,” the scientists
wrote in their findings. — PA
Some age three times faster, say scientists
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