Friday, February 27, 2009

New historic discovery in Kenya, the craddle of humankind

Ancient footprints discovered in northern Kenya are believed to be the oldest sign that early humans had feet like ours and the way of walking of modern humans. The footprints were found in two sedimentary layers, 1.5 million years old, near Ileret.

"The Ileret footprints constitute the oldest evidence of an essentially modern human-like foot anatomy," according to the international team led by Matthew Bennett and John Harris who detailed the discovery in the February 27, 2009 issue of the journal Science. The ongoing excavation project is run in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya.

"In these specimens, the big toe is parallel to the other toes, unlike that of apes where it is separated in a grasping configuration useful in the trees. The footprints show a pronounced human-like arch and short toes, typically associated with an upright bipedal stance," the scientists said. "The size, spacing and depth of the impressions were the basis of estimates of weight, stride and gait, all found to be within the range of modern humans." The big toe is parallel to the other toes, unlike apes, whose big toes are separated to help grasping tree branches. The Ileret footprints also show a pronounced arch and short toes that are human-like and are usually associated with the ability to walk on two feet.

The size and other characteristics of the prints led the authors to conclude the prints belonged to the hominid Homo ergaster, or early Homo erectus. This is the first hominid to have had the same body proportions - longer legs and shorter arms - as the modern Homo sapiens.

The findings represent the oldest evidence of modern-human foot anatomy. “These footprints are one of the most important discoveries of recent years, and the museum is doing everything possible to ensure the safety of this unique site,” said Emma Mbua of the National Musuems of Kenya. “We hope to bring this discovery to worldwide audiences in the future.”

I am off to wash my feet, and go for a nice pedicure. Kenyan feet are valuable, and they need to be taken care of in the best possible ways...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kenyan blogs worth millions of shillings

Dane Carlson created a little applet which computes and displays your blog's worth. Just type in the URL for your blog, and it will return its overall value. Of course, the accuracy of the approach is debatable, as the value of a blog can be subjective and case specific, but it is still worth checking out. I just ran the applet for 10 of my favourite Kenyan blog sites. Here are the results:
These ten blogs give us a total of US$270,414.66. That's almost 22 million shillings! What could we bloggers do with 22 million shillings? Buy two and a half Hummers? Buy 2,700 US$100-laptops for schools? Pay 2 MP's for a year? Give 10,000 school children a school lunch for a year? Or do we just keep on blogging?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Post-Chris Brown violence picture

This shocking photo provided by TMZ of super pop star Rihanna was according to TMZ taken after Chris Brown beat her:

The beautiful Rihanna was involved in a domestic dispute with teenage boyfriend Chris Brown last week that resulted in his arrest and booking on charges of making criminal threats. 

What do you think? Is this picture real? Should celebrity/gossip sites like TMZ pay for and post such disgusting (personal) pictures? Is this really in our common interest? Has the story been blown out of proportion? How does this picture relate to some of the pictures of our own post-election violence last year?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Google SMS Search now available in Kenya

Google SMS Search is now available in Kenya. Google SMS Search provides access to information through a mobile phone without needing to access the Internet. You simply create an SMS message about what you are looking for and send it to the Google SMS short code (4664 or "GOOG") and wait for a response via SMS. The service is free from Google, but carrier charges do apply. It is currently supported by Safaricom only.

For Google SMS Search, you need to indicate what topic you would like information for and then what you want to know. You can search for news headlines on a topic you are interested in. For example, send "news obama" or "n obama" to 4664 to get news headlines about Obama. They currently have both major international news sources as well as local ones. You can also get the top headlines by category, for example, "news sports" will return the top sports headlines.

Sports scores
Send "score manchester" to get the latest scores and standings for the team and many more!

Stock quotes (Share prices)
Send "stock GOOG" or "stock SCOM" to get current share prices from the NSE and international stocks.

Foreign Exchange 
Send "1000 KES in USD" to get current foreign exchange rates for major currencies

Send "define p-square" or "d p-square" to 4664 to get a short description of who they are, or "define ratification" to get a definition of the word.

Check out the SMS Search pages for
 Kenya for more details. SMS Search is also available in Ghana and Nigeria.

So I tried it out, and here are the Google SMS Search results I got (with my comments in italic):

weather lodwar
Sat: 21C-36C, Clear
Sun: 21C-37C, Clear
Mon: 22C-37C, Partly Sunny
Wow, impressive, even Lodwar is there!

define sex
sex: sexual activity: activities associated with sexual intercourse; "they had sex in the back seat"
Mmm, do we have to go to Princeton University to get a good definition of 'sex'?

define corruption
corruption: corruptness: lack of integrity or honesty (especially susceptibility to bribery); use of a position of trust for dishonest gain

Wow, even for a definition of corruption, Princeton University is the source of choice!

translate friend in kiswahili
Please enter the destination language of the expression you would like translated.
For HELP on Google SMS, please reply with 'help' or go to
No Kiswahili yet? That would be a pity...

GDP Kenya
Q and A:
GDP: 29.3 Billion
Again, why do we need a foreign source for this information?

define nip slip
Nip slip: Super Bowl XXXVIII, which was broadcast live on February 1, 2004 from Houston, Texas on the CBS television network in the United States, was noted
OK, not too bad if you are limited to text and a few characters only.

horoscope aquarius
Horoscope for Aquarius:
A family function is indicated today, so pull out your finest outfit and get ready to go out and have a good time. Occasions for celebration are indicated today, as are strong bonds between family members. Today is a day for enjoying and appreciating the bonds that you share within your family, so cherish these times while they last.
Excellent! Good to know! Off to see some family now... Bye!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nicole Scherzinger trying to emulate Janet Jackson, goes for nip slip

Here is a picture and a video of PCD (Pussy Cat Dolls) Nicole Scherzinger's nip slip, while performing at a live concert in Amsterdam on the 9th of February 2009. Just a little accident, I can't really confirm the report (is it actually a nipple, a saucer or a pancake?), but have a look at the picture or about the 2:20 to 2:25 moments of the video for the slip. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Kenyan atlas a waste of resources?

The new 168-page "Kenya: Atlas of Our Changing Environment" - produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - was launched earlier this week in Nairobi. "Kenya’s chances of realizing its 2030 vision will depend increasingly on the way the country manages its natural or nature-based assets," the press release reads. Of course, I hear you say.

Let me start by admitting that the report really looks nice and professionally done in terms of lay-out, has easy-to-read graphs and tables and many images and is quite informative. Let me give you just one example which you may find interesting:
The land available per person in Kenya has dropped from 7.2 hectares per person in 1960 to just 1.7 ha per person in 2005 due to the rapid population growth of the last few decades. There are now 38 million inhabitants in Kenya, up from just eight million in 1960. The population is expected to keep rising, and land available per person is projected to drop to 0.3 ha per person by 2050.
But... if you dig into the atlas a bit deeper, there is really nothing new in there. Nothing we didn't know already, I would say. Even the video that comes with it is a bit disappointing: mostly things you can also see through Google Earth. And the film has a non-Kenyan voice-over. We do have some good Kenyan voices as well, don't we?

Was the production of this atlas by UNEP really necessary? Does it make sense to do more tests on a sick patient when you already know which disease s/he is suffering from? Instead of spending more money on doing more medical tests and producing additional reports, you would start treating the patient, right? And I think that is exactly what UNEP should have done right now instead of producing yet another report: start treating the sick patient. Start treating our threatened environment by promoting and facilitating practical interventions for example. Kenyans were not really waiting for yet another nice report to gather dust on the shelves...

Also, the report is not very accessible to the average Kenyan. OK, you can download and/or buy the report here. But which Kenyan is really able to download a file of 63 MB? Or which Kenyan can afford US$80 for the hardcopy? And this is without shipping charges from the UK by the way. Yes, shipping from the UK. Why a report which is about Kenya and which has been produced by an organization (UNEP) based in Kenya needs to shipped from the UK is still a mystery to me. Is this another case of hypocrisy at UNEP? The use of SUVs by UN staff in Nairobi has been rankling some bloggers for some time now.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Looking for a job

Could you please help this dude? He is a bit stressed and looking for a job. Excellent references available in places like Israel. He may not be very good as a driver, as he often loses direction and doesn't know where he is going.

Friday, February 13, 2009

More on Valentines: What kind of girl/boyfriend are you?

Sorry for giving you even more on the same theme of Valentines. This time a popular self-test about the kind of girlfriend or boyfriend you are.

So, are you happy about the kind of girlfriend or boyfriend you are?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The secret of a hot kiss

Let's continue dwelling on our Valentines theme. Many years after yours truly discovered the secret of a hot kiss, science has now also come up with an explanation. Wendy Hill, Professor of Psychology at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania found that a hot meeting of lips sparks a complex chemical surge into the brain that makes a lover feel excited, happy or relaxed. Also, it is being speculated that the hormone release may be triggered directly by an exchange of sexually stimulating pheromones in the saliva. “This study shows kissing is much more complex and causes hormonal changes and things we never thought occurred,” The Times quoted her. “We tend to think more about who we are kissing and how it feels, yet there are a lot of other things happening,” she added. Furthermore the study showed that while, for men, the process is triggered at the mere touch of lips, women need a little atmosphere thrown in to achieve the same chemical high. For women to experience the same high as men they need additional features such as a romantic environment, dimmed lights and mood music.

One puzzle is just how kissing might induce hormonal changes of the kind found by Professor Hill. There are clearly psychological factors involved but some researchers suspect saliva contains pheromones, chemical messengers known to be important in other mammals. In humans the role of pheromones is controversial because we lack organs to detect them. However, Sarah Woodley, an Assistant Professor at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, believes that people can still detect them via the nose. Helen Fisher, Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University, New Jersey, and author of Why We Love, believes that kissing produces not just a chemical, sexual thrill but can even improve overall health: “If you’re sharing your germs with somebody, you’re boosting your internal defence system.” Excuse me Professor, sharing germs good for your health? Ever heard about HIV/AIDS?

Anyway, no risk for HIV transmission through saliva, so let's keep on kissing and let the saliva exchange flow! Here is a quick reminder of why we engage in a practice that involves the exchange of, by one estimate, 278 colonies of bacteria per osculation. One theory is that kissing may have evolved as a means of unconsciously testing the fitness of a potential mate. On the grand scale, it could be a way of checking for genetic compatibility: Women subconsciously prefer the smell of men whose genes for a particular class of immune systems proteins are different from their own, presumably because offspring from such a match would have a stronger immune system, and hence a better chance of survival, than offspring from other men.

While there's no doubt that kissing helps us select mates - if a first kiss goes badly, there may be no saving the relationship - we also do it (especially those of us who have already selected our mates) because it feels good. Lips and tongues are packed with nerve endings. And then there's chemistry, which is where the new research by Professor Hill mentioned above comes in. So if you always thought you had a special chemistry with your loved one, you may finally have been proven right.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cry Baby

Still looking for that perfect Valentines gift? Well, I already got mine. There's nothing like a remote-controlled toy to add spontaneity and adventure to your love life! It will turn her on from across the room at any dinner party or other boring event. If you are a lady, you could wrap up the controls and give him a gift that gets you a buzz in return...

Whoever gets the remote runs the show: just snuggle the chubby pink bullet into her panties, pick up the remote, and tease her with waiting for the buzz to begin. With 3 speeds and 7 pulsation patterns at your command, the Cry Baby is ready to fast-forward your girl into XTC... or keep her right on the edge begging for more. But if you don't know how to handle the toy properly, she may soon be shouting "Give me the remote!". Welcome to a new kind of war for the remote control! Feel free to use the gadget at home while cooking or in public while dancing, shopping, working, ... no one will know the difference. People might just wonder what you're smiling about.

The Cry Baby comes in a curious and cute package design. You can read some quite interesting reviews about this animal here and here and even here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Looking for a restaurant in Nairobi?

The Google Africa Blog is always a good read. Today, Mark de Blois is announcing the new Local Search for Maps of Nairobi. So the next time you search for hotelsrestaurants or even for Kenyan currency/forex, just go to Google Maps. This launch makes Kenya the first Sub-Saharan African country to have local search integrated into Google Maps. 

Impressive, 163 restaurants in Nairobi, many of which were unknown to me, including Akasaka and Originelle. I need to start exploring them now. Anyone for dinner? Anyone for lunch? Even breakfast? Please...

Others are all time favorites, like Havana, Peppers, Simmer's and Tamarind (all highly recommended by Rafiki), and the unavoidable fast food joints like Steers and Kengele's.

And note, if your business/service is not present in the database, just add it to Google Map Maker.