Tasmania’s place in the prehistoric world seems to have become clearer with evidence that the island state was once snugly attached to western North America.
Research from the University of Tasmania found a close prehistoric connection between Tasmania and North America through the analysis of tiny minerals.
Analysis of monazite and zircon, found in rocks from the ancient Rocky Cape Group in north-west Tasmania, found that they are between 1.45 billion and 1.33 billion years old.
These minerals, researchers discovered, strongly resemble those found in Montana, Idaho and southern British Columbia. Fossils called Horodyskia, or “string of beads”, have also been found in both sites. At more than 1 billion years old, the fossils are some of the oldest visible to the naked eye.
This “strong genetic fingerprint” evidence suggests that the two groups of rocks were geographical neighbours 1.4 billion years ago.
At this time, parts of Australia and Antarctica were attached to North America in a supercontinent called Nuna, a mass of land which preceded the more well-known Gondwana formation.
However, Tasmania’s place in this mass has never been entirely clear. The matter is complicated by the fact that rocks in the state differ from the rest of Australia.
Previous theories suggested that Tasmania emerged from central Australia as the supercontinents broke apart, but the new evidence contradicts this.
“Tasmania hasn’t been placed anywhere on the map for this period, which is around 1.5 billion years ago,” said researcher Dr Jacqueline Halpin. “We can now say it was linked to an area of North America.
“The rocks of Tasmania don’t look like the rest of Australia’s rock if you look at those more than 700 million years old. The rocks up the east coast of Australia are much younger than in Tasmania. In terms of the geology, Tasmania is much more like North America.”
Has there ever been a comprehensive feature film (fiction or non-fiction) on the personal and professional life of Grace Jones? I don’t believe there has been one, which is a shame. If I’m wrong about that, I’m sure someone will correct me. But my research tells me that this might actually be the very first.
The BFI Film Fund today announced its support for (investing in, and endorsing) 3 feature documentaries following pitching sessions held at, and in partnership with the UK’s leading documentary festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest.
The shortlisted teams were asked to give a 7-minute pitch and show clips of footage, and then fielded questions from the panel about the strength of the stories, characters and cinematic potential of the projects.
The projects, which were shortlisted by a team of senior executives from the BFI and Sheffield Doc/Fest, include:
1 - They are certainly all intriguing projects, but of most interest to this blog (given its stated mission) is Sophie Fiennes’s “Grace Jones – The Musical of My Life,” co-produced with James Wilson and Katie Holly. The film will create a cinematic journey into the private and public worlds of Grace Jones, mixing intimate personal footage with unique staged musical sequences.
2 - Robert Cannan and Ross Adam’s “The Lovers and the Despot,” produced by Natasha Dack, which details the bizarre love story of a celebrity director and actress kidnapped by movie-mad dictator Kim Jong-il, and forced to make films in the communist state.
3 - And finally Iain Cunningham’s “Irene’s Ghost,” produced by Rebecca Mark-Lawson - a part animated feature documentary that follows the moving journey of the filmmaker to build a picture of the mother he never knew.
The BFI has committed to further engagement on George Amponsah’s hybrid observational documentary, “Down By Law,” which follows several years in the lives of two of the closest friends of Mark Duggan, the man whose death at the hands of armed policed sparked the UK riots of 2011; and Steve Loveridge’s “Untitled M.I.A. Project,” a chronicle of musician M.I.A. through personal archive footage filmed by the controversial artist over 20 years.
Lizzie Francke, BFI Film Fund Senior Executive, said: “We were blown away by the quality of all the projects selected to pitch at the Sheffield Doc/Fest session. The pitch session provides a valuable opportunity to pinpoint those documentary projects with the potential to capture the imagination of cinema audiences, and the creative vision of filmmakers to bring characters to the big screen in thought-provoking and exciting ways. Grace Jones – The Musical of My Life, The Lovers and the Despot and Irene’s Ghost are entertaining, exciting and emotive stories that will enthral audiences in the UK and abroad. We’re also keen to help the filmmakers of Down By Law and Untitled M.I.A. Project in developing their projects further, and we congratulate all those selected to pitch in what was an exceptionally strong short list.”
The pitching took place on Monday June 9, and the successful projects were announced today in a session chaired by British Council Film’s Will Massa, as part of Doc/Fest’s industry program.
Nothing to see of the Grace Jones project yet unfortunately. But I’m on the job, so stay tuned…
And again, it does prompt the question: Has there ever been a comprehensive film (fiction or non-fiction) on the personal and professional life of Grace Jones? [h/t]
The numbers are in, and in just six months a phenomenal 202,586 people have applied to join the very first Mars colony. Frequently dubbed a “suicide mission,” non-profit venture plans to send a team of four individuals on what may very well be a one way trip to the red planet. The U.S. formed the most enthusiastic applicant pool (24 percent), while other applicants came from another 139 countries.
Mars One opened up online applications in April, 2013, and while over 200,000 people expressed an interest in the mission, only 2,782 completed the full application process by submitting an online video and paying a registration fee of between $5 and $73. (Mars One, however, claims there are additional applicants who wish to remain anonymous). Successful individuals can hope to become one of 10 teams of four individuals who will spend seven years in full time training to join the Mars colony. One of those teams will then be selected to literally go where no man has gone before, and live out their years on Martian lands.
If it sounds a little like a process for a reality TV show, it probably isn’t a coincidence. The Dutch non-profit plans to recoup its $4 billion in expenses by selling broadcasting rights, and founder Bas Lansdorp has described that “[t]his will be one of the biggest events in human history. We are talking about creating a major media spectacle, much bigger than the moon landings or the Olympics.” Paul Römer, the co-creator of Big Brother serves as the project’s ambassador, and has gone so far as to say “Reality meets talent show with no ending and the whole world watching. Now there’s a good pitch.”
NASA provides a little more insight into the challenges that such a mission will face. In addition to asking colonizers to commit to an indefinite diet of dehydrated foods, new technologies will have to be developed to support human life on Mars. Such individuals would have to be shielded from radiation, address changes in bone density and find ways to source oxygen for breathing and water for drinking from the largely uncharted land. [Space Industry News | h/t]
The largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history has also stirred up interest in success stories. Though no one person will fix Detroit, some people have received well-deserved attention for their work to improve the city. A New York Times article last month highlighted hot spots in the Corktown neighborhood, and a story in the same paper earlier this year heralded small businesses.
But something’s missing from those pieces, and from manyotherarticles that examine the city’s resurgence: black Detroiters, who make up 83 percent of the population.
Stories that claim entrepreneurs are building, revitalizing and even saving Detroit focus primarily on white professionals, often younger and new transplants to the city, a trend that’s palpable and frustrating for locals. When journalists and readers criticized the Times for leaving blacks out of its Corktown story, the paper’s public editor addressed the lack of diversity in a follow-up, and the writer said she regretted not including a black-owned business. (A more recent Times story takes a wider-ranging view.)
It’s not difficult to find a black business owner to speak with, though. There are more than 32,000 in the city, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures from 2007. Many, particularly those who have kept their businesses going on shoestring budgets, feel excluded from conversations about Detroit’s revival and overlooked when it comes to getting access to funds and resources.
"I think, for the most part, black-owned businesses are not getting a piece of the pie," bookstore owner Janet Jones told The Huffington Post. "What about people who have been doing the hard work of living and working and having business in Detroit for the last 20 years?"
Despite difficulties, many business owners have had their doors open for decades, something local developer George Stewart, 77, traces back to historical segregation that had white business owners refusing service to black customers.
"During the good times and the bad times, black-owned businesses have been around, primarily serving their community," said Stewart, who moved to Detroit from Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the 1960s. Such businesses, Stewart said, have long been "circulating resources, building wealth [and] opening doors to other opportunities, such as higher education and lifestyle."
Below are just a few of the successful black business owners contributing to Detroit’s resurgence, including young entrepreneurs newly investing in the city and locals who have stuck with it for years.
Rainy Hamilton. Photo courtesy Hamilton Anderson Associates.
After working for others, Rainy Hamilton started his own company out of his home 20 years ago with co-founder Kent Anderson. Since then, the 50-person firm (with 20 percent minority staff) has grown to include offices in Las Vegas, New Orleans and Detroit’s Harmonie Park, and has been involved with a range of projects that have contributed to Detroit’s development, including work on schools, community centers, the MGM Grand casino and a light rail line now under construction, as well as Detroit Future City, a book-length urban planning document released last year.
Hamilton took cues from his dad, a Ford employee with a landscaping business on the side.
"My first job was working for him when I was barely big enough to handle a pair of gardening shears," Hamilton said. "Being an entrepreneur is somewhat in my spirit." Hamilton also opened a hobby shop in a nearby suburb several years ago.
Despite his relative success, Hamilton said he’s experienced challenges getting work as a black architect. He suggested implementing policy in Detroit that would help long-standing businesses within city limits.
Nefertiti Harris with her two children. Photo courtesy Textures by Nefertiti.
The historic Cass Corridor neighborhood in greater Midtown is now a development hot spot, but when Nefertiti Harris started her business there 13 years ago, she “was literally chasing prostitutes off the street corner.”
Harris first called her space a “non-salon,” because of her focus on natural hair and her emphasis on caring for women’s inner selves.
"If a woman wants to make a change and comes into the salon," she said, "it’s usually not just about the hair, but about really getting free in her life."
Last year, Harris also opened Tarot and Tea in West Village, where she focuses on her customers’ inner lives with spiritual readings, a cafe and a small boutique.
Detroit Vegan Soul helps Detroiters expand their horizons with a healthy spin on comfort food.
Erika Boyd and Kirsten Ussery-Boyd. Photo courtesy Detroit Vegan Soul.
Erika Boyd and Kirsten Ussery-Boyd both left careers in other fields to open a restaurant in West Village last year, serving soul food classics like collard greens, barbecue and mac-n-cheese — all vegan. They took the leap after watching loved ones and the broader African-American community struggle with diet-related illnesses. Together they crafted a menu that’s both delicious and healthy.
Andre Sandifer of Ali Sandifer Studio. Photo by Jill Ladelle.
Husband-and-wife team Andre Sandifer and Abir Ali are the founders of Ali Sandifer Studio in Detroit’s Russell Industrial Center. There, they make modern furniture with cleverly camouflaged storage compartments out of sustainably harvested domestic hardwoods.
Sandifer told HuffPost that there are few minority-owned furniture design studios in the country, and that his and Ali’s presence in Detroit contributes to a larger legacy of design talent in the city.
Jessica Glen, R. Christoper Prater and TaNisha Prater. Photo by Crystal Baskin.
R. Christopher Prater and TaNisha Prater, who recently moved back to their native Detroit from Atlanta, opened their boutique in Midtown this year with partner Jessica Glen. They sell secondhand women’s clothing — TaNisha is a third-generation retailer, and her husband has always been a thrift shopper, a necessity in his family of 13 siblings.
The Praters say style is a secondary priority for the shop, which donates 30 percent of its proceeds to Coalition of Temporary Shelter, a nearby residence for homeless Detroiters. Thrift on the Avenue has started a recurring event to give full makeovers to women at COTS and raise awareness of the circumstances that lead to homelessness.
"If we can help people transition from homeless shelters and put them in a position where they can land a job and provide for their families, that’s worth way more than the couple bucks we make from a pair of jeans," R. Christopher said.
Sisters Jennifer and Charice “Espy” Thomas. Photo courtesy Sweet Potato Sensations.
Sisters Jennifer and Charice “Espy” Thomas run Sweet Potato Sensations with their parents Jeff and Cassandra, who started the business in 1987. Their bakery in the Redford neighborhood takes the sweet potato to new heights, using it to make pies, ice cream, cheesecake, waffles and more. Cassandra’s recipe for sweet potato cookies quickly became a favorite among friends and eventually led to the cafe staffed with local residents.
Hair Wars turns one of Detroit’s big businesses into an art form.
David Humphries with a Hair Wars model. Photo by Star, courtesy Hair Wars.
Back in the ’80s, David Humphries was a club promoter looking to add a twist to Detroit nightlife. On a whim, he started Hair Wars as a place for stylists to show off their work.
"I soon realized I had tapped into the biggest black entrepreneurial business in America," Humphries said.
Decades later, the annual show draws big crowds and features some of the most outlandish and exciting coiffures imaginable — many of them more art than hair.
Detroit Dirt is creating a sustainable future for the city from the ground up.
Pashon Murray appeared in a Ford commercial earlier this year.
Not many people are passionate about the manure of exotic herbivores, but that’s what Pashon Murray collects from the giraffes, rhinos and zebras at the Detroit Zoo as part of her larger plan for sustainable urban farming and gardening. Detroit Dirt sells compost that Murray makes in a Corktown field with waste from local restaurants, breweries and company cafeterias.
After experimenting with soil blends, Murray plans to expand her business and hire several people next year.
"As a black woman, I feel like I’m obligated for our youth and community to set a standard," she said. "I would like the black community to get more involved in agriculture … Sustainability is not a black and white thing. It’s an all-inclusive thing."
Janet Jones started selling books in 1989, first as a small vendor at events, then as part of a collective. Last year, she opened a stand-alone shop in Midtown. Her curated selection of nonfiction books on history, culture and spirituality, among other topics, are chosen with an eye toward educating people and enhancing their lives. So are the events and classes held in the bookstore’s community space.
Sebastian Jackson’s first three business plans were rejected, but in 2012, he and his wife Gabrielle eventually succeeded in opening the Social Club Grooming Company, built with reclaimed lumber from blighted Detroit homes, on Wayne State University’s campus. They’ve partnered with a local park to build a greener city. Already, clippings of cut hair have been used as fertilizer for 200 new trees.
While Jackson takes pride in the diversity of both his staff and his clientele, he notes that barbershops have historically served as a black community hub, and aims to recreate that experience for all Social Club customers.
"We need to create and support more businesses that cater to the predominant Detroit experience," he said.
George Stewart and his partner Michael Byrd have worked since 2000 to transform a once-dilapidated block of Woodward Avenue. Today, the $53 million Midtown development includes office space, apartments, parking, a coffee shop, a restaurant and the Garden Theater, restored from a century-old movie palace.
"It took five times longer than any other project of its kind," Stewart said. "When we first started, doing business in Detroit was not easy … We had to have a lot of patience and be creative in how we acquired resources to fund our dream."
Savvy Chic serves up Parisian style to Detroiters.
Photo courtesy Savvy Chic.
Eastern Market is now known for its shops, galleries and farmers market, but when Karen Brown opened her boutique, her street was known more for its meat wholesalers. Brown never wrote a business plan, but she has kept Savvy Chic open for 14 years, selling home goods, antiques and clothing. Entrepreneurship runs in the family: Brown’s mother has owned a flower shop in northwest Detroit since the 1980s.
Photo courtesy The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art.
After running other galleries, George N’Namdi opened the nonprofit N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in 2010 in the Sugar Hill Arts district. The Center includes exhibition spaces, indoor and outdoor performance areas, a gift shop and a separate vegetarian restaurant. N’Namdi showcases Detroit artists, aiming to propel them to national recognition, and supports other local galleries.
N’Namdi said it’s important for Detroit’s development to occur organically, rather than at the cost of “sanitizing” the city.
"I think we have to make sure we do not lose the soul of Detroit or that Detroit spirit," he said. "People can move here because of the inexpensive real estate, but they stay because of the soul." [x]
Universal Pictures is hard at work on the film Straight Outta Compton, an N.W.A. biopic set for release next year. The movie is happening with the cooperation of heavyweights like Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. Here is a casting call for the film that went out yesterday.
This casting call was posted yesterday by Sande Allesi Casting, an agency that has posted several casting notices for the film:
SAG OR NON UNION CASTING NOTICE FOR FEMALES-ALL ETHNICITIES- from the late 80’s. Shoots on “Straight Outta Compton”. Shoot date TBD. We are pulling photos for the director of featured extras. VERY IMPORTANT – You MUST live in the Los Angeles area (Orange County is fine too) to work on this show. DO NOT SUBMIT if you live out of the area. Nobody is going to be flying into LA to do extra work on this show - and don’t tell me you are willing to fly in.
SAG OR NON UNION FEMALES - PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR SPECIFIC BREAKDOWN. DO NOT EMAIL IN FOR MORE THAN ONE CATEGORY:
A GIRLS: These are the hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair - no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies. You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern, or mixed race too. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: A GIRLS
B GIRLS: These are fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyonce is a prototype here. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: B GIRLS
C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: C GIRLS
D GIRLS: These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone. Character types. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: D GIRLS
(Part 1 of 5) Soundation is a Bi-Weekly afternoon club (Saturdays) that is bought to you by Byze One, Shinehead, Jfx & Myself. We Play Reggae/Roots/Foundation/Dancehall and all other related music.This set is from June 6, 2010. Our special guest for the week was DJ Daz (Umoja Hi-Fi)