first_imgEithne Bradley defends Hugh Grant’s acting talentPretty much any block-busting British film of the last decade will have featured one man: the wonderful, fluttery-eyed Hugh John Mungo Grant. Many people, the majority of them male, have some kind of in-built allergy to Hugh. A friend pointed out his undeniable slight squint. Huge swathes of the population cannot successfully identify any differences between his film roles. His stammer causes violent reactions in a few unlucky souls. However, he still manages to get work and, crucially, people go and watch his films. Who hasn’t seen Notting Hill? Who didn’t lie, overstuffed with mince pies, in front of Love Actually on Christmas Day? In spite of all this supposed antipathy towards him, thousands of people, every year, flock to his films. Therefore, there must exist a deep undercurrent of ashamed devotion to the quintessential floppy-haired Englishman, because he is, in fact, a gifted actor.Take, for example, his performance in Bridget Jones. How does he manage to be so unpleasant and yet so alluring at the same time? His shaded blue eyes pin Bridget to the spot, and his endlessly entertaining personality utterly eclipses that of stolid Mark Darcy. Nobody lies awake dreaming of the worthy human rights lawyer. They fantasise about the thoroughly immoral ravishing of a very bad man. Julia Roberts didn’t stand a chance in Notting Hill, as his lovable loser character exudes all the charm of a fairytale prince.It may be true that he hasn’t taken on many serious roles. But comedy is arguably a finer art than ‘serious’ acting: if jokes fall flat, so does the actor’s career. It is a credit to Hugh that he has played to his own strengths for so long. And what British film would be complete without him? As soon as his features appear on screen, the viewer settles into his or her comfort zone: it’s reassuring. You won’t be frightened senseless. People’s feelings may be hurt, but only temporarily. And you’ll watch most of it with a little smile on your face, happy and safe in the gentle glow of a British romantic comedy.Perhaps the man himself puts it best: ‘I’ve never been tempted to do the part where I cry or get AIDS or save some people from a concentration camp just to get good reviews. I genuinely believe that comedy acting, light comedy acting, is as hard, if not harder, than serious acting, and it genuinely doesn’t bother me that all the prizes and the good reviews automatically by knee-jerk reaction go to the deepest, darkest, most serious performances and parts. It makes me laugh.’last_img read more

Is the World Going Extinct?

first_imgEminent Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson says that fully half of the planet’s higher life forms could be gone within 100 years, joining the dodo bird, sketched here, which has been extinct since the 17th century and whose fate was directly attributable to human activity. Photo: ThinkstockDear EarthTalk: I heard that species of flora and fauna are dying at a growing rate globally. How is this calculated and which types of species are dwindling faster?–– Colin Gooder, Franklin, NCResearchers believe that the rate of species loss currently underway is 100-1,000 times faster than what was normal (the so-called “background rate” of extinction) prior to human overpopulation and its negative environmental effects. But thanks to overhunting, deforestation, pollution, the spread of non-native species and now climate change, we are likely in the midst of the sixth mass extinction in the geologic history of the world. The previous mass extinction, 65 million years ago, wiped out the dinosaurs and other species; the previous one, 250 million years ago, killed off 90 percent of all species on the planet.While the current mass extinction might in reality not be that bad—only time will tell—eminent Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson predicts that the rate of species loss could top 10,000 times the background rate by 2030, and that fully half of the planet’s higher life forms could be gone within 100 years. This jibes with statistics from the non-profit International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)—keeper of the global “Red List” of endangered species—which currently considers 37.8 percent of the world’s already classified species to be threatened. Of course, this is far from the whole story, as biologists think that we have only classified 10 percent or less of the world’s total number of plant and animal species.Which types of species are being hit hardest? An analysis of IUCN statistics from 2008 found that of the world’s fauna (animals), invertebrates (animals without backbones, such as earthworms, shellfish and insects) were suffering the most, with 40.5 percent of those classified considered threatened. Next hardest hit were fish species, with 36.6 percent threatened, followed by reptiles at 30.5 percent and amphibians at 30.4 percent. Meanwhile, 20.8 percent of mammal species were threatened and 12.2 percent of birds.More shocking was the statistic that some 70.1 percent of plant species are at risk. However, a more recent (2010) study found that only 22 percent of the world’s classified plants are actually facing extinction. This finding has led analysts to question conservationists’ estimates in regard to animal species loss as well.In lieu of any direct way to measure the rate of species loss, conservationists have relied on reversing the so-called “species-area relationship,” whereby scientists tally the number of species in a given area and then estimate how quickly more show up or evolve as viable habitat increases (or decreases in the case of reversing the concept). But lately this method of tracking and predicting species losses has been criticized for generating overestimates. “The overestimates can be very substantial,” argues UCLA evolutionary biologist Stephen Hubbell, “…but we are not saying [extinction] does not exist.”However many species may be dying, it’s clear we are in the midst of another mass extinction, and if you believe 70 percent of biologists, unlike previous mass extinctions humanity is most likely the cause. Conservationists remain optimistic that we can marshal the resources to turn the tide—and we’ll need to if the planet is to remain habitable for our species, given our own dependencies on the world’s biodiversity.CONTACTS: E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation,; IUCN,; “Species-area relationships always overestimate extinction rates from habitat loss,”® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine ( Send questions to: [email protected] Subscribe:; Free Trial Issue: read more

Bournemouth Sign Solanke from Liverpool for £19m

first_img“The club is going somewhere – it’s a good club to be at, especially for someone of my age,” said Solanke.Cherries boss Eddie Howe said he was “really excited” about working with Solanke. “Dominic is technically gifted, very athletic and has the physical profile that will give us something different in our front line,” said Howe.Solanke, a former England youth international who has one senior cap against Brazil in 2017, joined Liverpool from Chelsea in 2017 after his contract at Stamford Bridge ended.The two clubs eventually came to an agreement over the fee, which had been due to be set by a tribunal. He did not make a first-team appearance for the Premier League leaders this season and was ruled out of recent matches because of a muscle problem.The Under-20 World Cup winner made 21 appearances last season, 16 of which were from the bench, scoring one goal.He never made a senior league appearance in three years at Chelsea, spending the 2015-16 season on loan at Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem, where he scored seven goals in 25 Eredivisie appearances.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Bournemouth have signed England striker Dominic Solanke from Liverpool for £19m. Solanke, 21, had been due to join Crystal Palace on loan earlier this week but the deal fell through because of fitness concerns.Bournemouth are about to allow forward Jermain Defoe to join Scottish Premiership side Rangers.It is understood Solanke cannot move to the Cherries on loan under Premier League regulations. Bournemouth have also signed Reds right-back Nathaniel Clyne on loan until the end of the season. LEICESTER, ENGLAND – Saturday, September 23, 2017: Liverpool’s Dominic Solanke during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)last_img read more