Life & stuff

Woolworths – the poker machine people

Christmas, brought to you by Woolworths

20 December 2015

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BANNED: Channel 9 is refusing to run Get Up’s  new TV ad exposing Woolworths as Australia’s largest poker machine owner. Why? Because “Woolworths are a key business partner”. Ok – we’re not so check out the ad Channel 9 won’t let you see, then share it.

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Cruz Christmas Classics

Really quite bizarrre – but grabbing attention

 

Star Wars: Is it possible to build a real-life lightsaber?

ABC News   |   17 December 2015

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Researchers say the concept of a lightsaber* would not work in reality but lasers could be used to create something vaguely similar to the famous Jedi sword.  Physicists at the University of Queensland (UQ) are exploring the possibility of creating real-life lightsabers in the wake of the much anticipated instalment of the seventh Star Wars film.

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Research physicist Martin Ringbaue said a real lightsaber would not work Light sabresbecause the beams of light would simply pass through each other.

“The biggest problem with the lightsaber is that light doesn’t just stop at the end,” Mr Ringbaue said.

“You can’t just make a laser stop without it hitting something solid or being reflected back on itself with a mirror.”

He said a real-life lightsaber would be useless in a battle against the dark side.

“Light doesn’t like to interact with itself, so two beams of light would actually pass through each other, which wouldn’t be very useful in a fight,” Mr Ringbaue said.

A new hope for real lightsabers

But research physicist James Bennett said lasers and plasma could be used to turn the fictional weapon into a reality.

“You can make something that is vaguely like a lightsaber,” Mr Bennett said.

“If you read the nerdy story behind Star Wars, it’s not light in a lightsaber, it’s actually plasma which is contained in a loop that feeds back into itself.

“We can contain plasmas and it’s something we have been doing for decades now.”

Mr Bennett said it was possible to create plasma with lasers.

“Currently, we have very powerful industrial lasers that can cut through steel, used, for example, in car manufacturing,” Mr Ringbauer said.

However, Mr Ringbauer said he did not think technology was in reach of creating lightsabers in this world.

*In Australian English that would be lightsabre, but what the heck, the Starwars people “invented” the things and own the spelling.

A candle in memory of David

8 December 2015

Candle
On 9 December 2006,17 year old David Iredale and three mates went for a hike in the Blue Mountains as part of their Duke Of Edinburgh Award program.  They planned it pretty carefully and they had detailed maps and stuff. But it all went terribly wrong: the maps indicated a fresh water source along the route, which wasn’t there. It was hot -mid-30s centrigrade- and they’d run out of water. Somehow, David became separated from his mates – my recollection is that as the strongest of the hiking party, he struck out ahead of the others to seek assistance. He became severely dehydrated and rang emergency services on his mobile phone. It was very poor reception but he tried to get across to the operators the dire circumstances of his plight. He made a number of calls, to no avail. Various operators kept asking for his street address. He kept telling them he was on a big rock near a walking trail in the Blue Mountains. But they kept demanding his street address. He asked for a helicopter to be sent.  He was told off for being abusive. In the event, nobody did anything. David’s body was recovered some days later. Each year at this time, I reflect on this terrible episode and remind myself to be not indifferent to the plight of others.  I tell my kids, if you get into any sort of real trouble, you ring me and/or your mother FIRST; we might argue later, but we’ll address the trouble first.

And I light a candle in memory of David.

In vino sanitas*

Huffington Post  

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Research conducted by the University of Alberta in Canada has found that health benefits in resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, are similar to those we get from exercise.

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Red wine 3

 

According to lead researcher, Jason Dyck, these findings will particularly help those who are unable to exercise. Resveratrol was seen to improve physical performance, heart function and muscle strength in the same way as they’re improved after a gym session. According to Dyck:

… resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do.

Discussion over the health benefits of red wine have been well documented. Studies have revealed that those who drink a glass of red wine a day are less likely to develop dementia or cancer, that it’s good for your heart, anti-ageing and can regulate blood sugar.

And now there’s research backing that fact that it boosts heart rate? This is literally the best thing ever.
Though, let’s be straight here – this is all in moderation, it only applies to red wine and the university’s study was carried out on rats, not humans.

Other ways to increase your intake of resveratrol include eating blueberries, peanut butter, red grapes and dark chocolate.

Remember, a balanced diet is everything.

* “In vino veritas, in aqua sanitas” = “In wine there is truth, in water there is health.

NAIDOC Week 2015

 7 July 2015

We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate

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NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920′s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians.  NAIDOC Week is held in the first full week of July. It is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and is an opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society.

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Solid Rock

Click image to go to clip with art work by Queensland artist, Peter Hudson, and school children from Mutijulu, Kaltukatjara and Impanpa communities

This year the theme highlights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ strong spiritual and cultural connection to land and sea. The theme is an opportunity to pay respects to country; honour those who work tirelessly on preserving land, sea and culture and to share the stories of many sites of significance or sacred places with the nation.

As the oldest continuing culture on the planet, the living culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is intrinsically linked with these sacred places. Sacred places can be geographic feature like a river or lake, a beach, bays, inlets, hills or a mountain ranges or ceremonial grounds, galleries of rock art or engravings or places used for gathering for cultural practices.

Long before European arrival, these places had traditional names – names that now reflect the timeless relationship between the people and the land. Often sacred places are connected with Dreaming stories or tell of the meaning of an area.

This year’s theme was also chosen specifically to highlight and celebrate the  anniversary of the ‘Handback’ of Uluru, one of these sacred sites, to its traditional owners on 26 October 30 years ago.

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Saving Mr Ross

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The following note is from The Australian’s High Wired column of 3 July 2015 about John Ross, the doyen of VET reporting in the mainstream media in Australia. Nice smile, too.

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For those who don’t already know, HW’s talented colleague John Ross had a massive heart attack one Tuesday morning just over three weeks ago. Miraculously, he survived. Just days out from a quadruple bypass operation, John lay in his hospital bed and penned a piece about what had happened and the serendipity of strangers. It’s a compelling, heart-rending and extraordinary piece of writing.  Please read and share.

John Ross

Nature is speaking

2 July 2015

Nature doesn’t need people – people need nature

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The The Abbott government bangs on a bit about “intergenerational theft” – the “public debt legacy” current generations are leaving to to their children and grandchildren to sort.   As one business writer has observed:

That’s a bit rich coming from a government that has axed the carbon tax, tried to increase university fees and hopes to cut youth welfare. It’s a bit rich coming from a government that doesn’t have a thing to say about Australian housing policy or the superannuation concessions that largely benefit older and richer Australians.

It’s also a government that is quite evidently lukewarm on the fundamental intergenerational issue of our time, perhaps all time:  climate change.  The following clip narrated by Julia Roberts is from a series produced by Conservation International featuring celebrity actors giving a “voice to nature”.

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Leap second

ABC News    |    21 May 2015

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On June 30 at 11:59.59pm (GMT), an extra second will be added so the Earth’s rotational spin can catch up with the world’s atomic clocks.

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But while the idea of an extra second in the day might seem small, computer security expert Dr Suelette Dreyfus warned the consequences could be significant.

“The last time a leap second was added was on June 30, 2012 and that did cause some technical problems for popular websites like Reddit and Mozilla and LinkedIn,” she said.

“I understand that Qantas computer systems went down for a period of time partially because of it.

“So is it going to be the end of the world as we know it? Probably not, but for companies that haven’t actually spent some time thinking through what it might mean for their systems, there is a risk that things could go astray.”

There have been 25 leap seconds since they were introduced in 1972, but they could soon be lost to time.

The world’s governments are due to vote on whether to abolish the leap second at the World Radiocommunications Conference in Geneva in November.

Dr Fred Watson, an astronomer with the Australian Astronomical Observatory, said the Moon was the reason the Earth was slowing down.

“It all comes about because of the tides. The tides essentially use up energy and it’s the Earth’s rotational energy that is lost,” he said.

“That actually goes to the Moon. In fact, it’s what is driving the Moon to move very slowly further away from the Earth at about 3.5 centimetres per year.”

Supporters of the leap second argue corrections are needed to maintain accurate time for some branches of science.

Those opposed say it is not worth the energy to change the clocks infrequently and that it will be beneficial for computing to have a timescale that never needed changing.

Without leap seconds there would be a slip of two to three minutes by 2100 and about half an hour by 2700.

See
One extra second in 2015 could break the internet

 

A not so average Joe

10 June 2015

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Joe Hockey has sought to mollify aspiring homebuyers offended by his comments that “if housing were unaffordable in Sydney, no one would be buying it” and “the starting point for a first home buyer is to get a good job that pays good money”.  

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For the record, Joe Hockey’s salary as treasurer is about $400,000 a year.  He’s also “entitled” to a privately plated car for official business and he gets a tax-free $271 for every night spent in Canberra or other rates for “official business” elsewhere. Whatever he doesn’t spend, he can pocket.  When in Canberra, Hockey stays in a $2 million house majority owned by his wife.  Do you think that house might be negatively-geared? Over the 4 years to August 2014, Hockey has legitimately claimed $108,000 in travel allowance for 368 nights away from his family’s luxury home in the north shore suburb of Hunters Hill, many nights for parliamentary sitting weeks where he has stayed at the Canberra house.  Hockey has been mightily offended by the media coverage of his comments.  In an interview with ABC News Radio, Hockey declined the opportunity to apologise for his remarks and accused the interviewer of “playing the man.  Hello?  Has he not witnessed the government’s efforts to trash Gillian Triggs?  As to housing affordability, it’s certainly lot harder for your average Joe/Jo and their families.

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