November 29, 2015

Go fund other people's petty indulgences

Taking its cues from micro-financing for third world countries, Go Fund Me probably started with no particular intentions - other than making money in the usual manner for the owners - and quickly became a repository for first world petty wants and indulgences, wrapped up as need.  It's like begging, only from the safety of your couch. 
A quick survey of sites shows that many people seem as interested in being the next guest on Ellen DeGeneres as in getting funds. (Meeting Ellen DeGeneres is a surprisingly common request on GoFundMe.)

Here’s the question I can’t stop asking myself: Has social media made our craving for attention and validation overwhelm all other considerations? There is nothing new about asking your friends for help (remember rent parties?), but that help was confined to a small group of people you actually knew.

Now, no such boundaries exist. Your 4,000 Facebook friends should know if you can’t pay for your rent — or your plastic surgery. And who knows? They may just pay up.

There was a time when there were needs, and there were wants, and we knew the difference. Now? Now I’m not so sure.
Go Fund Me Gone Wild

November 2, 2015

Surprising health benefits of coke

Coca-Cola has been shown to increase absorption of cancer treatment drugs by up to 40 per cent.

Coke is also the medically recommended drink after you have your tonsils out.

The way things are going, health warnings on coke (if that ever happens to soft drinks) might turn out to need some confusing qualifiers.

October 17, 2015

The white man in that photo

 3 October 2015

Today marks the 9th anniversary of Peter Norman’s passing. We want to commemorate him by publishing this text written by Italian writer Riccardo Gazzaniga, who allowed us to share the story of the Australian sprinter on Griot.

And two black American men, John Carlos & Tommie Smith, in that photo carrying Peter Norman's coffin.  Very moving.

October 11, 2015

Say it isn't so

Corduroy making a comeback for adults? 

"A range of corduroy appeared in the fall-winter 2015 fashion shows, including a trench coat in “jumbo cord” on the runway for the English brand Burberry Prorsum. But corduroy pants, such as the drawstring joggers shown by the Japanese brand Sacai, are probably the easiest item to incorporate into a new fall wardrobe.

Other men’s designers, including Bottega Veneta, Marc Jacobs, Burberry and Boglioli, have come up with modern takes on the corduroy pant.

Adding texture to a given outfit, like a mohair knit shirt or a stonewashed denim jacket, lends the waled pants that tinge of youthful spirit evident on the runway."

The durability of the fabric has another bonus. “The more you wear corduroys, the more beautiful they get,” he said."

Is “Huh?” a Universal Word? Conversational Infrastructure and the Convergent Evolution of Linguistic Items

"Huh" is a universal word.  Of course it is, what would we do without it?

It's ok - you don't HAVE to meditate!

If you don’t meditate, there’s no need to stress out about it.

Yeah for that!

"In fact, in some situations, meditation may be harmful: Willoughby Britton, a Brown University Medical School professor, has discovered numerous cases of traumatic meditation experiences that intensify anxiety, reduce focus and drive, and leave people feeling incapacitated.

Evangelists, it’s time to stop judging. The next time you meet people who choose not to meditate, take a deep breath and let us relax in peace."

October 6, 2015

Extreme Do-Gooders

A line from Clive James’s memoir “North Face of Soho” comes to mind. He quotes the journalist Katherine Whitehorn: “You can recognize the people who live for others by the haunted look on the faces of the others.”

But her questions are probing, including this one: “Is it possible for a person to hold himself to unforgiving standards without becoming unforgiving?”
   Review: Larissa MacFarquhar - ‘Strangers Drowning’

September 24, 2015

Cheap Chic

It was an imperfect, yet memorable, title for what would be the handbook to a revolution.

First published in 1975 and updated in 1978, “Cheap Chic” was a guide to personal style that blew a big raspberry to establishment norms with a pugnacious manifesto: “Fashion as a dictatorship of the elite is dead. Nobody knows better than you what you should wear or how you should look.”

Yet what’s still revelatory, as Tonne Goodman, fashion director at Vogue, said last week, is that the book promoted no single feminine ideal. “It’s saying: You decide if you’re healthy,” she said. “You stand in front of the mirror and decide if you want to walk an extra 10 blocks. You figure out how to dress for your body.”

Ms. Goodman had spent the day at fashion shows and was truly horrified, she said, by the rail-thin models. “So this is on my mind,” she said, as she quoted from the book’s introduction: “The most basic element of ‘Cheap Chic’ is the body you hang your clothes on. Building a healthy, lively body is far cheaper than buying a lot of clothes to distract from it.”

She added, “What more feminist manifesto can you have than that?”

September 23, 2015

One of the joys of life: decluttering

Let me explain. Ms. Kondo’s decluttering theories are unique, and can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.

Obsessive, gently self-mocking and tender toward the life cycle of, say, a pair of socks, Ms. Kondo delivers her tidy manifesto like a kind of Zen nanny, both hortatory and animistic.

Indeed, Ms. Kondo’s instructions regarding socks are eye-opening. Socks bust their chops for you, and if you ball them up, they don’t get a chance to rest. As she puts it, “The socks and stockings stored in your drawer are essentially on holiday.”
Home organization advice

August 8, 2015

That'll show 'em: Kim Jong-un turns back time

“With the new time zone, Kim Jong-un is reasserting his code words of self-reliance and national dignity to his people,” Mr. Chang said. “Whatever difficulties and inconveniences the new time zone may cause are nothing to his government, compared with its propaganda value at home.”

The Japanese government offered no response to the North’s announcement, but the Japanese news media pounced on the news, including Pyongyang’s accusation that Japan “stole Korea’s time.” Some Internet users offered amused criticism. “Why did they wait 70 years?” several asked on Twitter.


August 7, 2015

Backlash against equal pay raise for workers!

So this is what happens when a US business owner gives everyone a huge pay rise:  collective outrage. 

Yep, giving people a livable wage will do that.
"Two of Mr. Price’s most valued employees quit, spurred in part by their view that it was unfair to double the pay of some new hires while the longest-serving staff members got small or no raises. Some friends and associates in Seattle’s close-knit entrepreneurial network were also piqued that Mr. Price’s action made them look stingy in front of their own employees."

July 15, 2015

June 1, 2015

May 31, 2015

Ending homelessness: give them homes

In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.

 Home Free?

May 23, 2015

Our leaders should go eat worms

Everyone hates Abbott and Shorten, equally.

No worming their way out of it: voters hate Abbott and Shorten

Illicit drugs could be the safer alternative afterall

Pharmacy expert at the University of Sydney Dr Niall Wheate said there was already evidence marijuana could have a role in pain relief.

"It's definitely a potential alternative. There have been several studies in the US already that have shown that in states that have legalised cannabis that overdose deaths from opioids have actually dropped significantly, up to 30 per cent," he said.

Pot kills crippling pain

April 28, 2015

Salman Rushdie slams ‘coward’ Peter Carey over Charlie Hebdo

Rushdie keeps his backbone, while far too many writers are still in search of theirs.
Sir Salman Rushdie has labelled a pair of novelist friends as cowards after they boycotted a freedom of speech award for the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. 
The Booker Prize-winning author described Peter Carey and Michael Ondaatje as “pussies” for pulling out of a gala event in the US.

The pair were among a group of six writers who questioned whether a publication that brazenly offended Muslims should be awarded the annual Freedom of Expression Courage award by PEN, an association that promotes free speech, on May 5 in New York.
“The big mistake that these writers make is that they are essentially withdrawing their support from the principle of freedom of expression. If freedom of expression means anything, then it’s supporting work that you don’t like. It’s very disappointing because we need that solidarity.”

She said that the award was for the courage shown by Charlie Hebdo’s staff not only for publishing material that some would find offensive but also for “deciding to continue to publish when they must have been on their knees”.
Salman Rushdie slams ‘coward’ Peter Carey over Charlie Hebdo

April 25, 2015

JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay

So, a main character in the Harry Potter series of books (and films) was gay, but no one knew.

Isn't this like a tree falling in a forest and no one's there to hear it? 

Or one hand clapping?

That JK Rowling has been much praised for outing Dumbledore, long after the children's books and films were done and dusted - from a safe and retrospective distance, in other words - and that some people are still tweeting or commenting on this fictitious gay person, continues to baffle me. Utterly, utterly baffled. 

JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay

The real Billy Hayes (of Midnight Express fame)

Are you suggesting this as a career path, then?

"Sure," he says. "I suggest you get busted, go to jail, escape and write a book. The rest is gravy."

It was, he says more seriously, the "best and worst thing that ever happened to me". The worst of it was that he felt as if he'd consigned his own family to five years in prison (though his brother has thanked him for setting such a low bar that "unless we kill someone on television, we're golden").
 Billy Hayes tells the true story behind Midnight Express 

February 27, 2015

The Government’s Bad Diet Advice

For two generations, Americans ate fewer eggs and other animal products because policy makers told them that fat and cholesterol were bad for their health. Now both dogmas have been debunked in quick succession.

First, last fall, experts on the committee that develops the country’s dietary guidelines acknowledged that they had ditched the low-fat diet. On Thursday, that committee’s report was released, with an even bigger change: It lifted the longstanding caps on dietary cholesterol, saying there was “no appreciable relationship” between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. Americans, it seems, had needlessly been avoiding egg yolks, liver and shellfish for decades. The new guidelines, the first to be issued in five years, will influence everything from school lunches to doctors’ dieting advice.
 The Government’s Bad Diet Advice

Super Massive Black Hole

Inexplicable black hole found, and it's not Australian politics.

The not so secret formula to making Coca-Cola

It's a drink loved by millions around the world, but have you ever wondered what actually goes into it?
You might be surprised to learn that nutmeg, coriander, vanilla and cinnamon go into making your favourite drink, according to UK newspaper The Mirror.

In 1993 author and scholar Mark Pendergrast published his history of the Coke company in his book, For God, Country & Coca-Cola, which lists the special ingredients which make up the drink in the appendix.
Pendergrast had stumbled across a formula book, originally owned by Doctor JS Pemberton who invented the drink, while searching through the Coca-Cola archives in Atlanta, Georgia.

See a full list of the ingredients here.

But while ingredients such as coriander, lime juice, and citric acid may be easy enough to come by, you may struggle to find citrate caffein.

There’s also another catch.
While the drink is bottled all over the world, the syrup is only made in the US.

The beverage giant employs the Stepan Company in Illinois which is the only one legally allowed to import cocaine containing coca leaves into America.

Yes that’s correct — a pharmaceutical processing company extract the cocaine and sell on the leaves to Coca-Cola, according to The Mirror.

The not so secret formula to making Coca-Cola

February 15, 2015

Counting Abbott

15 Feb 2015:  seven days since Tony Abbott, PM, announced the commencement of good government in Oz! 

Feeling the love yet?