Wednesday, February 28, 2024
18.6 C
Home Blog Page 1798

Around the world, environmental laws are under attack in all sorts of ways

around the world, environmental laws are under attack in all sorts of ways In Montana and Idaho, endangered gray 
wolves are no longer safe outside national parks.

As President Donald Trump mulls over whether to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, it is hard to imagine that he’s listening to the experts. US climate researchers are being so stifled, ignored or blackballed that France has now offered sanctuary to these misunderstood souls.

One might prefer to think of Trump as an outlier in an otherwise environmentally sane world. But alarmingly, there’s just too much evidence to the contrary.

A recent analysis, led by Guillaume Chapron of Sweden’s Agricultural University, reveals a rising tide of assaults on environmental safeguards worldwide. If nothing else, it illustrates the sheer range and creativity of tactics used by those who seek to profit at the expense of nature.

The assaults on environmental protections are so diverse that Chapron and his colleagues had to devise a new “taxonomy” to categorise them all. They have even set up a public database to track these efforts, giving us a laundry list of environmental rollbacks from around the world.

around the world, environmental laws are under attack in all sorts of ways
Nick Kim /

One might perhaps hope that species staring extinction in the face would be afforded special protection. Not in the western US states of Idaho and Montana, where endangered gray wolves have been taken off the endangered species list, meaning they can be shot if they stray outside designated wilderness or management areas.

In Western Australia, an endangered species can be legally driven to extinction if the state’s environment minister orders it and parliament approves.

Think diverse ecosystems are important? In Canada, not so much. There, native fish species with no economic, recreational or indigenous value don’t get any legal protection from harm.

And in France – a crucial flyway for Eurasian and African birds – killing migratory birds is technically illegal. But migrating birds could be shot out of the sky anyway because the environment minister ordered a delay in the law’s enforcement.

In South Africa, the environment minister formerly had authority to limit environmental damage and oversee ecological restoration at the nation’s many mining sites. But that power has now been handed over to the mining minister, raising fears of conflict between industry and environmental interests.

In Brazil, the famous Forest Code that has helped to reduce deforestation rates in the Amazon has been seriously watered down. Safeguards for forests along waterways and on hillsides have been weakened, and landowners who illegally fell forests no longer need to replant them.

In the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, endangered species are protected by law, unless it is deemed to be in the “national interest” not to do so. Although an endangered species, the endemic Mauritius flying fox was annoying commercial fruit farmers, so the government has allowed more than 40,000 flying foxes to be culled.

And in Indonesia, it’s illegal to carry out destructive open-pit mining in protected forest areas. But aggressive mining firms are forcing the government to let them break the law anyway, or else face spending public money on legal battles.

Shoot the messengers

Campaigners should also beware. Under new legislation proposed in the UK, conservation groups that lose lawsuits will be hit with heavy financial penalties.

In many parts of the world, those who criticise environmentally destructive corporations are getting hit with so-called “strategic lawsuits against public participation”, or SLAPP suits.

In Peru, for instance, a corporation that was mowing down native rainforest to grow “sustainable” cacao for chocolate routinely used lawsuits and legal threats to intimidate critics.

That’s before we’ve even discussed climate change, which you might not be allowed to do in the US anyway. Proposed legislation would prohibit the government from considering climate change as a threat to any species. No wonder researchers want to move overseas.

around the world, environmental laws are under attack in all sorts of ways
Nick Kim /

As the above examples show, essential environmental safeguards are being conveniently downsized, diminished, ignored or swept under the carpet all over the world.

Viewed in isolation, each of these actions might be rationalised or defended – a small compromise made in the name of progress, jobs or the economy. But in a natural world threatened with “death by a thousand cuts”, no single wound can be judged in isolation.

Without our hard-won environmental protections, we would all already be breathing polluted air, drinking befouled water, and living in a world with much less wildlife.

This article was written by:





This article is part of a syndicated news program via the Conversation
around the world, environmental laws are under attack in all sorts of ways
tagg gig guide - add event

Not dead yet: how MP3 changed the way we listen to music

not dead yet: how mp3 changed the way we listen to music MP3 compression of digital audio files 
made music more portable.

First developed almost three decades ago, the MP3 format made large digital audio files relatively small and easy to pass across an internet that was largely accessed via a very slow (by today’s standards) phone dial-up connection.

Now the companies behind the file compression format, Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS, have decided to end their support for the licensing program for MP3. The last patent for the tech format is due to expire at the end of the year.

So the MP3 is dead. Again. Or is it?

What is MP3?

MP3 is a form of codec, a way of compressing (co) and decompressing (dec) the data in audio files.

The organisation responsible for defining the standards for audio and video compression and decompression is the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), a working group of several authorities. So MP3 is just short for MPEG-1, Audio Layer 3.

The development of MP3.

Full resolution digital audio files are relatively large, around 10MB per minute of stereo, CD-quality sound. Today, streaming 10MB/minute might seem trivial but in the early days of digitally transferred data it was a lot.

MP3s were initially developed with the goal of a 12:1 compression ratio achieving acceptable sound quality. A 60MB song could therefore be compressed into a 5MB file. Other compression ratios can be used, with higher ratios yielding more obvious sonic artefacts (unwanted sounds) and lower ratios resulting in higher file sizes.

Hear the quality (or not) of MP3 compression at different bit rates.

A “lossy” compression codec works on the theory that, as the human ear is already discarding a lot of information in the perception of sound, you might as well simply not encode this redundant information.

The term lossy comes from the fact that this data is lost, discarded and gone forever. MP3 and rivals AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) and WMA (Windows Media Audio) are all lossy formats.

The audio that gets edited out in MP3 compression, in this case from 
Suzanne Vega’s version of Tom’s Diner.

Conversely, lossless compression reduces file sizes, but does not reduce quality. Something like a compressed zip file is an example of lossless compression. Uncompressed files are a straight 1:1 transfer of the digital file.

MP3: dead or alive?

Developed in the late 1980s and standardised in the early 1990s, MP3 was first pronounced dead in 1995 and nearly abandoned as a technology. It was deemed commercially unsuccessful despite heavy investment from the Fraunhofer institute and a decade’s development by the project’s leader Karlheinz Brandenburg.

It was the victim of a format war, led by Dutch manufacturer Philips. Fraunhofer’s MP3 was consistently overlooked in the early 1990s by the MPEG standards group in favour of Philips’ MP2.

The MP3 format only found early commercial success in the sports broadcast market, with the compressed digital audio saving broadcasters thousands in satellite transmission costs.

So deeply unpopular was MP3 in commercial music applications that the developers effectively gave it away for free.

As a result, the format was close to being abandoned by its developers again towards the end 1996, in favour of the AAC format still patented and supported today.

The AAC format was developed initially by the same team behind the MP3, in part as a way to circumnavigate technical limitations imposed by Phillips on the MPEG-1 standard.

AAC generally performs better than MP3 at higher compression ratios, and the patent does not require a user to obtain a license to stream or distribute AAC encoded audio.

Listen carefully to the cymbals.

It was only the proliferation of filesharing internet sites, built around the distribution of pirated content, that revived interest in the MP3, first as isolated “warez” sites, and then as peer-to-peer networks such as Napster.

Stephen Witt’s 2015 book How Music Got Free (a source for much of this history) says that the first time the term MP3 was used by mainstream press was May 1997, with a USA Today article detailing how college students were uploading bootlegged albums onto university servers via file sharing sites.

By this stage, the first time most people had even heard of the MP3 format, the horse had already bolted, and the music industry would never be the same again.

The first portable MP3 player, the MPMan, debuted less than a year later, and Apple’s move into the market in 2001, through the release of iTunes and the iPod, cemented the ubiquity of both compact music players and compressed digital formats.

Music sharing

Early MP3s didn’t sound great and were generally disliked by audiophiles and record producers alike.

But they allowed consumers to stockpile music to an extent that had not been possible before, heralding a new relationship between digital information and ownership.

A market model based on scarcity had been turned on its head. While copying music had been around for decades, each copy was physically coupled to the medium – a vinyl record or magnetic tape cassette, for instance.

The rise of peer-to-peer file sharing networks, most famously Napster, meant that now anyone with a computer and internet connection could access another person’s entire music collection. A single file could by copied by thousands, all at the same time.

This changed listening patterns: instead of buying perhaps one album per month (depending on what you could afford), and then listening to it several times, music fans could constantly scour the internet for new music. Some would even stockpile music that they would never even listen to.

From share to stream

Today, playing MP3 files is increasingly being superseded by the ubiquity of streaming services. With fast and cheap access to mobile internet, services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and others now all offer extensive music libraries that can be accessed for a subscription fee.

Just one of several online music options.

Presciently, Brandenburg’s mentor, Dieter Sietzer, had suggested as early as 1982 that the most effective delivery of digital audio was through streaming, as a way to make use of Germany’s new digital telephone lines. His patent was refused.

If it was the increase in portable MP3 players and the proliferation of pirated content that cemented the role of the MP3 in youth culture, it is the rise of streaming services that define current habits.

Despite Fraunhofer’s termination of its licensing program for the MP3 format, the MP3 file will continue to live on, unsupported by the developers, but now unrestricted by patents or licences.

While better codecs now exist for compressing digital music files, it’s interesting to note the revival of the old format of vinyl.

Today, events such as Classic Album Sundays are emerging as an attempt to reclaim focused listening experiences through the use of analogue technologies that have been nominally obsolete since the late 1980s.

I believe it very unlikely that similar listening parties will develop in an attempt to celebrate the early MP3.

This article was written by:
not dead yet: how mp3 changed the way we listen to musicYanto Browning – [Associate lecturer in Music and Sound, Queensland University of Technology]





This article is part of a syndicated news program via the Conversation
not dead yet: how mp3 changed the way we listen to music


tagg gig guide - add event

The truth about the Amazons – the real Wonder Women

the truth about the amazons – the real wonder women Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman: a true Amazonian, 
she is trained in a range of skills in both combat and hunting. 
Atlas Entertainment, Cruel & Unusual Films, DC Entertainment

The long-awaited film version of Wonder Woman opens this week, starring Gal Gadot as the indomitable superhero.

As Princess Diana of Themyscira, Wonder Woman is of Amazonian blue-blood. Formed from clay by her mother, Queen Hippolyta, and given life by the breath of Aphrodite, she is a demi-god. The gifts she receives from the gods of the Greek pantheon explain her superhero powers, which become evident when she transforms into Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman made her debut in 1941 in All Star Comics. Her creator, American writer and psychologist William Moulton Marston, drew on a cornucopia of Greek mythology, blending stories from sources as diverse as the myths of Pandora, Odysseus, and Atalanta and the Amazons. Like all members of the Justice League team, Wonder Woman is an imaginative hybrid.

the truth about the amazons – the real wonder women
Three Amazons on a black-figure lekythos, circa 500 BC.

Marston’s comic draws heavily on the Amazon myths. Since the epics of the Homeric poets, there have been references to mysterious and frightening stories of the Amazons. In the Iliad, composed around the 8th Century BC, the Amazons were referred to as man-like, seasoned fighters. The implication is that in war they were a match for men in terms of their prowess, physical strength and courage. The Amazons appear in other Greek myths, such as the adventures of Heracles and Theseus.

Herodotus (484-c.425 BC) recorded detailed information, possibly spurious, but nevertheless fascinating, about this tribe of women. In his account, the Amazons were presented as horse riders, skilled with the bow and arrow, deft with the spear and ignorant of “traditional” women’s work. They were from Scythia (Ukraine, southern Russia and western Kazakhstan), a region sufficiently distant to an ancient Greek to symbolise a frightening, exotic and unknowable land populated by wild and threatening people. Herodotus also claimed that the Amazons had a marriage custom that forbade a young woman to marry until she had killed a man in battle.

the truth about the amazons – the real wonder women
A helmeted Amazon with her sword and a shield bearing the head of a Gorgon on an Attic red-figure kylix, 510–500 BC. 

The Greek geographer Strabo (64 BC–AD 20) recorded the belief that the Amazons seared their right breasts to better use a bow and arrow or throw a spear. He also wrote that the Amazons were believed to live separately from men – travelling into neighbouring territories to mate – but keeping only girls to rear. While Strabo admitted much of this was likely fanciful, his account provides an insight into Greek fears and anxieties surrounding the Amazons. Indeed, they appear to have been regarded as the bogeywomen of antiquity.

Marston’s knowledge of Greek mythology was extensive, and his ability to incorporate it into a new form truly remarkable. His character, Queen Hippolyte references the authentic mythical leader of the Amazons. Her daughter, Diana is a reference to the Roman equivalent of the Greek Artemis, the goddess of hunting, the wilderness, and wild animals. Likewise, the place of Princess Diana’s birth, Themiscyra, is mentioned by both Herodotus and Strabo as Amazon territory.

As a true Amazonian, Princess Diana is trained in a range of skills in both combat and hunting by her aunt, Antiope. However, as a member of the Justice League, she is not associated with some of the more “unusual” attributes of the ancient Amazons such as breast searing.

Separating fact from fiction

So were the Amazons real?

In her scholarly analysis of the Amazons from “fact” to fiction, folklorist and historian, Adrienne Mayor argues:

overwhelming evidence now shows that the Amazon traditions of the Greeks and other ancient societies derived in part from historical facts.
the truth about the amazons – the real wonder women
Amazon wearing trousers and carrying a shield and a quiver. Ancient Greek Attic white-ground alabastron, c.470 BC, British Museum, London.

Mayor cites the Scythians as the most likely source of the Amazon legend. Nomadic peoples originally from Iran who migrated to southern Russia and Ukraine around the 8th Century BC, Scythian women were renowned for their horse riding and hunting skills, and participation in warfare. Along the steppes of Eurasia, archaeologists have excavated Scythian kurgans or burial mounds containing the skeletons of battle-scarred Scythian women along with collections of weapons, hunting equipment and tools.

These Scythian women clearly deviated in part from some of the mythical attributes of the Amazons. They did not, for example, live in all-female communities or remove their breast(s) to better shoot an arrow.

However, their very existence thousands of years ago not only suggests an inspiration for the myth of the Amazons, but also demonstrates how myths, legends and fairy tales work. Namely, the seemingly wondrous and often outrageous aspects of such narratives sometimes contain a kernel – or more than a kernel – of a truth that is then elaborated, altered and sensationalised to become an exciting, rollicking tale.

There are other aspects of Greek mythology in Marston’s Wonder Woman comic. For instance, he uses the basic plotline from Homer’s Odyssey to explain Princess Diana’s metamorphosis into Wonder Woman. On her isolated place of birth, Paradise Island, a Captain Steve Trevor falls from the sky when his plane crashes. This simple story echoes the travels of the ancient Greek hero Odysseus, who is washed ashore onto unknown islands on his way home from the Trojan War and rescued by beautiful women.

the truth about the amazons – the real wonder women
Marble statue of a wounded Amazon, Roman, imperial period, 1st-2nd century AD. Copy of a Greek statue ca. 450 BC 

Diana falls in love with Trevor. Her mother, displeased, holds a competition to determine the worthiest Amazon to help him return to the world of man. Hippolyta forbids Diana from entering it. But she does – wearing a disguise – and wins. This bride competition lies at the heart of the mythical story of Atalanta, whose father arranges running races between his swift-footed daughter and her suitors, offering her as a prize for the man who can outrun her. As Trevor’s protector in his return to his own world, Princess Diana becomes Wonder Woman – aka Diana Prince.

But it is Marston’s use of the myth of the Amazons that may appeal most to our modern sensibilities. In an interview with the New Yorker, Mayor has described the Scythians as “a people notorious for strong, free women”. This image of independent, strong women certainly appealed to Marston, and his heroine is regularly cited as a feminist icon.

There are numerous exotic accounts of Amazons from antiquity through to the modern age. There are references to ancient nomadic cultures smoking cannabis, sporting tattoos, consuming alcohol and living outside the established boundaries of Greek morality. Some of these details come from ancient sources and some from modern archaeological excavations. It is now up to scholars to continue to make the connections and to separate fact from fiction.

This article was written by:
the truth about the amazons – the real wonder womenMarguerite Johnson – [Associate Professor of Ancient History and Classical Languages, University of Newcastle]





This article is part of a syndicated news program via the Conversation
the truth about the amazons – the real wonder women


tagg gig guide - add event

How old is too old for cholesterol lowering medications?

how old is too old for cholesterol lowering medications? The benefits of healthy older people 
taking statins to prevent heart disease and stroke needs to be balanced with
the risk of side effects.

There is growing debate about whether doctors should prescribe statins to otherwise healthy older people to reduce their risk of developing their first heart attack or stroke.

Now the debate has reignited with the publication of a new analysis that casts doubt on their benefit for people over the age of 65, and raised concern of the potential for harm in people aged over 75.

Statins are the most commonly used cholesterol lowering medications in Australia. In 2010-2011 they were taken by 2.6 million Australians with 16 million scripts dispensed from June 2011 to June 2012.

They are prescribed to lower blood lipid levels and so reduce people’s chances of heart disease, including stroke, and to prolong life.

In particular, this class of drugs inhibits how the body makes low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or bad cholesterol.

Different statins reduce bad cholesterol to different extents. For example, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin produce larger reductions in bad cholesterol per milligram of drug than a different statin, pravastatin (about 50% vs 30%).

Further reading: Some things you should know about statins and heart disease

The issue of whether to prescribe statins for older people is particularly important given the growing segment of our population living into their 70s and 80s.

About one third of Australians over the age of 70 years are taking statins. And they could potentially be used by more older people as, based on their age alone, these are the people at highest risk of heart disease or stroke.

In people who already have heart disease or who have had a stroke, the benefits of statins are clear. Taking statins reduces your chance of another cardiovascular event whatever your age.

Doctors justify prescribing statins for this group by looking at a figure called the “number needed to treat”. In the case of statins, researchers calculate 28 people with existing heart disease or who had had a stroke would need to be treated for five years to prevent one death, a figure low enough to warrant treatment.

Mixed evidence

In people without heart disease or who have not had a stroke, the benefits of statins are less clear for those aged 70 years or older. Most national and international guidelines, including those from the Heart Foundation, have not been able to make strong recommendations to guide prescribing for older people. And any recommendations they do make are mostly based on trials of statins in people under the age of 70.

Some trials including older people without heart disease have reported no benefits whereas others have reported large benefits.

To complicate things further, pooling results of two of these trials finds statins reduce cardiovascular events in people aged under 65 years (by about 25%), 65-70 years (by about 50%) and over 70 years (by about 25%).

Due to the conflicting figures, researchers have not pooled the results to calculate a “number needed to treat” for healthy older people taking statins to prevent their first heart attack or stroke.

The debate about the benefits of statins for older people also needs to take into account the increased likelihood of side-effects from medications in this age group.

Researchers have not well studied side effects with statin use in older people. However, the issues most likely to be of concern to older people are muscle aches and weakness, muddled thinking and diabetes.

What does the latest evidence say?

The latest analysis revisits selected results from a large trial completed some 13 years ago. The researchers considered data from 2,867 participants over 65 without any evidence of heart disease who were randomly assigned to the statin pravastatin or usual care, then followed for over 4.5 years.

The researchers looked at the effects of the statin on deaths from any cause, and deaths from heart disease and heart attacks in people aged 65-75 and over 75. They found no difference in any of these outcomes for either of the age groups and even raised concern of the potential for harm in people aged over 75.

The study authors concluded that the benefits previously ascribed to statins may have been overstated for older people.

how old is too old for cholesterol lowering medications?
The latest study, which casts doubt on statin use in the elderly, had several flaws. 

To gauge what these new findings mean, we first need to consider the statin used in the study, pravastatin. Doctors don’t prescribe this so commonly to lower cholesterol nowadays because it has been replaced by stronger statins.

Second, by the end of the study many people in the statin group had stopped their treatment while people in the usual care group had started treatment, either on pravastatin or another statin. This makes it very hard to see which outcome could be the result of the drug itself.

Also, the study may not have included enough older people. Studies aiming to prevent disease in healthy people need many thousands as most will not suffer heart attacks and strokes irrespective of which treatment group they are in.

So where does that leave us?

To plug this gap in the research, we are are conducting the first trial of its kind in the world to look at the effects of statins on healthy ageing.

This statin trial, which is unusual as it is not funded by the pharmaceutical industry, is the first randomised controlled trial of statins in healthy older Australians (aged 70 or older) living independently in the community.

When the results from its 18,000 participants are in, we will have a clearer picture of the effects of statins on overall survival, survival free of dementia and disability, as well as cardiovascular events over an average five years of treatment.

If you’re on statins, what should you do?

Older people with heart disease or who’ve had a stroke should continue taking their prescribed statin as the benefits are clear. However, they should discuss any side effects with their doctor.

Older people without heart disease or who have not had a stroke should discuss the potential benefits and harms of statins with their doctor before starting or continuing treatment.

This discussion should take into account a person’s preference for statins and other measures to reduce their risk of heart disease, include having a healthy diet, being physically active and stopping smoking.

This article was written by:
how old is too old for cholesterol lowering medications?Sophia Zoungas – [Professor and Head, Diabetes and Vascular Medicine Research Program, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University]





This article is part of a syndicated news program via the Conversation
how old is too old for cholesterol lowering medications?


tagg gig guide - add event

2 – 5 June


2 – 5 june

Maddawgs of Melbourne

This is Stevie. He was the weather guy for the Today Show for 12 years, bringing Australia the only kind of news that is ok to be totally and utterly incorrect. However city life was taking it’s toll on the soul, so he and his legendary wife Rosie decided to drop the mic on their humdrum Sydney routine and live the tropical island-dream. Switching iPads for snorkels, rush hour for beach BBQs and Karl for coconuts, they now live full time in Vanuatu. You might have seen this article written by Rosie go viral on why they bounced.
Anyhoo, as The Weather Man Stevie got to do some of the most amazing things on earth AND GET PAID FOR IT..

What was your absolute favourite weather cross?
Three days on a luxury yacht in the Whitsundays, with a private chef and unlimited French champagne. Some of the crew and I spent an arvo on a foam island, the captain swam us over some beers and we floated off for two hours. We started discussing who we would eat first as we had drifted so far away from the boat we couldn’t see it.
Best part of the job? 
The people we meet. We have been welcomed into families and communities around Australia and the world and have made some amazing friends and seen some incredible places.
Most interesting person you’ve met? 
Definitely Donald Trump. We got to interview him at Trump Tower in New York 8 years ago and asked him then if he would ever consider running for president. We saw it coming. I would describe him as a massive entertainer. We had about an hour with him and yes we asked him about his hair too.
Scariest thing you’ve done?
The Globe of Death. I read the weather in a 4 metre round metal cage with 3 motorbikes looping around me at 80kmph. The riders were Argentinian and couldn’t understand a word of direction.
Craziest thing you’ve done? 
We met Dennis Rodman in LA and ended up partying with him all night. The next thing you know we started a music touring company with him based on his connections. It all went terribly wrong and cost us a fortune but damn it was random and fun.
Recent stand out memory? 
Making the big decision to move to working part time on the Today Show to spend more time with my family living in Vanuatu where we are incredibly happy. And tanned.

So the Reclink Community Cup is coming up on Sunday 25 June. Melbourne musicians ‘Rockdogs’ VS Melbourne radio hosts ‘Megahertz’. Yours truly is officially a ROCKDOG – so bring your family, your dates, dates for me, some rando kids, someone’s grandma and your dogs to Victoria Park to see Spiderbait, Murray Wiggle and other legends play music.. and play a football game.

Mabo Day Community Picnic + Celebration @ Fed Square (June 3) – Lou Bega is paraded around the Square in this yearly celebration of Mabo Number 5
Bending Light @ Juddy Roller (2 June onwards)- scratching air, smelling sound, tasting movement.. all the things that magic mushrooms allow you to do.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival @ Melb (2-11 June) – get jazzed all over. And under.
Art is… Festival @ Horsham (3 – 12 June) – what you want it to be.. art is (art is).. heaven to the lonely.
Macbeth by MTC @ Southbank Theatre (4-8 July) – Jai Courtney can stab me with his ~dagger~ any time
Eye gazing Melbourne @ Fitzroy gardens (3 June) – attended by those whose eyes you normally avoid
Good Food and Wine Show @ MCEC (2 – 4 June) – sit Food. Roll over. Down. Good Food.
Festival of Steve @ Kelvin Club (3 June) – yah cos men don’t get celebrated enough
Dialogue in the Dark @ Docklands (2 June – 27 Aug) – also known as ‘picking up’ which is sadly, something I don’t know much about.
World Cider Day @ Geelong (3 June) – Montalto drew in the smoke of his Cuban. He leant back in his chair and rolled his tongue around his mouth slowly savouring the taste of old memories. He closed his eyes and breathed out his nose – a man on fire. A whimper. Montalto peered through the cigar haze and looked down at Tuck cowering before him. He snorted with distain. ‘And to think you once ruled this city’. With bloody eyes and a swollen face, Tuck looked up from the ground and met the gaze of his nemesis. ‘You deserve to die like a dog Montalto’ he spat at his feet. A guttural laugh erupted from Montalto. Aaaah, today would go down in the history books of the city’s crime world.
Be the Artist: Workshop @ NGV (3 June) – learn to paint like van Gough. Bonus points if you only have one ear.

Eat / Drink by The Sprink

Mimi went on two dates. Here are her reviews of those dates and comments from the boys.

#1: Mimi & Mike

Where was your date? 
Mimi: At a bar called Speakeasy.
Mike: Speakeasy as it was in her hood, has good food and drink with a relaxed atmosphere.
How did he greet you?
Mimi: Ermmm kiss on the cheek and hello?
Mike: I don’t know. I was nervous.
How did the date go? What happened?
Mimi: The date was lovely, lots of chat and turns out we have a bunch of friends in common. We had a few wines, and some tasty food including fried chicken, yum.
Mike: I think it went well, we had a lot to talk about. We ate food and had a few drinks. 
Most interesting / random things you talked about?
Mimi: Random our connection and overlap of friendship circles, and our mutual dislike of someone that can’t be named!
Mike: We have a few mutual friends who we discussed.  Also we realised we were at the same party a few years ago and had probably met.
Did you smooch? If so pls rate it out of 10.
Mimi: No
Mike: No unfortunately
Would he be a good baby-daddy?
Mimi: He will make an awesome baby-daddy some day for sure.
Mike: She’s a very intelligent attractive lady. Yes, someone needs to lock this babe down.#2: Mimi & G

Where was your date? 
Mimi: Started at a mini golf bar in the city, and then went to Heartbreaker on Russell St
G: I just wanted to do something different that might help break the ice. To be fair, I think Holey Moley wasn’t the right choice as it was really packed, loud and filled with 20-year-olds…but you live and learn. It was worth the risk! Heartbreaker cause it’s my favourite bar…great old school tunes!
How did he greet you? Were you nervous?
Mimi: A kiss on the cheek and hello.. Although there may have been a handshake in there too?!
G: No I was not nervous.
How did the date go? What happened?
Mimi: The date was lovely but started off a bit shaky. Mini golf was packed and loud, and I’m not much of a golfer (insert awkward emoji). We quickly played a round, and then walked to Heartbreaker. Had a few cocktails and I ordered pizza for dinner.
G: The date went alright. We played 9 holes of mini golf and I showcased my skills. We then decided to walk to Heartbreaker for a more intimate time so we could talk a bit more and get to know each other. We had a few drinks and shared 3 slices of pizza cause bae was hungry.
Most interesting / random things you talked about?
Mimi: Interesting to hear about his artistic side projects, also about his Venezuelan background and the best places around town to eat South American food. We talked about all sorts of things, about travel and art and The Sprinkler of course.
G: It was very easy going, we talked a bit about everything. Dating, family, work…the general stuff. We both agreed how you aren’t as funny as you think you are, but you are still funny.
Sprink: wtf G I’m literally reading this
Did you smooch? If so pls rate it out of 10.
Mimi: No
G: No
Would he be a good baby-daddy?
Mimi: One day yes he would make an awesome baby-daddy for sure.
G: She definitely ticks a lot of boxes – interesting, beautiful and smart.


Email and if you are the first person to get it right.. imma Maddawg you. Or you can do an Eat/Drink review, whatever you’d prefer..

2 – 5 june
tagg gig guide - add event

JMQ’s WARM WINTER JAZZ Mini-Fest @ PHAMISH, featuring NICHAUD FITZGIBBON (June 1) and More Exciting Artists, 7PM Every Thursday.

jmq’s warm winter jazz mini-fest @ phamish, featuring nichaud fitzgibbon (june 1) and more exciting artists, 7pm every thursday.
tagg gig guide - add event

No Fixed Address & Madder Lake @ MEMO


Bart Willoughby

Bart Willoughby

Looking and sounding like global rockstars the Legendary Aboriginal Rock/Reggae Act – NO FIXED ADDRESS played a double bill with Australia’s premier psychedelic rock masters – MADDER LAKE, celebrating 80 years of original OZ Rock from Mushroom Music.

35 years after the release of NO FIXED ADDRESS’ first album ‘From My Eyes’ and 45 years after MADDER LAKE and MUSHROOM RECORDS first Gold Single ‘Goodbye Lollipop’, these two bands joined as a tour-de-force of OZ Rock, banding together to raise awareness and funds for the not-for-profit organisation ST KILDA ARTS COMMUNITY INC.

Ricky Harrison

Ricky Harrison

John John Miller

John John Miller

Madder Lake Band

Andy Burns, Luke McKinnon, Brenden Mason,  Michael O’Loughlin and Kerry McKenna – Madder Lake 

Madder Lake Band

Brenden Mason, Michael O’Loughlin and Kerry McKenna – Madder Lake 

Madder Lake Band

Kerry McKenna and John McKinnon – Madder Lake 

Photography by Kerrie Pacholli ©

tagg gig guide - add event

People with creative personalities really do see the world differently

people with creative personalities really do see the world differently How do you see the world?

What is it about a creative work such as a painting or piece of music that elicits our awe and admiration? Is it the thrill of being shown something new, something different, something the artist saw that we did not?

As Pablo Picasso put it:

Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.

Our new research found that there are certain aspects of a person’s personality that can influence their creativity. We found that people who are “open” see the world in a way that is different to the average person.

What is creativity?

The idea that some people see more possibilities than others is central to the concept of creativity.

Psychologists often measure creativity using divergent thinking tasks. These require you to generate as many uses as possible for mundane objects, such as a brick. People who can see numerous and diverse uses for a brick (say, a coffin for a Barbie doll funeral diorama) are rated as more creative than people who can only think of a few common uses (say, for building a wall).

The aspect of our personality that appears to drive our creativity is called openness to experience, or openness. Among the five major personality traits, it is openness that best predicts performance on divergent thinking tasks. Openness also predicts real-world creative achievements, as well as engagement in everyday creative pursuits.

As Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire explain in their book Wired to Create, the creativity of open people stems from a “drive for cognitive exploration of one’s inner and outer worlds”.

This curiosity to examine things from all angles may lead people high in openness to see more than the average person, or as another research team put it, to discover “complex possibilities laying dormant in so-called ‘familiar’ environments”.

Creative vision

In our research, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, we found that open people don’t just bring a different perspective to things, they genuinely see things differently to the average individual.

We wanted to test whether openness is linked to a phenomenon in visual perception called binocular rivalry. This occurs when two different images are presented to each eye simultaneously, such as a red patch to the right eye and a green patch to the left eye.

For the observer, the images seem to flip intermittently from one to the other. At one moment only the green patch is perceived, and at the next moment only the red patch – each stimulus appearing to rival the other (see illustration below).

people with creative personalities really do see the world differently
Binocular rivalry task. 

Intriguingly, participants in binocular rivalry studies occasionally see a fused or scrambled combination of both images (see middle frame, above). These moments of “rivalry suppression”, when both images become consciously accessible at once, seem almost like a “creative” solution to the problem presented by the two incompatible stimuli.

Across three experiments, we found that open people saw the fused or scrambled images for longer periods than the average person. Furthermore, they reported seeing this for even longer when experiencing a positive mood state similar to those that are known to boost creativity.

Our findings suggest that the creative tendencies of open people extend all the way down to basic visual perception. Open people may have fundamentally different visual experiences to the average person.

Seeing things that others miss

Another well-known perceptual phenomenon is called inattentional blindness. People experience this when they are so focused on one thing that they completely fail to see something else right before their eyes.

In a famous illustration of this perceptual glitch, participants were asked to watch a short video of people tossing a basketball to one another, and to track the total number of passes between the players wearing white.

Try this out yourself, before reading further!

Count the basketball passes between players in white.

During the video, a person in a gorilla costume wanders into centre stage, indulges in a little chest-beating, and then schleps off again. Did you see it? If not, you are not alone. Roughly half of the 192 participants in the original study completely failed to see the costumed figure.

But why did some people experience inattentional blindness in this study when others didn’t? The answer to this question came in a recent follow-up study showing that your susceptibility to inattentional blindness depends on your personality: open people are more likely to see the gorilla in the video clip.

Once again, it seems that more visual information breaks through into conscious perception for people high in openness — they see the things that others screen out.

Opening our minds: is more better?

It might seem as if open people have been dealt a better hand than the rest of us. But can people with uncreative personalities broaden their limited vistas, and would this be a good thing?

There is mounting evidence that personality is malleable, and increases in openness have been observed in cognitive training interventions and studies of the effects of psilocybin (the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms).

Openness also increases for students who choose to study overseas, confirming the idea that travel broadens the mind.

But there is also a dark side to the “permeability of consciousness” that characterises open people. Openness has been linked to aspects of mental illness, such as proneness to hallucination.

So despite its appeal, there may be a slippery slope between seeing more and seeing things that are not there.

So, from different personalities emerge different experiences, but we should always remember that one person’s view is not necessarily better than another’s.

This article was co-authored by:
people with creative personalities really do see the world differentlyLuke Smillie – [Senior Lecturer in Personality Psychology, University of Melbourne] and
people with creative personalities really do see the world differentlyAnna Antinori – [PhD candidate, University of Melbourne]





This article is part of a syndicated news program via the Conversation
people with creative personalities really do see the world differently


tagg gig guide - add event

Many older people in care die prematurely, and not from natural causes

many older people in care die prematurely, and not from natural causes Premature death is still an issue if the patient is in a nursing home. 

Most readers may be surprised to learn that frail older people living in residential aged care services, often referred to as nursing homes or care facilities, die prematurely. We tend to think the deaths of older people, and especially those in care, are due to natural causes. But although confronting to contemplate, residents die prematurely due to injury and violence.

Investigations into deaths of individual residents by the Coroners Court and the recent inquiry into Oakden care facility in South Australia show vulnerable older people in care have been subjected to undue suffering and harm. The Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has also commissioned an independent review into aged care processes.

Our research published today in the Medical Journal of Australia found 15.2% of over 20,000 deaths of nursing home residents between 2000 and 2013 resulted from external causes (that is, an injury, violence or other external event).

The study collated information from all the investigations into deaths of individual residents by the Coroners Court over the past decade. The most frequent mechanisms of death were falls (2,679 cases, 81.5%), choking (261 cases, 7.9%) and suicide (146 cases, 4.4%).

The incidents leading to death usually occurred in the nursing home (95.8%), but the death itself usually occurred elsewhere (67.1%). This was typically at an acute care hospital where residents had been transferred. Somewhat surprising was the small proportion of people (1.2%) who died from adverse events related to their clinical care (such as medication errors). And these numbers are likely to be underestimated due to some deaths being misclassified as “natural”.

Our study provides the first detailed understanding of how many deaths in nursing homes that shouldn’t be happening. Although coroners play an important role in identifying factors that may prevent death and injury, fewer than 3% of the external-cause deaths were examined by an inquest. Coroners also made no recommendations about preventing injury in 98.4% of all cases.

Establishing how people die in care

A better understanding of how, where and when older people die in nursing homes is the first step towards reducing harm, improving quality of care and improving quality of life.

The next step is understanding why these preventable deaths occur. This requires a detailed analysis of the circumstances of each death – by examining what was or was not done, and determining what other factors unrelated to the person’s underlying illnesses may have contributed to the death.

This type of analysis is common in hospitals, where the contributing factors leading to adverse events include considering the organisation’s culture, communication systems, governance arrangements, management and supervision of staff, workload, equipment and the physical environment.

Unfortunately, there is very little information about the circumstances of the premature deaths in aged care to enable a constructive review of the operations of a residential aged care service. This limits our ability to determine what needs to be done to prevent harm in care facilities in the future.

What needs to be done

Despite care facilities being actively monitored in a few different ways, there isn’t one entity responsible for reducing preventable harm by improving practice at a national level. The arrangements are complex, with multiple bodies involved. Each has a discrete function, often with specific boundaries set in legislation.

The Commonwealth Department of Health is responsible for monitoring funding and allocating approvals to operate aged care facilities. The Aged Care Quality Agency manages the accreditation process and the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner handles the concerns of residents and their families.

We need to improve policy, practice and research to prevent these premature deaths in the future. The information to improve our aged care system exists and needs to be harnessed. This requires better access to information that is gathered and investing in analysing it.

Primary prevention is the priority. This requires collaborative efforts and partnerships between aged and health care professionals, forensic death investigators, coroners, governments and the aged care sector working together in developing evidence-based strategies in consultation with residents and their families.

This article was written by:
Joseph Ibrahim – [Professor, Health Law and Ageing Research Unit, Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University]





This article is part of a syndicated news program via the Conversation
many older people in care die prematurely, and not from natural causes


tagg gig guide - add event

? Yoga Retreat and Tour in India ? Reserve now ?


Hi Yogis,

We are excited to inform you about our upcoming tour to North India in October 2017.

Discover the true incredible India. Including:

  • The beauty of the Taj Mahal and the majesty of Rajasthan.
  • The peace of the mountain home of the Dali Lama.
  • Enjoy Yoga and meditation and traditional Ayurvedic massage.
  • Stroll around colourful markets.
  • Stay with a real Indian family to get to know Indian culture from first hand.

India is an explosion for all the senses. The spices, the colours, its gracious people and glorious sights. Do not miss this life-enriching experience and reserve your place today (limited to 14 places only).

Trip details:

Date: 10 -24 th October 2017

Itinerary: Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Dharamsala and Amritsar

Activities: Yoga, meditation, Ayurveda sessions and more

Price: AUD 2999 incl. transfers, guide and accommodation.

See you soon.

Sanjay and your Swami’s Yoga Retreat team


tagg gig guide - add event