The true origins of Australian rules football, first codified in 1859 following a famous letter by Tom Wills, have been the subject of sometimes bitter disputes that have been referred to as football's history war. Although the earliest formal football clubs were founded in 1858 (and the earliest known women's clubs in the 1910s), informal football games were widely played in the early 1850s. Scholarly and public discussions about the origins of the game centre on Marn Grook, a collection of indigenous games played with possum skin game balls. Although the lack of documentary evidence makes definitive answers hard to come by, the link between Marn Grook and Aussie rules in modern culture is very prominent, showing up in documentaries (clips: 1 2 3), TV shows, and even children's books. [more inside]
Featured in the Australian literary journal Meanjin, Restless Indigenous Remains is a Paul Daley essay on how the Australian government's National Museum handles the remains of Indigenous people accumulated during Australia's colonial period. An engaging, thoughtful and sobering piece, it covers the history of 'remains collection' in Australia, as well as the current debate concerning whether the Indigenous defenders against colonial expansion should be recognized by the Australian War Memorial.
First world war – a century on, time to hail the peacemakers "On the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, we should remember those who tried to stop a catastrophe" [more inside]
Stephen "Hoppy" Hopkins reports finding a large-bodied earthworm, tentatively identified as Martiodrilus crassus, in Provincia de Napo, Ecuador. The internet weighs in: real or fake? [more inside]
Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design (The Guardian): "Piped water may be the greatest convenience ever known but our sewage systems and bathrooms are a disaster" [more inside]
You're Drinking the Wrong Kind of Milk: "The A1/A2 debate has raged for years in Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Europe, but it is still virtually unheard of across the pond. That could soon change..." [more inside]
In the July issue of The Monthly, John van Tiggelen tells the tale of “The Destruction of the Triabunna Mill and the Fall Of Tasmania's Woodchip Industry,” detailing how “How the end of Gunns cleared a new path for Tasmania.” [more inside]
The Umbilical Brothers are the best mime with words duo act you might ever have the chance to see. Their performances combine mime with ordinary dialogue and vocal sound effects. They use puppetry, slapstick, mimicry and audience participation, and make scant use of props and lighting. [more inside]
It's NAIDOC week in Australia. NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, which dates from the 1920s. NAIDOC Week is held in the first full week of July. It is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and an opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society. ... Music and more inside. [more inside]
From the album of the same name recorded in Jamaica in 1979, Serge Gainsbourg smokes, samples and sings "La Marseillaise" to a loping reggae beat, leaves out some words and titles it "Aux armes, et cætera", thereby deeply offending some of his co-citoyens. I was recently discussing the Marseillaise with a French person, who linked me to Gainsbourg's version. My friend agreed that musically his country's national anthem was wonderful, but said the violence of the lyrics disgusted him. It's interesting to consider a nation's official anthem in the cultural and political setting of its birth, and then contrast with the present day. [more inside]
Rainbow-Cake Recipe Inspires Comment Apocalypse - sometimes you should read the comments, because they're an amazing trainwreck.
Today the High Court of Australia ruled (Williams v Commonwealth of Australia  HCA 23) for the second time that Commonwealth funding of school chaplains was unconstitutional. This is in direct contradiction of the Abbott government's recent budget moves to totally defund secular counsellors in favour of a $244M school chaplaincy program[me]. [more inside]
The award-winning Australian television series McLeod's Daughters aired from 2001 – 2009. A drama, the story begins by following the lives of half sisters Claire and Tess McLeod, reunited after they inherit a vast outback cattle farm (“Drover’s Run”), that has been handed down through the men in their family for generations. 224 episodes were produced, and all are available on YouTube. [more inside]
While Australian public TV channels ABC2 and SBS2 contemplate a possible merger, on their official Twitter accounts sparks fly.
We’re all familiar with the stories of Russian oligarchs buying up mansions in London, but this is a much broader phenomenon. A torrent of capital from wealthy people in emerging markets—from China, above all, but also from Latin America, Russia, and the Middle East—has flowed into the real-estate markets of big cities in other countries, driving up prices and causing a luxury-construction boom. ... The globalization of real estate upends some of our basic assumptions about housing prices. We expect them to reflect local fundamentals—above all, how much people earn. In a truly global market, that may not be the case.James Surowiecki writing in the New Yorker on the rise of a truly global market in real estate.
Australia's 2014-2015 budget was just released. Amongst the casualties: television, young people (and the organisations that help them) and old people, tech startups, postgraduate students, people with disabilities and anyone seeking medical care, foreign aid, Indigenous people, the arts, renewable energy, and the environment. However, if you are in defence, mining, or Indonesian immigration, you should be fine.
Hello, [insert tv market name]!! A collection of the ‘Hello News’ package produced by Gari Communications, sold to various TV networks, nationwide (and Australia.) Hello Bonus 1: Florence Warner sings “Hello Nashville” live, accompanied by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Hello Bonus 2: The Osmonds record a “Hello Utah” promo.
The Three Languages of Arts and Cultural Funding : It is a truth universally acknowledged that the public funding of arts and culture will cause political strife. Reasonable people just do not agree on this, and can be surprisingly quick to accuse others of ideological warmongering. An Australian application of The Three Languages of Politics [interview: podcast and transcript] by Arnold Kling. Via The Conversation.
The Department of Immigration and Border Patrol of Australia's secret blacklist of immigration lawyers and agents has been discovered. DIBP claims that the list is used for "risk assessment" for partner visas and has "no impact" on assessing cases. The Migration Alliance, the lobby group of Australian migration agents that broke the news of the list, is not convinced.
It's simple. Just say Yes. Campbell Newman’s LNP government has asked the residents of Queensland to help balance their budget. Strong Choices is an online survey giving respondents the opportunity to suggest reduction targets by selecting taxation or reduction in services or benefits. Problem is, there doesn't seem to be much choice. If you’d like to play along, you’ll need a Queensland postcode. I chose Mooloolaba.
World's longest-running experiment captures elusive tar pitch drop fall on video after 84 years of waiting — though, sadly, too late for physicist and former pitch drop custodian Prof. John Mainstone, who passed away last year.
When his parents went out of town, 16 year old Corey Worthington threw a party. When 500 people showed up, things got out of hand. Eventually the police were called, who mobilized units including their air wing & canine teams to quell the disturbance (for which Corey is being billed $20,000). And in the aftermath, Corey gave this awesome interview.
The depth of the problem - this WaPo infographic hints at the immense challenges that Australian and Chinese search teams will face in recovering the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 black box from its suspected location at the bottom of the Indian Ocean
How Reader's Digest Became a Chinese Stooge Larkin was delighted when Reader's Digest said it would take her work for one of its anthologies of condensed novels. Thirst would reach a global audience and – who knows? – take off. Reader's Digest promised "to ensure that neither the purpose nor the opinion of the author is distorted or misrepresented", and all seemed well. [more inside]
Since winning government in September 2013 (previously) Australia's conservative Coalition Government has been causing controversy, recently leading to nationwide protests (previously). Undaunted, this week the Coalition voiced support for the rights of bigots (more on that issue here), and reintroduced Knights and Dames. So, where's a depressed politics junkie to turn? To comedy, of course! After a successful crowdfunding campaign, satirical political comedy collective A Rational Fear are producing a 10 week season of Australian political comedy. [more inside]
When Australian prime minister Tony Abbott paused on the lawn of Parliament House to engage a group of high school students in conversation, he may have been hoping to impress some future voters. However, the questions fired at him by the 14-year-olds - about asylum seekers, gay marriage and why he has appointed himself Minister for Women - seemed to take him aback (warning: camera is level with Abbott's crotch.) The students involved later participated in the March in March – a series of protests against current government policies which took place in 29 locations across Australia over three days. Despite over 100,000 turning out, the protests was little coverage by mainstream media – leading to criticism even from within the media’s own ranks.
As the twittersphere ridicules a White Man March in NYC, perhaps now is the time to watch Aamer Rahman, one half of the comedy tour Fear of a Brown Planet (with Nazeem Hussain), on the topic of Reverse Racism.
Chris Lilley is an Australian comedian, television producer, actor, musician and writer, who got his major start as the drama teacher, Mr. G., in the sketch comedy series Big Bite. The series ended after one season, and Lilley went on to create four subsequent mocumentary-style series, We Can Be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year, Summer Heights High, Angry Boys, and most recently Ja'mie: Private School Girl. Each show consists of primary characters all played by Lilley, ranging from a 47 year old woman with skeletal dysplasia, a 13-year-old school boy with a Tongan accent (NSFW language), a 24 year-old African American rap artist from Los Angeles (NSFW language), and a 16 year old girl from a grammar school, to name a few. [more inside]
There Can Be Only One Snake v Crocodile in Northern Queensland
Australia’s prowling predator is either a vicious wild dog that attacks children and devours farm animals, or a loving and devoted pet as cuddly as a kitten. It just depends on whom you ask.
Hard right Conservative South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi, who in 2012 year was removed as parliamentary secretary and opposition whip to Tony Abbott as a result of arguing that same-sex marriages would lead to legalised polygamy and bestiality, is no stranger to controversy. A noted climate change sceptic, and critic of both Islam and publicly-funded broadcasting, Bernardi has just published his manifesto -- The Conservative Revolution -- calling for "a reversal back to sanity and reason". Reviews on Amazon have been less than favourable, but his book has put contentious issues such as abortion, the structure of the modern family and WorkChoices firmly at centrestage as the unpopular conservative government seeks to reconnect with voters who so comprehensively removed the Labor Party from Government in September 2013. Some argue that the danger in Bernardi's comments is that they shift the goalposts on what is considered outrageous, and re-ignite the culture wars. Or is it too late? The Prime Minister has again been forced to distance himself from Bernardi's views, and Warren Entch has criticised him for his "gay obsession". In 2012 the Global Mail called him Australia's Sarah Palin, but he also shares the Six Fs philosophy of Rick Santorum: Faith, Family, Flag, Free enterprise, Federation and Freedom.
In this retrospective series we rewatch Australian films that have stood the test of time. [more inside]
Strewth! It's bloody Christmas? Stone the flamin' crows, why would you be a Darth Drongo and watch The Star Wars Holiday Special when you can crack a coldie and watch the 30-minute fan filmStar Wars Down Under? (Trailer) (Website) [more inside]
A day apart, the Supreme Court of India and the High Court of Australia respectively overturned the three-year-old 2009 Delhi High Court ruling and the five-day-old Australian Capital Territory same sex marriage law. For India, this means a return to laws dating from the British rule of India which criminalise sexual acts "against the order of nature", and for Australia this means a return to the "man and woman" 2004 Amendment of the Federal Marriage Act.
Why I’m quitting Tropfest The December 2013 winner of Tropfest - The world's largest short film festival has attracted controversy by awarding first prize to Bamboozled - a story where a man sleeps with his ex girlfriend who's had a sex change as a punchline. TROPFEST #FAIL: WHY THEY GOT IT WRONG
Do not return after an encounter. Australian magpies have an incredible memory (as with all members of the Corvid family, they are very intelligent) and will attack the same people again and again. It is also too bad if you happen to look like someone they attacked before. -- Thoughts on Australia fauna
West Australian MP Stephen Dawson and his partner Dennis Liddelow have become the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Australia. But the High Court of Australia may declare the legislation that allowed them to get married — and thus their marriage itself — invalid next week. [more inside]
For the first time, photographs have leaked out from inside the Nauru immigration detention centre. Reopened in 2012, the detention centre houses between 500-600 people, mostly of Iranian background, who are attempting to seek asylum in Australia. The centre was most recently in the news following riots that destroyed much of the facility's infrastructure. Conditions at the center have been criticised by the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights as "unbearable".
High-speed rail projects may be struggling in California and facing increased opposition in the UK, but they have gotten a boost in two unlikely countries. In Iceland, a country which currently has no working railways, a plan to build a high-speed rail line from Keflavík airport to downtown Reykjavík, using either conventional HSR or maglev technology, is being explored. Meanwhile in Australia, the conservative federal government has committed to safeguarding a corridor for a Melbourne-Canberra-Sydney-Brisbane high-speed rail network, a project commenced by the previous Labor minority government after pressure from the Greens. [more inside]
Eagle steals a camera that was set up to film crocodiles, flies off with it and transports it over 100 kilometers. The motion-sensitive camera was triggered three times, so we get to see the young sea-eagle fly away with it, setting it down and pecking at it. The camera was found and recovered through sheer luck. The footage is worth seeing.
What would you do with an extra $550 a week? Australia is set to become the first government to repeal laws that put a price on carbon, and will instead begin directly paying polluters to stop, polluting. Called "Direct Action", Australia's freshly minted conservative government claims the scheme "will reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and deliver improvements to our environment" Others think not The government also claims that the world is moving away from market based schemes to direct action schemes, but this claim seems uncertain. The government has also moved to close the Climate Change Authority as well as The Clean Energy Finance Corporation What is Direct Action and how does it differ from an emissions trading scheme? Australia's new Prime Minister has had varying points of view on the science of climate change, and the nations recent attendance at the recent climate change talks in Poland offer a glimpse.
Revel Cooper (1934†—1983‡) was one of the child artists of Carrolup whose crayon speed-drawings were returned to country, 2013, after 63 years off country. Tony Hughes-d'Aeth mentions Revel Cooper's history exercise book in his article Koolark Koort Koorliny: "an artefact of profound cultural significance". These kids went from comic-obsessed to crayon-obsessed in May 1946 when the White teachers took management of the Carrolup school and issued crayons. Here is Revel Cooper's enthralling school exercise book: Standard VI History Book. [more inside]
Peter Hartcher, political editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, tells the story of the self-immolation of the Australian Labor party and the political destruction of two prime ministers, in a five part series: Meltdown. [more inside]
Australians are a people renowned for inventing awesome shit, mate. The flat white. The pavlova. Anzac biscuits. Flight of the Conchords. Now we've gone and topped it all by inventing the selfie. Fish-lipped sheilas everywhere - you're welcome.
Undercover journalists publish firsthand account of asylum seeker journey to Australia An undercover journalist has detailed how he and a photographer posed as asylum seekers and took an epic journey from Afghanistan's shady currency markets to Jakarta and on to a flimsy open-decked wooden boat that delivered 57 desperate people to Christmas Island.
In 2007 (or maybe 2008, sources differ here), the Australian music game show Spicks and Specks asked its contestants to name the popular children's song that can be heard inside the all-time great 1981 Aussie anthem "Down Under" by Men at Work. None of the contestants identified the correct answer - "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." (As a flavor - or flavour, I guess - of the show, here's Colin Hay of Men at Work on the show in 2008. He performs "Down Under" at the end.) [more inside]
Are your "friends" pushing illegal marijuana cigarettes? Don't let drugs get in the way of your dream car! Keep sober with these snappy comebacks to narcotics. [SLYT Australian PSA]