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Barracking Bad

Filed in Archive, Blog by on March 28, 2015 3 Comments
Barracking Bad

What makes a reader barrack for the main character in a story? The answer in one word is empathy. Note: not sympathy, which is about feeling sorry for someone. But empathy, which is about feeling what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. A good story will make you feel empathy for the main […]

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Lamb or Koala Salad for Australia Day?

Filed in Archive, Blog by on February 9, 2015 0 Comments
Lamb or Koala Salad for Australia Day?

Now that the alleged patriotic fervour of Australia Day on January 26 has settled down, perhaps we can have a sensible discussion about which foods are most appropriate for this annual celebration. For a decade the irrepressible Sam Kekovich has been doing his best with TV ads to sell the idea that lamb is the […]

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Three Extraordinary Words

Filed in Archive, Blog by on January 13, 2015 0 Comments
Three Extraordinary Words

The sentence “Je suis Charlie” has been a powerful unifier in the wake of the terrorist attack against the French magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7th. But the first edition of the magazine since the murder of 12 of its staff features another three-word sentence that is arguably even more powerful: “Tout est pardonné.” (All […]

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How Neanderthal Are You?

Filed in Archive, Blog by on December 27, 2014 1 Comment
How Neanderthal Are You?

The DNA of all homo sapiens (you) includes one to four percent Neanderthal DNA. In his recent book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari quotes research from 2010 that proved modern humans interbred with Neanderthals. Prior to these findings, many scientists doubted that homo sapiens and Neanderthal could have successfully mated because […]

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Tommy Woodcock – the Story Behind THE Photo

Filed in Archive, Blog by on November 29, 2014 2 Comments
Tommy Woodcock – the Story Behind THE Photo

At last Tuesday’s launch of Nicolas Brasch’s brilliant new book, Horses in Australia: An Illustrated History, the legendary Age photographer Bruce Postle disclosed the story behind one of Australia’s iconic photographs. Tommy Woodock (1905–85) is best known as Phar Lap’s strapper. Before important races, Tommy would sleep outside Phar Lap’s stable. Reputedly, Phar Lap would […]

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Symphony of Steel

Filed in Archive, Blog by on October 6, 2014 1 Comment
Symphony of Steel

Although the devil can lurk in detail, so can beauty. Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the best chance many of us will have to drink in the details of the world’s most famous coat hanger. Last Sunday it was my turn. The views were great, the climb was easy, the organisation first class. But […]

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The Slide Rule and Essendon’s Fate

Filed in Archive, Blog by on September 19, 2014 4 Comments
The Slide Rule and Essendon’s Fate

The slide rule deserves no sympathy. It bamboozled a generation of children who had already mastered arithmetic on paper. Thankfully, the calculator saved most of us. The arrival of the calculator in the 1970s was a by-product of NASA’s race to the moon. So if anyone argues that putting people on the moon was not […]

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