Sydney’s Vivid Light Festival attracts 1.7m visitors, up 20pc on previous year’s event – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Sydney’s Vivid Light Festival has recorded a 20 per cent increase in visitor numbers with 1.7 million people attending the event this year.Overseas and interstate tourists were among that figure with 36,000 travel packages sold.Vivid’s creative director Ignatius Jones said he was not surprised by the increasing popularity of the festival but added there would not be a deliberate push to keep growing it.”I think we can continue to grow, but at these numbers we’re already pretty full, we’re already pretty happy,” he said.

via Sydney’s Vivid Light Festival attracts 1.7m visitors, up 20pc on previous year’s event – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).


When a Bookstore Closes, an Argument Ends – The New Yorker

happened to find myself in Paris last week and went to look one last time at an almost seventy-year-old bookstore called La Hune, on the Place St.-Germain des Prés. I knew that it would be closing for good, though I was surprised to find that its fermeture definitive was to be this week, on Saturday, June 14th. I walked through La Hune one last time, sniffing the books and looking at the posters, and found myself far more distraught than I expected to be. I felt a deep sense of loss, more than mere regret, and ever since I have been trying to decide why I felt this way and whether the feeling was mine alone or might have resonance elsewhere.

via When a Bookstore Closes, an Argument Ends – The New Yorker.

Feelin’ Happy

Raining lightly but felling oh so cool. In Australia, especially the further north you get you go it’s a blessing to feel this coolness. Wearing a jumper (sweater) is bliss! But can’t wear coats (darn it!)

Anyway wanted to shout out to my readers and say how much I appreciate you all.

Thanks so much.


A new birth for social democracy | Brookings Institution

Nowadays, with the global economy undergoing fundamental transformation, workers worldwide are coming under significant pressure. Particularly in developed economies, social policies must adjust to provide the support that lower-income groups need, while encouraging growth and advancing wellbeing.

The pressure has been unrelenting and inescapable. In the United States, real (inflation-adjusted) compensation for men with only a high school diploma fell by 21% from 1979 to 2013. In much of Europe, which provides stronger wage protection, unemployment has soared, especially since the euro crisis began in 2008. Germany and some Northern European countries remain an exception, although the German labor market contains a large low-wage, mini-jobs segment.

Driving these trends is the changing nature of work. For starters, services have been gaining ground worldwide, especially in developed economies. From 1970 to 2012, the GDP share of services in the OECD countries increased from 53% to 71%.

via A new birth for social democracy | Brookings Institution.

Monstrous star-forming regions seen in ancient galaxy › News in Science (ABC Science)

An analysis of an ancient galaxy reveals some of the most distant and massive star formation regions ever seen.

When the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) first imaged the warped galaxy called SDP.81 in the depths of space, the detail and geometry of this beautiful quirk in spacetime captivated the world.

The galaxy, which was forming in the first billion years after the Big Bang, is one of the finest examples of an Einstein ring captured to date.

“The reconstructed ALMA image of the galaxy is spectacular,” says Rob Ivison, the European Southern Observatory’s Director for Science and co-author on two recent papers based on SDP.81.

“ALMA’s huge collecting area, the large separation of its antennas, and the stable atmosphere above the Atacama Desert all lead to exquisite detail in both images and spectra,” says Ivison.

via Monstrous star-forming regions seen in ancient galaxy › News in Science (ABC Science).

Boozy chimps soak up alcohol using leaves as sponges › News in Science (ABC Science)

Wild chimpanzees enjoying opportunistic booze-ups on palm wine have helped shed light on a theory about evolution, say scientists.Chimps in the west African country of Guinea discovered a free treat in raffia palms tapped by local people to extract a sweet, milky sap which then ferments into an alcoholic drink.The apes scrunched up leaves in their mouths, moulding them into spongy pads that they then dipped into the sap-gathering container, which villagers attach to the tree near its crown.Tests show the beverage’s alcoholic content varies from 3.1 per cent to a whopping 6.9 per cent, the equivalent of strong beer.

via Boozy chimps soak up alcohol using leaves as sponges › News in Science (ABC Science).

Australia isolated on climate after G7 meeting. #Auspol #ClimateChange


Many countries can see the writing on the wall.

Following the announcement by the G7 group of nations of a target to transform their energy sectors by 2050 away from fossil fuel dependence – the question that needs to be asked is this – could Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Government be any more out of step with the rest of the world on climate policy?
This government’s position continues to risk Australia’s environmental and economic future. Even Abbott’s greatest ally in inaction on tackling climate change Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said following the G7 summit: “We’ve simply got to find a way to create lower-carbon emitting sources of energy. All leaders understand that to achieve these kinds of milestones over the decades to come will require serious technological transformation.”
Last month, the Saudi Arabian Oil Minister stated that “we recognise that eventually, one of these days, we…

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Take an interactive tour of the world’s (cutest) vanishing species


The sun bear. The humble sun bear. Bryan James

File this under “superlatives you have never considered awarding before” — here’s the most adorable primer on extinction you’ve ever seen.

A British design firm made the “Species in Pieces” exhibition to showcase 30 “of the world’s most interesting but unfortunately endangered species.” Over a meditatively mournful piano track, the animals assemble and disassemble from a series of animated triangles. Click through, and you get facts about the threats facing each delightful creature, statistics about remaining populations, and videos of the real-life animals swimming or crawling or rolling adorably around.

On the hit list are cuties like the vaquita, a tiny dolphin that lives (for now) in the Gulf of Mexico. Newborns, as the site adorably informs us, are “the size of a loaf of bread,” and constantly look like they’re smiling.

The vaquita.The vaquita.Bryan James

Then there’s the three-banded Brazilian armadillo, just returned from a…

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