The Australian government is pretty good at misleading charts

The Abbott government introduced a new page in Australian tax assessments that provides a breakdown of where your taxes go. I’m not sure whose idea it was but I really like the concept. It might be one of the only positive achievements of Abbott’s 726 days in office. But the way it’s executed is seriously misleading to be in line with the Abbott government’s agenda. Here’s an example tax return with the personal details and amounts deleted: It starts off with some alarmist (ie. bold) text about the level of Australian Government debt. This is supposed to be a big […]

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Your activism needs an ethics committee

[CN: Racism and racist violence (esp. in the video)] Itamar Rose is an Israeli who makes satirical social experiment films on issues considered taboo and contentious [largely to an Israeli audience]. Some examples of videos he was involved in: Seeing how many passers-by in the majority-Jewish New York neighbourhood of Brighton Beach would donate to a fictional charity called Jews Kill Arabs. Going to Sderot (the Israeli town that has born the brunt of rocket fire from Hamas and other groups in Gaza) and asking residents to roleplay Palestinians under the occupation. Asking women to record a Channukah greeting to […]

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Pinkified games, pinkified code

The last 12 months have seen a lot of media coverage of women’s representation in gaming, coding and the tech industry. Most of the steps so far have been cultural (eg. responses to Gamergate) but there has been some direct action. The loudest being Intel pledging $300 million to improve diversity and representation. But when it comes to typical websites and experiences, the landscape is still looking pretty bleak. Since gaming and coding are closely tied together in the way programming is promoted to young people, it’s worth looking at some gaming and coding examples. First up, we have an […]

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A closer look at anti-smartphone memes

If there’s one thing I love to hate-read more than anti-smartphone moral panics (see some previous examples), it’s anti-tech memes. They distill the moral panic clearly, without much chance to obfuscate. They also get shared a lot. Recently I saw someone share an article called 27 powerful images that sum up how smartphones are ruining our lives. There are loads of almost identical articles, eg. These 40 Cartoons Perfectly Illustrate How Smartphones Have Taken Over Our Lives, These 30+ Cartoons Illustrate How Smartphones Are The Death Of Conversation and These 19 Cartoons Nailed Our Smart Phone Addiction, And It’s Kind […]

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How do you know someone’s vegan? They’ll tell you!

I’m sure you’ve seen the one-line that’s the title of this post: Although the above joke is about vegans, it’s a standard template used against lots of other groups (as we’ll see below). An interesting connection to the vegan version of the joke is the countless times I’ve seen LGBT people accused of “flaunting” their sexuality, shoving it in people’s faces and even imposing it on others. This is often set off by the most indirect factors, like someone having a picture of their same-sex partner at their desk at work. And it’s not like the increasing public support for […]

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Science, religion and appropriating metaphors

I haven’t written about the ‘science vs religion’ thing for ages, but an article caught my attention –– first because I thought it was ridiculous and later because it did force me to think about using scientific metaphors, which is always a positive. It’s The Missing Link: The Coessential Nature of Science and Faith by Nicholas Metrakos, appearing in Orthodoxy Today. The relationship between science and religion has been debated for centuries and it’s not going to end anytime soon. But what could possibly be left to say about it? As a beginning scientist and Orthodox Christian, I think the […]

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Quantum computing & quantum teleportation at Sydney Science Festival

This was the last event I went to at Sydney Science Festival and definitely the hardest for laypeople like me to wrap their minds around. I’ll try keep it super-simple! (Yeah right.) Quantum computing with Stephanie Simmons (UNSW) There’s a lot of hype in the media about quantum computing so we should distinguish between what a quantum computer can and can’t do. Quantum computing relies on superposition which is defined as mutually incompatible quantum state configurations. The hype is that quantum computing will lead to massive parallel processing. The reality is that a taking a measurement of a quantum system […]

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Bringing Science to Wellness Panel at Sydney Science Festival

Here’s a belated liveblog of the panel, which I thought would be focussed on making our definition of wellness more scientific but was actually about the wellness (ie. CAM) industry. There’s also a podcast about the panel on Radio National. DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS ON THAT PAGE! The panelists were: Natasha Mitchell from Radio National as the moderator (NM in this post) Professor Margaret Allman-Farinelli, a nutritionist (MAF) Christopher Zinn, a consumer advocate (CZ) Dr Sarah McKay, a neuroscientist turned science blogger (SM) Liz Graham, editor of body+soul (LG) Italics are comments from me. NM: How many of us […]

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Yes, cheaters have a right to privacy

The intertubes are alight with articles on the Ashley Madison hacking and two data dumps of the member database. While some of the messaging I’ve seen has been nuanced there’s a good chance it will be dwarfed by hype and clickbait so some thoughts and links about it. The reaction that concerns me the most is a willingness by the public to accept or even applaud this as some sort of “karma” because the people hurt are “dirty cheaters”. The lesson the public may be learning is that if you personally disapprove of someone it’s ok to invade their privacy […]

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Measuring Evolution with Molecular Clocks at Sydney Science Festival

It’s Sydney Science Festival this week so I’m going to 4 talks and liveblogging them. Tonight’s talk by Simon Ho is Time After Time: Measuring Evolution with Molecular Clocks, discussing the research he’s been involved with. When we look at the picture we’ve built up of the history of life over the last 3.5 billion years, we have increasing diversity of life punctuated by mass extinctions (eg. the Cretaceous extinction that killed the dinosaurs and the much larger Permian extinction). However, the details have mainly been obtained through the fossil record which is systematically incomplete for these reasons: Single-celled and […]

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About this blog

The thinly-veiled identity of lives and rants in Sydney. Views not his own, provided by hivemind. All my original work on this blog is licensed under a CC BY-NC License. Click here for the privacy policy

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