Unusual cloud seen in Australia

Ilya Katsman shot this photo of clouds forming parralel lines over Australia. Read the rest

Apple Store employees fired after accusations of snooping on customers' devices for sexual selfies and sharing them

Last October, an Apple Store in Brisbane, Australia terminated some of its employees after they were accused of searching customers' devices for sexually explicit selfies and sharing them with colleagues, rating them on a scale of 1-10. Read the rest

Free audiobook of Car Wars, my self-driving car/crypto back-door apocalypse story

Last month, Melbourne's Deakin University published Car Wars, a short story I wrote to inspire thinking and discussion about the engineering ethics questions in self-driving car design, moving beyond the trite and largely irrelevant trolley problem. Read the rest

Sean Williams is going to Antarctica to research a contrafactual War of the Worlds retelling

Australian science fiction author Sean Williams writes, "I first met Kim Stanley Robinson in Hobart, 1995, when he was on his way to the South Pole. Stan suggested I look to the Australian Antarctic Division as a possible means of fulfilling my dream of visiting the great southern land. Over twenty years later, and thanks to the Australian Antarctic Division's Arts Fellowship program, that dream is about to come true." Read the rest

Australia names "Democracy Sausage" as the 2016 Word (sic) of the Year

The Australian National Dictionary Centre has declared the two-word compound phrase "democracy sausage" to be its 2016 Word of the Year, defining it as "A barbecued sausage served on a slice of bread, bought at a polling booth sausage sizzle on election day." Read the rest

Children synthesize $2 version of Martin Shkreli's $750 malaria drug

The smirking, villainous pharma-hedge-douche-bro Martin Shkreli (previously) bought the rights to the anti-parasitic drug Daraprim -- used to treat malaria, a disease that disproportionately affects the poorest people in the world -- and jacked the price from $13.50/dose to $750/dose. Read the rest

Car Wars: a dystopian science fiction story about the nightmare of self-driving cars

Melbourne's Deakin University commissioned me to write a science fiction story about the design and regulation of self-driving cars, inspired by my essay about the misapplication of the "Trolley Problem" to autonomous vehicles. Read the rest

Sci-Chi: Tai Chi for science fiction fans

Author Sean Williams writes, "Last weekend I was MC of a small con in Canberra, Conflux 12. To keep people limber, psychically as well as physically, I devised a form Sci-fi form of Tai Chi, which GOH Alan Baxter helped me demonstrate over the course of the weekend." Read the rest

Australian state bans bare butts

The Australian state of Victoria, scandalized by the sight of bare buttocks, has banned the practice of displaying them. No buts! Read the rest

Jailed driver used frying pan as replacement steering wheel

A fellow in Adelaide, Australia was arrested for several traffic offenses including using a modified (and magic-markered) frying pan as a steering wheel. From the South Australia Police:

Further checks revealed the car was unregistered and uninsured and had recently been defected and the defect label had been removed.

The 32-year-old from Adelaide was charged with driving unregistered, uninsured, drive contrary to defect, remove defect label, alter number plate and breach of bail. He has been bailed to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on 11 October.

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This Australian slip 'n slide gets crazier every year

Paul Borrud not only made one of my favorite surfing videos of all time, but he also has an annual water slide on Australia Day. This year's event looked like tons of fun, but they should look into a longer collection pool for 2017. Read the rest

Nauru files: leaks tell abused childrens' stories from Australia's offshore concentration camp

You may have heard about Nauru on a recent This American Life episode: the tiny Pacific island that was stripped of all vegetation and made virtually uninhabitable by phosphate mining, then turned into an international pariah by its desperate practice of selling citizenship to crooks, now an offshore detention centre for people seeking asylum in Australia, where cruelty and abuse are legendary. Read the rest

Decision to retain personally identifying information puts Australian census under threat

Without an accurate census, it's virtually impossible to make good national policy, which is why so many countries make census participation mandatory (when former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen "Dumpster Fire" Harper made the long-form census optional, statisticians and policy wonks quailed) -- which is why the Australian government's decision to collect and retain -- for 10 years -- personally identifying information on census participants is such a big deal. Read the rest

Australian media accessibility group raises red flag about DRM in web standards

Media Access Australia is the only Australian nonprofit that advocates for making media accessible to people with disabilities -- and they're also a member of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an open standards body that disappointed its supporters when it bowed to the big entertainment and browser companies and agreed to make a DRM system for online video. Read the rest

How to pay no taxes at all! (if you're Apple, Google or Facebook)

In only 7 minutes, Australian comedy show The Undercurrent explains exactly how companies like Apple, Google and Facebook use offshore registration, transfer payments, debt loading and tax havens to get a lower tax rate than nurses, starving their host countries like Australia of so much money that they're cutting schools, medicare, public broadcasting, climate change and indigenous services. Read the rest

Premiere: Trippy cinematic surf music reissues from 1960s-70s Australia

In 1971, Australian filmmaker Paul Witzig released his fourth surf movie Sea of Joy, celebrating the rise of the short boards. To score the film, Witzig enlisted Sydney band Tully, best known at the time as the backing band for the Australian production of the psychedelic musical Hair. Now, the good people at Anthology Recordings have reissued Tully's "Sea of Joy" soundtrack on vinyl. Here's what they say about the release:

Like many surfers and non-surfers alike, Witzig had been mesmerised by Tully's concert performances. By the time he finished filming his latest surfing epic, Evolution, the sound of Tully had changed though. Gone was the organ-dominated sound (the group was reputedly the first Australian band to use the Moog synthesiser), replaced by more gentle melodies, many with spiritual significance.

Recorded at EMI's Sydney studios, Tully's soundtrack material was subsequently edited for the album release into cohesive musical interludes. As such, they are held together in the album sequence by a magnetic musical flow that starts with “Sea Of Joy (Part 1)” (above) and ends with “Sea Of Joy (Part 2).” Vinyl edition features booklet liner notes by Aussie surf historian Stephen McParland and other-wordly ephemera.

Along with Tully's "Sea of Joy," Anthology Recordings have also reissued Tamam Shud's glorious soundtrack to Witzig's prior surf film, "Evolution."

Pitted. So pitted.

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Australian politician investigated for perjury over fake DMCA notices to Twitter

Kelly O'Dwyer is a politician from the Australian Liberal Party who sent Twitter DMCA notices that shut down an account that compared her to Sophie Mirabella, another Liberal politician who lost her seat in a landslide in the last election. Read the rest

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