Millions of animals have been hurt or killed in Australia's devastating months-long fire season, but firefighter Sam Mcglone is able to save at least one of them – a baby kangaroo hiding under a log. Read the rest
I've always understood Australia to be a nightmare hellscape full of crazy killer creatures. But that's only because I hadn't heard about the quokka. This teddy bear-sized marsupial lives on the islands off the mainland of Australia, and they're just — I mean — look at this thing!
Mother Nature made Australia into a horrifying natural death trap just to balance out the adorableness of the quokka pic.twitter.com/CBbHAZW9RX
— This Is Not A Thom Dunn T-Shirt (@thomdunn) December 22, 2019
It's basically a non-cannibalistic Ewok, and apparently they're known for being friendly as hell (also exceptionally horny), earning them the distinction of the "happiest animal in the world." Though it's illegal to touch one, they're allegedly super-down with selfies, too.
I would brave any Australian beast just to be best friends with one of these lil' fellas.
Dozens are likely dead in Australia, which is beset by uncontrolled wildfires. Experts believe a third of the koala population on the continent's east coast is already wiped out, and there's no end in sight. Residents are fleeing to the beaches to escape the flames. In the video embedded here from New South Wales Fire + Rescue, a crew sits in their truck, unable to do anything to fight the the blaze as it tears throught the forest toward them, then around them, then away from them.
Here's (NSFW) footage from Tyson Whelan, which he says he took at 10:30 a.m. in Mallacoota, Victoria:
How bad are the #AustralianFires? Absolutey fucked.
— rbm (@doc_ryan) December 31, 2019
Australia's government appears unmoved. Here's the Prime Minister, talking earlier in wildfire season, about why there would be no change in policy toward carbon emissions: “What we won’t do is engage in reckless and job-destroying and economy-crunching targets which are being sought."
Well, there it is at last, the silver lining to climate change. Turns out it's so hot in Australia, you can totally roast a delicious hunk of meat on top of your car. Read the rest
This is Men at Work's "Down Under" as it was originally released in 1980 as the B-side to the band's self-released "Keypunch Operator" 7". A year later, the band re-recorded it for their Columbia Records debut Business As Usual. The track flew up the Australian charts and hit number one in the US a few years later as the video (below) became an early MTV staple. I remember it spurring me to look up the meaning of vegemite.
Then in 2010, the band lost a controversial copyright infringement suit brought by record company Larrikin Music who argued that the song's flute riff is copied from the traditional children's song Kookaburra that most people thought to be in the public domain but, apparently, wasn't. (Comparison video at the bottom of this post.)
Anyhoo, while the band was arguably oversharing their reggae inspirations on the original version, I prefer it to the later recording. It has a nice swing to it.
In a move that is so bombastic yet embarrassing that it sounds like something straight out This is Spinal Tap—ya know what, let's just let ABC Australia fill us in:
[KISS] cancelled its other [Australian] concerts after lead singer Paul Stanley pulled out due to illness.
But a line-up featuring bass guitarist Gene Simmons, lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, and drummer Eric Singer took to the seas as part of an Airbnb promotion designed to promote tourism locations around the world.
The concert was billed as KISS playing to great white sharks — although no sharks actually turned up.
That's it. That's what actually happened. In Australia, of all places. There were reportedly eight people who paid actual currency to watch this stunt on the boat, along with some media people and stray boaters, for a total estimated crowd of maybe 50 people. Watching 3/4 of KISS perform with a terrible sound system. Okay.
The event was hosted by Adventure Bay Charters, a company that apparently promises "shark cage diving" adventures in the waters around Australia. Hence, the concert was supposed to demonstrate the company's ability to attract sharks for the experience using sound waves instead of blood…except that the whole thing failed in that regard.
"KISS cancel Australian tour but show must go on for great white sharks" [Jodie Hamilton, Emma Pedler and Paul Turton / ABC]
An Australian woman's creepy, violent ex-boyfriend hacked her phone using stalkerware, then used that, along with her car's VIN number, to hack the remote control app for her car (possibly Landrover's Incontrol app), which allowed him to track her location, stop and start her car, and adjust the car's temperature. Read the rest
At 19-hours and 16-minutes, the recent Qantas' non-stop flight from New York, 'Murica to Sydney, Australia is the longest haul to be had on a commercial flight. Currently, the this long-ass trek isn't an option for the traveling public to undertake. Rather, the flight seen in this video is one of three that Qantas is has planned, during which it'll be studying the physiological and physiological effects that being on an airplane for so long could have on a passenger.
In Social, demographic, and economic correlates of food and chemical consumption measured by wastewater-based epidemiology, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a group of researchers in Australia and Norway present their analysis of a 2016 Australian sewage census, which sampled 22 waste-water treatment facilities and looked for 42 biomarkers. Read the rest
Scientists in Queensland, Australia have pieced together the most complete pterosaur fossil collection yet—a big-headed reptile with a 12-foot wingspan they've named Ferrodraco lentoni, or "Butch's Iron Dragon."
"It’s kind of scary when you think their heads are disproportionately large, it would have had a skull maybe 60cm," Adele Pentland from Swinburne University, the lead author on the study, told The Guardian. "To see it walking around on the ground it would have walked on four legs and looked really different to any kind of animal we have today." You can check out an artist's rendering of the derpy-looking lizard-bird here.
The field of dinosaur research is in a bit of a renaissance period, with some three dozen new species discovered this year alone. More importantly: of course a flying mini-T-Rex was found in Australia of all places. After all, this is the land of such natural wonders as mutant eel-sharks, birds that weaponize fire, projectile bull semen, human-sized jellyfish, and more strange spiders than anyone ever wants to hear about, except for that guy who was bit on the penis not once but twice (and still hasn't gained any spider-penis super powers).
In that context, it's frankly surprising that a flying T-Rex hadn't been discovered there until now.
Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has earned a reputation for being...colourful. Read the rest
“My dad built a bee vacuum!” Read the rest
Australia has a pending, comprehensive "data sharing" law that regulates the dispersal of data collected by the Australian state; in a new government white-paper, the Australian state has proposed that the rules could gain "nuance" if the government were allowed to share data without obtaining consent from the people whose privacy is implicated in that sharing. Read the rest
Yesterday's spectacular series of raids on Australian journalists by the Australian Federal Police are a turning point in how democracies view the role of the press and leaks: the raid targeted News Corp's Annika Smethurst over her reporting on a secret plan to grant the Australian Signals Directorate -- a spy agency -- the power to surveil Australians; 2GB radio's Ben Fordham over his reporting on human rights abuses of refugees; and ABC Sydney's offices over their 2017 Afghan files reports, which documented war-crimes and other misconduct by Australian military personnel. Read the rest