Art

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A litany of losses: A new project maps our abandoned arts events of 2020

<p>There was a time when artists imagined and planned work for 2020. For some, years had gone into the planning. But, as we know, everything scheduled from the middle of March had to be cancelled. Some events may be scheduled again at another time; many will no longer happen.</p> <p>A group of artists have put together a map of the abandoned artistic projects for 2020. Conceived by artist Anna Tregloan and named <a href="https://theimpossibleproject.com.au/final-archive">The Impossible Project</a>, it is a treasury of lost work and a time capsule of what we missed out on this year due to the pandemic.</p> <p>There are already over 150 shows and events listed. More projects are being added all the time.</p> <p>The Impossible Project captures the enormous range of work by Australian artists that could have happened in every Australian city, in regional areas and overseas.</p> <p>We see the breadth and depth of artistic activity across the country; the loss for audiences, artists, and communities. Select a title, and you see the artists involved, the venue, the dates, the expected audience numbers.</p> <p>It is a sobering experience.</p> <p><em><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838514/art-2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/480ac80a49974c2699701c72daf4eba7" /></em></p> <p><em>An imagined map lists more than 100 cancelled and postponed works. The Impossible Project</em></p> <p><strong>Those that will never be…</strong></p> <p>There is a re-imagined production of Thornton Wilder’s <a href="https://theimpossibleproject.com.au/our-town">Our Town</a> (projected audience: 5,000+), to be directed by Australian theatremaker Anne-Louise Sarks in Basel, Switzerland. In planning since 2018, involving performers from countries across the world, the play was cancelled five days before its March premiere.</p> <p>Patricia Cornelius’s <a href="https://theimpossibleproject.com.au/donotgogentle">Do Not Go Gentle…</a> (projected audience: 8,000) was to be directed by Susie Dee in July at the Malthouse in Melbourne.</p> <p>The play focuses on the experience of people in an aged care home; Shane Bourne was cast in the lead role. Given the experience of this year, the setting could not be more relevant. The play was presented in one sell-out season in 2009 – this 2020 production was more than 10 years in the making.</p> <p><a href="https://theimpossibleproject.com.au/therivercrossing">The River Crossing</a> (projected audience: 4,000) was to be a large-scale outdoor performance where professional high-wire walkers and Bundjalung community members would cross the Wilsons River in Lismore in August. SeedArts Australia has been planning the project since 2018.</p> <p>The all-female Belloo Creative was the resident theatre company at Queensland Theatre for 2019-20. To premiere in 2020, Katherine Lyall-Watson wrote a re-imagined <a href="https://theimpossibleproject.com.au/phaedra">Phaedra</a> (projected audience: 7,140). The play was set in the future, with war taking place between a seceded Queensland and the rest of the country – another strangely pertinent theme.</p> <p>Matt Whittet’s new play <a href="https://theimpossibleproject.com.au/kindness">Kindness</a> (projected audience: 3,500) was to be directed by Lee Lewis at the Griffin Theatre. This loss feels particularly poignant, as the play looked at the experiences of community kindness – kindness we have all witnessed in 2020.</p> <p>Whittet says he hopes it is only on hold: “<em>Nothing is certain in the world at the moment, which means there’s no promises but always hope.</em></p> <p><strong>… and those that found a new life</strong></p> <p>The Impossible Project also finds silver linings.</p> <p>Sydney performance and visual artist Rakini Devi had planned a project with Melbourne video artist Karl Ockelford. With border closures, they were unable to work together.</p> <p>Instead, Devi developed a solo project examining the position of women from the Indian diaspora who experience violence, being “lockdowned” and various forms of misogyny.</p> <p>Melbourne musical theatre company Watch This specialises in the work of Stephen Sondheim. It had planned an exhibition of design and creative work for shows spanning seven years of the company’s productions.</p> <p>Scheduled to start in March at Northcote Town Hall, the exhibition was cancelled six days before opening. But the company was able to re-mount it as a digital documentary series, <a href="https://theimpossibleproject.com.au/theartofmakingart">The Art of Making Art</a>. Through this, Watch This has been able to expand its audience, with the series selected for Canada’s <a href="https://www.socialdistancingfestival.com/">Social Distancing Festival</a>.</p> <p><strong>Further loss</strong></p> <p>The Impossible Project documents shows that were meant to appear at the Sydney Opera House, Griffin Theatre, the Riverside Theatre and the Ensemble in Sydney; at Malthouse, the Recital Centre, the Arts Centre and Arts House in Melbourne; at La Boite, QPAC and Queensland Theatre in Brisbane.</p> <p>There are touring shows scheduled for cities and regional centres. There are festivals – all now cancelled.</p> <p>We have lost the audiences who haven’t been able to see work in a live venue; the time artists spent developing a new work, only to see it cancelled with no commitment to return; we will, inevitably, lose artists who will give up on the increasingly precarious dream of a creative life.</p> <p>When we talk about the impact of this year on the arts sector, we often focus on the economic losses. In April, the Grattan Institute estimated <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-3-in-4-australians-employed-in-the-creative-and-performing-arts-could-lose-their-jobs-136505">up to 75% of people</a> employed in the creative and performing arts could lose their jobs. By May, I Lost My Gig had recorded the loss of income for Australian artists of more than <a href="https://ilostmygig.net.au/">A$340 million</a>.</p> <p>Shows began being cancelled in March. The Federal Government didn’t announce a support package until June. Last week it was revealed <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/oct/21/arts-rescue-package-worth-250m-still-waiting-to-be-allocated-senate-estimates-told">none of the $250 million</a> package has been allocated (bar $48 million allowing Screen Australia to underwrite the insurance of films in production, which does not represent money spent).</p> <p>Without support, more work will be lost.</p> <p>It is a mystery why the government does not take the cultural sector seriously, or value the arts, or see how it contributes to our society.</p> <p>We are seeing the arts and humanities <a href="https://theconversation.com/monash-university-plans-to-cut-its-musicology-subjects-why-does-this-matter-147172">removed</a> from our universities, artists left out in the cold during this terrible time, and no indication of a way forward.</p> <p>This is a loss to Australia on a grand scale. The list of cancelled work in The Impossible Project is not one we want to see continue — but it is inevitable the list will grow.</p> <p><em>Image 1: A re-imagined production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town was cancelled five days before opening. Anne-Louise Sarks</em></p> <p><em>Image 2: An imagined map lists more than 100 cancelled and postponed works. The Impossible Project</em></p> <p><em>Written by <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jo-caust-123875">Jo Caust</a>, University of Melbourne. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-litany-of-losses-a-new-project-maps-our-abandoned-arts-events-of-2020-148716">The Conversation. </a></em></p>

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Facebook is tilting the political playing field more than ever and it’s no accident

<p>As the US presidential election polling day draws close, it’s worth recapping what we know about how Facebook has been used to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3834737/">influence election results</a>.</p> <p>The platform is optimised for boosting politically conservative voices calling for <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/26/facebook-algorithm-conservative-liberal-extremes/">fascism, separatism and xenophobia</a>. It’s also these voices that tend to generate <a href="https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/radical-ideas-social-media-algorithms/">the most clicks</a>.</p> <p>In recent years, Facebook has on several occasions been made to choose between keeping to its <a href="https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/introduction">community standards</a> or taking a path that avoids the ire of conservatives. Too many times, it has chosen the latter.</p> <p>The result has been an onslaught of divisive rhetoric that continues to flood the platform and drive political polarisation in society.</p> <p><strong>How democracy can be subverted online</strong></p> <p>According to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/us/politics/russian-interference-trump-democrats.html">The New York Times</a>, earlier this year US intelligence officials warned Russia was interfering in the 2020 presidential campaign, with the goal of seeing President Donald Trump re-elected.</p> <p>This was corroborated by <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/new-evidence-shows-how-russias-election-interference-has-gotten-more">findings</a> from the US Brennan Centre for Justice. A research team led by journalism and communications professor Young Mie Kim identified a range of Facebook troll accounts deliberately sowing division “by targeting both the left and right, with posts to foment outrage, fear and hostility”.</p> <p>Most were linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-sanctions/u-s-blacklists-individuals-entities-linked-to-leader-of-russias-ira-idUSKCN26E2HO">the company</a> also behind a 2016 US election influence campaign. Kim <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/new-evidence-shows-how-russias-election-interference-has-gotten-more">wrote</a> the troll accounts seemed to discourage certain people from voting, with a focus on swing states.</p> <p>This month, Facebook <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/06/technology/facebook-qanon-crackdown.html">announced</a> a ban (across both Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook owns) on groups and pages devoted to the far-right conspiracy group QAnon. It also <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-takes-down-network-tied-to-conservative-group-citing-fake-accounts-11602174088">removed</a> a network of fake accounts linked to a conservative US political youth group, for violating rules against “coordinated inauthentic behavior”.</p> <p>However, despite Facebook’s <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/facebooks-latest-fix-for-fake-news-ask-users-what-they-trust/">repeated promises</a> to clamp down harder on such behaviour — and <a href="https://theconversation.com/facebook-is-removing-qanon-pages-and-groups-from-its-sites-but-critical-thinking-is-still-the-best-way-to-fight-conspiracy-theories-147668">occasional</a> efforts to actually do so — the company has been <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/samantha-power-facebook-reduce-spread-misinformation/2020/10/23/d54c1bda-1496-11eb-bc10-40b25382f1be_story.html">widely</a> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/oct/14/facebook-greatest-source-of-covid-19-disinformation-journalists-say">criticised</a> for doing far too little to curb the spread of disinformation, misinformation and election meddling.</p> <p>According to a <a href="https://comprop.oii.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/93/2019/09/CyberTroop-Report19.pdf">University of Oxford study</a>, 70 countries (including Australia) practised either foreign or domestic election meddling in 2019. This was up from 48 in 2018 and 28 in 2017. The study said Facebook was “the platform of choice” for this.</p> <p>The Conversation approached Facebook for comment regarding the platform’s use by political actors to influence elections, including past US elections. A Facebook spokesperson said:</p> <p><em>We’ve hired experts, built teams with experience across different areas, and created new products, policies and partnerships to ensure we’re ready for the unique challenges of the US election.</em></p> <p><strong>When Facebook favoured one side</strong></p> <p>Facebook has drawn widespread criticism for its failure to remove posts that clearly violate its policies on hate speech, including <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/06/28/facebook-zuckerberg-trump-hate/">posts</a> by Trump himself.</p> <p>The company openly <a href="https://about.fb.com/news/2019/09/elections-and-political-speech/">exempts</a> politicians from its fact-checking program and knowingly hosts misleading content from politicians, under its “newsworthiness exception”.</p> <p>When Facebook tried to clamp down on misinformation in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential elections, <a href="https://www.bushcenter.org/people/joel-kaplan.html">ex-Republican staffer</a> turned Facebook executive Joel Kaplan argued doing so would disproportionately target conservatives, the Washington Post <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/02/20/facebook-republican-shift/">reported</a>.</p> <p>The Conversation asked Facebook whether Kaplan’s past political affiliations indicated a potential for conservative bias in his current role. The question wasn’t answered.</p> <p>Facebook’s board also now features a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/technology/peter-thiel-donald-j-trump.html">major Trump donor</a> and vocal supporter, Peter Thiel. Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has himself been accused of <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/business/media/facebook-donald-trump-mark-zuckerberg.html">getting “too close”</a> to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/22/surprised-about-mark-zuckerbergs-secret-meeting-with-trump-dont-be">Trump</a>.</p> <p>Moreover, when the US Federal Trade Commission investigated Facebook’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it was <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jul/12/facebook-fine-ftc-privacy-violations">Republican votes</a> that saved the company from facing antitrust litigation.</p> <p>Overall, Facebook’s model has shifted <a href="https://www.theverge.com/interface/2019/4/11/18305407/social-network-conservative-bias-twitter-facebook-ted-cruz">towards increasing polarisation</a>. Incendiary and misinformation-laden posts tend to generate clicks.</p> <p>As Zuckerberg himself <a href="https://www.facebook.com/notes/mark-zuckerberg/a-blueprint-for-content-governance-and-enforcement/10156443129621634/">notes</a>, “when left unchecked, people on the platform engage disproportionately” with such content.</p> <p>Over the years, conservatives have accused Facebook of <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/04/10/ted-cruz-threatens-regulate-facebook-twitter-over-alleged-bias/3423095002/">anti-conservative bias</a>, for which the company faced <a href="https://www.thewrap.com/trump-campaign-halts-twitter-spending-over-disgusting-bias-against-mitch-mcconnell/">financial penalties by the Republican Party</a>. This is despite research indicating <a href="https://www.mediamatters.org/facebook/study-analysis-top-facebook-pages-covering-american-political-news">no such bias exists</a> on the platform.</p> <p><strong>Fanning the flames</strong></p> <p>Facebook’s <a href="https://www.livescience.com/49585-facebook-addiction-viewed-brain.html">addictive</a> news feed rewards us for simply skimming headlines, conditioning us to react viscerally.</p> <p>Its sharing features have been found to <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6380/1146">promote falsehoods</a>. They can <a href="https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/can-voting-facebook-button-improve-voter-turnout/">trick users</a> into attributing news to their friends, causing them to assign trust to unreliable news sources. This provides a breeding ground for <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-10-05/conspiracy-theories-coronavirus-5g-conspiratorial-psychology/12722320">conspiracies</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0207383">Studies</a> have also shown social media to be an ideal environment for campaigns aimed at creating mistrust, which explains the increasing <a href="https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/516412-polls-show-trust-in-scientific-political-institutions-eroding">erosion of trust in science and expertise</a>.</p> <p>Worst of all are Facebook’s “echo chambers”, which convince people that only their own opinions are mainstream. This encourages hostile “us versus them” dialogue, which leads to polarisation. This pattern <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/02/21/concerns-about-democracy-in-the-digital-age/">suppresses valuable democratic debate</a> and has been described as an <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Age-Surveillance-Capitalism-Future-Frontier/dp/1610395697">existential threat to democracy itself</a>.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Facebook’s staff hasn’t been shy about skewing liberal, even suggesting in 2016 that Facebook work to <a href="https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2016/04/facebook-employees-asked-mark-zuckerberg-if-they-should-try-to-stop-a-donald-trump-presidency/">prevent Trump’s election</a>. Around 2017, they proposed a feature called “<a href="https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/23/18154111/facebook-common-grounds-feature-conservative-bias-concerns-shelved-joel-kaplan">Common Ground</a>”, which would have encouraged users with different political beliefs to interact in less hostile ways.</p> <p>Kaplan opposed the proposition, according to <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebooks-lonely-conservative-takes-on-a-power-position-11545570000">The Wall Street Journal</a>, due to fears it could trigger claims of bias against conservatives. The project was eventually shelved in 2018.</p> <p>Facebook’s track record isn’t good news for those who want to live in a healthy democratic state. Polarisation certainly doesn’t lead to effective political discourse.</p> <p>While several <a href="https://about.fb.com/news/2020/10/preparing-for-election-day/">blog</a> <a href="https://about.fb.com/news/2020/08/preparing-for-myanmars-2020-election/">posts</a> from the company outline measures being taken to supposedly protect the integrity of the 2020 US presidential elections, it remains to be seen what this means in reality.</p> <p><em>Written by <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-brand-290376">Michael Brand</a>, Monash University. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/facebook-is-tilting-the-political-playing-field-more-than-ever-and-its-no-accident-148314">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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Prince Louis’ most precious moments in pictures

<p class="p1">It may be his goofy expressions or his attempt at perfecting the royal wave, but Prince Louis has managed to win the hearts of royal fans around the globe. The 2-year-old and the youngest of the Cambridge clan gets into plenty of mischief and thankfully, it’s all caught on camera.</p> <p class="p1">We’ve watched him grow from a newborn into a handsome little boy, and it seems people just can’t seem to get enough of the Prince.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/tv/CF4dvUDFPEK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/tv/CF4dvUDFPEK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">We've got some questions for you, @DavidAttenborough...🌍🕷️🐒</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/kensingtonroyal/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Duke and Duchess of Cambridge</a> (@kensingtonroyal) on Oct 3, 2020 at 5:59am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p class="p1">While he may never become king, that doesn’t take away from his popularity, and due to being the youngest, there is a certain fascination surrounding him.</p> <p class="p1">His most recent appearance was when he asked the famous Sir David Attenborough a question about animals, marking the first time people heard him speak.</p> <p class="p1">With his cherub face and golden hair, Louis has forged a name for himself.</p> <p class="p1">Take a look at some of Prince Louis’ most precious moments throughout the years.</p>

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How creative use of technology may have helped save schooling during the pandemic

<p>It <a href="https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/unicef-executive-director-henrietta-fore-remarks-press-conference-new-updated">is estimated</a> around half the world’s students’ schools remain shut down. All told, this has been a potentially damaging disruption to the education of a generation.</p> <p>But one of the few positive outcomes from this experience is an opportunity to rethink how digital technologies can be used to support teaching and learning in schools.</p> <p>Our collective experiences of remote schooling offer a fleeting opportunity for schools to think more imaginatively about what “digital education” might look like in the future.</p> <p>This is not to echo the hype (currently being pushed by many education reformers and IT industry actors) that COVID will prove a <a href="https://edtechdigest.com/2020/05/13/learning-and-leadership/">tipping-point</a> after which schools will be <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning/">pushed fully</a> into digital education.</p> <p>On the contrary, the past six months of hastily implemented <a href="https://edtechdigest.com/2020/05/13/learning-and-leadership/">emergency remote schooling</a> tell us little about how school systems might go fully virtual, or operate on a “blended” (part online, part face-to-face) basis. Any <a href="https://www.worldsofeducation.org/en/woe_homepage/woe_detail/16856/the-edtech-pandemic-shock-by-ben-williamson-anna-hogan">expectations of profiting</a> from the complete digital reform of education is well wide of the mark.</p> <p>Instead, the most compelling technology-related lessons to take from the pandemic involve the informal, improvised, scrappy digital practices that have helped teachers, students and parents get through school at home.</p> <p><strong>Technology during the pandemic</strong></p> <p>All over the world, school shutdowns have seen teachers, students and families get together to achieve great things with relatively simple technologies. This includes the surprising rise of <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53079625">TikTok</a> as a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/28/green-teen-memes-how-tiktok-could-save-the-planet-aoe">source</a> of <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/angelicaamartinez/tiktok-creators">informal learning content</a>. Previously the domain of young content creators, remote schooling saw teachers of all ages turn to the video platform to <a href="https://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=7656">share bite-size (up to one minute) chunks</a> of teaching, give inspirational feedback, set learning challenges or simply show students and parents how they were coping.</p> <p>TikTok also been used as a place for educational organisations, public figures and celebrity scientists to <a href="https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/tiktok-announces-learnontiktok-initiative-to-encourage-education-during-lo/578805/">produce bespoke learning content</a>, as well as allowing teachers to put together materials for a wider audience.</p> <p>Even <a href="https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/2020/07/meet_the_principals_of_tiktok_.html">principals</a> have used it to keep in contact with their school — making 60-second video addresses, motivational speeches and other alternatives to the traditional school assembly speech.</p> <p>Classes in some countries have been <a href="https://uxdesign.cc/a-unique-opportunity-for-whatsapp-to-take-over-classrooms-cc9048b97ca0">run through WhatsApp</a>, primarily because this was one platform most students and families had access to, and were used to using in their everyday lives.</p> <p>Elsewhere, teachers have set up virtual <a href="https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/07/30/bitmoji-classrooms-why-teachers-are-buzzing-about.html">BitMoji classrooms</a> featuring colourful backdrops and cartoon avatars of themselves. These spaces act as a friendly online version of their familiar classroom space for students to check in and find out what they should be learning, access resources and temporarily feel they were back at school.</p> <p>Some teachers have worked out <a href="https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20200831/teachers-in-district-220-find-creative-ways-to-teach-virtually">creative ways of Zoom-based teaching</a>. These stretch beyond the streamed lecture format and include live demonstrations, experiments, and live music and pottery workshops.</p> <p>Social media, apps and games have proven convenient places for teachers to <a href="https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/salvadorhernandez/kindergarten-teacher-tiktok-energy-viral">share insights</a> into their classroom practice, while students can <a href="https://m.facebook.com/abcmelbourne/videos/2778263975790515/?refsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com%2Fstory.php&amp;_rdr">quickly show</a> teachers and classmates what they have been working on.</p> <p>These informal uses of digital media have played an important role in boosting students, teachers and parents with a bit of human contact, and additional motivation to connect and learn.</p> <p><strong>So, what now?</strong></p> <p>All this will come as <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/Good-Reception-Teachers-Mobile-Angeles/dp/0262037084/ref=sr_1_7?dchild=1&amp;keywords=antero+garcia&amp;qid=1600463690&amp;s=books&amp;sr=1-7">little surprise</a> to <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/Beyond-Technology-Childrens-Learning-Digital/dp/0745638813">long-term</a> <a href="https://clalliance.org/publications/hanging-out-messing-around-and-geeking-out-tenth-anniversary-edition/">advocates</a> of popular forms of digital media in education. There is a sound evidence base for the educational benefits of such technology.</p> <p>For example, a <a href="https://clalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/CLRN_Report.pdf">decade’s worth of studies</a> has developed a <a href="https://clalliance.org/about-connected-learning/">robust framework</a> (and many examples) of how students and educators can make the most of personal digital media inside and outside the classroom. These include allowing students to participate in online fan-fiction writing communities, digital journalism, music production and podcasting.</p> <p>The past ten years has also seen a <a href="https://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=4388">rise in e-sports</a> — where teams of young people compete in video games.</p> <p>This stresses the interplay between digital media, learning driven by students’ interests and passions, and online communities of peers. Informal digital media can be a boon for otherwise <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/digital-youth-network">marginalised and disadvantaged youth</a> and allowing students to find supportive communities of like-minded peers regardless of their local circumstances.</p> <p>Australia continues to be one of the few countries in the world where <a href="https://theconversation.com/banning-mobile-phones-in-schools-beneficial-or-risky-heres-what-the-evidence-says-119456">classroom use of smartphones is banned</a> by some governments. Some of the most popular social media platforms, content creation apps, and open sites such as YouTube remain <a href="https://www.qld.gov.au/education/schools/procedures/webfiltering">filtered and blocked</a> in many schools too.</p> <p>At the same time, official forms of school technology are <a href="https://www.technologyreview.com/2019/12/19/131155/classroom-technology-holding-students-back-edtech-kids-education/">increasingly criticised</a> for being boring, overly-standardised, and largely serving institutional imperatives, rather than pitched toward the interests of students and teachers.</p> <p>Concerns are growing over the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/06/25/new-concerns-raised-about-well-known-digital-learning-platform/">limited educational benefits</a> of personalised learning systems, as well as the <a href="https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2020/june/1590933600/anna-krien/screens-ate-school#mtr">data and privacy implications</a> of school platforms and systems such as Google Classroom.</p> <p>The past six months have seen many schools forced to make the best of whatever technologies were immediately to hand. Previously reticent teachers now have first-hand experience of making use of unfamiliar technologies. Many parents are now on board with the educational potential of social media and games. Most importantly, students have been given a taste of what they can achieve with “their” own technology.</p> <p>With US schools now exploring the benefits of establishing official <a href="https://thehill.com/changing-america/enrichment/education/469079-the-tiktok-generation">TikTok creation clubs</a> to enhance their video-making skills, it might be time for Australian educators to follow suit. Let’s take the opportunity to re-establish schools as places where teachers, students and families can work together to creatively learn with the devices and apps most familiar to their everyday lives.</p> <p><em>Written by <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/neil-selwyn-765357">Neil Selwyn</a>, Monash University. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/search/result?sg=9731d812-3952-475c-9db1-cb99dba287ca&amp;sp=1&amp;sr=1&amp;url=%2Fhow-creative-use-of-technology-may-have-helped-save-schooling-during-the-pandemic-146488">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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Life on Venus? Traces of phosphine may be a sign of biological activity

<p>The discovery that the atmosphere of Venus absorbs a precise frequency of microwave radiation has just <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1174-4">turned planetary science on its head</a>. An international team of scientists used radio telescopes in Hawaii and Chile to find signs that the clouds on Earth’s neighbouring planet contain tiny quantities of a molecule called phosphine.</p> <p>Phosphine is a compound made from phosphorus and hydrogen, and on Earth its only natural source is tiny microbes that live in oxygen-free environments. It’s too early to say whether phosphine is also a sign of life on Venus – but no other explanation so far proposed seems to fit.</p> <p>This video shows how methane was detected in the atmosphere of Mars. The process is the same for finding phosphine on Venus.</p> <p><strong>What makes an atmosphere?</strong></p> <p>The molecular makeup of a planet’s atmosphere normally depends on what its parent star is made of, the planet’s position in its star’s system, and the chemical and geological processes that take place given these conditions.</p> <p>There is phosphine in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, for example, but there it’s not a sign of life. Scientists think it is formed in the deep atmosphere at high pressures and temperatures, then dredged into the upper atmosphere by a strong convection current.</p> <p><strong>Join 130,000 people who subscribe to free evidence-based news.</strong></p> <p>Although phosphine quickly breaks down into phosphorus and hydrogen in the top clouds of these planets, enough lingers – 4.8 parts per million – to be observable. The phosphorus may be what gives clouds on Jupiter a reddish tinge.</p> <p>Things are different on a rocky planet like Venus. The new research has found fainter traces of phosphine in the atmosphere, at 20 parts per billion.</p> <p>Lightning, clouds, volcanoes and meteorite impacts might all produce some phosphine, but not enough to counter the rapid destruction of the compound in Venus’s highly oxidising atmosphere. The researchers considered all the chemical processes they could think of on Venus, but none could explain the concentration of phosphine. What’s left?</p> <p>On Earth, phosphine is only produced by microbial life (and by various industrial processes) – and the concentration in our atmosphere is in the parts per trillion range. The much higher concentration on Venus cannot be ignored.</p> <p><strong>Signs of life?</strong></p> <p>To determine whether the phosphine on Venus is really produced by life, chemists and geologists will be trying to identify other reactions and processes that could be alternative explanations.</p> <p>Meanwhile, biologists will be trying to better understand the microbes that live in Venus-like conditions on Earth – high temperatures, high acidity, and high levels of carbon dioxide – and also ones that produce phosphine.</p> <p>When Earth microbes produce phosphine, they do it via an “anaerobic” process, which means it happens where no oxygen is present. It has been observed in places such as activated sludge and sewage treatment plants, but the exact collection of microbes and processes is not well understood.</p> <p>Biologists will also be trying to work out whether the microbes on Earth that produce phosphine could conceivably do it under the harsh Venusian conditions. If there is some biological process producing phosphine on Venus, it may be a form of “life” very different from what we know on Earth.</p> <p>Searches for life beyond Earth have often skipped over Venus, because its surface temperature is around 500℃ and the atmospheric pressure is almost 100 times greater than on Earth. Conditions are <a href="https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/ast.2017.1783">more hospitable for life</a> as we know it about 50 kilometres off the ground, although there are still vast clouds of sulfuric acid to deal with.</p> <p><strong>Molecular barcodes</strong></p> <p>The researchers found the phosphine using spectroscopy, which is the study of how light interacts with molecules. When sunlight passes through Venus’s atmosphere, each molecule absorbs very specific colours of this light.</p> <p>Using telescopes on Earth, we can take this light and split it into a massive rainbow. Each type of molecule present in Venus’ atmosphere produces a distinctive pattern of dark absorption lines in this rainbow, like an identifying barcode.</p> <p>This barcode is not always strongest in visible light. Sometimes it can only be detected in the parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that are invisible to the human eye, such as UV rays, microwave, radio waves and infrared.</p> <p>The barcode of carbon dioxide, for example, is most evident in the infrared region of the spectrum.</p> <p>While phosphine on Jupiter was first detected in infrared, for Venus observations astronomers used radio telescopes: the <a href="https://www.almaobservatory.org/en/home/">Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array</a> (ALMA) and <a href="https://www.eaobservatory.org/jcmt/about-jcmt/">James Clerk Maxwell Telescope</a> (JCMT), which can detect the barcode of phosphine in millimetre wavelengths.</p> <p><strong>New barcodes, new discoveries</strong></p> <p>The discovery of phosphine on Venus relied not only on new observations, but also a more detailed knowledge of the compound’s barcode. Accurately predicting the barcode of phosphine across all relevant frequencies took <a href="http://www.tampa.phys.ucl.ac.uk/ftp/eThesis/ClaraSousaSilva2015.pdf">the whole PhD</a> of astrochemist Clara Sousa-Silva in the <a href="https://www.ucl.ac.uk/exoplanets/research/spectroscopy-exoplanets">ExoMol group</a> at University College London in 2015.</p> <p>She used computational quantum chemistry – basically putting her molecule into a computer and solving the equations that describe its behaviour – to predict the strength of the barcode at different colours. She then tuned her model using available experimental data before making the <a href="https://arxiv.org/abs/1410.2917">16.8 billion lines of phosphine’s barcode</a> available to astronomers.</p> <p>Sousa-Silva originally thought her data would be used to study Jupiter and Saturn, as well as weird stars and distant “hot Jupiter” exoplanets.</p> <p>More recently, she led the detailed consideration of <a href="https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.05224">phosphine as a biosignature</a> – a molecule whose presence implies life. This analysis demonstrated that, on small rocky exoplanets, phosphine should not be present in observable concentrations unless there was life there as well.</p> <p>But she no doubt wouldn’t have dreamed of a phone call from an astronomer who has discovered phosphine on our nearest planetary neighbour. With phosphine on Venus, we won’t be limited to speculating and looking for molecular barcodes. We will be able to send probes there and hunt for the microbes directly.</p> <p><em>Written by Laura McKemmish, UNSW; Brendan Paul Burns, UNSW, and Lucyna Kedziora-Chudczer, Swinburne University of Technology. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/life-on-venus-traces-of-phosphine-may-be-a-sign-of-biological-activity-146093">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Behind the new Samsung Fold: how the quest to maximise screen size is driving major innovation

<p>To enlarge a phone, or not to enlarge a phone? That is the question. In the world of flagship smartphones, there seems to be one clear trend: bigger is better.</p> <p>Manufacturers are trying to strip away anything that might stand in the way of the largest possible slab of screen. There is also growing demand for thinner phones with diminishing <a href="https://www.lifewire.com/bezel-4155199">bezels</a> (the area surrounding a screen).</p> <p>This trend has now culminated in the latest innovation in smartphone design, the <a href="https://www.t3.com/au/news/best-folding-phones">foldable screen phone</a>. These devices sport thin <a href="https://www.techradar.com/au/news/what-is-oled">OLED</a> self illuminating screens that can be folded in half.</p> <p>The newest release is the <a href="https://www.theverge.com/21427462/samsung-galaxy-z-fold-2-review">Samsung Galaxy Z fold 2</a> – a device that is almost three-quarters screen and has extravagant overtones rivalled only by a hefty <a href="https://www.samsung.com/au/smartphones/galaxy-z-fold2/buy/">A$2,999 price tag</a>.</p> <p><strong>Hear from them</strong></p> <p>But to prevent the phones themselves from growing to unwieldy size, manufacturers are having to find ways to balance size with usability and durability. This presents some interesting engineering challenges, as well as some innovative solutions.</p> <p><strong>Internal design complexities of folding phones</strong></p> <p>Modern phones still typically use a thin LCD or plastic OLED display covered by an outer glass panel.</p> <p>Folding displays are a new category that exploit the flexibility of OLED display panels. Instead of simply fixing these panels to a rigid glass panel, they carefully engineer the panel so that it bends – but never quite tightly enough to snap or crack.</p> <p>Internal structural support is needed to make sure the panel doesn’t crease, or isn’t stressed to the point of creating damage, discolouration or visible surface ripples.</p> <p>Since this is a mechanical, moving system, reliability issues need to be considered. For instance, how long will the hinge last? How many times can it be <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/4/20898484/samsung-galaxy-fold-folding-test-failure-durability">folded and unfolded</a> before it malfunctions? Will dirt or dust make its way into the assembly during daily use and affect the screen?</p> <p>Such devices need an added layer of reliability over traditional slab-like phones, which have no moving parts.</p> <p><strong>Large screen, thin phone: a recipe for disaster?</strong></p> <p>Each generation of smartphones becomes thinner and with smaller bezels, which improves the viewing experience but can make the phone harder to handle.</p> <p>In such designs, the area of the device you can grip without touching the display screen is small. This leads to a higher chance of <a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/study-19-percent-of-people-drop-phones-down-toilet/">dropping the device</a> – a blunder even the best of us have made.</p> <p>There’s an ongoing tussle between consumers and manufacturers. Consumers want a large, viewable surface as well as an easily portable and rugged device. But from an engineering point of view, these are usually competing requirements.</p> <p>You’ll often see people in smartphone ads holding the device with two hands. In real life, however, most people use their phone with <a href="https://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-design/research-on-mobile-interaction-behaviour-and-design/">one</a> <a href="https://alistapart.com/article/how-we-hold-our-gadgets/">hand</a>.</p> <p>Thus, the shift towards larger, thinner phones has also given rise to a boom in demand for assistive tools attached to the back, such as <a href="https://www.androidcentral.com/best-popsockets">pop-out grips and phone rings</a>.</p> <p>In trying to maximise screen size, smartphone developers also have to account for interruptions in the display, such as the placement of cameras, laser scanners (for face or object identification), proximity sensors and speakers. All are placed to minimise visual intrusion.</p> <p><strong>Now you see it, now you don’t</strong></p> <p>In the engineering world, to measure the physical world you need either cameras or sensors, such as in a fingerprint scanner.</p> <p>With the race to increase the real estate space on screens, typically these cameras and scanners are placed somewhere around the screen. But they take up valuable space.</p> <p>This is why we’ve recently seen tricks to carve out more space for them, such as <a href="https://www.techradar.com/au/news/this-is-the-worlds-first-smartphone-where-half-the-screen-is-a-fingerprint-scanner">pop up</a> cameras and <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=phone+screen+hole+for+camera&amp;source=lmns&amp;bih=598&amp;biw=1280&amp;rlz=1C5CHFA_enAU871AU871&amp;safe=active&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjXvcyoveDrAhUwhUsFHXvqBYMQ_AUoAHoECAEQAA">punch-hole</a> cameras, in which the camera sits in a cutout hole allowing the display to extend to the corners.</p> <p>But another fantastic place for sensors is right in front of us: the screen. Or more specifically, under the screen.</p> <p>Samsung is one company that has suggested placing selfie-cameras and fingerprint readers behind the screen. But how do you capture a photo or a face image through a layer of screen?</p> <p>Up until recently, this has been put in the “too hard basket”. But that is changing: Xiaomi, Huawei and <a href="https://www.extremetech.com/mobile/262497-samsung-patent-shows-phone-camera-inside-display">Samsung</a> all have patents for <a href="https://www.phonearena.com/news/samsung-galaxy-s21-s30-under-display-camera_id125174">under-display cameras</a>.</p> <p>There are a range of ways to do this, from allowing a camera to see through the screen, to using <a href="https://www.rp-photonics.com/microlenses.html">microlenses</a> and camera pixels distributed throughout the display itself – similar to an insect’s <a href="https://www.britannica.com/animal/insect/Nervous-system#ref250944">compound eye</a>.</p> <p>In either case, the general engineering challenge is to implement the feature in a way that doesn’t impact screen image quality, nor majorly affect camera resolution or colour accuracy.</p> <p><strong>Laptops in our pockets</strong></p> <p>With up to 3.8 billion smartphone users <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/330695/number-of-smartphone-users-worldwide/">expected by 2021</a>, mobile computing is a primary consumer technology area seeing significant growth and investment.</p> <p>One driver for this is the professional market, where larger mobile devices allow more efficient on-the-go business transactions. The second market is individuals who who <a href="https://www.statista.com/topics/779/mobile-internet/"><em>only</em> have a mobile device</a> and no laptop or desktop computer.</p> <p>It’s all about choice, but also functionality. Whatever you choose has to get the job done, support a positive user experience, but also survive the rigours of the real world.</p> <p><em>Written by Andrew Maxwell. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/behind-the-new-samsung-fold-how-the-quest-to-maximise-screen-size-is-driving-major-innovation-145700">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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Is Australia looking the other way as Assange is hung out to dry?

<p>Right now, the substantial extradition hearings involving the US government request that the UK hand over publisher and journalist Julian Assange <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-09/julian-assange-what-does-extradition-hearing-mean/12642972">are underway</a>. The Wikileaks founder has been held in British custody at London’s Belmarsh prison since April 2019.</p> <p>The Trump administration is attempting to extradite the Australian through the mechanisms of the UK-US Extradition Treaty.</p> <p>However, due process has been thrown out the window when it comes to the way our fellow citizen has been dragged before the Old Bailey in London.</p> <p>The terms of the 2003 treaty specifically ban extradition over <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-assange/uk-u-s-treaty-bans-extradition-of-assange-lawyer-says-idUSKBN1YN1G9">political offences</a>. And Julian is facing multiple espionage charges in relation to the publishing of classified US government documents: distinctly political crimes.</p> <p>Another major middle finger to the rule of law is the fact that the United States has reached across international jurisdictions and arrested Assange <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/julian-assange-the-afp-raids-and-the-crime-of-dissent/">by proxy</a> for alleged crimes that were committed outside of its own borders.</p> <p>And on top of all this, the UK has been holding Assange on remand on behalf of the States <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/sep/14/julian-assange-to-remain-in-jail-pending-extradition-to-us">since September 2019</a>.</p> <p>A dangerous precedent</p> <p>“There’s no due process being followed whatsoever,” said <a href="https://www.facebook.com/julianassangesydney.townhallgathering?ref=bookmarks">Julian Assange Sydney Town Hall Gathering</a> spokesperson Tony Wakeham. “The judicial system couldn’t do more to hobble Assange, than they’re doing – short of killing him.”</p> <p>“It goes right back to him being gaoled for <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/unacceptable-risk-in-bail-laws-what-does-it-mean/">bail jumping</a>,” he told Sydney Criminal Lawyers. “By the time they put him in gaol for the maximum time for bail jumping, they did so after the Swedes had dropped their attempt to extradite him on what were false grounds in the first place.”</p> <p>Wakeham also warns that if the extradition is successful it will set a dangerous precedent for the entire planet, as anyone anywhere in the world involved in publishing information about crimes committed by the US in either the mainstream or social media will be open to the same treatment.</p> <p>Assange published over <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=where+is+the+extradition+trial+assange+taking+place&amp;rlz=1C1CHBF_en-GBAU887AU887&amp;oq=where+is+the+extradition+trial+assange+taking+place&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57j33.9919j0j7&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;ie=UTF-8">700,000 classified US government documents</a> over 2010 and 2011. These were leaked by former US military intelligence officer Chelsea Manning. And if Assange ends up in America, he’ll be facing 18 espionage charges with a combined maximum penalty of 175 years.</p> <p>A not so fair go</p> <p>The lawyer representing the US government in the extradition proceedings, James Lewis QC, told the Old Bailey <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/this-is-nonsense-julian-assange-interjections-earn-stern-warning-20200909-p55tpj.html">on the first day of hearings</a> this week that Assange is not facing charges for the blanket publishing of the files, but rather he’s charged over conspiring to obtain some of them.</p> <p>At that point Julian was heard to call out, “This is nonsense.” But he was promptly silenced by the judge.</p> <p>Meanwhile, back in his homeland, there’s been a lot of radio silence around what’s happening to this Australian. And Wakeham’s none too impressed about it.</p> <p>The social justice activist questions why PM Scott Morrison and foreign minister Marise Payne don’t step up and speak out to protect a fellow citizen, as the government has done this before on behalf of journalists  <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/australian-journalist-imprisoned-in-cambodia-seeks-royal-pardon/">James Ricketson</a> and <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/free-assange-incarcerated-for-exposing-the-truth/">Peter Greste</a> when they were imprisoned overseas.</p> <p>Wakeham posits that the ministers of the Morrison cabinet aren’t doing their jobs because there’s not enough opposition to what’s happening to Assange.</p> <p>“And this brings me to the most disheartening thing about all of this, which is that we Australians, by and large, don’t give a shit about what’s happening to him,” the fervent Wikileaks supporter concluded.</p> <p><em>Written by Paul Gregoire. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/australia-looks-the-other-way-as-assange-is-hung-out-to-dry/">Sydney Criminal Lawyers.</a> </em></p>

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100-year-old postcard finally gets delivered!

<p>A woman from Michigan ended up receiving a postcard in her mailbox which had been sent almost exactly 100 years ago.</p> <p>Brittany Keech from Belding, east of Grand Rapids said the message took her by surprise and is now on the hunt of the relatives of the intended recipient.</p> <p>The postcard had a stamp on it with George Washington’s face and was postmarked October 29th, 1920 having been sent right before Halloween of that year, from Jamestown, Michigan.</p> <p>Keech is now hopeful that she’ll be able to track down the descendants of the people whom the message was intended.</p> <p>“This might be something that their parents can say, 'yea I remember when your great-great grandma would tell me stories’.”</p> <p>So far, she has posted it to a local Facebook group which features local stories where it has garnered over a hundred comments.</p> <p>If the family is not found, she says she may donate it to the local museum in Belding.</p> <p>One member of the community, Robby Peters, has begun the search to find relatives.</p> <p>“I do some genealogy research as a hobby,' said Peters to the<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/09/12/with-1920-postmark-mail-is-delivered-michigan-home-100-years-late/" target="_blank"> Washington Post.</a> </p> <p>“I started helping my own family, and I kind of caught the bug after that.”</p> <p>Peters found a Roy McQueen in the 1920 census who lived at the same address where Keech is currently residing with her husband and two children.</p> <p>McQueen was originally from Canada and moved to America in 1887.</p> <p>He was married to a Nora Murdock and was the manager of a produce company.</p> <p>The likely author of the postcard is Florence 'Flossie' Burgess, the daughter of Nora Murdock's sister, according to Peters.</p> <p>“I found census records, death records and marriage records,” he explained. “The postcard contained a couple of names and it had a destination, so I had an idea of where to start searching.”</p> <p>“I built a family tree,” Peters said. “It doesn't look like Roy and Nora had children, and Flossie seems to have remained unmarried, so there are no direct descendants.”</p>

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‘Lit therapy’ in the classroom: Writing about trauma can be valuable if done right

<p>Some of my students have been assaulted. Others have been homeless, jobless or broke, some suffer from depression, anxiety or grief. Some fight addiction, cancer or for custody. Many are in pain and they want to write about it.</p> <p>Opening wounds in the classroom is messy and risky. Boundaries and intentions can feel blurred in a class where memories and feelings also present teachable moments. But if teachers and students work together, opportunities to share difficult personal stories can be constructive.</p> <p><strong>Writing about trauma</strong></p> <p>The health benefits of writing about trauma are <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15401383.2018.1486259">well documented</a>. Some counselling theories — such as narrative therapy — incorporate writing into their therapeutic techniques.</p> <p><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1020353109229">Research suggests</a> writing about trauma can be beneficial because it helps people re-evaluate their experiences by looking at them from different perspectives.</p> <p><strong>Join 130,000 people who subscribe to free evidence-based news.</strong></p> <p>Get newsletter</p> <p>Studies <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/writing-about-emotions-may-ease-stress-and-trauma">suggest</a> writing about traumatic events can help ease the emotional pressure of negative experiences. But <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/writing-about-emotions-may-ease-stress-and-trauma">writing about trauma</a> is not a cure-all and it may be less effective if people are also struggling with ongoing mental health challenges, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.</p> <p>Internationally acclaimed researcher and clinician Bessel van der Kolk asserts in his book, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18693771-the-body-keeps-the-score">The Body Keeps the Score</a>, that trauma is more than a stored memory to be expunged. Rather, van der Kolk suggests our whole mind, brain and sense of self can change in response to trauma.</p> <p>Pain is complicated. And teachers in a classroom are not counsellors in a clinic.</p> <p>If properly managed, though, sharing stories about personal suffering can be a relevant and valuable educational experience. It’s a strategy that, in a professional setting, could be referred to as “lit therapy”.</p> <p><strong>An empathetic space</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.psychology.org.au/for-members/publications/inpsych/2012/feb/17-Working-with-African-refugees-An-opportunity">Dr Jill Parris</a> is a psychologist who works with refugees and uses lit therapy as an extension of trauma counselling. Parris and I also worked together on the project <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27192485-home-truths">Home Truths: An Anthology of Refugee and Migrant Writing</a>, which paired refugee authors with a writing mentor to develop personal stories about challenging migrant journeys to Australia.</p> <p>Parris says writing about trauma is helpful in most cases, as long as teachers and their students monitor stress levels and offer an empathetic space where storytellers are given the time and tools to manage the complex feelings that may surface.</p> <p>“It is important that people feel absolutely free to avoid focusing on traumatic events and this should be made clear from the start,” says Parris.</p> <p>Teachers should therefore be wary of implying traumatic personal stories are inherently worthy subjects, that divulgence alone is more likely to receive a higher grade or publication. It isn’t. In fact, sharing a story may be detrimental. It may be unfair to the author’s future self, the other people involved in their experience, or to the piece’s intention for its readers.</p> <p>Helping individual students identify their own readiness to share personal experiences is an important first step. Parris recommends asking students how they <em>know</em> they are ready to share their story. What has changed to <em>make</em> them ready? Answering these questions helps people sit outside themselves.</p> <p>As teachers, we also need to be mindful that sharing painful memories presents a risk for those hearing them.</p> <p><strong>Vicarious trauma</strong></p> <p><a href="https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/uresposters/318/">Vicarious trauma is a real threat</a>. To help mitigate the risk of emotional contagion, teachers should check in with students at the beginning and end of class to monitor feelings, reminding people they are in the present, that the trauma they recounted or heard was survived.</p> <p>If people feel stressed, Parris recommends looking around and forcing ourselves to name what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell as a way of <a href="https://positivepsychology.com/self-regulation/">returning to the present</a>. Discussing what people will do outside class to care for themselves is also useful.</p> <p>As teachers, it is important to help our students organise their thoughts and feelings in relation to the craft of professional writing, which is writing intended for consumption by an anonymous reader.</p> <p>Students are likely to write what they’re passionate about — the good, the bad and the ugly. Their best writing comes out of what’s meaningful to them. Teachers can help guide their students’ search for authenticity.</p> <p>Feelings and experiences matter, but writers and readers also want to know what they mean. Revealing how masters of personal storytelling bridge the personal and the universal is useful in demonstrating the broader purpose of sharing stories.</p> <p>Story craft is part of how author Joan Didion’s <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7815.The_Year_of_Magical_Thinking">The Year of Magical Thinking</a> is both a personal reflection and a forensic investigation of grief. Part of a writing teacher’s job is exploring how personal stories can contribute to the archive of collective human experience.</p> <p>While I work with adult students, there is also <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-59081-009">evidence</a> narrative writing exercises can help children and teenagers process thoughts and emotions related to challenging personal events.</p> <p>This work is emotionally demanding. Scenes of horrible things people have told me occasionally invade my mind, as if another person’s lived experience orbits my own memories. It’s unsettling. It’s also why stories matter. Because hearing them can help us better understand the people who share them. Stories help us glimpse the humanity in the hardship, showing us while pain is universal, compassion is too.</p> <p><em>Written by Yannick Thoraval. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/lit-therapy-in-the-classroom-writing-about-trauma-can-be-valuable-if-done-right-145379">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Young people are missing out on vital rites of passage during COVID

<p>As we approach the end of a uniquely challenging school year, the class of 2020 look set to miss out on many of the usual highlights of year 12.</p> <p>Graduation <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/a-really-tough-year-calls-for-covid-safe-graduations-as-year-12-suffers-20200820-p55nqy.html">ceremonies</a>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/aug/17/nsw-bans-state-school-formals-graduation-ceremonies-and-choirs-under-new-covid-safe-rules">formals</a>, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-28/schoolies-week-cancelled-due-to-covid-19-high-risk-pandemic/12605086">schoolies week</a> and <a href="https://www.nme.com/en_au/news/music/coronavirus-covid-19-australia-festivals-concerts-cancelled-postponed-2623326">summer music festivals</a> have either been cancelled or <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/terrific-outcome-bans-on-formals-and-graduations-to-be-lifted-after-hsc-20200904-p55shh.html">restricted</a>.</p> <p>Meanwhile, those who may have been planning a gap year overseas are not able to leave the country.</p> <p>So far, public discussion of these cancellations have understandably focused <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-28/schoolies-week-cancelled-due-to-covid-19-high-risk-pandemic/12605086">on the risks</a> posed by COVID and the possible <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/a-really-tough-year-calls-for-covid-safe-graduations-as-year-12-suffers-20200820-p55nqy.html">mental health impacts</a> on young people.</p> <p>But young people aren’t just missing out on a chance to wear fancy clothes or party with their mates. Events like schoolies and formals also have a profound social purpose as rites of passage.</p> <p><strong>What are rites of passage?</strong></p> <p>Rites of passage are rituals that accompany changes in social status for individuals and groups. Their importance has been <a href="https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-1-4614-6086-2_588">recognised by social researchers</a> for more than a century.</p> <p>In ethnographer Arnold Van Gennep’s original 1909 work, which is still broadly accepted by researchers, rites of passage share three basic phases:</p> <ul> <li>a symbolic separation from normality, such as by travel or costumes</li> <li>an in-between stage, in which social norms and hierarchies are cast off and people embrace a community spirit</li> <li>a ceremonial confirmation of the new state of affairs, often with symbols like a ring or crown.</li> </ul> <p>This creates a transformative experience for people. It marks a change as special, by stepping outside ordinary life.</p> <p>The brief upturn in the social order also allows the community to strengthen its bonds and reaffirm its support for the broader, existing social system.</p> <p><strong>Traditional rites of passage are in decline</strong></p> <p>For young people today, ceremonies like school graduations or schoolies trips are even more important than for previous generations.</p> <p>Declining rates of <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/religion/religion-in-australia-what-are-the-implications-of-none-being-th/10094576">religious affiliation</a> means religious coming-of-age has also declined in importance. Changing social norms also mean events like <a href="https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6047410/debutante-ball-no-longer-a-canberra-tradition/">debutante balls</a> and <a href="https://aifs.gov.au/facts-and-figures/marriage-australia/marriage-australia-source-data">weddings</a> are no longer common practice for teenagers and those in their early 20s.</p> <p>Meanwhile, traditional economic markers of growing up - such as moving out of home, and starting full-time work - are also <a href="https://www.domain.com.au/news/one-in-four-australian-adult-children-move-back-home-new-data-shows-955703/">proving more elusive </a>for young people, thanks to challenging <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-next-employment-challenge-from-coronavirus-how-to-help-the-young-135676">job</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/first-home-buyer-schemes-arent-enough-to-meet-young-adults-housing-aspirations-121431">housing</a> markets.</p> <p><strong>Schoolies, gap years are even more important</strong></p> <p>This means other cultural traditions are a critical part of how young people transition to adulthood.</p> <p>Often when we talk about <a href="https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/school-life/sydney-hsc-student-suspended-after-encouraging-muckup-day-prank/news-story/5207d51c93e1f9b6163a00197c518cb5">“muck up” days</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-your-teen-off-to-schoolies-heres-what-to-say-instead-of-freaking-out-126203">schoolies</a> and <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/11603791/Gap-year-takers-less-likely-to-finish-university.html">gap years</a>, debates focus (not always fairly) on the risks involved with young people who are celebrating and testing boundaries.</p> <p>But research has shown how <a href="https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEFM-02-2016-0008">schoolies</a> and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02508281.2017.1292177?journalCode=rtrr20">gap year travel</a> act as rituals to mark and manage the otherwise often unremarkable transition to adulthood.</p> <p>These episodes provide a meaningful break with normal life and past identity. They see young people leave their comfort zone to experience a sense of community with their peers, before moving to the next stage of life.</p> <p>Similarly, music festivals, while not one-off events, can also <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02614361003749793">provide these experiences</a>. <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13676260500523580">Nightclubs</a> and parties - which have also been significantly curtailed during COVID - are also spaces to escape everyday rules and experience communal energy within the broader period of emerging adulthood.</p> <p><strong>Lasting impacts?</strong></p> <p>In addition to the <a href="https://theconversation.com/victorias-year-12-students-are-learning-remotely-but-they-wont-necessarily-fall-behind-143844">impact on education</a> - which has yet to be fully understood - there are other ways in which the class of 2020 may be roundly disadvantaged.</p> <p>COVID-19 has changed so many of the cultural experiences young people use to make their way into adulthood.</p> <p>So, what might be the lasting consequences for this year’s school leavers?</p> <p>Missing out on rites of passage like schoolies week and festivals could mar the transition into adult society in subtle but palpable ways.</p> <p>Without such cultural experiences it is harder to know when this change has really happened, to respect its significance and feel a sense of belonging in one’s new social role.</p> <p>As per Van Gennep’s work, this cohort of young people is also missing chances to bond as a community and to reaffirm their commitment to the social order by temporarily disrupting it.</p> <p>This is why, in the absence of formal rites of passage, people develop their own replacements, for better or worse. Recent reports of an impromptu rave inside a kebab shop show that young people will <a href="https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/brisbane-kebab-shop-fined-after-customers-break-out-in-impromptu-3am-rave-20200824-p55oum.html">find other ways</a> of crossing boundaries together - testing both legal and social norms.</p> <p>On a more positive note, our <a href="https://apraamcos.com.au/events/2020/june/call-out-for-volunteers-music-makers-during-covid-19/">ongoing research</a> with young people about making music during COVID-19 is showing their resilience and creativity in balancing safety with social needs. <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/news/musicnews/livestreaming-music-adapt-overcome-coronavirus-feature-read/12071726">Online performances</a> are providing some missing ritual and social media also allows a level of community experience.</p> <p>While we maintain our focus on community health and safety, we must recognise that what might look like frivolous or risky activities can have huge significance for young people as they move into adulthood.</p> <p>This means they also have huge significance for our society more broadly.</p> <p><em>Written by Ben Green and Andy Bennett. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/no-festivals-no-schoolies-young-people-are-missing-out-on-vital-rites-of-passage-during-covid-145097">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Nelson Mandela’s final photos

<p>Nelson Mandela, the legendary leader who helped to end apartheid in South Africa and later became the country’s first black president, had largely withdrawn from public life by 2011. But he agreed to one last photoshoot: A portrait-sitting for photographer Adrian Steirn’s “21 Icons” project, a multimedia series highlighting those who played a role in shaping modern South Africa.</p> <p>Steirn, one of South Africa’s leading photographers, captured Mandela at his boyhood home in the village of Qunu, located in the nation’s Eastern Cape Province. The photoshoot would become one of Mandela’s last.</p> <p>Mandela’s portrait in the 21 Icons project took careful consideration. “We had to come up with a concept that was both viable and meaningful,” Steirn told <em>Reader’s Digest</em>.</p> <p>The final result was a photograph titled “A Reflection of Dignity,” which captured Mandela’s “majestic aura and humble spirit simultaneously,” HuffPost.com wrote. “The concept of the mirror allowed him to step out of the portrait and ‘reflect’ on South Africa today and the part he played in that process,” according to Steirn.</p> <p>A South African himself, Steirn says that his deep admiration for Mandela inspired him to create the “21 Icons” project. Shaking the leader’s hand for the first time “was amazing,” he says.</p> <p>“You hear so much about this man, living in a country that is based around his narrative.” But Mandela – or Madiba, as he was affectionately nicknamed by South Africans – quickly put Steirn and his crew at ease.</p> <p>“He was the kind of guy that made you feel like the important one. That was his gift,” Steirn says.</p> <p>Mandela and Steirn shared a laugh together during a brief pause in the photoshoot. “At the end of the day, one of the great lessons for me was you can’t idolise anyone,” Steirn says. “We are all human.”</p> <p>In 2013, Adrian’s stunning photo of Mandela with the mirror was purchased by a private art collector for $200,000 – the highest price ever paid for a local portrait. Part of the proceeds were donated to the construction of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Johannesburg, which opened its doors in 2017.</p> <p>Damon Hyland, a member of Steirn’s crew for the “21 Icons” project, arranged the lighting for the photoshoot. The photos were not enhanced in any way, according to Steirn, allowing the room’s natural light to illuminate the shot.</p> <p>The portrait-sitting was one of the last before Mandela’s death, and the power of the moment made the crew emotional at times.</p> <p>“In those moments, it becomes very clear that no matter what colour we are or what gender we are… it doesn’t matter what we achieve in life. We’re all mortal,” Steirn says.</p> <p>Steirn, Hyland, and Meme Selaelo Kgagara positioned Mandela’s mirror for the shot. Though Steirn and his crew were nervous before the photoshoot, he says that Mandela’s good-natured and kind personality soon calmed their jitters. “There was a humbleness around Mandela, there was a humour about Mandela that set him apart,” according to Steirn. “He was a very real man.”</p> <p>Steirn photographed Mandela for the last time in 2013 – two days before the leader was admitted to the hospital with a lung infection.</p> <p>Mandela was watching the National Geographic channel, Steirn recalls. “He gave so much to this country; he represented unity to South Africa. Knowing we would lose him was an impactful, intense moment,” Steirn says.</p> <p>“In my own way, it was goodbye.”</p> <p>A few months later, Mandela passed away in his home.</p> <p><strong>IMAGES:</strong> Courtesy Adrian Steirn</p> <p><em>Written by Brooke Nelson. This article first appeared on <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/see-the-last-photos-ever-taken-of-nelson-mandela" target="_blank">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe" target="_blank">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p>

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How to stamp out COVID-19 in New Zealand again

<p>Auckland, and possibly other parts of New Zealand, almost certainly have more cases of COVID-19 in the community than the <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/news-media/media-releases/4-cases-covid-19-unknown-source">four new cases confirmed</a> yesterday.</p> <p>Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern activated a <a href="https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/pm-comments-auckland-covid-19-case">resurgence plan</a> late yesterday, placing all of Auckland back under alert level 3 restrictions from today until midnight on Friday to allow time for contacts to be traced and tested.</p> <p>But until we can identify the chain of transmission, New Zealanders should prepare for restrictions to remain in place for longer.</p> <p>All four new cases are within one family in South Auckland, with no links yet discovered to quarantine or border facilities. But family members work in different places across different suburbs, which means the restrictions need to apply to the whole city.</p> <p><strong>Get news that’s free, independent and based on evidence.</strong></p> <p>Get newsletter</p> <p>When Melbourne found itself in a similar position a month ago, the city’s strategy was to lockdown specific suburbs. Unfortunately this failed to contain the virus.</p> <p><strong>Quick return to restrictions</strong></p> <p>Swift and decisive action is important, and we support the decision to place stricter conditions on Auckland and to return the rest of the country to alert level 2. We should all be very cautious.</p> <p>Everyone working at the border or in managed isolation will be tested and pop-up stations have opened across Auckland to carry out mass testing. But it is quite possible someone within the wider contact network of the cases has travelled outside Auckland. People who have travelled to Auckland in the last two weeks should act as if they are under level 3 restrictions and stay home from work.</p> <p>Whether we are in Auckland or not, we should all resume social distancing, working from home if we can, and wearing a mask if possible when we go out. If we do the right things now, there’s a good chance we will be able to contain this community outbreak before it spreads too much further.</p> <p>We’re going to need to do a lot of testing to work out how far the virus has spread. It’s more effective at this stage to target high-risk groups rather than testing people at random. People with symptoms or people who have been identified as close contacts of known cases should be prioritised for testing.</p> <p>If you are offered a test or you don’t feel well, you should get tested, but if you feel fine, just stay at home.</p> <p><strong>Contact tracing</strong></p> <p>Rapid contact tracing is going to be key to getting the virus under control. <a href="https://www.tepunahamatatini.ac.nz/2020/08/10/successful-covid-19-contact-tracing-systems-for-new-zealand/">Our recent modelling</a> shows that if we can trace and quarantine 80% of contacts within two days on average, it will go a long way to containing the outbreak.</p> <p>Contact tracers are also doing backward tracing – finding the source of infection so we know how many other cases are out there – as well as forward tracing, which means quarantining contacts so they don’t pass the virus on.</p> <p>For Auckland, moving to alert level 3 reduces the number of contacts most of us have. This will make the job easier for contact tracers over the coming days as they may only have to trace one or two contacts per person rather than ten or more.</p> <p>Everyone should now draw up a list of where they’ve been and who they’ve seen for the last two weeks. This is also a wake-up call to redouble our efforts to keep diaries of activities and to use the <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-novel-coronavirus-resources-and-tools/nz-covid-tracer-app">NZ COVID Tracer app</a> to keep a record.</p> <p>The Tracer app has the added advantage that the Ministry of Health can automatically notify anybody who has visited the same location as a confirmed or potential case. We encourage Aucklanders in particular to check their apps, diaries and bank accounts to compile as much detail as possible of places they have visited or people they have met over the last 14 days.</p> <p><strong>What happens next</strong></p> <p>What happens next really depends on the results of the contact tracing investigations already underway. There is a lot of luck involved in the early stages of an outbreak like this one. If we are lucky, many of those infected may not have yet have passed the virus on.</p> <p>But it’s also possible there may have been a superspreading event, for example at a workplace or social gathering. In that case, there could be a large number of cases already out there. Although the alert level is currently in place until Friday, we should be prepared for this to be extended, depending on how many cases we find in the next three days.</p> <p>Back in February, when we had our first cases of COVID-19, the situation was very different. We had an open border and most cases were international travellers or their close contacts.</p> <p>We were also getting around 80 new cases a day by the time we went into lockdown in March. This time we have locked down with a smaller number of cases and we still have strict border restrictions in place.</p> <p>This should give us confidence that if we all do the right things, we will be able to get the outbreak under control much faster than last time.</p> <p><em>Written by Michael Plank, Alex James and Shaun Hendy. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/new-zealand-is-on-alert-as-covid-19-returns-this-is-what-we-need-to-stamp-it-out-again-144304">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Pastel colours and serif fonts: is Annastacia Palaszczuk trying to be an Instagram influencer?

<p>You might have scrolled right by Annastacia Palaszczuk’s recent quote posts if you saw them on Instagram – just another lifestyle influencer posting a “deep” quote – but when she (or her media team) reposted them to Twitter they stood out as belonging to another platform.</p> <p>Blush pink, serif fonts, minimalist art – this isn’t what we expect to see on a politician’s feed. Instead, it all screams “Insta”.</p> <p>But what is an Instagram aesthetic – and what does it do for Palaszczuk in the midst of a public health crisis, and the lead-up to an election?</p> <p><strong>Parsing Insta aesthetics</strong></p> <p>On Wednesday, Palaszczuk posted an crisp image above across her social feeds, including <a href="https://twitter.com/AnnastaciaMP/status/1290793563031183363">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CDfG0Jonztq/">Instagram</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/annastaciamp/photos/a.523591701005345/3389997541031399/?type=3&amp;theater">Facebook</a>: a blush-pink background with the text “I will do everything I can to keep Queenslanders safe”.</p> <p>Above, line art of Queensland’s borders; below, Palaszczuk’s name and “Premier of Queensland”, bolded and in all-caps.</p> <p>This post – the latest in a series of three quotes posted since July 24 - leaps out from a grid that mixes up busy but low-contrast infographics with the vivid colours of the Queensland outdoors.</p> <p>As readers, we recognise this form instantly: this is an <a href="https://www.wired.co.uk/article/inspirational-quote-industry">inspirational Insta quote</a>. We know that because specific visual elements work together to help us understand and categorise the image.</p> <p>First up, the background colour. A post on July 31 used duck-egg blue; this latest is a soft blush pink, maybe not quite <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/shortcuts/2017/mar/22/millennial-pink-is-the-colour-of-now-but-what-exactly-is-it">millennial pink</a>, but definitely in that ballpark.</p> <p>The pink is a muted Queensland maroon used across the account, and the flat texture makes it stand out from the busier backgrounds on her illustrated announcements.</p> <p>Then there’s the font choices. <a href="https://www.fonts.com/content/learning/fontology/level-1/type-anatomy/serif-vs-sans-for-text-in-print">Serif fonts</a> read formal, literary – and as some users have commented after Instagram <a href="https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/instagram-is-adding-some-new-font-types-for-stories/577154/">added</a> serif fonts to Stories this week, “pretty”.</p> <p>Using a serif font for the quote makes it seem like something we’d read in a book, elevating its importance. The blocky serif font for the credit reads strong, powerful and modern, as does the use of line art to replace the silhouette of Queensland used in earlier posts.</p> <p>The vertical and horizontal centre alignment is also characteristic of Insta-inspiration quotes, which work best when they’re designed to transition seamlessly across the platform: cropped to a square for the grid and to a vertical rectangle for Stories.</p> <p>When visual elements like text or icons are aligned to the edges of an image in one format, they look wrong when the edges move – like when you extend a square pic vertically to fill a phone screen.</p> <p>This is what makes an earlier quote post look like it belongs on Twitter, not Instagram: the Queensland silhouette sits in the top right corner of <a href="https://twitter.com/AnnastaciaMP/status/1286567291505659904">the horizontal crop</a> on the Twitter timeline, but floats when the image is <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CDBE-kWALzQ/">extended to a square</a> on Instagram.</p> <p>Embracing these aesthetics softens a strong message, helping Palaszczuk navigate the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/11/us/politics/sexism-double-standard-2020.html">double standards</a> applied to women in leadership.</p> <p>The strong, direct phrasing foregrounds Palaszczuk’s leadership and commitment to Queensland’s security, while the feminine influencer layout helps dodge misogynist accusations of unladylike behaviour.</p> <p><strong>Genre tells us how to read</strong></p> <p>These design choices are all examples of genre conventions: visual and written clues that help us know how to read and understand a message.</p> <p>For politicians, committing 100% to social media genre conventions is a risky game.</p> <p>Done well, you’re <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/feb/12/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-twitter-social-media">Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez</a>, serving up voter education as she cooks mac and cheese, or sharing her notes for her iconic response to Ted Yoho.</p> <p>Ocasio-Cortez uses a different, less obviously <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/04/influencers-are-abandoning-instagram-look/587803/">curated genre</a> - it works because it feels authentic, relatable and consistent.</p> <p>Miss the mark and risk your mentions clogging with Steve Buscemi gifs: “<a href="https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/13/15966094/30-rock-buscemi-how-do-you-do-fellow-kids-meme-kill-it-please">How do you do, fellow kids</a>?” So why risk it?</p> <p>Palaszczuk’s quote posts don’t feel <a href="https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=on%20brand">#OnBrand</a> amidst the outdoor photo ops, illustrated announcements and daily infographics that characterise her grid.</p> <p>But by playing on readers’ implicit understanding of Instagram genres, they position her as a social leader.</p> <p>As readers, we recognise that a flat pastel background, a prominent quote and maybe some minimal art signals a particular genre.</p> <p>When we see a post go by on our timelines that looks like that, our understanding of genre conventions primes us to expect an inspirational quote from an historic figure – a <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CA4iMVlnKxj/">Martin Luther King</a>, a <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3950898/Prince-Harry-s-girlfriend-Meghan-Markle-breaks-social-media-silence-posts-inspirational-Gandhi-quote-thanks-friends-support.html">Gandhi</a>, an <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CDGy16Ss_7y/">Audre Lorde</a> – and then signals to us that Palaszczuk belongs in that list: a world leader whose words can guide us in an unprecedented public health crisis.</p> <p>The text says: “I will do everything I can to keep Queenslanders safe”; the subtext says: wouldn’t you vote for someone like me in October?</p> <p><em>Written by Beck Wise. Republished with permission <a href="https://theconversation.com/pastel-colours-and-serif-fonts-is-annastacia-palaszczuk-trying-to-be-an-instagram-influencer-143996">of The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Are there ‘male’ and ‘female’ brains? Computers can see a distinction

<p>How useful are the well-known and hotly contested categories of “male brain” and “female brain”?</p> <p>Among experts, nobody really questions that anatomical sex differences in the brain exist. But since the advent of brain science, the scientific community has been divided over how many differences there are, which ones have been definitively proven, how large or small they are, and what they actually mean.</p> <p>And, over the past several years, a new debate has been brewing among experts. Do anatomical differences in the brain “add up” to two clearly recognisable (sex-specific) brain types? Or do they rather “mix up” and form idiosyncratic combinations or “mosaics”, independent of sex?</p> <p><strong>A mosaic of male and female features</strong></p> <p>The mosaic hypothesis was supported by the results of a <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/112/50/15468">ground-breaking study</a> published in 2015 by Daphna Joel and her collaborators at Tel-Aviv University.</p> <p>Using brain scans of more than 1,400 participants, Joel and company identified the 10 regions showing the largest differences in size between men and women. Next, they classified each region of each brain as “male-typical”, “female-typical” or “intermediate”.</p> <p>Most of the brains turned out to be “mosaics” of male-typical <em>and</em> female-typical features, rather than being consistently male-typical (“male brains”) or female-typical (“female brains”). Joel concluded that brains “cannot be categorised into two distinct classes: male brain/female brain”.</p> <p><strong>Algorithms can ‘predict’ sex from brain data</strong></p> <p>Critics of the mosaic brain theory, however, point to <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hbm.24462">machine-learning algorithms</a> that can use a brain scan to “predict” an individual’s sex with 80 to 90 percent accuracy.</p> <p>If an algorithm can classify brains into sexes so easily, the argument goes, it must be recognising some underlying difference.</p> <p>To some extent, this is a disagreement about what the terms “male brains” and “female brains” should entail. For Joel, using these categories would only be justified if, for example, knowing somebody had a “female” or “male” brain allowed you to predict other things about their brain’s features.</p> <p>But for Joel’s critics, the important thing is predicting the individual’s sex. It doesn’t matter whether or not slotting somebody’s brain into a sex category gives you more information about its structure.</p> <p>Most machine-learning classification algorithms are “black boxes”, which means they don’t reveal anything about <em>how</em> they combine brain features to define “male” and “female” brains. Despite the accuracy of the algorithms, their definitions may not even be consistent: <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00399/full">some evidence</a> suggests the algorithms use different brain features when classifying different subpopulations of females and males.</p> <p><strong>Algorithms’ sex prediction may depend on head size</strong></p> <p>And now even this classification accuracy is under challenge. A research team led by one of us (Carla Sanchis Segura) published <a href="https://rdcu.be/b50w1">a new study</a> that considers a neglected complication. On average, women have smaller bodies, heads and brains than men.</p> <p>In the early days of brain science, these differences in body and brain were mistakenly taken as evidence of (white) men’s intellectual superiority. But in recent years, it has been recognised that head size variation poses a problem for neuroscientists interested in sex differences.</p> <p>When you see a female/male difference in the size of a brain region, how do you know if you are seeing a specific effect of sex? It might simply be a difference between larger brains (more of which belong to males) and smaller brains (more of which belong to females), or a combination of the two.</p> <p>Neuroscientists try to solve this problem by statistically “controlling” for head size. But exactly how is this done?</p> <p>There are several different statistical methods in use. The current “gold standard” for assessing their validity is comparing the sex differences in the brain they find with those obtained in selected groups of females and males matched to have similar head sizes.</p> <p>Using this “gold standard”, the Sanchis-Segura research team found, <a href="https://bsd.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13293-019-0245-7">in an earlier study</a>, that not all currently used methods are effective and valid. They also found that the method used has a major impact on the number, the size and even the direction of the estimated sex differences.</p> <p>Having worked out which statistical control techniques are the most valid, Sanchis-Segura and her team were able to investigate an important question: to what extent does the high accuracy of “brain sex” classification depend on head size variation?</p> <p>The researchers tested 12 different sex-predicting machine-learning algorithms with data that had been properly adjusted for head size variation, data that had been poorly adjusted, and data that had not been adjusted at all.</p> <p>The algorithms delivered highly accurate results when using both raw data and poorly adjusted data. But when the same 12 algorithms were fed with properly adjusted data, classification accuracy dropped to 10% above ‘chance’, at about 60% accuracy.</p> <p>One particularly deflationary finding of the study was that the algorithms achieved high accuracy if they were given just one piece of information – namely, head size!</p> <p>These new findings continue to challenge the usefulfness of the categories “male brain” and “female brain”. Sex certainly affects the brain, and sex effects are important to study. But current attempts to classify brains into the categories “male brain” or “female brain” using machine-learning algorithm seem to add little beyond what has been known since the inception of modern science – that men, on average, have larger heads.</p> <p><em>Written by Cordelia Fine. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-there-male-and-female-brains-computers-can-see-a-distinction-but-they-rely-strongly-on-differences-in-head-size-143972">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Million-dollar painting deemed almost worthless

<p><span>One guest on BBC's Antiques Roadshow was left deflated on the show after they learnt a portrait thought to be an original Lely painting was almost worth nothing.</span><br /><br /><span>The visitor appeared on the show with one of the experts, to find out the true value of the artefact that had been passed down through his family. </span><br /><br /><span>He revealed the artwork was purchased in an auction in the 1850s, before it was placed in the home of the current owner - having been passed down through the family.</span><br /><br /><span>The piece was believed to have been painted by the popular artist Sir Peter Lely, who was around in the 1600s.</span><br /><br /><span>However the expert had to break the news that the piece was not an original and most likely a copy painted in the 19th century - two centuries after Lely's paintings.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7837079/painting-2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/34b3a7c3aa9d45c993f2bf049755e4c2" /><br /><br /><span>It featured all the parts of a painting by this artist, even documented as one of his works in an auction catalogue from the time it was purchased.</span><br /><br /><span>The show expert says it was obviously not original - but if it had been; it would be worth around a million dollars. </span><br /><br /><span>However, due to the artwork likely being a dupe, he said the it’s value dropped down dramatically to almost nothing. </span><br /><br /><span>He explained: "The question is, is it by Lely? The catalogue of 1845 you've just shown me says Lely doesn't it, quite clearly. But in those days they had somewhat a looser interpretation of the trade description act, if it indeed ever existed.</span><br /><br /><span>"The thing about Lely, the great portrait painter that he was, is that when he died he left hundreds of unfinished portraits and versions of portraits already done.</span><br /><br /><span>"His students and studio assistants finished them really quickly, and sold them all so that his entire estate including his collection of old masters made something like £30,00 in the 17th century, which was a massive amount of money. He was so popular.</span><br /><br /><span>"It effectively flooded the market with versions of his pictures done by lesser hands, the question is, is it one of those?"</span><br /><br /><span>The expert went on to reveal what the portrait could really be worth. </span><br /><br /><span>"The secret here is not to look too closely I’m afraid, you can tell I’m softening you up for a bit of a blow,” he said. </span><br /><br /><span>"Sorry but I think, I’m afraid, this is a shadow of a dream. It's not even by a studio assistant. I think it's a much later copy.</span><br /><br /><span>"Something about the reduced scale, of course it should be massive, makes it look more domestic. Something about the frankly Victorian idea of a 17th century frame, it's been copied.</span><br /><br /><span>"And the colours are slightly gaudier than you’d expect, a little bit of clunkiness in the drawing of the hand, and then put on top of that this brown finish which is quite deliberately antiquing it, I think what we're looking at is a 19th century copy."</span><br /><br /><span>The expert went on to say despite the guest’s disappointments that if it was an “original Lely, it would be pretty well around a million pounds.” </span><br /><br /><span>"But as it is, it's probably worth around I don't know, £600. I'm sorry to let you down."</span></p>

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Bride demands refund from wedding photographer over Black Lives Matter support

<p>An American wedding photographer said a couple tried to cancel their contract after she expressed her support for Black Lives Matter in a social media post.</p> <p>Shakira Rochelle, a photographer based in Cincinnati, Ohio, shared her support of the movement on her social media pages. The post read: “Shakira Rochelle Photography stands in solidarity with the black community. The black lives matter movement has my endless support.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CBEt3EblKff/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CBEt3EblKff/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Shakira Rochelle Photography stands in solidarity with the black community. The black lives matter movement has my endless support ✊🏼.</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/shakirarochellephotographyy/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Shakira Rochelle🌿</a> (@shakirarochellephotographyy) on Jun 5, 2020 at 5:34pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Rochelle later received a text message from a client requesting her deposit back.</p> <p>“We have done a lot of talking and we cannot bring ourselves to support anyone who is so outspoken on matters that simply do not concern them as well as someone that does not believe that ALL lives matter,” the bride wrote on the text.</p> <p>“We … feel that you aren’t stable enough to complete the job we need from you.”</p> <p>Rochelle told the bride that the deposit was non-refundable, as per their signed contract. “I wish you a lifetime of growth and I would like to thank you for your donation to Black Lives Matter,” the photographer concluded.</p> <p>The bride told Rochelle she would be “hearing from our attorney”.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">I love it here. <a href="https://t.co/hKH4WFOSk2">pic.twitter.com/hKH4WFOSk2</a></p> — Q.🍫 (@PINKdot_COM) <a href="https://twitter.com/PINKdot_COM/status/1272880090003771393?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 16, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>The screenshots of the messages – which Rochelle posted on her personal Facebook account – went on to become viral on social media sites. A Twitter post with pictures of the exchange has received more than 1.1 million likes.</p> <p>On Wednesday, Rochelle released a statement addressing claims that her post was fabricated.</p> <p>“There is a photoshopped screenshot circulating stating that coming forward with this story was a business tactic to make a profit on the BLM movement,” she said.</p> <p>“This is the most incredibly absurd thing I have ever heard. The original post started out private until a friend asked if she could share it. I never had the intentions or the desire to go viral for this or anything else.”</p> <p>Rochelle explained that prior to the incident, she had been booked until winter and was not seeking for more clients.</p> <p>“I have always stood up for human rights and will continue to do so. I have marched with my loved ones as well as alone. My intentions are pure,” she said.</p> <p>“Please know that what you saw from me was the complete story.”   </p> <p>Black Lives Matter protests have been initiated across the US and around the world following the killing of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.</p>

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A long way to the top: Australian musicians balance multiple roles to make their careers work

<p>Over the past three years, our <a href="https://makingmusicwork.com.au/">Making Music Work</a> project has mapped the creative, social, cultural, and economic realities of a music career in Australia.</p> <p>We surveyed nearly 600 musicians to understand their working lives, creative goals, career paths and economic circumstances. We also conducted interviews with 11 diverse musicians to explore their careers in more depth.</p> <p>Our study shows the vast majority of Australian musicians undertake a portfolio career which encompasses concurrent and often impermanent roles. This is not a new phenomenon but in recent decades there have been <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/14613808.2019.1598348">major shifts</a> in how music is made, paid for and consumed.</p> <p>Now, the impact of COVID-19 on the funding and policy landscape has dramatically affected how musicians develop and sustain their careers – or not.</p> <p><strong>Balancing acts</strong></p> <p>Musicians told us they stay in the music industry because of their love and passion for music, which is central to their identity. Far from the “starving artist” myth, they combine music and non-music work in highly entrepreneurial ways. Surveyed before the current crisis, almost half (49%) the musicians in our study held two or more concurrent paid roles.</p> <p>We found 560 different job titles, the most common being instrumental musician (25%) and private music teacher (10%). Musicians worked in music-related jobs as disparate as composers, sound technicians and community arts workers, and non-music jobs including sales assistants, journalists and librarians.</p> <p>We spoke to musicians from 18 years old to 65 and above. Almost 70% had worked in music for more than 10 years, with nearly one in three of them practising as professional musicians for more than 20 years. This gives an indication of how committed Australian musicians are to the industry and sustaining their music careers and creative practice over time.</p> <p>Russell Morris on career longevity.</p> <p>While most musicians we studied are committed to the profession, 12% said that they were thinking about leaving.</p> <p>The most common reasons for leaving the music industry were financial stress, lack of income and caring responsibilities – all of which have since been exacerbated by the pandemic.</p> <p><strong>A live industry</strong></p> <p>Performance is the most common paid activity for musicians, with two-thirds of musicians deriving at least some of their income from performance fees.</p> <p>Live performances are also crucial for peer networking and career development. Peer networks are mostly built and maintained through events, and are key to musicians’ building and renewing skills, developing new creative collaborations and securing jobs.</p> <p>Given live music was <a href="https://theconversation.com/there-is-no-easy-path-out-of-coronavirus-for-live-classical-music-138207">immediately</a> impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions and will be slow to return, the capacity of musicians to maintain their careers has been severely limited.</p> <p>Rob Nassif on the importance of live performance.</p> <p>Federal, state and local governments have initiated a range of targeted grants and subsidies to help support the sector and its workforce. However, lobby groups and representative bodies have called for significantly more funding.</p> <p>On 10 June, music rights organisation APRA AMCOS published an <a href="https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AtT3Gdy8aHkhP_MZmDJcg3YW7sujyj5veF8qX8MYk2w/edit">open letter</a> with more than 1,000 industry signatories imploring the Australian government to consider <a href="https://liveperformance.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/LPA-MR-345-million-plan-to-restart-and-rebuild-live-performance-industry-4-June-2020-1.pdf">a suite of proposals</a>.</p> <p>In making their case, the signatories assert:</p> <p><em>[w]e contribute $16 billion to the economy and we are an asset that is a lynchpin for the tourism and hospitality sectors and a powerful driver of metropolitan and regional economies and export to the world.</em></p> <p><strong>The employment puzzle</strong></p> <p>Musicians are predominantly self-employed or are employed on temporary contracts, leaving them ineligible for the current JobKeeper scheme.</p> <p>Only half of musicians receive all of their income from music-related work, and the most common sources of music-related income are performance fees, music teaching and grants. The average income from all work was $41,257, with a median income of $30,576.</p> <p>While the Australian government has permitted <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/23/early-release-super-coronavirus-when-access-superannuation-how-impact-your-money">early release</a> of superannuation in response to COVID-19, our study has shown that musicians have limited access to this and other employment-related benefits.</p> <p>Less than one-third of our survey participants reported employer-based superannuation contributions, and only 7% had access to a health plan or private health insurance scheme.</p> <p>In spite of the challenges, Australian musicians have shown tremendous creativity and resilience in adapting their work to online environments during the pandemic.</p> <p>Emily Smart on how the internet affords opportunities to collaborate.</p> <p>Musicians’ resilience is unsurprising given how creatively and financially nimble they have to be when negotiating music and non-music roles. To successfully engage across a variety of markets, genres and performance sites, musicians deploy diverse and agile skill sets. If they were to receive similar support as other sectors of the economy in this current crisis, they would be well placed to survive and thrive into the future.</p> <p>Throughout our research, Australian musicians generously shared their expertise. They recognise the crucial role of peer networks to develop creative practices, sustain livelihoods and nurture the sector. This creative generosity will be central to the industry’s recovery from COVID-19.</p> <p><em>Written by Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, Ben Green, Christina Ballico, Dawn Bennett and Ruth Bridgstock. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-long-way-to-the-top-australian-musicians-balance-multiple-roles-to-make-their-careers-work-140840">The Conversation.</a></em></p> <p><em>Scott Harrison, Vanessa Tomlinson and Paul Draper also contributed to this research.</em></p>

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Be careful with photos and how you talk: How to protect your grandkids online

<p>Parents have many things to worry about. It’s easy to stick our heads in the sand and assume bad things - like sexual abuse - won’t happen to our kids.</p> <p>But online sexual abuse is <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/28/us/child-sex-abuse.html">increasing at an exponential rate</a>.</p> <p>Last week, the Australian Federal Police <a href="https://www.afp.gov.au/news-media/media-releases/afp-dismantles-australian-online-network-alleged-child-sex-offenders-and">announced it had busted</a> an alleged child sex offender network, <a href="https://www.news.com.au/national/crime/nine-men-charged-14-children-saved-in-australian-federal-policeled-child-sex-abuse-investigation/news-story/639fd7f63a3426748af0e533d7efd067">warning</a></p> <p><em>“child exploitation in Australia is becoming more prolific … this type of offending is becoming more violent and brazen.”</em></p> <p>The risks are especially high at the moment, as we spend more time on devices during the <a href="https://www.esafety.gov.au/about-us/blog/covid-19-online-risks-reporting-and-response">pandemic lockdown</a>.</p> <p>For example, recent media reports have warned about <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/04/18/parents-schools-urged-supervise-children-zoom-amid-fears-child/">Zoom calls being hijacked</a> by offenders showing child abuse material.</p> <p>This article, based on our work as parenting and maltreatment experts, looks at how parents can protect their children from online sexual abuse.</p> <p>In <a href="https://theconversation.com/use-proper-names-for-body-parts-dont-force-hugs-how-to-protect-your-kids-from-in-person-sexual-abuse-139970">a separate piece</a>, we also look at how to protect kids from in-person sexual abuse.</p> <p><strong>How common is online sexual abuse?</strong></p> <p>Online sexual abuse occurs across many platforms including social media, text messaging, websites, various apps, such as WhatsApp and Snapchat and <a href="https://theconversation.com/dark-web-study-reveals-how-new-offenders-get-involved-in-online-paedophile-communities-131933">the dark web</a>.</p> <p>Very broadly, it includes asking a child to send sexual content, a person sending your child sexual content, “sextortion” (coercing or manipulating children for sexual gain), and viewing, creating or sharing child exploitation/ abuse material (sometimes <a href="https://theconversation.com/whats-in-a-name-online-child-abuse-material-is-not-pornography-45840">inappropriately referred to as “child pornography”</a>).</p> <p>A <a href="https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/media/1747/how-safe-are-our-children-2019.pdf">2018 survey </a>of more than 2,000 children in the United Kingdom found one in seven children had been asked to send sexual information. And one in 25 primary school children (that’s roughly one in every class) had been sent or shown a naked or semi-naked picture or video by an adult. </p> <p><strong>Who are the abusers?</strong></p> <p>Online abusers are most likely to be <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1079063210370708">Caucasian males</a> who are attracted to prepubescent children.</p> <p>They <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24627189/">differ from in-person abusers</a> in that they are less likely to have easy physical access to children, have higher internet use, higher levels of education, and are less likely to have a criminal history. However, some people abuse children both online and in person.</p> <p>Importantly, some online sexual abuse is also committed by other adolescents <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09649069.2013.851178">under the age of 18</a>, creating and sharing sexual images.</p> <p>Research estimates <a href="https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/2018/02/16/sexting-what-does-research-say">16% of Australian children</a> between 10 and 19 receive “sexts” - sexually explicit or sexually suggestive texts or images via phone or internet - and 10% send them.</p> <p>Some image sharing occurs in genuinely consensual peer relationships, and this is generally not abusive. However, any coercion to share sexual content constitutes abuse.</p> <p><strong>Which children are most at risk?</strong></p> <p>Children with poor psychological health, poor relationships with their parents, low self-esteem, and those who have been exposed to other forms of abuse, are more <a href="https://capmh.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13034-019-0292-1">at risk</a> of online sexual abuse.</p> <p>Age-wise, girls aged 11 to 15 are at the <a href="https://www.ecpat.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ECPAT-International-Report-Trends-in-Online-Child-Sexual-Abuse-Material-2018.pdf">highest risk</a> for child exploitation, although it also happens to very young children.</p> <p><strong>Tips for protecting your child</strong></p> <p>Here are some practical steps you can take to minimise the risks facing your child online and to help them safely navigate online challenges.</p> <p>These are based on known patterns of online abuse and identified factors that place children at greater or lesser risk.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Take care with photos</strong>. Consider who you allow to take photos of your children and where you share photos to ensure they don’t get misused.</li> <li><strong>Talk openly to children and teens about sex so they don’t seek out advice or information online from individuals</strong>. Children who are knowledgeable may be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213495000173">less likely</a> to be targeted. In particular, talk about <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1524838017738726">consent</a>, and what is consensual behaviour between kids, and what is not.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Talk with teens about the safe sharing of images</strong>. This includes the risks associated with sharing photos of themselves in provocative poses or in revealing clothing. This conversation should start early and get more developed as your child grows up. A lot of child exploitation <a href="https://www.ecpat.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ECPAT-International-Report-Trends-in-Online-Child-Sexual-Abuse-Material-2018.pdf">material</a> is taken by teens or by people known to the children then shared more widely.</li> <li><strong>Be interested in the online lives of your children and know their online friends</strong>. Do this routinely, just as you do with their real-life friends. Be attentive to changes or special friends. Keep these conversations going. Listen to their experiences.</li> <li><strong>Encourage attendance at school-based prevention programs</strong>. And then talk with your kids about what they’ve learned to reinforce the messages or answer any questions.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Talk with your kids about how to respond to sexual innuendo or unwanted advances and when to tell an adult</strong>. Start by asking kids for examples of sexual innuendo and the types of things people might say online. Then brainstorm ways the best ways to respond. For example, teens could withdraw from conversations or block acquaintances. Or say something like “I’m not into that kind of chat” or say “No thanks, not interested” to any invitations or requests.</li> <li><strong>Talk with teens about online safety</strong>. This includes restricting who can view or reshare posts. You may need to upskill yourself first.</li> <li><strong>Know what your child is doing online</strong>. <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/2/e510?casa_token=3wbclJn_dlIAAAAA%3AfwLi9RZYcZqnCLzFfYZON9iQGf9uCymE7EEGNc5g49bLcN9_NVKjPRPO5w7E6O-_I182ayPkbSVVIw">Monitor</a> their online behaviour, rather than relying only on software controls, which are less effective.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Keep the computer in a communal area</strong>. Ensure their computer use occurs in communal areas of the home and restrict kids’ access to mobiles at night. If possible, do this from an early age and make it routine, so teens don’t get the message you don’t trust them.</li> <li><strong>Build your child’s esteem and confidence</strong>. Children with low self-esteem are more susceptible to online grooming designed to make children feel special.</li> <li><strong>Meet your own needs</strong>. Children are at greater risk of abuse when parents are struggling with their own mental health or substance issues. If you need help <a href="https://www.lifeline.org.au/">get support</a> or talk to your doctor.</li> </ul> <p><strong>More resources for parents are available via <a href="https://bravehearts.org.au/">Bravehearts</a> and at <a href="https://www.esafety.gov.au/">esafety.gov.au</a>.</strong></p> <p><strong>If you believe your child is the victim of grooming or exploitation, or you come across exploitation material, you can <a href="https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/report">report it via ThinkuKnow</a> or contact your local police.</strong></p> <p><strong>If you are a child, teen or young adult who needs help and support, call the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.</strong></p> <p><strong>If you are an adult who experienced abuse as a child, call the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 or <a href="https://www.blueknot.org.au/Helpline">visit their website</a>.</strong></p> <p><em>Written by Divna Haslam and Ben Matthews. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/be-careful-with-photos-talk-about-sex-how-to-protect-your-kids-from-online-sexual-abuse-139971">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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A chemical engineer explains: What makes pepper spray so intense? And is it a tear gas?

<p>In recent weeks, the world has looked on as governments use chemical irritants to control protesters and riots. Whether it’s tear gas, pepper spray, mace or pepper balls, all have one thing in common: they’re chemical weapons.</p> <p>Chemical warfare agents have been used twice in Sydney in the past week alone. Police <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-07/sydney-police-defend-pepper-spray-use-on-protesters/12330558">pepper-sprayed</a> demonstrators at Central Station, following Saturday’s major Black Lives Matter protest.</p> <p>The next day, tear gas <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-08/tear-gas-fired-into-exercise-yard-of-sydney-long-bay-jail/12332572">was used</a> to break up a fight at Long Bay jail, as prison guards filled an exercise yard with tear gas canisters – also impacting nearby residents.</p> <p>These events followed the deployment of <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/05/politics/park-police-tear-gas/index.html">chemical riot control agents</a> – specifically “pepper bombs” – in Washington DC last week. They were used to clear protesters from a public park so President Donald Trump could walk from the White House to a nearby church for a photo opportunity.</p> <p>The White House made a highlight reel to celebrate Trump’s heroic walk across the street for his bible photo op...</p> <p>US Attorney General William Barr said “<a href="https://www.factcheck.org/2020/06/the-continuing-tear-gas-debate/">there was no tear gas used</a>”, claiming “pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. It’s not chemical.”</p> <p>I’m a chemical engineer and chemist who studies chemicals in the environment. So I thought I’d clear the air about what makes pepper spray such a powerful chemical irritant, and a chemical weapon.</p> <p><strong>What’s inside pepper spray?</strong></p> <p>The active compounds in pepper spray are collectively known as capsaicinoids. They are given the military symbol OC, for “oleoresin capsicum”.</p> <p>The most important chemical in OC is capsaicin. This is derived from chilli peppers in a chemical process that dissolves and concentrates it into a liquid. Capsaicin is the same compound that makes chillies hot, but in an intense, weaponised form.</p> <p>Not all capsaicinoids are obtained naturally. One called nonivamide (also known as PAVA or pelargonic acid vanillylamide) is mostly made by humans. PAVA is an <a href="https://cot.food.gov.uk/committee/committee-on-toxicity/cotstatements/cotstatementsyrs/cotstatements2002/pavastatement">intense irritant</a> used in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/09/pepper-spray-used-in-non-violent-situations-in-prison-pilot">artificial pepper spray</a>.</p> <p><strong>Is pepper spray a tear gas?</strong></p> <p>We’ve established pepper spray is a chemical, but is it also a kind of tear gas?</p> <p>“<a href="https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/riotcontrol/factsheet.asp">Tear gas</a>” is an informal term and a bit of a misnomer, because it isn’t a gas. Rather, tear gas refers to any weaponised irritant used to immobilise people.</p> <p>More specifically, tear gas is often used to describe weapons that disperse their irritants in the air either as liquid aerosol droplets (such as <a href="https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/a28904691/how-tear-gas-works/">gas canisters</a>), or as a powder (such as pepper balls). This definition distinguishes tear gas from personal self-defence sprays which use foams, gels and liquids.</p> <p>Tear gas canisters typically contain the irritants 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS) and phenacyl chloride (CN). Both CS and CN are man-made chemicals discovered in a lab, unlike capsaicin (the traditional ingredient in pepper spray).</p> <p>But despite capsaicin coming from chilli peppers, pepper spray is still a weaponised irritant that can be delivered as an aerosol or powder. It should unequivocally be considered a type of tear gas.</p> <p><strong>Pepper spray as a weapon</strong></p> <p>The chemical irritants OC, CS and CN have military symbols because they are chemical weapons. They are termed “<a href="https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/06/10/rubber-bullets-protesters-victoria-snelgrove-boston">less-lethal</a>” because they are less likely to kill than conventional weapons. Their use, however, can still <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2020/06/08/tear-gas-and-pepper-spray-can-maim-kill-and-spread-coronavirus/#47f17a2a725f">cause fatalities</a>.</p> <p>Technically, pepper spray and other tear gases are classified as lachrymatory agents. <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-tear-gas-139958">Lachrymatory agents</a> attack mucous membranes in the eyes and respiratory system.</p> <p>Pepper spray works almost instantly, forcing the eyes to close and flood with tears. Coupled with coughing fits and difficulty breathing, this means the targeted person is effectively <a href="https://healthland.time.com/2011/11/22/how-painful-is-pepper-spray/">blinded and incapacitated</a>. Because lachrymatory agents work on <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544263/">nerve receptors</a> that help us sense heat, they also induce an intense burning sensation.</p> <p>The combined effects of pepper spray can last anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour.</p> <p>Lachrymatory agents emerged on the <a href="https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/germans-introduce-poison-gas">battlefields of World War I</a>. Artillery shells were filled with chemicals such as <a href="https://www.compoundchem.com/2014/05/17/chemical-warfare-ww1/">xylyl bromide and chloroacetone</a> and fired at enemy soldiers. Agents that induce choking, blistering and vomiting were added as the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/10/science/chemical-weapons-world-war-1-armistice.html">chemical arms race</a> escalated.</p> <p>In the 1920s, the <a href="https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/bio/1925-geneva-protocol/">Geneva Protocol</a> was enacted to ban the use of indiscriminate and often ineffective chemical weapons on the battlefield. Today, the unjustified use of chemical riot control agents <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/201242913130963418.html">threatens to erode</a> the systems that are meant to protect us from the most dangerous weaponised chemicals.</p> <p><em>Written by Gabriel da Silva. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-makes-pepper-spray-so-intense-and-is-it-a-tear-gas-a-chemical-engineer-explains-140441">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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