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Winner of the World's Ugliest Dog Contest announced

<p>The annual World's Ugliest Dog contest has unearthed some true diamonds in the ruff, with one long-tongued frizz-ball being honoured with the title of the ugliest dog in the world. </p> <p>At the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, an eight-year-old Pekingese called Wild Thang was crowned the winner and collected the $5,000 cash prize, after failing to take home the prize five years in a row. </p> <p>"He was a fan favorite … he's kind of like the bridesmaid and never the bride," judge Fiona Ma told the <em>Associated Press</em>.</p> <p>"He really tugged at our heart strings and deserved to win."</p> <p>Wild Thang's strange looks stem from a virus he contracted as a puppy that almost killed him, but instead left him with permanent damage.</p> <p>As a result, his teeth never developed, so his tongue flops out, and his right front leg paddles all the time.</p> <p>"He's never had a hair cut so that is the way he is and [his owner] shaves his stomach and he likes to sleep on ice packs," Ma added.</p> <p>"He is just a sweet dog – I was just holding him and he loves to be held and cuddled. That's part of it, these rescue dogs, they just need forever homes, so please adopt, don't shop."</p> <p>Organisers stressed that the contest is not about making fun of the unusual looking dogs, "but having fun with some wonderful characters and showing the world that these dogs are really beautiful!"</p> <p><em>Image credits: JOHN G MABANGLO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Editorial </em></p>

Family & Pets

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Loyalty programs may limit competition, and they could be pushing prices up for everyone

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alexandru-nichifor-1342216">Alexandru Nichifor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/scott-duke-kominers-1494057">Scott Duke Kominers</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/harvard-university-1306">Harvard University</a></em></p> <p>Loyalty programs enable firms to offer significantly lower prices to some of their customers. You’d think this would encourage strong competition.</p> <p>But that isn’t always what actually happens. <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4377561">New research</a> shows that paradoxically, by changing the way companies target customers, loyalty programs can sometimes reduce price competition. The research also points to solutions.</p> <h2>A win-win proposition?</h2> <p>Joining a loyalty program is supposed to be a win-win. You – the customer – get to enjoy perks and discounts, while the company gains useful commercial insights and builds brand allegiance.</p> <p>For example, a hotel chain loyalty program might reward travellers for frequent stays, with points redeemable for future bookings, upgrades or other benefits. The hotel chain, in turn, records and analyses how you spend money and encourages you to stay with them again.</p> <p>Such programs are commonplace across many industries – appearing everywhere from travel and accommodation to supermarket or petrol retailing. But they are increasingly coming under scrutiny.</p> <p>In 2019, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/publications/customer-loyalty-schemes-final-report">cautioned</a> consumers about the sheer volume of personal data collected when participating in a loyalty program, and what companies can do with it.</p> <p>Hidden costs – such as having to pay a redemption fee on rewards or losing benefits when points expire – are another way these schemes can harm consumers.</p> <p>But a larger question – how loyalty programs impact consumers overall – remains difficult to settle, because their effect on competitiveness is unclear. As the ACCC’s <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/publications/customer-loyalty-schemes-final-report">final report</a> notes, on the one hand: "Loyalty schemes can have pro-competitive effects and intensify competition between rivals leading to competing loyalty discounts and lower prices for consumers."</p> <p>But on the other hand: "Loyalty schemes can also reduce the flexibility of consumers’ buying patterns and responsiveness to competing offers, which may reduce competition."</p> <h2>How a two-speed price system can hurt everyone</h2> <p>A new economic theory research <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4377561">working paper</a>, coauthored by one of us (Kominers), suggests that on competitive grounds alone, loyalty programs can sometimes harm <em>all</em> consumers – both ordinary shoppers and the program’s own members.</p> <p>It’s easy to see how the ordinary shopper can be worse off. Since a firm’s loyalty program enables it to offer discounted prices to its members, the firm can raise the base prices it offers to everyone else. Those not participating in the program pay more than they otherwise would have, and the firm can respond by saying “join our program!” instead of having to lower its price.</p> <p>But sometimes, even the program’s own members can end up worse off.</p> <p>When a given customer’s loyalty status is not visible to a firm’s competitors – as is the case in many loyalty programs today – it’s hard for those competitors to identify them and entice them to switch.</p> <p>The main way to compete for those customers becomes to lower the base price for everyone, but this means missing out on the high base margins achieved through the existence of your own loyalty program – remember, having a loyalty program means you can charge non-members more.</p> <p>It’s often more profitable for firms to just maintain high base prices. This, in turn, reduces overall price competition for loyal customers, so firms can raise prices for them, too.</p> <h2>What’s the solution?</h2> <p>Despite these effects on competition, loyalty programs still offer benefits for consumers and an opportunity for brands to form closer relationships with them.</p> <p>So, how do we preserve these benefits while enabling price competition? The research suggests an answer: making a customer’s loyalty status verifiable, transparent and portable across firms. This would make it possible for firms to tailor offers for their competitors’ loyal customers.</p> <p>This is already happening in the market for retail electricity. While there aren’t loyalty programs there per se, a consumer’s energy consumption profile, which could be used by a competitor to calibrate a personalised offer, is known only to their current electricity supplier.</p> <p>To address this, in 2015, the Victorian government launched a <a href="https://compare.energy.vic.gov.au">program</a> encouraging households to compare energy offers. This process involved first revealing a customer’s energy consumption profile to the market, and then asking retailers to compete via personalised offers.</p> <p>By opening information that might have otherwise been hidden to the broader market, this approach enabled firms to compete for each other’s top customers, in a way that could be emulated for loyalty programs.</p> <p>Such systems in the private sector could build upon “<a href="https://thepointsguy.com/guide/airline-status-matches-challenges/">status match</a>” policies at airlines. These allow direct transfer of loyalty status, but currently rely on a lengthy, individual-level verification process.</p> <p>For example, a design paradigm known as “<a href="https://hbr.org/2022/05/what-is-web3">Web3</a>” – where customer transactions and loyalty statuses are recorded on public, shared blockchain ledgers – offers a way to make loyalty transparent across the market.</p> <p>This would enable an enhanced, decentralised version of status match: a firm could use blockchain records to verifiably identify who its competitors’ loyal customers are, and directly incentivise them to switch.</p> <p>Both startups and established firms have experimented with building such systems.</p> <h2>What next?</h2> <p>New academic research helps us model and better understand when loyalty programs could be weakening supply side competition and undermining consumer welfare.</p> <p>A neat universal solution may prove elusive. But targeted government or industry interventions – centred on increasing the transparency of a customer’s loyalty status and letting them move it between firms – could help level the playing field between firms and consumers.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/220669/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alexandru-nichifor-1342216"><em>Alexandru Nichifor</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Melbourne, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/scott-duke-kominers-1494057">Scott Duke Kominers</a>, Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/harvard-university-1306">Harvard University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/loyalty-programs-may-limit-competition-and-they-could-be-pushing-prices-up-for-everyone-220669">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Westminster Dog Show waises the woof

<p dir="ltr"> It was a furry affair when 3,000 dogs - and their human companions - descended upon New York City’s Arthur Ashe Stadium for the 147th Westminster Dog Show, with their eyes set on one prize: the coveted title of Best in Show. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Westminster show, often dubbed the ‘Super Bowl of Dogs’ by its fans and supporters, is considered one of the world’s most prestigious dog events. With categories ranging from hound group to herding group, sporting, toy, and beyond, anything is paws-ible and the competition is fierce - and you’d be barking mad to think a win comes easy.</p> <p dir="ltr">The winner of each group advances through to the Best Show category, the final event of the entire weekend, and the prize that every pooch and partner hopes to take home. </p> <p dir="ltr">In 2022, a bloodhound named Trumpet seized victory, and put his name in the history books as the first bloodhound to win the competition. </p> <p dir="ltr">In 2023, Buddy Holly the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen (PBGV) followed suit, emerging victorious as the only PBGV to have claimed the title of Best in Show. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The winning moment for the Best in Show Winner, Buddy Holly, Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen! 💜✨<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WestminsterDogShow?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WestminsterDogShow</a> <a href="https://t.co/jzOVYmmtNL">pic.twitter.com/jzOVYmmtNL</a></p> <p>— Westminster Dog Show (@WKCDOGS) <a href="https://twitter.com/WKCDOGS/status/1656135503291244546?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 10, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p dir="ltr">And it was celebration all around, with Buddy’s owner and trainer Janice Hayes telling <em>Fox Sports </em>that her canine companion is “the epitome of a show dog” as nothing bothers him, and that she had been dreaming of the win since she was just 9 years old.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rummie the Pekingese took out the runner-up position, earning the honour of Reserve Best in Show. Rummie also came in at the top of the pack for the Toy Group. </p> <p dir="ltr">As for how the show’s judges made their difficult selection, Ann Ingram explained, “like all things, beauty is subjective. A dog’s attitude in the ring can help. </p> <p dir="ltr">“If the dog loves itself, you can tell. He kind of has that attitude of, you know, ‘I’m a winner’.” </p> <p dir="ltr">Other winners included Cider the English Setter in the Sporting Group, Lepshi the Bracco Italiano for his breed’s debut, fan favourite Winston the French Bulldog in the Non-sporting Group, Monty the Giant Schnauzer in the Working Group, Ribbon the Aussie Shepherd in the Herding Group, and Trouble the American Staffordshire Terrier in the Terrier Group. </p> <p dir="ltr">“With breeds like Frenchies and bulldogs, where there are health concerns with the breathing, you want to see them be able to move without any signs of distress," Ingram noted.</p> <p dir="ltr">And when it came to her feelings towards the show and its many determined entrants as a whole, she added that “there’s bigger shows numerically, but the fact that you’re actually getting the absolute cream of the cream ... is quite exciting.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The whole razzmatazz of Westminster is very special.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Outrage halts New Zealand cat-killing contest

<p>A contest planned for children in New Zealand to hunt and kill feral cats in an attempt to protect native species has been stopped following severe backlash from the public and animal rights groups.</p> <p>The event would have been part of a fundraiser organised by the North Canterbury Hunting Competition for the Rotherham School in the Canterbury region of South Island.</p> <p>A new junior category was announced by organisers on April 16 that would allow children to hunt feral cats and compete for a top prize of $NZ250 prize ($229AUD).</p> <p>The announcement sparked public outrage leading organisers to cancel the event the very next day, April 17.</p> <p>A statement released by organisers explained, "vile and inappropriate emails and messages had been sent to the school and others involved.”</p> <p>"We are incredibly disappointed in this reaction and would like to clarify that this competition is an independent community run event," the statement continued.</p> <p>Feral cats have long been an issue between animal lovers and authorities because of the potential threat they pose to other wild animals.</p> <p>Authorities say that in Australia, feral cats threaten the survival of more than 100 native species.</p> <p>Feral cats are responsible for killing millions of birds, frogs, mammals and reptiles every day, compelling authorities to arrange regular culls.</p> <p>Organisers of the contest maintained that the junior hunting tournament to kill feral cats, using a firearm or any other means, was about "protecting native birds and other vulnerable species”.</p> <p>"Our sponsors and school safety are our main priority, so the decision has been made to withdraw this category for this year to avoid further backlash at this time," it said.</p> <p>"To clarify, for all hunting categories, our hunters are required to abide by Firearms Act 1983 and future amendments as well as the Animal Welfare Act 1999.”</p> <p>Organisers had announced rules to discourage young participants from killing pets.</p> <p>Any child who brought in a microchip cat would have been disqualified, they said.</p> <p>The group mentioned that previously scheduled hunts for other categories like local pigs and deer would still go ahead.</p> <p>The New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it was "both pleased and relieved" that the junior cat-killing contest had been axed.</p> <p>"Children, as well as adults, will not be able to tell the difference between a feral, stray or a frightened domesticated cat,” it said.</p> <p>"There is a good chance someone's pet may be killed during this event. In addition, children often use air rifles in these sorts of event which increase the likelihood of pain and distress and can cause a prolonged death," it added.</p> <p>Animal rights group PETA was pleased to see the contest had been withdrawn.</p> <p>PETA’s Asia vice president Jason Barker released a statement, saying, ”Encouraging kids to hunt down and kill animals is a sure-fire way to raise adults who solve problems with violence ... We need to foster empathy and compassion in kids, not lead them to believe animals are 'less than' humans while rewarding them for brutality.”</p> <p>The contest was publicly slammed on Twitter by British comedian Ricky Gervais, who is a known animal lover with an enormous platform of 15 million followers.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">“Right. We need some new PR ideas to make the world love New Zealand. Maybe something involving kids &amp; kittens. Yes, Hargreaves?” <a href="https://t.co/E3nPTl1IHj">https://t.co/E3nPTl1IHj</a></p> <p>— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) <a href="https://twitter.com/rickygervais/status/1648732952224833536?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 19, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>"Right. We need some new PR ideas to make the world love New Zealand," he wrote.</p> <p>"Maybe something involving kids &amp; kittens. Yes, Hargreaves?”</p> <p>This is not the first official campaign against cats in New Zealand, including one that encouraged cat lovers to avoid replacing their pets when they die.</p> <p>"Cats are the only true sadists of the animal world, serial killers who torture without mercy,” said then Prime Minister John Key, who had his own cat named Moonbeam.</p> <p>Helen Blackie, a biosecurity consultant at the environmental planning and design consultancy, Boffa Miskell, has studied feral cats for over 20 years and said that numbers had risen in the last decade, and in some areas where pests were tracked by cameras, feral cats outnumbered other species like possums.</p> <p>"Historically, we know that feral cats were responsible for the extinction of six bird species and are leading agents of decline in populations of birds, bats, frogs and lizards," she told CNN affiliate RNZ.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Australian Idol’s chaotic "trainwreck" finale

<p>The reboot of<em> Australian Idol </em>on Channel 7 saw its grand finale on Sunday, March 26, and it was a chaotic ending, to say the least.</p> <p>The final episode, featuring judges Kyle Sandilands, Meghan Trainor, Harry Connick Jr and Amy Shark suffered major technical issues during a key moment in the show, as well as an unfortunate accident by one of its final three contestants.</p> <p>The trio competing for the top spot were 15-year-old Phoebe Stewart, Royston Sagigi-Baira, 23, and Josh Hannan, 20.</p> <p>Josh was the first to be eliminated, leaving Phoebe and Royston to wow the crowd.</p> <p>Just moments before the winner was to be announced, 15-year-old Phoebe slipped, resulting in her falling down the stairs and land on the ground.</p> <p>Her fellow competitor Royston was quick to lend a hand, helping her back up while she joked, “Good role models don’t do that, guys. That’s not a good example. Continue!”</p> <p>The teen again referenced her fall, telling the audience, “I just want to say thank you, everyone, and for not laughing too much when I fell down the stairs. Seriously, this has been the best. I’m so proud of myself and everyone. This has just been a gift. I’m just so grateful for everything.”</p> <p>Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last of the mishaps during the finale.</p> <p>Royston was eventually announced as the winner, taking to the stage to sing his single, <em>Invincible</em>, and although he was able to capture the crowd with his powerhouse voice, it was apparent that the audio was less than perfect.</p> <p>During his performance, he turned around with a baffled look, mumbling the lyrics until he muttered “What?”, tapping his ear, indicating he could not hear the guide track.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">What a train wreck of an ending! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/australianidol?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#australianidol</a></p> <p>— Mel (@Melwerri) <a href="https://twitter.com/Melwerri/status/1639935380605763586?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 26, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Hilarious ending lol won’t be back next year <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AustralianIdol?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AustralianIdol</a></p> <p>— Not Cheryl Kernot (@notcherylkernot) <a href="https://twitter.com/notcherylkernot/status/1639934496786247681?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 26, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">This final is so awkward….<br />Awkward jokes, awkwardness, awkward moments of talking over others, awkwaaardddd <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/australianidol?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#australianidol</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/AustralianIdol?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AustralianIdol</a></p> <p>— 💕🧡 (@m_ishka) <a href="https://twitter.com/m_ishka/status/1639939721903353856?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 26, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>Despite the technical issues during his performance, Royston was still able to celebrate his win, which included $100,000, a record deal with Sony Music and a trip to the US to work with industry icons.</p> <p>“I just want to say thank you so much to everyone who voted for me. Thank all this mob up here, all my family and friends for coming. Everyone who’s been voting, thank you so much!” Royston addressed the crowd.</p> <p>Connick Jr jumped to praise the Idol winner.</p> <p>“Your journey through the process has been one of the greatest I’ve seen. It’s been cool. It’s going to be fun to watch your career. I’m proud of you, man, really proud of you.”</p> <p>Image credit: <em>YouTube/Twitter</em></p>

TV

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Competitors put their best paw forward on the final day of Crufts

<p>Over 19,000 dogs from across the globe made their way to the NEC in Birmingham for four days of competition, each hoping to go home with the Crufts Best In Show trophy tucked between their paws. </p> <p>Over the course of the prestigious event - which began in 1891 - the dogs undergo intense grooming sessions, demonstrate their agility, show off their obedience skill, and more. </p> <p>And this year, a four-year-old Orca made history, becoming the first dog of her breed to take the top honour. </p> <p>Orca is a lagotta romagnolo, a breed that The Kennel Club describes as being “lively and affectionate”, as well as boasting an impressive and “unique talent” for hunting truffles with their heightened sense of smell.  </p> <p>Orca’s human handler, otherwise known as Javier Gonzalez Mendikote, had to drive for 25 hours to get the pair to the show, though it seems every minute of the trip was worth it - to both of them. </p> <p>Of their reception back home, Javier felt strongly that they would be pleased, stating that he was “sure we will have a huge party.”</p> <p>One that it seems Orca will be more than happy about - like, it seems, all things in her life - with the audience informed that she “never stops wagging” her tail. </p> <p>As Ante Lucin, one of Orca’s owners, put it, “she is a little superstar, but this is beyond all expectations. I was crying too much watching from the seats, it was very emotional. </p> <p>“Orca is everything you could ever want in a dog, she is happy and healthy.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">What a winner! Orca the Lagotto Romagnolo is your 2023 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Crufts?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Crufts</a> Best in Show!🐶🏆💚 <a href="https://t.co/oVldA3oR3Y">pic.twitter.com/oVldA3oR3Y</a></p> <p>— Crufts (@Crufts) <a href="https://twitter.com/Crufts/status/1635022538312138753?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 12, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>Javier went on to stress his belief that Orca’s win is “really important” for her breed, especially as it increases in popularity across both the UK and the US. </p> <p>Although Orca was crowned Best In Show, her success wasn’t limited to that one award. The curly-coated canine also won in the gundog group - one of seven categories in the 2023 competition, this one evaluating dogs that were originally trained in finding live game. </p> <p>An honourable mention, of course, goes to the Channel 4 People’s Vote winner - an Irish wolfhound called Paris, whose owner is Chris Amoo, lead singer of The Real Thing. </p> <p>The show’s manager, Vanessa McAlpine, was pleased with the year’s events, declaring it to be “triumphant”.</p> <p>“Congratulations to Orca, who helped end this year’s competition on a real high, taking the coveted best in show award alongside her handler, Javier,” she said. “The pair were very deserving winners and it was clear to see their strong relationship together in the ring.” </p> <p><em>Images: Getty </em></p>

Family & Pets

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Kate Middleton flexes her competitive side against Prince William

<p>Prince William and Kate Middleton have gone head to head in a seemingly friendly competition as the royal couple attended a spin class in South Wales. </p> <p>The Prince and Princess of Wales took each other on in a 45-second spin class sprint at the Aberavon Leisure and Fitness Centre in Port Talbot, with Kate leaving her husband in the metaphorical dust. </p> <p>Much to her surprise, the princess took out the title in the "Tour de Aberavon" and was handed a little gold cup, which she looked at proudly.</p> <p>Kate's win was made even more impressive as she competed while wearing a black-and-white houndstooth-print skirt, which was paired with Gianvito Rossi suede boots with a 10-centimetre heel.</p> <p>For the competition, Prince William was dressed in a navy suit and suede lace-up shoes for the series of engagements the couple made on the trip ahead of St David's Day – a day celebrating the nation's patron saint.</p> <p>The virtual race was themed to be an uphill ride through the Italian mountains, as Prince William told others in the room, "Sorry for ruining your spin class." </p> <p>As he climbed on the stationary bike, the royal realised his wife's shoes, pointing out, "You have got high heels on".</p> <p>Kate agreed, saying, "Not sure I am dressed for this."</p> <p>However, once on her bike the mum-of-three was seen adjusting the gears, asking as she laughed, "Can I make it harder?" </p> <p>Kate was visibly catching her breath at the end of the race, while Prince William gasped for air.</p> <p> </p> <p>"Talk to you in a minute," he joked to the class.</p> <p>The competitive dad-of-three, who has regularly been spotted cycling with his kids near their Norfolk home, had everyone laughing soon after.</p> <p>"I think I tore my pants!" he said.</p> <p>The couple visited the fitness centre to hear about how the facility was helping the local community with mental health through exercise.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Beauty & Style

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Woolworths announce major giveaway

<p>Woolworths is giving its Everyday Rewards members a year’s worth of free food - here’s how to enter.</p> <p>Woolworths has announced a major giveaway to mark the start of its new Bricks Farm promotion.</p> <p>To celebrate the official launch, Woolworths is giving its Everyday Rewards members a chance to win a year’s worth of fresh food.</p> <p>The latest collectibles campaign starts Wednesday, February 8th, where shoppers also have the chance to score one Bricks Farm pack with any $30 purchase in-store and online.</p> <p>The supermarket is also giving away 10,000 Everyday Rewards points to 100 members as part of the promotion.</p> <p>Entering is easy - customer’s just need to spend $30, scanning or linking their Everyday Rewards card and they’ll be in with a chance to win a share of $180,000 in Woolworths gift cards.</p> <p>The latest collectibles campaign is focused on the journey from farm to supermarket, praising the hard and important work Aussie farmers do.</p> <p>“As Today’s Fresh Food People, it is important that we share and celebrate the role our Aussie farmers play in providing the fresh produce customers enjoy,” Woolworths Group Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Hicks said.</p> <p>The lego-style collectibles include a farmer, a beekeeper, various farm animals, fruit and vegetables, a chicken coop, a drone, a fruit and vegetable buyer and fruit trees. The idea is for customers to create their own farm ecosystem.</p> <p>This is the second promotion Woolworths has done in partnership with Bricks Farm.</p> <p>“We hope the second chapter of our Bricks collectible once again encourages our customers to learn more about where their food comes from through interactive play.” Hicks said.</p> <p><em>Image credit: shutterstock</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Stunning winners of the Historic Photographer of the Year awards

<p>The stunning winners of the 2022 Historic Photographer of the Year competition have been announced. </p> <p>With over 1,200 entires submitted, judges were looking for photographs that "capture the very best historic sites that the world has to offer", while showing "originality, composition and technical proficiency".</p> <p>The contest is run by content platform History Hit, who said, "Entries ranged from ancient structures steeped in legend, to well-known, incredibly preserved historic sites around the world."</p> <p>"While some photographs gave new perspectives on prestigious historic sites such as the ancient city of Petra, others highlighted surprising histories of industrialisation, abandonment and endurance."</p> <p>Dan Snow, Creative Director at History Hit, said, "As always, judging these awards was a highlight for me. It is clear that the stunning entries that make up the shortlist are the product of patience, technical skill, and an awareness of both the past and the present. The creativity and talent on show was next to none."</p> <p>The winning photographs feature extraordinary weather phenomenons in the UK, abandoned structures, historic villages in Asia, ancient cities in the Middle East, and other-worldly displays in a Spanish church.<span style="background-color: #ffffff;"><span style="font-family: graphik, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: large;"><strong><span style="letter-spacing: -0.18px;"> </span></strong></span></span></p> <p><em>All image credits: Historic Photographer of the Year 2022</em></p>

Art

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Artists furious after AI-generated art wins contest

<p dir="ltr">A stunning artwork generated by artificial intelligence has claimed first prize at an art competition, enraging the art world and calling into question what it means to be an artist. </p> <p dir="ltr">The work was “created” by Jason M Allen, a game designer from Colorado, who won first place in the emerging artist division's "digital arts/digitally manipulated photography" category at the Colorado State Fair Fine Arts Competition.</p> <p dir="ltr">His winning image, titled <em>Théâtre D'opéra Spatial</em> (French for Space Opera Theatre), was made with Midjourney — an artificial intelligence system that can produce detailed images when fed written prompts by the user. </p> <p dir="ltr">"I'm fascinated by this imagery. I love it. And I think everyone should see it," Allen, 39, told CNN Business.</p> <p dir="ltr">Allen's winning image looks like a bright, surreal cross between a Renaissance and steampunk painting.</p> <p dir="ltr">As per the category Allen competed in, he told officials that Midjourney was used to create his image when he entered the contest, as the category dictated entrants use "digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process".</p> <p dir="ltr">Midjourney is one of a growing number of such AI image generators, joining the likes of Imagen and DALL-E to give the artistically-challenged the means to create stunning images. </p> <p dir="ltr">Despite the parameters of the category, many artists were angered by Allen’s win due to his reliance on technology to create the artwork. </p> <p dir="ltr">"This sucks for the exact same reason we don't let robots participate in the Olympics," one Twitter user wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">"This is the literal definition of 'pressed a few buttons to make a digital art piece'," another Tweeted.</p> <p dir="ltr">"AI artwork is the 'banana taped to the wall' of the digital world now."</p> <p dir="ltr">Yet while Allen didn't use a paintbrush to create his winning piece, he assured people there was plenty of work involved.</p> <p dir="ltr">"It's not like you're just smashing words together and winning competitions," he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Rather than hating on the technology or the people behind it, we need to recognise that it's a powerful tool and use it for good so we can all move forward rather than sulking about it," Allen said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Jason M Allen - Midjourney</em></p>

Art

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Stunning finalists’ images for photography competition revealed

<p dir="ltr">The phenomenal images from the finalists of the prestigious Weather Photographer of the Year have been revealed. </p> <p dir="ltr">Photographers from 119 countries submitted their stunning images which range from dramatic storms, frozen and frosty vistas, spectacular sunsets, impacts of climate change and curious weather phenomena. </p> <p dir="ltr">The talented professionals and amateur photographers were able to capture spectacular landscapes which are affected differently depending on the weather. </p> <p dir="ltr">Professor Liz Bentley, Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) said the competition is an exciting opportunity to explore never before seen moments.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I am always amazed by something new, something I haven’t seen before, or a new angle that reignites my passion for discussing the weather,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As the competition has grown over the past seven years, it has allowed us to create a platform where more stories can be told about the majesty and awe of the world’s weather and witness scenes of the impacts of climate change, which can help to prompt action.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Members of the public will be able to vote for their favourite photograph with the winners expected to be announced on October 6.</p> <p dir="ltr">Check out some of the exciting photos below. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: RMetS</em></p>

International Travel

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Australian Life photography finalists announced

<p dir="ltr">From capturing the devastating impact of this year’s floods to celebrating Australia’s numerous cultures, the 28 photographers who have made this year’s finalists list for the <a href="https://www.artandabout.com.au/australian-life-photography-competition/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Australian Life</a> photography competition have met and exceeded the brief.</p> <p dir="ltr">The annual competition, run by the City of Sydney, calls on casual, amateur and professional photographers to capture the stories, people and scenes that make up the personality of Australia.</p> <p dir="ltr">Finalists are in the running for two awards: a $10,000 Grand Prize awarded to the most outstanding work in the exhibition as decided by a panel of judges, and The People’s Choice Award, which offers an Olympus professional pack valued at over $5,000 to the photographer who receives the most votes from the public.</p> <p dir="ltr">Public voting will be open until 5pm on September 13 through the City of Sydney’s <a href="https://news.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/photos/australian-life-photography-competition-finalists-2022?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=organic_social&utm_content=post&utm_campaign=aus-life22&fbclid=IwAR1aHNAa-se4izUakcxCyEkV8MC3nCJYlqOu7TkinaXCygc2rm-vh4Ar8aQ" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">The carefully chosen finalists will be on show in an outdoor gallery at Sydney’s Hyde Park from September 15 until October 9, with the winners of the awards to be announced when the exhibition opens.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-7407dfbd-7fff-4420-b1ab-2a9a7275b302"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">To help you decide on your favourite, we’ve compiled all of the finalists below.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Matthew Abbott / Bob McKendry / Elise Derwin</em></p>

Family & Pets

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"My mind is blown": MasterChef winner crowned!

<p dir="ltr">Billie McKay has been announced as <em>MasterChef Fans &amp; Favourites</em> winner!</p> <p dir="ltr">The seventh season winner was up against Sarah Todd, who came ninth on the sixth season of <em>MasterChef</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">The pair went head-to-head for the glorious $250,000 prize money on Tuesday night which saw Billie beat Sarah by just a few points. </p> <p dir="ltr">This makes Billie the first person to win two seasons of <em>MasterChef.</em> </p> <p dir="ltr">The first round of the grand finale gave Billie and Sarah the option of choosing between a mystery box or to cook a dish that was both sweet and savoury. </p> <p dir="ltr">Both Billie and Sarah opted for the latter and made cumin panna cotta with rosemary and rhubarb and sticky chicken wingettes with glaze respectively. </p> <p dir="ltr">Sarah was praised by the judges for “hitting the brief” with Melissa Leong describing it as a “very well-balanced plate of food.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She received 26 points. </p> <p dir="ltr">Billie’s panna cotta unfortunately did not set in time which saw her accept the “major fail”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I am so disappointed for you. It’s the foundational aspect of this entire dish and it’s not set – that’s a really tough pill to swallow,” Melissa said.</p> <p dir="ltr">While judge Andy Allen said it was “delicious – but it could be better with a set panna cotta.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She received 21 points.</p> <p dir="ltr">The second and final round was tough for Billie who was already five points behind Sarah but the pair rallied on. </p> <p dir="ltr">Guest chef Heston Blumenthal arrived and gave Billie and Sarah five hours and 15 minutes to replicate his epic dish, taffety tart. </p> <p dir="ltr">Both contestants were faced with a few mishaps along the way before placing their dish to be judged. </p> <p dir="ltr">Once again, Sarah went first with judge Jock Zonfrillo saying her dish was “just as good” as Heston’s. Melissa called it an “extraordinary effort”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Andy however pointed out a few issues which gave a bit of a window for Billie.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sarah received 30 points out of 40 bringing her total score to 56. </p> <p dir="ltr">The judges' tasted Billie’s dish and were in awe at the precision and taste. </p> <p dir="ltr">Andy described the dish on “another level of precision and finesse”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Everything is there, present and correct. My mind is blown,” Melissa said. </p> <p dir="ltr">Billie shot to the lead when she received 37 points out of 40 bringing her total score to 58. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Channel 10</em></p>

TV

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World’s Ugliest Dog crowned

<p dir="ltr">A 17-year-old dog called Mr Happy Face has been dubbed the world’s ugliest dog. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Chihuahua-Chinese crested mix has an evil scientist look to it with a long tongue hanging out and boofy white hair. </p> <p dir="ltr">The event was held on June 25, with dog owners from around the US coming together to see whether or not their pet will win the title of the world’s ugliest dog. </p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Happy Face, who was adopted by musician Jeneda Benally in August 2021, was told by the shelter that he only had a few weeks left to live due to being neglected and the tumours he had. </p> <p dir="ltr">She said that Mr Happy Face “chose her” when she found out another dog she wanted had already been adopted. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I saw a creature who was indeed old, needed a second chance and deserved to be loved,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“He came from a hoarder’s house where the conditions were deplorable. He was a survivor of abuse and neglect.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When I first met him, he was the happiest creature that I had ever met. He hobbled up to me and chose me. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I vowed that day, he would be so loved that he would never remember how awful his previous life had been. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Love, kindness and mommy kisses have helped him defy the anticipated short life that we all expected him to have with our family.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I don’t feel like I have the world’s ugliest dog, I feel like I’ve got the world’s most-loved dog who is bringing happiness to everybody.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Jeneda won a total of $US1500 ($A2170) after Mr Happy Face won the competition. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds Event Center</em></p>

Family & Pets

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More than just MasterChef: a brief history of Australian cookery competitions

<p>Australians were involved in competitive cookery long before MasterChef.</p> <p>The earliest of Australia’s cooking competitions were at agricultural shows. In 1910, the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW hosted its first competition for “perishable foods” at the Royal Easter Show.</p> <p>Along with pastry and pickles, competitors could also be judged on their calf’s foot jelly.</p> <p>By the 1920s, the cookery category at the Easter Show had been firmly established. It was purely the preserve of women. Men were prohibited from entering and wouldn’t be allowed to enter until after the second world war.</p> <p>Women living in NSW and the ACT also entered their wares in the Country Women’s Association’s <a href="https://cwaofnsw.org.au/Web/Committees/The-Land-Cookery/Web/Committees/The-Land-Cookery.aspx?hkey=0892996d-3e2d-40e4-9738-68b313192c77">The Land Cookery Competition</a>. Starting in 1949, the competition judged women on their ability to bake classics such as fruit cake, butter cake and lamingtons, offering modest prize money to the winners. It is still running today.</p> <p>These competitions are grounded in a history of cooking which saw women as “cooks” and men as “chefs”. Women were amateurs working in the home, while men worked in professional kitchens. This phenomenon <a href="https://theconversation.com/macho-kitchens-sludge-eating-techies-and-miracle-diets-how-did-food-get-so-tricky-54332">continues today</a>.</p> <p>Cookery competitions allowed women to receive recognition for their often-overlooked hard work and skill. Contestants were encouraged to break out of their comfort zones, to be creative, innovate and impress.</p> <h2>Magazine cookery competitions</h2> <p>With women as their key demographic, it is little wonder that, by the 1960s, women’s magazines such as the <a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/collection/womensweekly/browse">Australian Women’s Weekly</a> began hosting large-scale cookery competitions open to readers around the country.</p> <p>Perhaps the most extravagant of these competitions was the Butter-White Wings Bake-Off, which ran from 1963 to 1970. The competition pitted Australia’s best home bakers against each other in a variety of categories, including cakes, desserts, main courses and “busy lady recipes”.</p> <p>Entering their written recipes, contestants competed at state level for a chance to win a trip to the national final where they would cook for illustrious judges.</p> <p>Thousands competed at the state level of these competitions, and one from each state and territory would go on to the final. These were held in either Sydney or Melbourne in front of live audiences, usually in the middle of a department store.</p> <p>The 1970 final was televised, with the Weekly estimating <a href="http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45652547">two million viewers</a> would watch the proceedings.</p> <p>It was Australia’s first televised cooking competition.</p> <h2>Marketing and celebrities</h2> <p>Just as MasterChef is sponsored by advertisers, the cookery competitions hosted in the Weekly proved to be lucrative marketing opportunities for a variety of sponsors. The prizes, provided by sponsors such as Breville and QANTAS, included cash, fur coats, appliances, cars and overseas holidays.</p> <p>The choice of judges also offers us a glimpse of the glamour associated with the competitions as well as the continued gendered expectations surrounding cookery. A slew of early “celebrity chefs” were flown in from exotic, international destinations to judge the competition – including the Galloping Gourmet himself, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Kerr">Graham Kerr</a>.</p> <p>These celebrity chefs judged the main course section; the overtly feminine baking sections were judged primarily by women.</p> <p>It was in the cake section that contestants really went above and beyond, both in the recipes themselves and in their names. In 1968, <a href="http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46186768">prize-winning recipes</a> included “Golden Crown Dessert”, “Marshmallow-Cherry Cake”, “Chocolate Gold Layer Cake” and “Peach <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuchen">Kuchen</a>”.</p> <p>Peach Kuchen, which won the “Busy Lady” section, was made with a packet of White Wings cake mix, a tin of peaches and some sour cream. The Bake-Off helped to popularise (and sell!) boxed cake mixes: even the “busy woman” could create delicious cakes deserving of accolades.</p> <h2>A dizzying progression</h2> <p>The last Butter-White Wings Bake-Off was held in 1970, but the magazine kept hosting cooking competitions. In 1980, Elizabeth Love was crowned “Best Cook in Australia.”</p> <p>Her <a href="http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44795690">prize-winning menu</a> included oysters in pastry cases, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballotine">ballotine</a> of duckling with baby vegetables and a red wine jus, mango sorbet and almond petits fours.</p> <p>In a recent <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nightlife/remembering-the-womens-weekly-cookbooks/13440234">interview</a>, Love reflected that her menu drew on the concepts of nouvelle cuisine, which was popular at the time. It was an ambitious menu for a home cook – however Love declared that she didn’t think it would do very well if she went on MasterChef today.</p> <p>Her menu demonstrates the dizzying progression of Australian food over the past 40 years.</p> <p>Cookery competitions like those held in the Weekly gradually disappeared, replaced instead by competitions on television, which have grown in popularity over the last two decades.</p> <p>Like the magazine cookery competitions of the past, where contestants were inventive and used new and exciting ingredients, television competitions have also proved important for introducing the Australian palate to innovative cooking techniques and exotic ingredients.</p> <p>Our ongoing fascination with cooking competition shows such as MasterChef reflects the prestige still on offer for those ambitious contestants who enter them, as well as the cultural importance of food.</p> <p>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/more-than-just-masterchef-a-brief-history-of-australian-cookery-competitions-169840" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</p>

TV

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I scream, you scream we all scream for ice-cream

<p dir="ltr">Peters Ice Cream has been slapped with a massive $12 million fine after it was caught preventing competitors from selling their products at petrol stations and convenience stores.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Federal Court found that Peters, from November 2014 to December 2019, made a sketchy deal with their transport partner PFD Food Services to not sell competitor’s ice cream without prior consent.  </p> <p dir="ltr">The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), who prosecuted Peters in court, said the deal very clearly reduced competition and reduced options for consumers.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is an important competition law case involving products enjoyed by many Australians,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We took this action because we were concerned that Peters Ice Cream’s conduct could reduce competition in this market and impact on the choice of single-serve ice-creams available to consumers.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Other ice cream manufacturers who make Bulla, Gelativo and Pure Pops had approached PFD asking them to distribute their product.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, PFD said they were unable to distribute the ice creams due to its exclusive deal with Peters. </p> <p dir="ltr">"Peters Ice Cream admitted that if PFD had not been restricted from distributing other manufacturers' ice cream products, it was likely that one or more potential competitors would have entered or expanded in this market,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb continued.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This case is a reminder to all businesses of the serious and costly consequences of engaging in anti-competitive conduct.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The ACCC is targeting exclusive arrangements by firms with market power that impact competition as one of our compliance and enforcement priorities for 2022/23.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Peters Ice Cream was ordered to establish a compliance program for three years and pay a contribution to the ACCC’s legal costs.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Men are just more competitive? Science says it’s not that simple

<p>When trying to understand America’s persistent gender wage gap, researchers have in the past decade suggested that women are less competitive than men, and are therefore passed over for higher-ranking roles.</p> <p>But a new study from the University of Arizona shows it’s probably not that simple; in fact, women are just as likely to enter into a competition as men – but only when there’s the option to share their winnings with the losers.</p> <p>The <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2111943118" target="_blank">study</a>, published today in <em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,</em> was led by Mary Rigdon from the University of Arizona’s Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, in cooperation with Alessandra Cassar, a professor of economics at the University of San Francisco.</p> <p><strong>Gender wage gap persists</strong></p> <p>In 2021, women will earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, says Rigdon. This means women work nearly three months more to receive the same amount of pay as men. When these results are adjusted to cover age, experience, and level of education, women still earn about 98 cents on the male dollar – in other words, an equally qualified woman is paid 2% less than her male counterparts.</p> <p>Economists have considered a few possible explanations for this, Rigdon says. One theory, known as the “human capital explanation”, suggests that there are gender differences in certain skills, leading women to careers that pay less. Another theory – perhaps the most widely considered – is patent discrimination.</p> <p>The researchers decided to test the other prevailing theory – the competitiveness theory – because they reasoned that if women were so reluctant to compete, they would occupy fewer high-ranking positions at the top of major companies, a trend that is not represented in the growing presence of women in leadership roles.</p> <p>“We thought it must be the case that women are as competitive as men, but they just exhibit it differently, so we wanted to try to get at that story and demonstrate that that is the case,” Rigdon says. “Because that’s then a very different story about the gender wage gap.”</p> <p><strong>Testing a troublesome theory</strong></p> <p>Rigdon and Cassar randomly assigned 238 participants – split nearly evenly by gender – to two different groups for the study. Participants in each of the two groups were then assigned to four-person subgroups.</p> <p>For all participants, the first round of the study was the same: each was asked to look at tables of 12 three-digit numbers with two decimal places and find the two numbers that add to 10. Participants were asked to solve as many tables as possible – up to 20 – in two minutes. Each participant was paid $2 for every table they solved in the first round.</p> <p>In round two, participants were asked to do the same task, but the two groups were incentivized differently. In the first group, the two participants in each four-person team who solved the most tables earned $4 per table solved, while their other two team members were given nothing. In the other group, the top two performers of each four-person team also earned $4 per table, but they had the right to decide how much of the prize money to share with one of the lower performing participants.</p> <p>In the third round, all participants were allowed to choose which payment scheme they preferred from the two previous rounds. For half the study participants, this meant a choice between a guaranteed $2 per correct table, or potentially $4 per correct table if they became one of the top two performers in their four-person subgroup. For the other half of the participants, the choice was $2 per correct table, or $4 per correct table for the top-two performers with the option to share the winnings with one of the losing participants.</p> <p>The number of women who chose the competitive option nearly doubled when given the option to share their winnings; about 60% chose to compete under that option, while only about 35% chose to compete in the winner-take-all version of the tournament.</p> <p>About 51% of men in the study chose the winner-take-all option, and 52.5% chose the format that allowed for sharing with the losers.</p> <p>While the sample size is relatively small, the results deserve attention.</p> <p>Rigdon and Cassar have a few theories about why women might be more inclined to compete when the winnings are shared. One suggests that female participants are interested in controlling the way winnings are divvied up; another, popular among evolutionary psychologists, is that female participants may be inclined to smooth over bad feelings in a group setting. Yet the answer may lie less in biology and more in socialisation, perhaps that women are encouraged from a young age to be “nice=”: at this point, the jury’s still out.</p> <p>“We really have to ask what it is about this social incentive that drives women to compete,” Rigdon says. “We think it’s recognising the different costs and benefits that come from your different biological and cultural constraints. But at the end of the day, I think we still have this question.”</p> <p>Rigdon and Cassar are now designing a study to drive to the heart of that question.</p> <p>“If we’re finally going to close the gender pay gap, then we have to understand the sources of it – and also solutions and remedies for it,” Rigdon says.</p> <p><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --></p> <p><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=171365&amp;title=Men+are+just+more+competitive%3F+Science+says+it%E2%80%99s+not+that+simple" alt="" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><!-- End of tracking content syndication --></p> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/behaviour/are-men-more-competitive-than-women/" target="_blank">This article</a> was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com" target="_blank">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/amalyah-hart" target="_blank">Amalyah Hart</a>. Amalyah Hart is a science journalist based in Melbourne.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> </div>

Relationships

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Breathtaking winners of the Panoramic Photography Awards

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Each year, thousands of professional and amateur photographers from around the globe submit their entries to the annual </span><a href="https://thepanoawards.com/2021-winners-gallery/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Epson International Pano Awards</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 2021 competition saw 5,378 entries from photographers in 97 countries, all showcasing breathtaking sites from around the world. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">From the thousands of entries, American photographer Joshua Hermann was declared the overall winner with his eerie shot of the swamplands of Louisiana. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Competition curator David Evans was thrilled with the results of the 2021 entries, after the pandemic damped last year’s competition. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He said, “We thought 2020 was a challenging year, but 2021 took things to a whole new level. That said, despite the pandemic and so many other challenges the entries this year were nothing short of amazing.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We are, yet again, overwhelmed with the level of support from entrants and sponsors, especially Epson, and we thank you all so very much and also congratulate all this year’s winners and entrants.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Check out a selection of the winners and shortlisted photographs below.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">All image credits:</span></em></p> <ol> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Louisiana Swamp - Joshua Hermann</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Three Peaks in the Italian Dolomites - Daniel Trippolt</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Iceland waterfall - Simon Xu</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Golden Gate Bridge - Wei Lian</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Russian Republic of Karelia - Petr Ushanov</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Switzerland Alps - Max Rive</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Torres del Paine National Park in Chile - Piriya Wongkongkathep</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Dubai skyscraper  - Sebastian Tontsch</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lightning over Montana, USA - Peter Jiang</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Moonrise over Los Angeles - Elliot McGucken</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Snow in New South Wales - Ray Jennings</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">‘The Glory of Rome’ - Jatenipat Ketpradit</span></em></li> </ol>

Travel Tips

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Nine-year-old competition winner will have her art displayed in the White House

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A talented nine-year-old girl has won a coveted prize with her original drawing that holds an aspirational message. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gabrielle Faisal from Detroit </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">entered a White House student art competition with a drawing inspired by African-American history, and won against over 500 competitors. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The artwork, titled Enslaved African Americans Built the White House, features two Black hands bound in shackles holding up the White House with an American flag in the background. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The young artist explained the meaning behind her artwork to Fox 2 News Detroit, explaining its historical significance. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The white stripes represent the purity of the struggle,” Gabrielle said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The blue means justice and the white stars represent the unity for all people.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The organisers of the White House History Association’s National Student Art Competition were on the lookout for creativity, depth and historical relevance from the hundred of entrants. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rashid, Gabrielle’s father, said his daughter’s choice of art came naturally as she was inspired by things she had learned about African-American culture and history.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I have a home library which is filled with books on African-American history, Blacks who were part of building the White House.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“So for her, when it came to time to do art, it was just organic for her,” he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As well as winning first place in her age bracket, Gabrielle also won a $1,000 cash prize and a trip to Washington, D.C.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Her painting will be displayed in the White House visitor centre until September 22nd. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Shutterstock/Instagram</span></em></p>

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