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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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Australia’s decisive win on plain packaging paves way for other countries to follow suit

<p>The decision, <a href="https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news20_e/435_441abr_e.htm">handed down on June 9 by the World Trade Organisation’s appeals body</a>, that Australia’s plain packaging tobacco control policy doesn’t flout WTO laws marks the end of almost a decade of legal wrangling over this landmark public health policy. And more importantly, it paves the way for other nations around the world to follow Australia’s lead.</p> <p>In 2012 Australia became the first country in the world to implement <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2011A00148">tobacco plain packaging laws</a>, having recognised that the tobacco industry uses packaging both to market cigarettes and to undermine health warnings.</p> <p>The industry has long acknowledged the powerful role of packaging design in attracting consumers and reinforcing brand image. A <a href="https://www.printinnovationasia.com/single-post/2017/01/18/The-Premiumisation-of-Cigarette-Packaging-in-Indonesia">2017 trade article</a> on the “premiumisation” of cigarettes explained the rationale behind glossy packaging:</p> <p><em>Features such as velvet touch, soft touch, etching, rise and relief can be applied across the surface of the packaging to make the product more impactful and raise customer engagement. The look of the packaging such as intense metallics through the use of foil simulation inks can also give cigarette packaging the luxurious effect and adds on to the premium feel of the product.</em></p> <p>A Cancer Research UK video shows how children react to glossy cigarette packs.</p> <p>The “plain packaging” mandated by Australia’s laws is in fact anything but. It features <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/smoking-and-tobacco/tobacco-control/tobacco-plain-packaging">graphic, full-colour health warnings</a> presented on a drab brown background. Brand logos, designs, emblems, and slogans are banned; product brand names remain, but must appear in a standardised font.</p> <p>The result means tobacco packages can no longer serve as mini billboards that make cigarettes look aspirational and desirable.</p> <p><strong>Legal challenges</strong></p> <p>The tobacco industry launched three separate legal challenges to the law. First, JT International and British American Tobacco filed a lawsuit in the Australian High Court. Next, tobacco firm Philip Morris sought legal protection for its packaging designs under an existing investment treaty between Australia and Hong Kong. Finally, the industry filed a dispute through the WTO on behalf of four tobacco-producing countries: Cuba, Honduras, Indonesia and the Dominican Republic.</p> <p>In 2012 the High Court <a href="https://www.tobaccocontrollaws.org/litigation/decisions/au-20121005-jt-intl.-and-bat-australasia-l">ruled in favour of the Australian government</a>, and in 2015 the investment treaty tribunal <a href="https://www.tobaccocontrollaws.org/litigation/decisions/au-20151217-philip-morris-asia-v-australia">dismissed Philip Morris Asia’s claim</a>. The WTO also <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-wto-tobacco-ruling/australia-wins-landmark-wto-ruling-on-plain-tobacco-packaging-idUSKBN1JO2BF">ruled in Australia’s favour</a> in 2018, but the Dominican Republic and Honduras appealed.</p> <p>That appeal was denied last week, meaning all legal challenges to Australia’s plain packaging laws have now been finally and decisively overruled – more than a decade after the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd <a href="https://tobaccolabels.ca/australia-announces-plain-packaging/">first announced the policy</a> in April 2010.</p> <p><strong>No more industry blocking</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/435_441abr_conc_e.pdf">WTO’s appeal body agreed</a> plain packaging laws are likely to improve public health and that they are not unfairly restrictive to trade.</p> <p>The appeal was not expected to succeed, so the ruling comes as no surprise. But despite this, legal wrangling has become a <a href="https://untobaccocontrol.org/kh/legal-challenges/court-cases-litigation-policy-brief/">standard tobacco industry practice</a>, particularly through international channels such as the WTO. One reason is because the slow and cumbersome legal process can serve as a deterrent to other countries, who may hold off implementing similar laws until the legal outcome is known.</p> <p>Encouragingly, this stalling tactic seems to be losing its power. Countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, and New Zealand have all forged ahead with plain packaging legislation despite the outstanding appeal.</p> <p>Now, however, lower-income countries can also confidently pursue plain packaging measures <a href="https://www.mccabecentre.org/news-and-updates/tobacco-plain-packaging-legal-victory-for-australia.html">without fear of falling foul of the WTO</a>.</p> <p><strong>What next?</strong></p> <p>Australia’s plain packaging law was groundbreaking at the time. But now the tobacco industry has responded with a range of tactics to exploit loopholes and offset the impact on their brands, meaning governments need to come up with yet more countermeasures.</p> <p>Once plain packaging was implemented, the tobacco industry quickly trademarked new brand names, such as Imperial Tobacco’s <a href="https://open.sydneyuniversitypress.com.au/9781743323977/rtec-the-future.html">Peter Stuyvesant + Loosie</a>, which contains 21 cigarettes instead of 20, and advertises the bonus cigarette within the name.</p> <p>Canada’s <a href="https://www.cancer.ca/en/about-us/for-media/media-releases/national/2019/plain-packaging-regulations/?region=qc">plain packaging laws</a>, enacted in February 2020, directly control the size and shape of the cigarettes themselves. For example, the law bans slim cigarettes targeted at young women who associate smoking with slimness and fashion.</p> <p>Widespread plain packaging could also help curb the <a href="https://theconversation.com/big-tobacco-wants-social-media-influencers-to-promote-its-products-can-the-platforms-stop-it-129957">uprise in tobacco marketing via social media influencers</a>. A tobacco pack covered in gruesome disease imagery doesn’t make for inspiring social media content.</p> <p>The WTO upheld Australia’s plain packaging laws because the government had convincing public health research to show the positive impact of plain packaging on public attitudes to smoking.</p> <p>Seen in that light, the decision isn’t just a win for public health. It’s also an encouraging sign that evidence-based policies can defeat even the deepest of corporate pockets.</p> <p><em>Written by Becky Freeman. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/australias-decisive-win-on-plain-packaging-paves-way-for-other-countries-to-follow-suit-140553">The Conversation.</a> </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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Trump’s presidency is sinking deeper into crisis – but will he still get re-elected?

<p>Violence has <a href="https://www.thestar.com.my/news/world/2020/05/30/protests-flare-around-the-united-states-over-minneapolis-killing">erupted across several US cities</a> after the death of a black man, George Floyd, who was shown on video gasping for breath as a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck. The unrest poses serious challenges for President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden as each man readies his campaign for the November 3 election.</p> <p>If the coronavirus had not already posed a threat to civil discourse in the US, the latest flashpoint in American racial politics makes this presidential campaign potentially one of the most incendiary in history.</p> <p>COVID-19 and Minneapolis may very well form the nexus within which the 2020 campaign will unfold. Trump’s critics have assailed his handling of both and questioned whether he can effectively lead the country in a moment of crisis.</p> <p>And yet, he may not be any more vulnerable heading into the election.</p> <p><strong>A presidency in crisis?</strong></p> <p>As the incumbent, Trump certainly faces the most immediate challenges. Not since Franklin Roosevelt in the second world war has a US president presided over the deaths of so many Americans from a single cause.</p> <p>The Axis powers and COVID-19 are not analogous, but any presidency is judged by its capacity to respond to enemies like these. With <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/america-at-boiling-point-how-one-death-rocked-a-nation-numbed-by-100-000-20200529-p54xpw.html">pandemic deaths now surpassing 100,000</a>, Trump’s fortunes will be inexorably tied to this staggering (and still rising) figure.</p> <p>Worse, the Minneapolis protests are showing how an already precarious social fabric has been frayed by the COVID-19 lockdowns.</p> <p>Americans have not come together to fight the virus. Rather, they have allowed a public health disaster to deepen divisions along racial, economic, sectional and ideological lines.</p> <p>Trump has, of course, often sought to gain from such divisions. But the magnitude and severity of the twin crises he is now facing will make this very difficult. By numerous measures, his is a presidency in crisis.</p> <p>And yet.</p> <p>Trump, a ferocious campaigner, will try to find ways to use both tragedies to his advantage and, importantly, makes things worse for his challenger.</p> <p>For starters, Trump did not cause coronavirus. And <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-21/trump-accuses-china-of-coronavirus-mass-killing/12270140">he will continue to insist</a> that his great geo-strategic adversary, the Chinese Communist Party, did.</p> <p>And his is not the first presidency to be marked by the conflagration of several US cities.</p> <p>Before Minneapolis, <a href="https://www.history.com/topics/1960s/1967-detroit-riots">Detroit</a> (1967), <a href="https://www.britannica.com/event/Los-Angeles-Riots-of-1992">Los Angeles</a> (1992) and <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/08/08/ferguson-missouri-riots-5-years-since-shooting-race-tensions-worse/1952853001/">Ferguson, Missouri</a> (2014) were all the scenes of angry protests and riots over racial tensions that still haven’t healed.</p> <p>And in the 19th century, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/science/civil-war-toll-up-by-20-percent-in-new-estimate.html">750,000 Americans were killed in a civil war</a> that was fought over whether the enslavement of African-Americans was <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/how-the-constitution-was-indeed-pro-slavery/406288/">constitutional</a>.</p> <p>Trump may not have healed racial tensions in the US during his presidency. But, like coronavirus, he did not cause them.</p> <p><strong>How Trump can blame Democrats for Minneapolis</strong></p> <p>Not unhappily for Trump, Minneapolis is a largely Democratic city in a reliably blue state. He will campaign now on the failure of Democratic state leaders to answer the needs of black voters.</p> <p>Trump will claim that decades of Democratic policies in Minnesota – including the eight years of the Obama administration – have caused Minneapolis to be one of the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/30/minneapolis-racial-inequality/">most racially unequal cities</a> in the nation.</p> <p>Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis will never be mistaken for the late, great General Douglas McArthur or great fighter General George Patton. How come all of these places that defend so poorly are run by Liberal Democrats? Get tough and fight (and arrest the bad ones). STRENGTH!</p> <p>In 2016, Trump <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-jasg-_E5M">famously asked African-Americans</a> whether Democratic leaders have done anything to improve their lives.</p> <p><em>What do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump?</em></p> <p>He will repeat this mantra in the coming months.</p> <p>It also certainly helps that his support among Republican voters has never wavered, no matter how shocking his behaviour.</p> <p>He has enjoyed a stable <a href="https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/coronavirus-polls/">80% approval rating</a> with GOP voters throughout the coronavirus crisis. This has helped keep his approval rating among all voters steady as the pandemic has worsened, <a href="https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/coronavirus-polls/">hovering between 40 and 50%</a>.</p> <p>These are not terrible numbers. Yes, Trump’s leadership has contributed to a series of disasters. But if the polls are correct, he has so far avoided the kinds of catastrophe that could imperil his chances of re-election.</p> <p><strong>Why this moment is challenging for Biden</strong></p> <p>Biden should be able to make a good case to the American people at this moment that he is the more effective leader.</p> <p>But this has not yet been reflected in polls, most of which continue to give the Democrat <a href="https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-general/">only a lukewarm advantage</a> over Trump in the election.</p> <p>The other problem is that the Democratic party remains discordant. And Biden has not yet shown a capacity to heal it.</p> <p>Race has also long been a <a href="https://www.history.com/topics/us-politics/democratic-party">source of division</a> within Biden’s party. Southern Democrats, for instance, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/znycnrd/revision/4">were the key agents of slavery</a> in the 19th century and the segregation that followed it into the 20th.</p> <p>After the 1960s, Democrats sought to make themselves the natural home of African-American voters as the <a href="https://www.history.com/news/how-the-party-of-lincoln-won-over-the-once-democratic-south">Republican party courted</a> disaffected white Southern voters. The Democrats largely succeeded on that front – <a href="https://press.princeton.edu/ideas/why-are-blacks-democrats">the party routinely gets around 85-90% of black votes</a> in presidential elections.</p> <p>The challenge for Biden now is how to retain African-American loyalty to his party, while evading responsibility for the socio-economic failures of Democratic policies in cities like Minneapolis.</p> <p>He is also a white northerner (from Delaware). Between 1964 and 2008, <a href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-makes-southern-democrats-unique/">only three Democrats were elected president</a>. All of them were southerners.</p> <p>To compensate, Biden has had to rely on racial politics to separate himself from his primary challenger – <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/03/bernie-sanders-black-voters/607789/">Bernie Sanders struggled to channel black aspirations</a> – and from Republicans. And this has, at times, caused him to court controversy.</p> <p>In 2012, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYtEuuhFRPA">he warned African-Americans</a> that then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would put them “all back in chains”. And just over a week ago, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/05/28/heres-why-black-americans-were-mad-bidens-comment-even-if-theyd-say-same-thing-themselves/">he angered black voters</a> by suggesting those who would support Trump in the election “<a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-23/joe-biden-apologises-for-aint-black-comment/12279428">ain’t black</a>”.</p> <p>Biden is far better than Trump on racial issues and should be able to use the current crises to present himself as a more natural “consoler-in-chief”, but instead, he has appeared somewhat flatfooted and derided for being racially patronising.</p> <p>The opportunities COVID-19 and the Minneapolis unrest might afford his campaign remain elusive.</p> <p><strong>There is reason for hope</strong></p> <p>America enters the final months of the 2020 campaign in a state of despair and disrepair. The choice is between an opportunistic incumbent and a tin-eared challenger.</p> <p>But the US has faced serious challenges before – and emerged stronger. Neither the civil war in the 19th century or the Spanish flu pandemic in the early 20th halted the extraordinary growth in power that followed both.</p> <p>Moreover, the US constitution remains intact and federalism has undergone something of <a href="https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2020/05/04/covid-federalism/">a rebirth</a> since the start of the pandemic. And there is a new generation of younger, more diverse, national leaders being forged in the fire of crisis to help lead the recovery.</p> <p><em>Written by Timothy J. Lynch. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/as-minneapolis-burns-trumps-presidency-is-sinking-deeper-into-crisis-and-yet-he-may-still-be-re-elected-139739">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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France told to sell Mona Lisa to cover coronavirus losses

<p>France should offset its financial losses from the coronavirus pandemic by selling Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece Mona Lisa for at least €50 billion, a tech CEO has suggested.</p> <p>Stephane Distinguin, founder and CEO of tech company Fabernovel, told <em>Usbek &amp; Rica </em>magazine that the country should “sell the family jewellery” to help deal with the “unfathomable” crisis.</p> <p>“Day after day, we list the billions engulfed in this slump like children counting the fall of a stone into a well to measure its depth,” Distinguin said.</p> <p>“We are still counting, and this crisis seems unfathomable.</p> <p>“As an entrepreneur and a taxpayer, I know that these billions are not invented and that they will necessarily cost us. An obvious reflex is to sell off a valuable asset at the highest price possible, but one that is the least critical as possible to our future.”</p> <p>Distinguin said France has “a lot of paintings”, which are “easy to move and therefore to hand over”.</p> <p>He said: “In 2020, we have to get the money where it is. So sell family jewellery … The price is the crux of the matter and the main subject of controversy. The price has to be insane for the operation to make sense.”</p> <p>The 46-year-old also suggested that the 16th century Italian Renaissance painting could be “tokenised” with a form of cryptocurrency, allowing it to be shared between countries around the world.</p> <p>“It would be like a big global subscription,” he said. “Legally and technically, this solution would have many advantages: it would allow France and the Louvre to keep control of the painting.”</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2020/04/14/weo-april-2020">International Monetary Fund</a> expected France’s GDP to contract by 7.2 per cent in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Many French tourism operators also <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/tamarathiessen/2020/05/02/forget-french-travel-this-year-tourism-operators-warn/#4719c0b554bd">fear the country will remain off-limits to international visitors this year</a>.</p>

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Archie turns one! Royal baby has grown up SO fast

<p>Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the son of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, has celebrated his first birthday on May 6.</p> <p>It is hard to believe the love-struck Duke and Duchess of Sussex became parents to their first child together a year ago, but to celebrate their beautiful family we are looking back at some of little Archie’s most memorable moments.</p> <p>Archie was born on May 6, 2019 and in just one year the toddler has already achieved incredible milestones.</p> <p>To celebrate his birthday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released a video of the growing tot sitting on his mother's lap as she reads him a children's book. </p> <p>The clip was posted on behalf of Save The Children UK and seeks to help raise urgent funds for the organisation's coronavirus appeal. </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-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_2A6IwBeM-/?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="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 style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_2A6IwBeM-/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Save The Children UK (@savechildrenuk)</a> on May 6, 2020 at 4:01am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>From the most intimate moments to his highly publicised royal debuts, here are some of his most adorable moments.</p>

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Woman makes ‘monstrous’ knitted masks to encourage social distancing

<p>An Icelandic woman has promoted social distancing through a novel, innovative way: knitting.</p> <p>Knitwear designer Ýrúrarí Jóhannsdóttir has gone viral after sharing her knitted masks and other isolation creations on social media.</p> <p>The 3D masks – which feature knits of mouths, teeth and jutting tongues – have been described by fans as “grotesque”, “<a href="https://www.vogue.com/article/icelandic-knitwear-designer-tongue-masks-yrurari-johannsdottir">trippy</a>” and “<a href="https://10daily.com.au/news/a200505cmtfy/woman-makes-grotesque-knits-to-scare-people-into-social-distancing-20200505">freakish</a>”.</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/B_DKJ3xgUWt/?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/B_DKJ3xgUWt/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">I’ve been experimenting with some of my sweater ideas to wear on a face, always interesting to see the outcome 👽 It has been fun to see masks inspired by mine, good use of quarantine time to knit💜But a reminder again, my masks are not made for safety, knitted masks are not safe to start with! Take care 🦠❌🦠❌🦠 #mask #knitting #fashionforbankrobbers</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/yrurari/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Ýrúrarí</a> (@yrurari) on Apr 16, 2020 at 10:00am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <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-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B-4JbBOABY5/?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="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 style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B-4JbBOABY5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Ýrúrarí (@yrurari)</a> on Apr 12, 2020 at 3:22am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The 27-year-old designer said she has always been interested in tongues because “they are kind of rude, sticky, and strange”.</p> <p>She extended her work from sweaters to face masks due to the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>“I didn’t really make the masks to wear,” she told <em><a href="https://mashable.com/article/knitted-face-mask-tongue-lips/">Mashable</a></em>. “In my mind they are more like wearable sculptures, not made for safety [but] more as a fun approach to the rule of keeping distance.”</p> <p>“If you look scary enough people will stay away!”</p> <p>Jóhannsdóttir said the masks promoted the idea that “using masks can be fun”.</p> <p>“Everything we put on us can also be fun if we want it to, and bringing smiles to people’s faces in times like these is also important,” she told <em><a href="https://www.vogue.com/article/icelandic-knitwear-designer-tongue-masks-yrurari-johannsdottir">Vogue</a></em>.</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-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_PcEsSAByb/?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="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 style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_PcEsSAByb/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Ýrúrarí (@yrurari)</a> on Apr 21, 2020 at 4:27am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <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-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_aQTE0gOyo/?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="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 style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_aQTE0gOyo/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Ýrúrarí (@yrurari)</a> on Apr 25, 2020 at 9:16am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote>

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The Gates Foundation’s prophetic coronavirus pandemic simulation

<p>On 18 October last year, the Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum and the John Hopkins Centre for Health Security held a pandemic simulation exercise, with the aim of “educating senior leaders” about an adequate response to the type of crisis the planet is currently in the grips of.</p> <p>The simulation was called <a href="http://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/about">Event 201</a>. Fifteen participants took part in a mock pandemic emergency board. This included representatives from the UN Foundation, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Johnson &amp; Johnson, Lufthansa and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.</p> <p>Representing Australia was ANZ board member <a href="http://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/players/halton.html">Jane Halton</a>, who incidentally has been <a href="https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/morrison-shuts-down-parliament-hands-nation-corporations">appointed</a> to the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission by Scott Morrison. The NCCC is a local body of corporate representatives designed to coordinate the economy during the very real COVID-19 crisis.</p> <p>The Event 201 scenario involved a new coronavirus – a disease that causes respiratory tract infection – that developed in pigs in South America and then infected farmers. The virus spread around the world, with some people developing mild flu-like symptoms, while others perished.</p> <p>Stranger than fiction</p> <p>Watching the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoLw-Q8X174&amp;app=desktop">highlights of Event 201</a> – which took place just five and a half months ago – is eerie. Simulated “GNN” newsreels appear between footage of emergency board discussions, one of which involves an immunologist outlining that efforts to find a vaccine during the outbreak failed.</p> <p>The Gates Foundation’s Christopher Elias asserts that keeping global supply chains open would take “knowledge that only the private sector has”, while the UN could play a role coordinating the various private entities. But, it’s clear to Elias that this aspect of the response would rely upon corporations.</p> <p>The most distressing part of the highlights comes when the issue of the “overwhelming amounts of dis- and mis- information circulating over the internet” is broached. The board members go on to discuss whether internet shutdowns would be necessary to deal with fake news.</p> <p>Think about it – as we sit locked down in our homes during a real pandemic, with newly imposed restrictions on gatherings with others outside of our own households – what would it be like if the government and private business decided to close down the main mode of communications?</p> <p>Too little too late</p> <p>Event 21 led to seven key recommendations, all of which, it would seem now, came too late. These suggested that governments and business sectors should plan for a pandemic situation, which would include stockpiling medical supplies and investing in <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/should-child-vaccination-be-compulsory/">vaccination</a> development capabilities.</p> <p>The outcome of the simulated pandemic was catastrophic, with 65 million people dying in the first 18 months. The outbreak was small at first and seemed controllable. But, once it started spreading through the poor neighbourhoods of megacities, it exploded, with cases in nearly every country.</p> <p>“We have to ask, did this need to be so bad?” says a GNN mock news presenter. “Are there things we could have done in the five to ten years leading up to the pandemic that would have lessened the catastrophic consequences?”</p> <p>The presenter concludes, “We believe the answer is yes.” However, that timeframe to prepare is now lost.</p> <p><em>Written by Paul Gregoire. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/the-gates-foundations-prophetic-coronavirus-pandemic-simulation/">Sydney Criminal Lawyers.</a> </em></p>

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Make your own mask from a tea towel, t-shirt or vacuum bag

<p>The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has led to a shortage of protective face masks, leading to a number of online tutorials on how to make your own using items found around the house.</p> <p>Homemade masks offer significantly less protection than the N95 medical masks, which are made of a thick, tightly woven material that fits over the face and can stop 95 per cent of all airborne particles.</p> <p>And while many health organisations have recommended to ditch the masks unless in a medical setting, there is a good reason to think DIY masks could be effective in tackling the pandemic.</p> <p>They’ve been used extensively in countries such as Hong Kong, Mongolia and South Korea – places that have the disease largely under control.</p> <p>The World Health Organisation also does not recommend that people without the illness wear the face mask, but they’re looking at reversing their decision due to evidence from Hong Kong that it may be effective in fighting the virus.</p> <p><strong>Here’s how you can make your own at home using a kitchen towel</strong></p> <p><strong>What you will need:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Kitchen towel</li> <li>One tissue</li> <li>Masking tape</li> <li>Elastic bands</li> </ul> <p><strong>Method:</strong></p> <ol> <li>Cut both the paper towel and tissue in half and apply masking tape on each end to make sure the mask is stiff.</li> <li>Punch holes through either end of the mask and thread the elastic bands through the holes.</li> </ol> <p>Your mask is ready in two simple steps.</p> <p><strong>How to make a face mask with a t-shirt</strong></p> <p>A tutorial by YouTuber Runa Ray shows how to make a face mask with a t-shirt, no sewing required.</p> <p><strong>What you will need:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Scissors</li> <li>Pencil</li> <li>Ruler</li> <li>Unwanted t-shirt</li> </ul> <p><strong>Method:</strong></p> <ol> <li>Cut out a 16" by 4" rectangle from the middle of the t-shirt, then fold it in half, and measure four inches on either side.</li> <li>Mark the t-shirt with an even number of tassels on each side and use scissors to cut them.</li> <li>Turn the t-shirt inside out and separate the corner tassels, but tie the remaining ones in-between.</li> <li>With the remaining t-shirt material cut some ear straps using the hem of the shirt. </li> <li>Attach the straps to the remaining outer tassels and you have yourself a face mask, with no sewing involved, and using an old t-shirt.</li> </ol> <p><span><strong>How to make a face mask from vacuum cleaner bags</strong></span></p> <p><strong>What you will need:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Vacuum bag</li> <li>Paperclip</li> <li>Two rubber bands</li> <li>Stapler</li> </ul> <p><strong>Method:</strong></p> <ol> <li>Cut the bag into a rectangle. Make sure to keep all the layers together.</li> <li>With the inside of the bag facing upwards fold twice along the bottom and top.</li> <li>Fold both bottom corners of the bag.</li> <li>Get a paperclip or other thin wire and straighten it out.</li> <li>Take two rubber bands and fold the far ends around them. Staple the folds to secure them.</li> <li>Push the straightened wire through the centre of the top.</li> <li>Stretch the rubber bands around your ears to hold the mask against your face. Pinch the wire to secure around your nose.</li> </ol>

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Australian police accused of lying about use of “ineffective” facial recognition software

<p>An <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/hannahryan/clearview-ai-australia-police">online tech news source</a> recently ran a story detailing a data breach at controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI, which exposed its entire client list.</p> <p>According to the report, the list includes four Australian police organisations, comprising the Queensland Police Service, Victoria Police, South Australia Police and the Australian Federal Police.</p> <p>The leaked client list suggests that police officers have used the highly inaccurate technology in an attempt to ‘identify’ around 1000 suspects in Australia – a process which has been <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/queenslands-facial-recognition-regime-a-complete-failure/">proven over and over again</a> to lead to <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/facial-recognition-database-could-lead-to-wrongful-arrests/">the false identification and arrest of innocent persons</a>.</p> <p>Indeed, a previous trial of facial recognition technology in Queensland was ruled a ‘<a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/queenslands-facial-recognition-regime-a-complete-failure/">complete failure</a>’ – with the software misidentifying people the ‘vast majority’ of cases – and a trial in the United Kingdom in 2016/17 got it wrong in 98% of cases.</p> <p>Police had previously denied using the Clearview AI software and, despite the leak, have continued to do so – with the South Australian Police Force issuing a statement which asserts that its officers have not been using it.</p> <p>Queensland has been slightly more forthcoming, saying that facial recognition technology is one of ‘many capabilities’ available to its officers.</p> <p>Victoria Police claims the software has not been used in any ‘official capacity’, which begs the question as to why police organisations would spend large amounts of taxpayer dollars on purchase and licensing.</p> <p>The AFP has remained silent.</p> <p>Clearview AI’s programme has attracted an enormous amount of controversy worldwide, being variously labelled as ‘ineffective’, ‘wasteful’, a ‘gross breach of privacy’ and a ‘honeypot for hackers’.</p> <p>The Clearview database contains billions of images amassed from sources such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and other public websites, and the application of the software has the potential to lead to wrongful arrests, whereby innocent persons are wrongly matched to suspected offenders.</p> <p>The reports regarding the leaked client list have heightened concerns that ill-intentioned hackers will gain access to a wealth of private information and use it to engage in criminal conduct such as <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/the-rising-cost-of-identity-crime-in-australia/">identity theft</a>.</p> <p><strong>Privacy laws</strong></p> <p>Under current Australian privacy laws, biometric information, that is your face, fingerprints, eyes, palm, and voice is considered sensitive information.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2014C00076">Privacy Act 1988</a> (Cth) makes clear that any organisation or agency collecting this ‘sensitive’ information must first obtain consent to do so.</p> <p>However, there are exceptions to this general rule including where the information is “necessary” to prevent a serious threat to the life, health or safety of any individual.</p> <p>It’s an exception many believe has been exploited by law enforcement agencies, with legal commentators suggesting it is not broad enough to encompass all of the conduct that police have been engaging in.</p> <p><strong>National surveillance</strong></p> <p>Red flags were raised last year when the Federal Government announced plans to <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/australias-future-is-nationwide-facial-recognition-surveillance/">create a national facial recognition database</a> by collecting photos from drivers’ licences and passports.</p> <p>The government justified the implementation of the database, by saying that it would both help to combat identity theft <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/the-rising-cost-of-identity-crime-in-australia/">(which is on the rise)</a> as well as be a useful tool for protecting national security, because the database would be made available to law enforcement agencies too.</p> <p>The legislation presently before parliament allows both government agencies and private businesses to access facial IDs held by state and territory traffic authorities, and passport photos held by the foreign affairs department.</p> <p>The legislation is currently stalled because of concerns about privacy implications and lack of safeguards in the proposed law.</p> <p>But most state and territory governments have already updated their driver’s licence laws in anticipation of the database after an agreement at the Council of Australian Governments in October 2017. If you’re applying for, or renewing a passport, then you are required to sign a consent form.</p> <p><strong>Facial recognition AI is unreliable</strong></p> <p>One of the most significant concerns is that AI technology is still unreliable – the benefits don’t outweigh the massive intrusion into our personal privacy. Plus, there are inherent problems with the current technology. False positives are a major issue.</p> <p>In 2016 and 2017, London’s Metropolitan Police used automated facial recognition in trials and reported that more than 98% of cases, innocent members of the public were matched to suspected criminals.</p> <p>Despite these concerns, the Home Affairs Department is impatient to implement the technology and says that facial recognition experts (humans) will work with the technology to provide more accurate outcomes.</p> <p>But that’s of cold comfort to anyone concerned about their privacy. <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/welcome-to-1984-the-governments-relentless-assault-on-democracy/">Because, as is already the case in China</a>, facial recognition can be used for mass surveillance.</p> <p>And, we’ve already seen many examples of how data breaches can occur even with appropriate legislation in place.</p> <p><strong>Data breaches in government departments</strong></p> <p>Last year, information came to light showing that <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/dozens-of-breaches-of-the-my-health-record-database-have-already-been-recorded/">data breaches of the My Health Record</a> database rose from 35 to 42 in the past financial year, despite consistent claims by the federal government that the database is safe and secure, and that the privacy of those who choose not to opt out is protected.</p> <p>In 2018, the South Australian government was forced to shut down guest access to its online land titles registry, after an unidentified overseas ‘guest user’ was able to download the personal details of more than a million Australian home owners, information that could potentially be used to develop a false identity.</p> <p>Police forces and other government organisations have repeatedly failed to <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/police-officers-misuse-private-information-for-personal-gain/">properly secure confidential information</a> of members of the public, and some rogue police officers have <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/police-officer-jokes-about-giving-victims-address-to-abusive-partner/">broken the law by releasing sensitive information</a>, putting vulnerable individuals in danger.</p> <p>Right now, the fact that Australian police forces exist on Clearview AI’s client list, and they’re not forthcoming about it should also set alarm bells ringing for all Australians.</p> <p>The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has launched an inquiry into whether the software is being employed in Australia, or if its database contains information on Australians. The commission’s final report will no doubt reveal all.</p> <p><em>Written by Sonia Hickey. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/police-accused-of-lying-about-use-of-ineffective-facial-recognition-software/">Sydney Criminal Lawyers.</a></em></p>

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Why do people believe con artists?

<p>What is real can seem pretty arbitrary. It’s easy to be fooled by misinformation disguised as news and deepfake videos showing <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/09/technology/ben-nimmo-disinformation-russian-bots.html">people doing things they never did or said</a>. Inaccurate information – even deliberately wrong information – doesn’t just come from snake-oil salesmen, door-to-door hucksters and TV shopping channels anymore.</p> <p>Even the president of the United States <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/deciding-whats-true-the-rise-of-political-fact-checking-in-american-journalism/oclc/941139313&amp;referer=brief_results">needs constant fact-checking</a>. To date, he has made an <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-claims-database/">average of 15</a> false or misleading public claims every day of his presidency, according to a tally from the Washington Post.</p> <p>The study of <a href="https://www.ideasworthteachingawards.com/2019-course-winners/market-manipulations">business history</a> reveals that people everywhere have always had a sweet tooth for the unreal, enthralled by what should be taken as too good to be true.</p> <p>Cognitive scientists have identified a number of common ways in which <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/not-born-yesterday-the-science-of-who-we-trust-and-what-we-believe/oclc/1099689542&amp;referer=brief_results">people avoid being gullible</a>. But <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/ponzi-scheme-puzzle-a-history-and-analysis-of-con-artists-and-victims/oclc/851345711?referer=di&amp;ht=edition">con artists</a> are especially skillful at what social scientists call <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/9781405186407.wbiecs107">framing</a>, telling stories in ways that appeal to the biases, beliefs and prominent desires of their targets. They use strategies that take advantage of <a href="https://theconversation.com/humans-are-hardwired-to-dismiss-facts-that-dont-fit-their-worldview-127168">human weaknesses</a>.</p> <p><strong>Unpleasant reality</strong></p> <p>Often, people who are “<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/7802f662-a7b2-11e9-984c-fac8325aaa04">emotionally vulnerable</a>” are <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/1f90bdfe-4522-11e9-b168-96a37d002cd3">unwilling to accept an unpleasant reality</a>. Consider Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the British author who created Sherlock Holmes, the ultimate deductive rationalist – a character who said, “<a href="https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2097/2097-h/2097-h.htm#chap06">When you have eliminated the impossible</a> whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”</p> <p>Yet, after experiencing family tragedies and the horror of the deaths in World War I, <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/conan-doyle-and-the-mysterious-world-of-light-1887-1920/oclc/1052838293&amp;referer=brief_results">Doyle publicly announced in 1916</a> that he subscribed to <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/10/silencing-the-dead-the-decline-of-spiritualism/264005/">Spiritualist beliefs</a>, including that the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/oct/20/seances-and-science">spirits of the dead can communicate with the living</a>.</p> <p>In 1922, Doyle visited Harry Houdini in his home in New York City and was shown a clever magic trick involving automatic writing on a suspended slate. Houdini could not convince a stunned Doyle <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20170412193049/http:/www.csicop.org/si/show/houdinirsquos_impossible_demonstration">it wasn’t paranormal activity</a>.</p> <p><strong>Envy and opportunism sideline doubt</strong></p> <p>Sometimes <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/envy-at-work-and-in-organizations/oclc/945169819&amp;referer=brief_results">people covet what their peers have already achieved</a> so badly that they will overlook the obvious and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-4716.2007.00002.x">deceive themselves and others</a> in an effort to claim better opportunities and a better life.</p> <p>In 1822, a Scottish con man, Gregor MacGregor, convinced countrymen seeking easy wealth and their neighbors’ better lives to buy bonds, land and special privileges, fill two ships and sail to an idyllic country, the <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/land-that-never-was-sir-gregor-macgregor-and-the-most-audacious-fraud-in-history/oclc/229019939&amp;referer=brief_results">Land of Poyais</a>.</p> <p>MacGregor priced land in Poyais to make it affordable to Scottish tradesmen and unskilled workers who had heard of promising South American investments but lacked the means to take advantage of them. Poyais had a distinctive flag, its own currency and a diplomatic office in London. The only problem was that Poyais did not exist. Most of those who sailed died on the Mosquito Coast of Honduras. Some of the few survivors were so taken in that they refused to accept that Poyais did not actually exist and argued that it was MacGregor who had been defrauded.</p> <p><strong>Greed is blinding</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/ponzi-scheme-puzzle-how-victims-get-caught-in-the-net-and-how-self-awareness-can-help-protect-them/oclc/809163533&amp;referer=brief_results">Greed can prevent people from seeing</a> that they have made a decision that defies common sense.</p> <p>In 1925, the con artist Victor Lustig took advantage of the French government’s public complaints that it would cost more to renovate a decaying Eiffel Tower than to demolish it. He gathered together scrap iron dealers, convinced them the tower would be taken down and sold it to one of them. Then he sold it again. Lustig gained a reputation as the “<a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/man-who-sold-eiffel-tower-twice-180958370/">man who sold the Eiffel Tower</a>.”</p> <p><strong>Ignorance of customs and business practices</strong></p> <p>Swindlers can find opportunity in their marks’ ignorance and unfamiliarity with local customs. The confidence man George C. Parker <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/27/nyregion/thecity/for-you-half-price.html">sold the Brooklyn Bridge four times</a>, usually to recent immigrants who did not understand that the bridge could not be sold. He also sold Grant’s Tomb, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Statue of Liberty.</p> <p><strong>Misery generates desperate belief</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-people-fall-for-miracle-cures#6">Desperate people can suspend disbelief</a>. People believe promises have to be true when the alternative is too miserable. <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/titan-the-life-of-john-d-rockefeller-sr/oclc/866583942?referer=di&amp;ht=edition">John D. Rockefeller’s father, William,</a> was a bigamist and seller of alleged cures and ineffective patent medicines to ailing people, riding the circuit through rural towns. Bill “Doc” Rockefeller is said to have tutored his son, the builder of the <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/Standard-Oil">Standard Oil Trust</a>, in business.</p> <p><strong>Sometimes it’s just about trust</strong></p> <p>People believe stories because <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/ponzi-scheme-puzzle-how-victims-get-caught-in-the-net-and-how-self-awareness-can-help-protect-them/oclc/809163533&amp;referer=brief_results">they trust those who tell them</a>. They don’t know how to, or don’t want to bother to, investigate the claims – or see no need to do so.</p> <p>Starting as early as the mid-1980s, swindler <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/wizard-of-lies-bernie-madoff-and-the-death-of-trust/oclc/1022907270&amp;referer=brief_results">Bernie Madoff</a> sought investors in his <a href="https://www.sec.gov/fast-answers/answersponzihtm.html">Ponzi scheme</a> among wealthy Jewish retirees and their philanthropic organizations in the U.S., and, in Europe, among members of aristocratic families. His victims simply trusted others in the group who vouched for Madoff and his investments.</p> <p><strong>Claims are difficult or costly to disprove</strong></p> <p>In 1912, a skull, some bones and other relics were found in Piltdown in East Sussex in the U.K. The remains appeared to be from a creature who could be the long-sought “missing link” between apes and humans. It took over 40 years to confirm that <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/study-reveals-culprit-behind-piltdown-man-one-science-s-most-famous-hoaxes">Piltdown Man</a> was a hoax, and over 100 years to identify who forged it. It’s hard to disprove untruths – consider the ongoing searches for Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.</p> <p><strong>People want dreams to be true</strong></p> <p>Sometimes, <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/not-born-yesterday-the-science-of-who-we-trust-and-what-we-believe/oclc/1099689542?referer=di&amp;ht=edition">despite built-in skepticism,</a> <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/ponzi-scheme-puzzle-how-victims-get-caught-in-the-net-and-how-self-awareness-can-help-protect-them/oclc/809163533&amp;referer=brief_results">people badly want improbable but wonderful things to be true</a> – to move the world with a dream. For instance, if alien spacecraft had really crashed and were being analyzed in <a href="http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1860871_1860876_1861006,00.html">Area 51</a> in Nevada, it could mean that interstellar travel is possible.</p> <p><strong>Repetition – the hallmark of social media – creates belief</strong></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/unbelievable-news-read-it-again-and-you-might-think-its-true-69602">Hearing a false claim over and over</a> can be enough to generate belief in it. A common advertising and public relations strategy is to be extremely visible by multiplying “<a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/impression.asp">impressions</a>,” so people see the message everywhere.</p> <p><strong>Independent matching claims are seen as credible</strong></p> <p>Repetition alone may not be sufficient. When people try to assess whether something is true, they often look for objective reasons on which to base their belief, such as finding two similar, independent judgments about events. In my research I call this the “<a href="https://ssrn.com/abstract=1278110">Rule of Two</a>.”</p> <p>On social media, users often see a claim repeatedly, posted by different friends or connections. The same information seems to come not only from everywhere but from apparently independent sources. But often there is <a href="https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/jan/07/nikki-haley/nikki-haleys-pants-fire-claim-top-democrats-are-mo/">just one source</a>, though easy online sharing makes it appear there are more than that. That is why so many observers worry about the role that social media has assumed in politics – it can lead people to believe that false claims are true.</p> <p>The 1938 radio broadcast of ‘War of the Worlds’ generated multiple reports and confused some, but did not cause mass hysteria.</p> <p><strong>People believe what others appear to believe</strong></p> <p>People have a built-in willingness to defer to confident assertions made by an <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1037/gpr0000111?journalCode=rgpa">apparently expert or legitimate authority</a>. In <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/obedience-to-authority/oclc/877329529?referer=di&amp;ht=edition">experiments by Stanley Milgram</a>, ordinary people complied with directives from the scientist to administer to subjects what they (falsely) believed were painful shocks. A passionate and convincing swindler, often masquerading as an expert – for example, an art dealer or researcher of miracle cures – exploits that weakness to get people to believe false claims.</p> <p>A related mechanism introduced by Robert Cialdini is called “<a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/influence-science-and-practice/oclc/476204687?referer=br&amp;ht=edition">social proof</a>”: Seeing someone else do what you are thinking about doing frees you to act. It’s evidence of the correctness of the action. This is why con men often use “shills,” helpers who confirm to the victim that the con man’s scheme is legitimate.</p> <p><a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/not-born-yesterday-the-science-of-who-we-trust-and-what-we-believe/oclc/1099689542?referer=di&amp;ht=edition">Research by Hugo Mercier and others</a>, as well as my research on the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/000765030003900405">theory of testaments</a> and ongoing work with <a href="https://ryanrc11.wixsite.com/robertryan">Robert C. Ryan</a> on the “skeptical believer model,” argues that human defenses against scams and falsehoods are more robust than the entertaining tales of bridges sold and voyages to nonexistent paradises would suggest. In more ways than one, social interaction can become a “con-test.”</p> <p>Society – including government – cannot function well if every claim requires fact-checking. Yet con artists thrive, year in and year out, in business, politics and everyday experience. Ultimately, however, a world of “<a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/video/conway-press-secretary-gave-alternative-facts-860142147643">alternative facts</a>” is not the world that our dreams want to be true.</p> <p><em>Written by Barry M. Mitnick. Republished with permission of The </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-people-believe-con-artists-130361"><em>Conversation.</em></a></p>

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Beware: Your private data could be shared with strangers

<p>Just to remind us that even the world’s biggest and wealthiest tech companies are not immune to privacy breaches, Google made worldwide headlines recently after a glitch that sent thousands of users’ private videos backed up on Google Photos to complete strangers.</p> <p>Google Takeout is a service that allows Google Photo users to backup their personal data or use it with other apps. <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com.au/google-photos-accidentally-sent-users-private-videos-to-strangers-report-2020-2?r=US&amp;IR=T">Google mixed up user-data</a> and sent many Take-out users’ personal videos to random people.</p> <p>While the issue lasted several days, Google says it only affected 0.01% of users – but with the number of users in excess of 1 billion, the number is believed to run into the thousands.</p> <p>The way big tech companies like Google and Facebook collect, store and share user-data has <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/facebook-defiant-in-the-face-of-data-scandal/">come under scrutiny in recent years.</a></p> <p><strong>The ACCC has taken legal action against Google</strong></p> <p>Last year, the Australian consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) filed legal proceedings against Google, accusing it of misleading smartphone users about how it collects and uses personal location data.</p> <p>It’s the ACCC’s first lawsuit against a global tech giant, but one which the Commission hopes will send a clear message that tech companies are legally required to inform users of how their data is collected, and how users can stop it from being collected.</p> <p>Other countries are said to be watching the proceedings closely, as they too consider how to keep tech companies accountable.</p> <p>In a nutshell, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-google-regulator/australian-regulator-files-privacy-suit-against-google-alleging-location-data-misuse-idUSKBN1X804X">the ACCC alleges that Google breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL)</a> by misleading its users during the years 2017 and 2018 by:</p> <ul> <li>not properly disclosing that two different settings need to be switched off if consumers do not want Google to collect, keep and use their location data, and</li> <li>not disclosing to consumers on which pages personal location data can be used for a purposes unrelated to the consumer’s use of Google services.</li> </ul> <p>Some of the alleged breaches carry penalties of up to A$10 million or 10% of annual turnover.</p> <p>According to the ACCC, Google’s account settings on Android phones and tablets have led consumers to believe that changing a setting on the “Location History” page stops the company from collecting, storing and using their location data. It alleges that Google failed to make clear to consumers that they would actually need to change their choices on a separate setting titled “Web &amp; App Activity” to prevent this from occurring.</p> <p>It is well known that Google collects and uses consumers’ personal location data for purposes other than providing Google services to consumers, although users are often surprised to realise just how much information these tech giants have and profit from.</p> <p>For example, Google uses location data for its navigation platforms, using the data to work out demographic information for the sole purposes of selling targeted advertising. And, as it has become increasingly clear, digital platforms have the ability to track consumers when they are <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/smile-facebook-may-soon-be-filming-you/">both online and offline</a> to create highly detailed personal profiles.</p> <p>These profiles are then used to sell products and services, but companies like the ACCC believe the way the information is gathered is misleading or deceptive, and could also breach <a href="http://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/police-hacking-in-australia-a-case-of-breach-of-privacy/">privacy laws</a>.</p> <p><strong>No ‘blanket’ protection for users globally</strong></p> <p>The closest thing to a cross-jurisdiction set of rules regarding privacy rights is the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR), which were introduced in 2018 and govern data protection and privacy in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA).</p> <p>The regulation also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas. The instrument aims to give individuals control over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the rules within the EU.</p> <p>Not all companies and organisations have adopted the GDPR. Rather, only those with offices in an EU country or that collect, process or store the personal data of anyone located within an EU country are required to comply with the rules.</p> <p>But because many businesses have an international focus and reach, <a href="https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/guidance-and-advice/australian-entities-and-the-eu-general-data-protection-regulation/">many Australian businesses have adopted the regulations</a> and given consumers some assurances regarding privacy.</p> <p>And the GDPR laws do have teeth. In January, a French regulator fined Google 50 million euros (about AUD$82 million) for breaches of privacy laws. And Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner is currently investigating Google over contravening the privacy rules.</p> <p>Facebook is also under fire for privacy breaches as well as for misuse of data. Last year, it was fined a record-breaking $5 billion in the United States over the misuse of data and inadequate vetting of misinformation campaigns, which were used together to help sway the 2016 presidential election in favour of Donald Trump.</p> <p><strong>Beware of posting or uploading information</strong></p> <p>In the meantime, the ACCC has not yet specified the nature and scope of the corrective notices and other orders it is seeking against Google.</p> <p>However, the regulator has sent warnings to <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/thinking-of-getting-a-digital-assistant-device-think-again/">all technology users to be vigilant</a> in updating their privacy settings and being aware the information they provide when setting up devices and apps can be used and, indeed, profited from by tech companies.</p> <p><em>Written by Sonia hickey and Ugur Nedim. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/beware-your-private-data-could-be-shared-with-strangers/">Sydney Criminal Lawyers.</a> </em></p> <p> </p>

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If Diana were alive: Artist shows how modern royal portraits might look with the People's Princess

<p>An artist has honoured the late Princess Diana by creating artworks with her in modern royal life with her two sons and their families.</p> <p>Why the late royal could not be there for her eldest son’s wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011, artist Autumn Ying took to social media to create painting that imagine what it would be like if she had been able to meet her daughters-in-law.</p> <p>The artist has shared a number of her incredible artworks with social media, including a post of Princess Diana where she wrote: “While Princess Diana won’t get to see her daughters-in-law in reality, I’m thinking of visualizing this scene as a touching tribute to the late mother of Prince William and Prince Harry.”</p> <p>In another, Ms Ying showcased a painting that featured Princess Diana, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle as they were on their wedding days altogether.</p> <p>Another stunning sketch depicted Princess Di with all four of her grandchildren, Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 4, Prince Louis, 1 and Archie, nine months.</p> <p>Ying shared the prints of the royals are available for purchase and that proceeds from the sales will go to charity.</p> <p>"While for every art print purchased, the amount will be donated to <em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.unicef.org/" target="_blank">UNICEF</a></em>, in hope of helping the children in need out of malnutrition in Cambodia," she wrote on Instagram.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see Autumn Ying’s prints dedicated to Princess Diana and the royal family.</p>

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“I want to stare death in the eye”: why dying inspires so many writers and artists

<p>It may seem paradoxical, but dying can be a deeply creative process.</p> <p>Public figures, authors, artists and journalists have long written about their experience of dying. But why do they do it and what do we gain?</p> <p>Many stories of dying are written to bring an issue or disease to public attention.</p> <p>For instance, English editor and journalist Ruth Picardie’s description of terminal breast cancer, so poignantly described in <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/424646.Before_I_Say_Goodbye">Before I say Goodbye</a>, drew attention to the impact of medical negligence, and particularly misdiagnosis, on patients and their families.</p> <p>American tennis player and social activist Arthur Ashe wrote about his heart disease and subsequent diagnosis and death from AIDS in <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/698054.Days_of_Grace">Days of Grace: A Memoir</a>.</p> <p>His autobiographical account brought public and political attention to the risks of blood transfusion (he acquired HIV from an infected blood transfusion following heart bypass surgery).</p> <p>Other accounts of terminal illness lay bare how people navigate uncertainty and healthcare systems, as surgeon Paul Kalanithi did so beautifully in <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25899336-when-breath-becomes-air">When Breath Becomes Air</a>, his account of dying from lung cancer.</p> <p>But, perhaps most commonly, for artists, poets, writers, musicians and journalists, dying can provide <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25733900-the-violet-hour">one last opportunity for creativity</a>.</p> <p>American writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak drew people he loved as they were dying; founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, while in great pain, refused pain medication so he could be lucid enough to think clearly about his dying; and author Christopher Hitchens <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Hitch_22.html?id=H6nbV6nLcWcC&amp;redir_esc=y">wrote about</a> dying from <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/oesophageal-cancer.html">oesophageal cancer</a> despite increasing symptoms:</p> <p><em>I want to stare death in the eye.</em></p> <p>Faced with terminal cancer, renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote, if possible, more prolifically than before.</p> <p>And Australian author Clive James found dying a mine of new material:</p> <p><em>Few people read</em></p> <p><em>Poetry any more but I still wish</em></p> <p><em>To write its seedlings down, if only for the lull</em></p> <p><em>Of gathering: no less a harvest season</em></p> <p><em>For being the last time.</em></p> <p>Research shows what dying artists have told us for centuries – creative self-expression is core to their sense of self. So, creativity has <a href="https://www.headspace.com/blog/2017/04/18/grief-creativity-together/">therapeutic and existential benefits</a> for the dying and their grieving families.</p> <p>Creativity <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jocb.171">provides</a> a buffer against anxiety and negative emotions about death.</p> <p>It may help us make sense of events and experiences, tragedy and misfortune, as a graphic novel did for cartoonist Miriam Engelberg in <a href="https://www.harpercollins.com/9780060789732/cancer-made-me-a-shallower-person/">Cancer Made Me A Shallower Person</a>, and as <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=MkcGiLeATe8C&amp;oi=fnd&amp;pg=PP2&amp;dq=%5BCarla+Sofka+and+Illene+Cupit+(eds)++Dying,+Death,+and+Grief+in+an+Online+Universe:+For+Counselors+and+Educators,+Springer+2012&amp;ots=vdXYa_3cvU&amp;sig=Od3eQ4A7_hadLwgIn4liIEoyo5c&amp;redir_esc=y#v=onepage&amp;q=%5BCarla%20Sofka%20and%20Illene%20Cupit%20(eds)%20%20Dying%2C%20Death%2C%20and%20Grief%20in%20an%20Online%20Universe%3A%20For%20Counselors%20and%20Educators%2C%20Springer%202012&amp;f=false">blogging and online writing</a>does for so many.</p> <p>Creativity may give voice to our experiences and provide some resilience as we face disintegration. It may also provide agency (an ability to act independently and make our own choices), and a sense of normality.</p> <p>French doctor Benoit Burucoa <a href="https://www.cairn.info/article.php?ID_ARTICLE=INKA_181_0005">wrote</a> art in palliative care allows people to feel physical and emotional relief from dying, and:</p> <p><em>[…] to be looked at again and again like someone alive (without which one feels dead before having disappeared).</em></p> <p><strong>A way of communicating to loved ones and the public</strong></p> <p>When someone who is dying creates a work of art or writes a story, this can open up otherwise difficult conversations with people close to them.</p> <p>But where these works become public, this conversation is also with those they do not know, whose only contact is through that person’s writing, poetry or art.</p> <p>This public discourse is a means of living while dying, making connections with others, and ultimately, increasing the public’s “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29402101">death literacy</a>”.</p> <p>In this way, our <a href="https://www.thegroundswellproject.com/">conversations about death</a> become <a href="https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-end-9781742752051">more normal, more accessible</a> and much richer.</p> <p>There is no evidence reading literary works about death and dying fosters <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumination_(psychology)">rumination</a> (an unhelpful way of dwelling on distressing thoughts) or other forms of psychological harm.</p> <p>In fact, the evidence we have suggests the opposite is true. There is plenty of <a href="http://www.artshealthandwellbeing.org.uk/appg/arts-and-palliative-care-dying-and-bereavement">evidence</a> for the positive impacts of both making and consuming art (of all kinds) at the <a href="http://www.artshealthandwellbeing.org.uk/appg-inquiry/Briefings/WWCW.pdf">end of life</a>, and specifically <a href="https://spcare.bmj.com/content/7/3/A369.2">surrounding palliative care</a>.</p> <p><strong>Why do we buy these books?</strong></p> <p>Some people read narratives of dying to gain insight into this mysterious experience, and empathy for those amidst it. Some read it to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-neuroscience-of-your-brain-on-fiction.html">rehearse</a> their own journeys to come.</p> <p>But these purpose-oriented explanations miss what is perhaps the most important and unique feature of literature – its delicate, multifaceted capacity to help us become what philosopher <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/martha-nussbaums-moral-philosophies">Martha Nussbaum</a> <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/2026358.pdf?seq=1">described as</a>:</p> <p><em>[…] finely aware and richly responsible.</em></p> <p>Literature can capture the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/apr/01/londonreviewofbooks">tragedy</a> in ordinary lives; its depictions of <a href="https://partiallyexaminedlife.com/2016/08/12/martha-nussbaum-on-emotions-ethics-and-literature/">grief, anger and fear</a> help us fine-tune what’s important to us; and it can show the <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Love_s_Knowledge.html?id=oq3POR8FhtgC">value of a unique person</a> across their whole life’s trajectory.</p> <p><strong>Not everyone can be creative towards the end</strong></p> <p>Not everyone, however, has the opportunity for creative self-expression at the end of life. In part, this is because increasingly we die in hospices, hospitals or nursing homes. These are often far removed from the resources, people and spaces that may inspire creative expression.</p> <p>And in part it is because many people cannot communicate after a stroke or dementia diagnosis, or are <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/01/how-do-people-communicate-before-death/580303/">delirious</a>, so are incapable of “<a href="https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691628554/last-words">last words</a>” <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Final-Gifts-Understanding-Awareness-Communications/dp/1451667256">when they die</a>.</p> <p>Perhaps most obviously, it is also because most of us are not artists, musicians, writers, poets or philosophers. We will not come up with elegant prose in our final days and weeks, and lack the skill to paint inspiring or intensely beautiful pictures.</p> <p>But this does not mean we cannot tell a story, using whatever genre we wish, that captures or at least provides a glimpse of our experience of dying – our fears, goals, hopes and preferences.</p> <p>Clive James <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/sep/01/clive-james-poem-story-mind-heading-obivion">reminded us</a>:<em> “There will still be epic poems, because every human life contains one. It comes out of nowhere and goes somewhere on its way to everywhere – which is nowhere all over again, but leaves a trail of memories. There won’t be many future poets who don’t dip their spoons into all that, even if nobody buys the book.”</em></p> <p><em>Written by Claire Hooker and Ian Kerridge. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-want-to-stare-death-in-the-eye-why-dying-inspires-so-many-writers-and-artists-128061">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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5 tips to help ease your grandchild back into school mode after the holidays

<p>Most children in Australia are going back to school in just over a week. Children experience a <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/children-australia/article/selfreported-perceptions-readiness-and-psychological-wellbeing-of-primary-school-students-prior-to-transitioning-to-a-secondary-boarding-school/C86DEA7A6CD20AAF29C26C6947A01F7E">mix of emotions</a> when it comes to going to school.</p> <p>Easing back after the holidays can range from feeling really excited and eager to concern, fear or anxiety. Getting butterflies or general worry about going back to school is <a href="https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/school-stress.html">common</a>.</p> <p>Among the <a href="https://media.bloomsbury.com/rep/files/ch2-outline.pdf">biggest worries of preschool children</a> are feeling left out, being teased or saying goodbye to their caregiver at drop off. Concerns of <a href="https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/childline-annual-review/">school-aged children are about </a> exams (27%), not wanting to return to school (13%), and problems with teachers (14%). Some feel lonely and isolated.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/publications/youth-survey/1326-mission-australia-youth-survey-report-2019/file">main concerns</a> for teens are coping with stress (44.7%), school or study problems (34.3%) and mental health (33.2%).</p> <p>Not thinking about school until it is time to go back is one way to enjoy the last week of holidays. But for some, this can make going back to school more difficult.</p> <p>Supporting parents, children and young people with back-to-school challenges can help reduce negative school experiences using the below steps.</p> <p><strong>1. Set up a back-to-school routine</strong></p> <p>Create structure about going back with a <a href="https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/age-6-12/mental-health-conditions-in-children/anxiety/tackling-back-to-school-anxiety">school routine</a>. Be guided by your knowledge and history of what best supports your child during times of change and transition.</p> <p><a href="https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/school-learning/school-homework-tips/morning-routine-for-school">Set up a practical chart of getting ready</a>. You could include:</p> <ul> <li>what needs to be done each day for school like getting up, eating breakfast, dressing</li> <li>what help does your child need from you to get ready?</li> <li>what they can do on their own? (Establish these together).</li> </ul> <p>The first week back can cause disruption from being in holiday mode so don’t forget <a href="https://childmind.org/article/encouraging-good-sleep-habits/">healthy habits around sleep</a> (<a href="https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/physical-activity-exercise-sleep-screen-time-kids-teens">around 9-11 hours for children aged 5-13</a> and 8-10 hours for those aged 14-17), <a href="https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#npa517">exercise</a> (around <a href="https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#npa517">one hour per day</a> of moderate to vigorous physical activity <a href="https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/nutrition-fitness/physical-activity/physical-activity-how-much">three times a week</a>) and <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/food-and-your-life-stages">diet</a>.</p> <p>Having <a href="https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#npa517">consistent bed and wake-up </a> times helps too. The National Sleep Foundation <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/plan-ahead-start-back-school-bedtime-routines-now">suggest starting two weeks</a> before the first day of school to set sleep routine habits. But a week beforehand will help get your kid on their way.</p> <p>In some way, parents go back to school with their children. Consider adjusting your own schedule to make the transition smoother. If you can’t in the mornings, arrange the evenings so you can give as much time as your child needs, especially during the first week.</p> <p><strong>2. Talk about going back to school</strong></p> <p>Most children deal with some level of stress or anxiety about school. They have insight into their school experiences, so find out what worries them by asking directly.</p> <p>You can offer support by normalising experiences of worry and nerves. <a href="https://www.heysigmund.com/how-to-deal-with-school-anxiety-no-more-distressing-goodbyes/">Reassure your child</a> the feelings they have are common and they will likely overcome them once they have settled in. Worries and courage can exist together.</p> <p>Depending on your child’s age, you can also try the following to help:</p> <ul> <li>early years/pre-school – write <a href="https://www.andnextcomesl.com/2018/08/free-social-stories-about-going-to-school.html">a social story </a> about going to daycare or school and the routine ahead</li> <li>primary years – set up a <a href="https://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/childhood/professionals/learning/trkpp6.pdf">peer-buddy system</a> where a peer or older child meets yours at the school gate or, if neighbours, kids can go into school together</li> <li>secondary years – establish healthy routines as a family. Support each other around <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-parents-and-teens-can-reduce-the-impact-of-social-media-on-youth-well-being-87619">technology</a> use, sleep and <a href="https://www.education.vic.gov.au/parents/going-to-school/Pages/tips-starting-school.aspx">schoolwork</a>.</li> </ul> <p><strong>3. Help create a sense of school belonging</strong></p> <p>A sense of belonging at school <a href="https://theconversation.com/many-australian-school-students-feel-they-dont-belong-in-school-new-research-97866">can affect</a> academic success and student well-being. Parents can facilitate positive attitudes about school by setting an encouraging tone when talking about it.</p> <p>Also show an interest in school life and work, and be available to support your child both <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10648-016-9389-8">academically and socially</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.webmd.com/special-reports/kids-and-stress/20150827/stress-survey">More than half of the parents in one survey</a> said homework and schoolwork were the greatest drivers of stress in their children. When parents are more engaged in their child’s schoolwork, they are better able to support them through it.</p> <p><strong>4. Look out for signs of stress</strong></p> <p>Research suggests <a href="https://www.webmd.com/special-reports/kids-and-stress/20150827/stress-survey">parents can miss stress or anxiety</a> in their children. Parents can spot stress if their child (depending on age):</p> <ul> <li>is more clingy than usual or tries escape from the classroom</li> <li>appears restless and flighty or cries</li> <li>shows an increased desire to avoid activities through negotiations and deal-making</li> <li>tries to get out of going to school</li> <li>retreats to thumb sucking, baby language or increased attachment to favourite soft toys (for younger students).</li> </ul> <p>If these behaviours persist for about half a term, talk to your classroom teacher or school well-being coordinator about what is happening. Together work on a strategy of support. There may be something more going on than usual school nerves, like <a href="https://lens.monash.edu/@christine-grove/2018/01/18/1299375/no-one-size-fits-all-approach-in-tackling-cyberbullying">bullying</a>.</p> <p><strong>5. Encourage questions</strong></p> <p>Encourage questions children and teens may have about the next term. What will be the same? What will be different?</p> <p>Often schools provide transition information. If the school hasn’t, it might be worth contacting them to see if they can share any resources.</p> <p>Most importantly, let your child know nothing is off limits to talk about. <a href="https://www.heysigmund.com/school-anxiety-what-parents-can-do/">Set up times to chat</a> throughout the school term – it can help with back-to-school nerves.</p> <p><em>Written by Christine Grové and Kelly-Ann Allen. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/5-tips-to-help-ease-your-child-back-into-school-mode-after-the-holidays-129780">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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Synonyms to use that will make you a better writer

<p><strong>Put it in writing</strong></p> <p>Good writing is considerate of its audience. You want to think about your reader and consider the best way to get your message across to them. Even in the digital age, the right word elevates your writing and the wrong one drags it down. If you’re writing in a business context, you want to make a good impression and come across as professional. You want to be efficient, but not overly dry. While keeping your writing clear of grammar and spelling errors is a given, you’ll also want to use words that avoid cliché and relay your message with aplomb.</p> <p>You’ll also want to avoid these overused words that make you sound boring.</p> <p><strong>Instead of using “a lot”</strong></p> <p>A lot is a descriptor that skews ultra-casual. If you describe your background by saying, “I have a lot of experience,” or convey your aptitude with “I have a lot of ideas,” you come across as too laid-back and imprecise. Laura Hale Brockway, at Entrepreneur, offers 32 alternative synonyms for “a lot.” She offers descriptors like “a great deal” or “a copious amount” as a stand-in for the informal term. Choose a synonym that elevates your message and offers precision like “myriad” or “several.”</p> <p><strong>Instead of using “fine”</strong></p> <p> “Fine” is a rejoinder to questions about either quality or physical health. However, it’s become so common that it now means “OK” or “average.” If you’re writing in a business setting or descriptively, “fine” seems polite, but there are other options that can get specific about what you’re describing. A simple synonym is “well,” as in “I’m feeling well.” You can also use synonyms like “exceptional” or “skilful” to describe quality. If you do mean “fine” in the sense of passable, use “mediocre” or “average” instead.</p> <p><strong>Instead of using “very”</strong></p> <p>Very is a qualifier that’s often overused. How many times have you peppered emails or business communications with this word? Have you ever written “I’m very excited about the upcoming project” or “Your work is very good?” Eliminate “very” unless it adds necessary and real meaning to the idea you describe. If it’s important then use synonyms for “very” like “remarkably,” “substantially,” “emphatically,” or “profoundly.” Otherwise, using “very” adds sloppy imprecision to your writing.</p> <p><strong>Instead of using “great”</strong></p> <p>Great is a superfluous term that often shows up in place of “yes” or “good” in written writing. It’s a shorthand term that conveys enthusiasm but has become so common that it’s lost its nuance as a descriptor. Consider more precise words like “choice” or “breathtaking” to describe a state of being or an object’s quality. Here are some more options from Daily Writing Tips like “deluxe” and “favourable” that get closer to the idea you’re trying to convey. Looking for more great synonym options for words like great?</p> <p><strong>Instead of using “crazy”</strong></p> <p>Using “crazy” (or “insane”) is common, but it’s an imprecise way to express what you really mean. Katie Dupere at Mashable explains that the term is insensitive and makes light of mental health issues. The term is also far from what you mean to say. Look carefully at what you’re actually trying to convey when you write, “The midterm was crazy” or “The project was insane.” It’s best to stay away from casual idioms in formal writing. You also want to stay mindful about how such terms could affect your reader. Consider words like “busy,” “intense,” “erratic,” and “wacky” as synonyms. Let the idea of what you truly want to convey be your guide.</p> <p><em>Written by Molly Pennington, PhD. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/12-synonyms-that-will-make-you-a-better-writer?slide=all"><em>Reader’s Digest.</em></a><em> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine</em><em><u>, </u></em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p>

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Don’t like spiders? Here are 5 reasons to change your mind

<p>Australia is famous for its supposedly scary spiders. While the sight of a spider may cause some people to shudder, they are a vital part of nature. Hostile reactions are harming conservation efforts – especially when people kill spiders unnecessarily.</p> <p>Populations of many invertebrate species, including <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/297742805_Quality_not_quantity_Conserving_species_of_low_mobility_and_dispersal_capacity_in_south-western_Australian_urban_remnants">certain spiders</a>, are highly vulnerable. Some species have become extinct due to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-07916-1">habitat loss and degradation</a>.</p> <p>In dramatic efforts to avoid or kill a spider, people have reportedly <a href="https://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/story/4448093/huntsman-spider-sparks-four-car-crash/">crashed their cars,</a> <a href="https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/man-tries-to-kill-wolf-spider-with-a-blowtorch-but-sets-apartment-on-fire/news-story/13ba250e2d8a58658b6c2960d69bd815">set a house on fire</a>, and even caused such a commotion that <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-03/wa-police-called-out-for-man-trying-to-kill-spider/10683454">police showed up</a>.</p> <p>A pathological fear of spiders, known as arachnophobia, is of course, a legitimate condition. But in reality, we have little to fear. Read on to find out why you should love, not loathe, our eight-legged arachnid friends.</p> <p><strong>1. Spiders haven’t killed anyone in Australia for 40 years</strong></p> <p>The last confirmed fatal spider bite in Australia <a href="https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/animals/spiders/spider-facts/">occurred in 1979</a>.</p> <p>Only a few species have venom that can kill humans: some mouse spiders (<em>Missulena</em> species), Sydney Funnel-webs (<em>Atrax</em>species) and some of their close relatives. <a href="https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/animals/spiders/spider-facts/">Antivenom</a> for redbacks (<em>Latrodectus hasseltii</em>) was introduced in 1956, and for funnel-webs in 1980. However, redback venom is <a href="https://www1.health.nsw.gov.au/pds/pages/doc.aspx?dn=GL2014_005">no longer considered life-threatening</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Spiders save us from the world’s deadliest animal</strong></p> <p>Spiders mostly eat insects, which helps control their populations. Their webs – especially big, intricate ones like our orb weavers’ – are particularly adept at catching small flying insects such as mosquitos. Worldwide, mosquito-borne viruses <a href="https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-animals-that-kill-most-humans.html">kill more humans</a> than any other animal.</p> <p><strong>3. They can live to an impressive age</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://doi.org/10.1071/PC18015">world’s oldest recorded spider</a> was a 43- year-old female trapdoor spider (<em>Gaius villosus</em>) that lived near Perth, Western Australia. Tragically a wasp sting, not old age, killed her.</p> <p><strong>4. Spider silk is amazing</strong></p> <p>Spider silk is the <a href="https://theconversation.com/curious-kids-what-are-spider-webs-made-from-and-how-strong-are-they-91824">strongest</a>, most flexible natural biomaterial known to man. It has historically been used to make bandages, and UK researchers have worked out how to load silk bandages with <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adma.201604245">antibiotics</a>. Webs of the golden orb spider, common throughout Australia, are <a href="https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/animals/spiders/golden-orb-weaving-spiders/">strong enough to catch bats and birds</a>, and a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2012/jan/23/golden-silk-cape-spiders-in-pictures">cloak was once woven</a> entirely from their silk.</p> <p><strong>5. Their venom could save our life</strong></p> <p>The University of Queensland is using spider venom <a href="https://imb.uq.edu.au/article/2017/07/taking-bite-out-chronic-pain-new-spider-venom-treatment">to develop</a>non-addictive pain-killers. The venom rapidly immobilises prey by targeting its nervous system – an ability that can act as a painkiller in humans.</p> <p>The venom from a Fraser Island funnel web contains a molecule that <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-02/funnel-web-spider-venom-could-help-protect-brain-stroke-damage/10959032">delays the effects of stroke on the brain</a>. Researchers are investigating whether it could be administered by paramedics to protect a stroke victim on the way to hospital.</p> <p>Funnel-web venom is also being used to create <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/technology/funnel-web-venom-the-bees-knees-of-natural-pesticides-20160516-govvss.html">targeted pesticides</a> which are harmless to birds and mammals.</p> <p><em>Written by Leanda Denise Mason. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/dont-like-spiders-here-are-10-reasons-to-change-your-mind-126433">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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