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Monday, 17 September

16:58

Drunk on Homesickness "IndyWatch Feed National"

Seven months into a student exchange in Europe, and Id only seen two Australians.

One was guy who had little interest in reminiscing about our favourite meat pie flavours. Mines bacon and cheese! I offered. He said he didnt care.

The other was a girl whom, upon hearing her Sydney accent, I became so overwhelmed with excitement at finding another Australian, I tried to high five her, accidentally catching her on the side of the head.  She wouldnt speak to me after that, which I couldnt blame her for.

I later realised these uncomfortable encounters all stemmed from my deep longing for Australia and all its uniqueness. Missing family, friends and my adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was to be expected, but missing my country was a new feeling Id never had to experience.

So while searching for cheap pre-drinks from a supermarket in Prague, I found a bottle of Yellow Tail: a shitty bottle of Australian wine that Id never touch at home. I didnt even look at the price.

Seventeen minutes is all it took for me to drink the whole bottle. Walking with my group of exchange friends to our meeting point, I tripped over the cobbled roads as everyone encouraged me to chug it.

Oh what a fool I was.

Its a weird kind of power move to walk down a street openly sculling a bottle of wine. No paper bag. Nothing to hide (which became further evident when I tried to flash people passing by).

The wine hit hard possibly because I was emotional about home; possibly because I hadnt eaten much that day; possibly because I did pre-shots before pre-drinks.

With a beautiful Italian friend to my right and an adorable Finnish pal to my left, my hands were gripped tightly as they both talked in that light babyish voice people use to address drunk people. Feeling happy and floaty and obviously straight-up stupid, I suggested we get more drinks. The idea was shot down in a variety of languages all with the same premise of fuck no.

As a group of 12, I was easily passed around for shifts of, Okay, you take care of the drunkard now, which I did apologise for profoundly the next afternoon when I could function again.

When we started to fumble our way back home along the rickety pavers of Prague, my legs and arms were swinging in all directions to keep me from fal...

15:32

Mental Health Nursing Practice and Indigenous Australians: A Multi-Sited Ethnography Western NSW & Far West Health Libraries Blog

12:29

Camping under the stars might just be the way to helping to rebuild happiness Western NSW & Far West Health Libraries Blog

Camping is being lauded as way to help you feel better about yourself, get closer to your loved ones and create a sense of reconnection to the world.
 
In a world where the fear of missing out (FOMO) is contributing to anxiety, camping may have a special place in improving mental health by its ability to cut people off from technology.
Alistair Mitchell is one person who says drawing on his early childhood experiences of camping and getting back to nature helped his long road to recovery from mental illness.

For more details see: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-16/camping-for-mental-health/10238198

08:59

Adanis Carmichael coal project massively downsized, but still a climate threat "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.au"

Adanis rail line cut shows project is on life support but still a threat to climate, Guardian 

The short answer is this is the latest in a string of changes that have massively downsized both the Carmichael project and the bigger plans to develop the Galilee Basin. The longer answer is that, despite optimistic talk about a long-term future for coal, the writing is on the wall. The only way to make money out of coal is to do so quickly, before the present gradual decline turns into a collapse.

The original Adani proposal, put forward in 2010, was for a mine producing 60m tonnes of coal a year. The coal would be transported along a completely...

08:56

Top 10: Ritual de lo Habitual Thoughts are like fishes///

Recently I was tagged on Facebook for one of those things where you post favourite albums

Janes Addiction had come to my attention via Mountain Song on Rage and I still regret not accepting an invitation to see them perform at the Hordern Pavilion in 1991.

Ritual de lo Habitual blew my mind in terms of what could be done with a genre like rock, which had become a bit paint-by-numbers in the late 80s.

There were other bands successfully pushing boundaries in this area and this album sits amongst Faith No Mores The Real Thing, Red Hot Chilli Peppers Bloodsugarsexmagic and then the watershed of Nirvanas Nevermind but I think it deserves more attention.

One critic argues Janes Addiction revived interest in Led Zeppelin and Im not sure that ever went away, but I think this album paved a way for Soundgardens Badmotorfinger which is a more obvious heir.

Ritual de lo Habitual has a huge dynamic range and the track Three Days is particularly epic.

That track also exemplifies the beautifully understated bass playing of Eric Avery, which carries most of the song.

Both Flea and John Frusciante of the Chilli Peppers have acknowledged his influence.

As someone whod Been Caught Stealing it surprised me that a song about shoplifting could be so funky and those dogs happily barking in the opening also spoke to me.

I still get a huge rush of energy when I hear the opening chords.

08:04

NSW Premier Ends Music Festival Overdose Tragedies With Stern Drugs Are Bad Mmmkay Speech "IndyWatch Feed National"

Drug overdoses will no longer be a problem at youth music festivals in NSW after a dramatic intervention by Premier Gladys Berejiklian overnight, following the deaths of two people at a Sydney music festival, and the hospitalisation of at least three more.

NSW police report that during the Defqon.1 music festival in western Sydney over the weekend attended by around 30,000 people as many as 700 festival goers also sought medical assistance.

A 21-year-old Victorian woman and a 23-year-old man from Edensor Park collapsed during the evening. They were airlifted to nearby Nepean Hospital, but died soon after.

Im absolutely aghast at whats occurred, I dont want any family to go through the tragedy that some families are waking up to this morning, its just horrible to think about, Ms Berejiklian told media on Sunday.

The Premier also said she would shut the festival down, thereby further eliminating the potential for drug overdoses amoung youth.

Ms Berejiklian said her government would not bow to pressure to introduce pill testing where festival goers can test party drugs without fear of police sanction after a landmark trial in Canberra earlier this yearat the Groovin The Moo festival saw zero deaths.

That trial saw 128 participants. A total of Eighty-five samples were tested by the STA-Safe Consortium, two of which were found to be deadly.

Ms Berejiklian said the government will not consider introducing pill testing, as it has a zero tolerance to drugs.

Anyone who advocates pill testing is giving the green light to drugs, that is absolutely unacceptable, there is no such thing as a safe drug, she said.

I want to send a strong message to every young person. You should not take drugs at these events or anywhere else, and last nights tragic consequences demonstrated this.

Ms Berejiklians zero tolerance stance is based on the tried and tested reality that if she tells young people not to do something, they will listen to her.

In other news scientists have confirmed that the Liberal Party of Australia is now so out of touch with community sentiment that it has actually travelled full circle, and is back in touch and just waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

Conversely, scientists have also confirmed that millennials are now actively waiting for enough old politicians to die off so that the community is dominated by people who actually care about their welfare, before seizing power and changing drug laws to reduce future deaths.

The post...

Sunday, 16 September

19:11

A Fair Trial Catch-22: The Problem With The Teachers Pet Podcast "IndyWatch Feed National"

One of the worlds hottest podcasts right now has helped shed light on the disappearance of a Sydney woman. But at what price of a fair trial, asks Hannah Marshall.

The best way to dispose of a body, if you live in the bush, is to put it in the bush, and thats what I think he did on the Friday night.

There is a problem with The Teachers Pet. The podcast and the slew of surrounding media could be so sensational and prejudicial that if he is prosecuted, Chris Dawson cant get a fair trial.

The podcast is a true crime story about a woman, Lyn Dawson, who disappeared from Sydneys northern beaches in 1982. Her body has never been found. The investigating journalist accuses her husband, former Newtown Jets player Chris Dawson, of murdering her. He denies it.  Two coronial inquests have recommended prosecution but none has ensued.

The picture painted of Chris Dawson is not good. Theres his affair with a schoolgirl, allegations of physical abuse, allegations of an attempt to hire a hitman, inconsistent statements, and two small daughters left without their mother.

The Teachers Pet is compelling and sad and reveals some great injustices; to the two daughters, the schoolgirl, and Lyns family as well as to Lyn Dawson herself.

But in its eagerness to seek justice for her probable murder it risks doing exactly the opposite. It could result in Chris Dawson avoiding facing a jury, or even avoiding a murder trial altogether, regardless of the strength of any evidence against him.

The obvious upside to this kind of investigative journalism is the chance that new, meaningful evidence could be found that will help get a conviction. But that has to be balanced very carefully against the risk involved in broadcasting information that is prejudicial and unlikely to be admissible as evidence in court.

To be fair, a lot of the information presented in The Teachers Pet is unproblematic. Written statements and evidence from the coronial inquests for example. But a lot of other parts of the podcast are prejudicial and prejudge Dawsons guilt. Here are just a couple of examples.

A new witness alleges that she saw Chris Dawson assault his wife twice, well before Lyn disappeared. The inference is that he is a violent person and therefore more likely to have killed his wife. Courts call this tendency evidence and treat it with extreme caution. It is only admitted in very particular circumstances. Whether this new testimony would be admitted into evidence is highly uncertain. But the podcast doesnt tell you that.

Then theres the treatment of a claim that Chris Dawson said he tried to hire a hitman to kill Lyn, but didnt go through with it. The allegation comes from Dawsons schoolgirl lover, and later...

18:03

One For The Ladies: UNSWs Helpful Guide On How Not To Get Raped "IndyWatch Feed National"

Heres some tips on how to stay safe, along with other stupid things men say to women after someone is sexually assaulted. Note to readers: this story contains a confession by writer Chris Graham, and another epiphany.

Remember Eurydice Dixon. How could anyone forget, right? And remember the backlash when, following Eurydices brutal rape and murder, Victorian Police issued a timely reminder to women in Melbourne to take greater care with their personal security? How could anyone forget that either, right?

Well, it seems the folks over at the University of NSW did, because on Friday afternoon, following reports of a sexual assault near the campus, an executive from UNSW sent all staff and students an email headed Safety and vigilance on campus. The message sought to provide women, well over to UNSW

Safety and Vigilance on Campus-1

Lets see if we can break down what UNSW is really communicating here.

Someone got raped last night, but it wasnt on our campus. That said, it was near our campus, and we really should say something, because if we dont and the next rape actually occurs on our campus, we can point to the email we sent to all our staff and students and say Its very sad but we did kinda warn you. That lessens our moral culpability, but most importantly it will also help us seriously mitigate any reputational damage the rapist and his victim might cause us. Thus, what were going to say is this: While we do what we can to make you safe, your personal safety is still your personal responsibility. Follow these helpful tips so you dont go and get yourself raped.

Or words to that affect. Because while that might not be how the email is intended to be read, its certainly open to interpretation to be read that way. And at this juncture, I should offer a confession. My spin on the UNSW email is obviously quite provocative, but its not what I thought yesterday.

On Friday afternoon, I was sitting in a caf with two female colleagues (plotting the downfall of a government), when one of them received the email, from a distressed UNSW staff member.

A discussion of mutual exasperation ensued, whereupon I entered it by saying words to the effect of, OK, I understand the frustration and anger of women at this, and Im not suggesting UNSW cant do more to make women feel safe, but is it really that unreasonable for UNSW to remind people about their safety? Where is the actual harm in the email?

Well heres the harm (and thanks to my colleagues for gently explaining it to me).

The problem with telling grown w...

17:14

Australia: Drug Overdoses Prompt Shut Down of Sydney Music Festival "IndyWatch Feed National"

A 23-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman died on Saturday after collapsing at the Defqon. 1 festival, the police said. Two of the 13 hospitalised people remain in critical condition, while about 700 sought help on site.

The police has charged 10 people with drug supply offences, including two teenagers who allegedly carried 120 capsules to the festival, held at the Sydney International Regatta Centre.

Im absolutely aghast at what has occurred, I dont want any family to go through the tragedy that some families are waking up to this morning, its just horrible to think about, the premier of the Australian state of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, said.

A 23-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman died on Saturday after collapsing at the Def...

09:23

Top 10: Feed Thoughts are like fishes///

Recently I was tagged on Facebook for one of those things where you post favourite albums

Skunkhour were everything I was looking for in a band when they came to my attention in 93.

They played the funk music thatd started shaking Sydney with hiphop influences and a distinctively Australian delivery.

I think the Larkin brothers, Aya and Del, are criminally overlooked as lyricists, and Del also did beaut illustrations for releases by other bands in their cohort, such as Swoop and Juice.

The self-titled Skunkhour debut showed they were able to sing about admiring arses (Bootyfull) and also to consider gender roles (A Cow and a Pig), as well discuss the heroin epidemic of the early 90s (Horse).

Then the follow-up album Feed in 1995 expanded their focus musically and lyrically.

McSkunk was released as a single well in advance of the album and runs through a critique of capitalism exploiting natural resources. (Its a theme they would later explore as the ballad Tomorrows Too Soon and thats one of those songs that I love for making my eyes water.)

The track State then slipped out on an EP and, as a first-year Philosophy student, I appreciated the parallels with Platos writing for comparing divisions in the soul with those in society.

Id begun writing for Canberras BMA Magazine and spoke with guitarist Warwick Scott for a couple of interviews, as well as having opportunities to quiz the band after their shows.

Ahead of the release of the album Feed I got a promotional three-song cassette, which included Treacherous Head and Strange Equation.

The former addresses our human impulses and their potential to undermine our best intentions, while the latter rhymed the song title with race assimiliation to discuss the hollow words that all men are created equal in the United States Declaration of Independence.

Ive picked Feed as my favourite Skunkhour album as it showed the band hitting their stride and broadening their sound, literally with the addition of keyboardist Paul Searles.

Green Light is a phenomenal track to hear live as the Sutherland brothers lock in their bass and drum parts.

Sunstone speaks of driving Australias back roads with wry observations that feel like an aural equivalent of a Russell Drysdale painting.

Im also a fan of Skunkhours album Chin...

08:41

Wages growth is coming (to VIC & NSW) "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Left slack-jawed

There's an old tradition when it comes to job numbers that goes something like this: if the numbers are crap we're doomed; and if the numbers are good then they must be wrong.

The technical term for this is confirmation bias.

As ever this month's booming jobs numbers were treated with anything from scepticism to outright derision.

And yet the solid results have kept on coming, especially in the two most populous states. 

There's another bias that tends to impact people: when things have been bad, they expect bad things to continue.

And quite understandably we're seeing a lot of this in relation to weak private sector wages growth.

After all, soft nominal wage price growth has been around since 2015, so it's becoming quite hard to imagine that pay packets could soon begin to swell again. 

But take note, because in some states this may be about to change...

Private sector wages to lift

Although it never seems to get reported anywhere, I've shown several times before that while the underutilisation rate is high, in volume measures terms things have been very steadily improving for the past few years. 

That is to say, lots of people still want more hours of work, but the numbers of extra hours wanted has been declining over the past four years.
...

08:06

Lets live a day at a time for the Lord "IndyWatch Feed National"

I met a man last night aged 61, my age, from New Zealand originally like me, who is has four cancers and has been given 2-6 years life-expectancy.

We were watching the All Blacks play South Africa in rugby union at my local pub In Bellingen in Mid-Coast, New South Wales, Australia.

We shared how wed both had friends die in their 50s. Ive lost three friends aged in their 50s. One in 2004 aged 53 and the other two last year. One was Trevor Tree a Bellingen local who I was friends with for almost thirty years. He was a Christian, and fit, so his death was unexpected.

The man I met last night seemed quite reconciled to the situation. Hed just retired and was doing a motorbike trip with some male friends. He shared he is married.

So lets live a day at a time for the Lord. We dont know which day in our future will be our last, no matter how old we are.

04:48

Full interview with UK writer Johann Hari on his vital messages around depression "IndyWatch Feed National"

Back in May, I interviewed UK journalist Johann Hari at the Sydney Writers Festival about his new book, Lost Connections, on fresh ways to see depression and anxiety. It was a sold-out event and the full audio is now available:

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