Arts & Culture

A ‘samurai’ swordsmith is designing a space probe

The ‘tamahagane’ steel used in traditional weapons may be the perfect material to cut through asteroids. Chris Baraniuk BBC If you wanted to slice stuff up in space, what would you bring with you? ‘Samurai’ swords, which have been made in Japan for centuries, might be on your list because the… There are plenty of videos online showing these Japanese swords, also called ‘katana’, cutting up everything from thick boards of wood to metal pipes. Now, a trio of engineers have ... Read More »

Guide to the classics: Euripides’ Medea and her terrible revenge against the patriarchy

The Athenian poet Euripides was the last of the three great Greek tragedians (after Aeschylus and Sophocles) and also the least successful. Paul Salmond The Conversation Greek tragedies were performed competitively at religious festivals in Athens in honour of the god Dionysus. While 18 of his 90-odd plays have survived, Euripides claimed only four festival victories. One prize was awarded posthumously, indicating that at the Dionysia, as with the Oscars, death could be a handy avenue to success. It’s not ... Read More »

Detained and in danger: The tortured Australian families who fear for their missing loved ones

Increasingly helpless and desperate, Uighurs building new lives in Australian suburbs feel compelled to go public with their stories and identities despite the risks. Fergus Hunter The Age The security agents came for Adeham Abliz late on a Thursday night. That day, September 8, 2016, had been much like any other in the 59-year-old Uighur man’s life in the city of Ghulja in north-western China. Abliz, a shopkeeper, had performed his five daily prayers, starting with fajr at dawn through ... Read More »

Wayne Johnston got lost in The Odyssey: 12-hour reading offers your chance

Actress Kate Kendall is among the high-profile Melburnians taking part in a 12-hour reading of Homer’s classic. John Bailey The Sydney Morning Herald Carlton football legend Wayne “The Dominator” Johnston would rather read the form guide than The Odyssey, but actor Kate Kendall noticed some similarities between her footy veteran husband and the leading man of Homer’s classic. Both are orphans. Both have lost a son. And while the footy field is far from the battleground, it left Johnston with enough ... Read More »

Why Norman Geras’s essay ‘Our Morals’ should be essential reading for politics students – not a subversive threat

Politics students at the University of Reading were reportedly told to “take care” when reading an essay by the late political theorist, Norman Geras. Stephen De Wijze The Conversation The Observer newspaper reported the students were warned about the essay – which was on their reading list – in order not to fall foul of Prevent, the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy. I worked closely with Geras, who was a professor at the University of Manchester for most of his career. The ... Read More »

Bibliotherapy: how reading and writing have been healing trauma since World War I

Bibliotherapy – the idea that reading can have a beneficial effect on mental health – has undergone a resurgence. Authors: The Conversation There is mounting clinical evidence that reading can, for example, help people overcome loneliness and social exclusion. One scheme in Coventry allows health professionals to prescribe books to their patients from a list drawn up by mental health experts. Even as public library services across Britain are cut back, the healing potential of books is increasingly recognised. The ... Read More »

Friday essay: turning up the level of civilisation

In October 2005 Stephen Colbert was just starting his eponymous show. It is somewhat chilling to realise that this was when he came up with the word truthiness: it seems so now. Julianne Schultz The Conversation It has taken a while to reach maturity and morphed into the even more menacing trumpiness. Truthiness captures the slippery world inhabited by those unencumbered by books, or facts, context or complexity – for those who just know with their heart rather than their ... Read More »

A county in Idaho offered Spanish-language ballots for the first time and here’s what happened

On the morning of Election Day, the top trending search on Google was “donde votar,” which means “where to vote” in Spanish. Gabe Osterhout The Conversation Voter access to the polls was a major issue during the 2018 midterm elections in the U.S. Charges of voter suppression were made in in Georgia and North Dakota. Critics of new voting rules claimed they disenfranchised African-Americans and Native Americans. While those problems were extensively covered by the press, less attention was paid ... Read More »

Refugee comics: personal stories of forced migration illustrated in a powerful new way

When a work of art called the “The List” was installed in July 2018 at the Liverpool Biennial in the UK, it contained the names of 34,361 refugees and migrants who died crossing the borders of… Emma Parker The Conversation By September, it had been defaced with the words “invaders not refugees”. While local officials condemned the culprits as “fascist thugs”, rhetoric which portrays refugees as nameless “invaders” has been used repeatedly by European leaders and politicians in recent years. ... Read More »

Why the history of messianic Judaism is so fraught and complicated

When Loren Jacobs, member of the Shma Yisrael Congregation, offered a prayer for the victims of the Tree of Life congregation at a campaign rally attended by Mike Pence, it left many Jews feeling very upset. Ingrid Anderson The Conversation The vice president’s office later denied inviting Jacobs to the event. Jacobs is a messianic Jew and part of a group called Jews for Jesus. Here is why their relationship with Jews is so fraught. Messianic Jews Messianic Jews consider ... Read More »

Preserving historical buildings: the most sustainable thing is not to build new stuff

Making heritage buildings sustainable is just as important as preserving their history – and they can offer energy-efficiency lessons of their own Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore The Guardian After grinding grain since 1897, Sydney’s Crago Flour Mill finally cranked to a halt in the mid 80s. Over the years, this handsome industrial Newtown site became rundown, a dusty labyrinth of rooms sprawled over four buildings. Given the job in 2008 of transforming the mill into 47 strata studios, architects Allen Jack+Cottier (AJ+C) ... Read More »

The ancient Greeks would have loved Alexa

Classical mythology is full of robots, automata, artificial intelligence and technology. Think not only Pandora, but self-opening gates and libation-pouring statues Peter Stothard The Spectator Among the myths of Ancient Greece the Cyclops has become forever famous, the Talos not so much. While both were monsters who hurled giant boulders at Mediterranean shipping, the… The Talos was more alien, by some accounts a mere machine, manufactured in metal by a god and pre-programmed only to sink ships and roast invaders ... Read More »

“Maria by Callas”… New Documentary On The Legendary Opera Singer Told Her Own Words

Time magazine called her “a woman for whom the term prima donna could have been invented” and the “undisputed queen of the world’s opera”. WYSK This weekend, the life story of Maria Callas, one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century, is coming to the big screen. Maria by Callas is the first film to present the story of the legendary Greek/American opera singer, completely in her own words. Her remarkable journey through stardom is ... Read More »

Indigenous groups slam ‘pathetic, divisive’ Hanson for land rights comments

Pauline Hanson thinks Indigenous people “milk” the issue of land rights and the One Nation Senator says it really annoys her. Nick Baker SBS Indigenous organisations have slammed One Nation leader Pauline Hanson for making “ridiculous” and “divisive” comments around land rights. On Sunday, Ms Hanson blasted Indigenous groups for “milking” land rights claims. Senator Hanson told Sky News she gets upset when Australia is referred to as Aboriginal land, arguing “I didn’t steal it”. “This is what’s happened in the… Indigenous ... Read More »

Sabarimala Shadow On Kolkata Kali Puja Pandal That Has Never Allowed Women

Indologist Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri termed such rules as extreme manifestation of patriarchy and misogyny. Press Trust of India HuffPost KOLKATA — The shadow of the Sabarimala temple row over the entry of women into the shrine has cast its spell on a local Kali Puja committee which does not allow females to enter its pandal amid protests by scholars. Ever since the worship of the idol began 34 years ago by priests of the Tarapith, a Shakti pith in Birbhum ... Read More »

Is there a market for AI art? This $600k painting suggests there is

There’s been much existential concern around machines marching in to take over our routine jobs — but is artificial intelligence also shaping up as a threat to human creativity? ABC – RN – By Hong Jiang and Julie Street for Late Night Live We know AI can learn to write like Shakespeare and compose pop songs — and now, an original painting generated by AI has sold for more than 38 times its expected price. In a world-first event in New York last week, Portrait ... Read More »