We got back earlier this week from a month in Australia, our first visit in over five years. It was a pretty intense trip, not only because we saw lots of family and friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen in that long or even longer, but because our kids were now old enough to be taking it all in much more than when they were little.
I had thought that going in winter—because that’s when northern summer holidays happen—might lead to a lot of wet and grey days indoors, but we were lucky with the weather, which was sunny in Sydney and Canberra, and mostly sunny in Tassie, and only really wet and grey on one weekend in Melbourne. Then there was our trip to the Hartz Mountains National Park, when the temperature dropped as we climbed the mountain, until it hit zero and the early morning drizzle turned... to snow. In all my past years of visiting the place, I’d never seen it looking like this. More photos and reflections to come, once I get organized.
Meanwhile, Cecil has been blogging in my absence (because I queued up a month’s worth of entries beforehand in WordPress), and has now finished his adventures in Peru. But that project isn’t quite finished yet, either, so stay tuned for further developments.
Missing link found between the brain and the immune system (Nature article, via Mefi). Louveau had better clear a space on his shelf for a Nobel.
How well can you hear audio quality? (Three out of six for me. Eyes boxes of CDs warily...)
The man who cut out his own appendix. There’s a potential joke to be made here about socialised medicine, but I’m too in awe. (The jokes could go either way, I suppose... mine would be on the “Bow Down to the Awesome Resolve of its Surgeons!” side.)
Inspirational Tasmanian MHA and Senator Christine Milne’s journey.
On the road again with George Miller. Fourteen-year-old me from 1982 grabbed me by the throat and dragged me to the nearest cinema to watch Mad Max: Fury Road on the big screen. It was stunning: every bit as good as the hype has it. Rewatching the originals over the weekend was worthwhile, too; even Thunderdome came off better than I’d remembered.
There’s no point posting most of the post-mortem links I gathered after the election, but here’s a few that stuck.
It was a record year for turnover at the top of the UK single charts, but I haven’t had much to say about many of 2000’s number ones. Here are some more of the honourable exceptions.
Popular has spent 2015 exploring the number ones of 2000, which is starting to tread on musical ground first covered at this very site; but a lot can change in fifteen years. Here are some of my initial comments on the year’s UK number ones, edited and adapted.
With only a few days to go, some legal and economic views on the General Election. Minority governments under the Westminster system. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act. The myth of British Euroskepticism. Paul Krugman on austerity.
Have these solar-powered blood banks saved lives in Nepal? You can only hope.
India searches for the perfect cookstove. (We got a rocket stove to take camping last year. It’s so efficient we’ve ditched our portable barbecue and bags of charcoal; a few handfuls of dry sticks can cook a meal.)
I’ve spent the past week and a half preoccupied with Blur’s new album The Magic Whip, which is better than anyone had any right to expect. It’s fast become my favourite Blur album since The Great Escape, possibly even since Parklife, which for an unexpected comeback is some sort of miracle; it’s as if they never went away.