The Peutinger Table. Reproduction by Conradi Millieri - Ulrich Harsch Bibliotheca Augustana. Wikimedia Commons

History

Mythbusting Ancient Rome – did all roads actually lead there?

Today the phrase 'all roads leads to Rome' means that there's more than one way to reach the same goal. But in Ancient Rome, all roads really did lead to the eternal city, which was at the centre of a vast road network.
Al Gore brings climate change back to the big screen in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Paramount

Can film change the world?

The truth about inconvenient truths: ‘big issue’ documentaries don’t always change our behaviour

Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth woke up the world to climate change. But with its sequel hitting cinemas now, it's not clear that 'big issue' documentaries make a difference in the long term.
Celebrity cows: Southern Girl and Iceberg enjoy a ‘hay cocktail’ at the Commodore Hotel in New York. Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, contact for re-use

Iced milk?

Cows in Antarctica? How one expedition milked them for all their worth

What would possess an Antarctic expedition to take dairy cows to the icy continent? Back in 1933, Admiral Byrd did so for reasons of image-making, publicity and territorial ambition.
A wonderful evocation of the horrors of last year’s long election campaign by David Rowe in the Australian Financial Review. Amid industry turmoil, newspaper cartooning is increasingly becoming a niche activity.

Friday essay

Friday essay: political cartooning – the end of an era

One of the great satirical achievements of the mass media era, the editorial cartoon, is losing its centrality in the digital age. Yet the 'visual terrorism' of cartoons can cut through the verbiage of political commentary.
A watercolour of a dingo, pre-1793, from John Hunter’s drawing books. By permission of The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London.

History

Living blanket, water diviner, wild pet: a cultural history of the dingo

In Indigenous culture, dingoes were prized as companions, garments and hunting aids. Europeans later tried to tame dingoes as 'pets' but their wild nature has prevailed.
Keanu Reeves and Lily Collins in To the Bone (2017), which follows a young woman struggling with an eating disorder. AMBI Group, Sparkhouse Media, Mockingbird Pictures

Children's television

As local networks retreat, Netflix is filling the gap in teen TV

Netflix's edgy teen dramas attract criticism, but it is targeting a demographic that Australian broadcasters have almost entirely abandoned. We need more local stories that speak to teenagers.
The Greeks defend their ships from the Trojans in Alfred Churchill’s Story of the Iliad, 1911. Wikimedia

The literary classics

Guide to the classics: Homer’s Iliad

A central idea in the Iliad - a poetic work focused on the war for Troy - is the inevitability of death. The poem held a special place in antiquity, and has resonated in the millennia since.
Saturday is Love Your Bookshop Day – but bookshops face many challenges. Shutterstock

Page-turners

Love of bookshops in a time of Amazon and populism

Despite dire predictions, bookstores are doing well: they are curators of taste and community hubs. But their challenges are many – from the arrival of Amazon Down Under to a 'post-truth' climate that devalues knowledge.
Pied butcherbirds, such as this one, sing solos, duos and trios. © Duade Paton

Avian creation

Birdsong has inspired humans for centuries: is it music?

Is birdsong simply a hard-wired, functional, primitive sound – or could we call it 'music'? Australia's pied butcherbirds show there are surprising overlaps between birds' and humans' musical abilities.
Part of Jordan Eagles’s Blood Equality – Illuminations, 2017, an installation that uses imaged blood on plexiglass.

Art

Spilling blood in art, a tale of tampons, Trump and taboos

Contemporary artists from Judy Chicago to Stelarc have made art from blood. And an exhibition at Melbourne's new Science Gallery addresses our ambivalent attitudes to this life-giving fluid.
George Dreyfus, centre, holding a bassoon and Walter Wurzburger, far left, holding a clarinet. JC Williamson production 1949

Music

Loss, trials, and compassion: the music of Australia’s Jewish refugees

In the late 1930s, Australia sought to restrict the flow of refugees, ruling that musicians were 'unsuitable' as migrants. Yet some talented Jewish musicians did arrive here and their work has enriched our cultural life.
J Cole at Etihad Stadium in 2014. Cole (aka ‘Therapist’) runs non-profit organisation Dreamville Foundation, and houses single mothers rent-free in his childhood home. Photo supplied by Michelle Grace Hunder

Rap

The healing power of hip hop

Hip hop often gets a bad rap but for therapists and teachers it can be a transformative tool.
Eugenia Falleni in 1920. An Italian-born-woman-turned-Sydney-dwelling-man, Falleni was convicted of murder in 1920. Wikimedia

Friday essay

Friday essay: tall ships, tall tales, and the mysteries of Eugenia Falleni

An Italian-born-woman-turned-Sydney-dwelling-man, Eugenia Falleni was convicted of murder in 1920. Researching a novel about Falleni left this author literally, and figuratively, at sea.
Debussy’s Clair de Lune belongs to the Impressionist movement, which included visual artists like Claude Monet. Wikimedia

Classical music

Decoding the Music Masterpieces: Debussy’s Clair de Lune

Debussy's Clair de Lune, meaning 'moonlight', is one of the most easily recognised pieces of music, but its origins are complex. The piece was influenced by poetry, Baroque music and the Impressionist movement.
Dr Yunupiŋu’s music is steeped in the culture of his people, the Yolŋu of northeast Arnhem Land. Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Music

How Dr G.Yunupiŋu took Yolŋu culture to the world

The music of Dr G. Yunupiŋu, who has died at just 46, draws strength and inspiration from Manikay, the sacred song tradition performed by the Yolŋu when conducting public ceremonies.

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