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Analysis and Comment (40)

Hands on the wall still. Hands on the wall still.

VIDEO: Were the first artists women?

Welcome to TCTV, a new stream of video content offering ideas and insights from the sharpest academic minds. In this first episode Janine Burke explains research by archaeologist Dean Snow suggesting that…
Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos has come under fire in the witness stand at ICAC. Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos has come under fire in the witness stand at ICAC. AAP/Paul Miller

Grattan on Friday: Sinodinos is seriously bruised – and that’s before ICAC says anything

Regardless of what the Independent Commission against Corruption finally says about Arthur Sinodinos, his day of evidence has in itself raised fundamental questions about his suitability for the job of…
If Arthur Sinodinos couldn’t be across key facts about a company of which he became chairman, how can he and the government credibly argue that someone with no expertise should be their own watchdog? If Arthur Sinodinos couldn’t be across key facts about a company of which he became chairman, how can he and the government credibly argue that someone with no expertise should be their own watchdog? AAP/Daniel Munoz

Grattan on Friday: While Sinodinos is off at ICAC, someone should have a look at his financial advice legislation

Interviewed recently about the government’s plan to roll back key consumer protections in Labor’s financial advice legislation, Arthur Sinodinos said his advice to consumers was to “get more informed…
Martin Parkinson has been a victim of the Abbott government’s tribalism. Martin Parkinson has been a victim of the Abbott government’s tribalism. AAP/Daniel Munoz

Grattan on Friday: Woe betide those who fail the Abbott government’s tribal test

At the end of the election campaign Tony Abbott observed that the big difference between an opposition leader and a prime minister was that the former was inevitably the leader of a tribe while the latter…
Rogue independent MP Geoff Shaw has held the Victorian Liberals to ransom. Rogue independent MP Geoff Shaw has held the Victorian Liberals to ransom. AAP/David Crosling

Grattan on Friday: Victorian Liberals give disillusioned state voters another reason to turn away

The Liberals must already be relishing the thought that later this month the whole country will almost certainly be coloured conservative blue, with the exception of a tiny Labor outpost in the ACT. On…
Tony Abbott is trying to switch the focus from a Qantas debt guarantee to the repeal of the carbon tax. Tony Abbott is trying to switch the focus from a Qantas debt guarantee to the repeal of the carbon tax. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: Qantas not such a special case in Abbott’s eyes

Hardly a week goes by, it seems, when there is not some fresh announcement of job shedding. Qantas’s loss of 5000 is the latest blow. But amid the gloom on Thursday, Tony Abbott optimistically reaffirmed…
Attorney General George Brandis will soon take to cabinet proposals to remove the “Bolt” provisions. Attorney General George Brandis will soon take to cabinet proposals to remove the “Bolt” provisions. AAP/Daniel Munoz

Grattan on Friday: Everyone, including the asylum seekers, has a claim to the rights agenda

This week the government’s new “freedom commissioner”, Tim Wilson, fresh from the Institute of Public Affairs, started at the Human Rights Commission, with the central task of promoting free speech and…
Some psychological theories can help us understand why some people stick with rough relationships and try to ride out the storm. Some psychological theories can help us understand why some people stick with rough relationships and try to ride out the storm. Sean Davis

All you need is love: the psychology of romance

Thousands of couples will celebrate a day of romance this week, while many single people will hope for their own one. But what makes a relationship last? And what makes one couple crumble while another…
The outcome of Saturday’s byelection will set the tone for the first sitting week of 2014. The outcome of Saturday’s byelection will set the tone for the first sitting week of 2014. AAP/Dan Peled

Grattan on Friday: As the government urges heavy lifting, Tony Abbott feels the weight

A former colleague of Tony Abbott says John Howard would never have flatly denied SPC Ardmona the $25 million in assistance. “He’d have given $15 million with conditions,” said the man, who was praising…
Generation War provoked fierce debate and protests with sympathetic portrayals of German soldiers and depictions of Poles as anti-Semitic. Generation War provoked fierce debate and protests with sympathetic portrayals of German soldiers and depictions of Poles as anti-Semitic. SBS/ZDF

Generation War re-ignites battle over a nation’s ‘true’ history

Polish reactions to the German TV series Generation War, which has just screened in Australia, confirm that the history of World War Two remains highly contentious. The resulting public debate tested Polish-German…
Simply standing in front of a class and telling children how we are used to doing things ‘just won’t work’, according to leading American education expert Linda Darling-Hammond. Simply standing in front of a class and telling children how we are used to doing things ‘just won’t work’, according to leading American education expert Linda Darling-Hammond. AAP/Dan Peled

In Conversation: Maxine McKew and Linda Darling-Hammond

Watch the video of Maxine McKew interviewing Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond below. Australian schoolkids are scoring higher than their US counterparts in maths, science and literacy, but a visiting…
The Government has sent messages to business and the ABC, this week. The Government has sent messages to business and the ABC, this week. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: Abbott government has the trumpet out, and not just to blast the ABC

The Abbott government has been firing rhetorical bullets at friends and enemies alike in the last few days. Some employers are weak-kneed. The ABC is unpatriotic. On the face of it, there’s little in common…
From tree to biofuel in few steps. From tree to biofuel in few steps. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Green combination helps turn wood into biofuels

Turning wood and agricultural waste into biofuels is one step closer to being a truly green process, according to a recently published study in the journal Science. James Dumesic of the University of Wisconsin-Madison…
Tony Abbott faces difficulty within his own party about indigenous recognition. Tony Abbott faces difficulty within his own party about indigenous recognition. AAP/Lukas Coch

Grattan on Friday: Indigenous referendum will test Abbott’s ability to manage his conservative base

In his Australia Day message this weekend Tony Abbott will repeat his commitment to amend the constitution to recognise Aboriginal people as the “first Australians”. He’ll say this should be a “unifying…
How long can you stay there depends on practice and physics. How long can you stay there depends on practice and physics. elisfanclub

Moon’s gravity alone cannot create the world’s largest tides

“Tide goes in, tide goes out…you can’t explain that.” So claimed US talkshow anchor Bill O’Reilly, in a baffling attempt to discredit atheism which became something of a YouTube sensation. I have been…
Following the leader has its benefits. Following the leader has its benefits. Markus Unsöld

Doing maths on the fly, birds form V for efficiency

Across the globe, hundreds of species of birds can be seen flying in V-formations. We have long suspected that these formation might help birds fly with less effort. Yet the precise mechanics have remained…
Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott have some significant challenges in the near future. Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott have some significant challenges in the near future. AAP/Daniel Munoz

Grattan on Friday: Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott is a partnership facing plenty of tests

A column by Paul Kelly in The Australian this week caused a ripple around the government. It said, in essence, that Education Minister Chris Pyne had been told, after a discussion in the expenditure review…
Manners please: Eating eating fish with straw? Manners please: Eating eating fish with straw? PLOS ONE

The turtle that ate with a straw

During the Mesozoic Era, between 252m and 66m years ago, the seas were ruled by a vast and intriguing array of reptiles. The most common ones were crocodiles (adapted to swimming in oceans), plesiosaurs…
Tony Abbott has tried to ride out the pressure from Indonesia with repeated references to his commitment to the relationship. Tony Abbott has tried to ride out the pressure from Indonesia with repeated references to his commitment to the relationship. AAP/Daniel Munoz

Grattan on Friday: Abbott will need to make those words good

The most extraordinary intervention in a disastrous week for Australian-Indonesian relations came out of the blue. Who could have anticipated the provocative tweeting by Liberal party pollster Mark Textor…
Dr Kiran Martin (centre) has been working with New Delhi’s slum dwellers for 25 years. Dr Kiran Martin (centre) has been working with New Delhi’s slum dwellers for 25 years. Asha Health & Development Society Photo Archives

In Conversation with Asha founder Dr Kiran Martin

Watch the video of public health professor Rob Moodie interviewing Dr Kiran Martin below. Kiran Martin is the founder of Asha, a community health and development society that works with over 500,000 people…
Only physics can burn a hole through the sky. Only physics can burn a hole through the sky. European Southern Observatory (ESO)

Beyond the Higgs boson: five reasons physics is still interesting

Would physics be “far more interesting” if the Higgs boson had not been found? Stephen Hawking thinks so. He made this bold claim, possibly with his tongue slightly in his cheek, at the opening of a new…
Five-a-day please. Five-a-day please. blacktigersdream

Are crocodiles secret fruit-lovers?

Seed dispersal by animals is important for plants to help them occupy new areas of land. Usually bugs, birds, or intrepid kittens do that job. Now we can add crocodiles to that list. A new study reviewed…
Hairworm target. Hairworm target. haquintero

The parasite a cricket’s nightmares are made of

The hairworm is a long, thread-like parasite that sits bundled up inside the body of its host. It grows so large that it takes up most of the room inside the host’s body, waiting for the right moment to…
A photo of a balloon, mid-burst, can be achieved by amateur photographers. A photo of a balloon, mid-burst, can be achieved by amateur photographers. Brent Schneeman

A snapshot of high-speed photography (and how to do it)

High-speed photography in still images and cinema seems to be the latest rage. And while modern technology has made much of the equipment easily accessible, the basic techniques have been used since the…
With the rise of “SuperPACs”, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a fundraising advantage over President Barack Obama. With the rise of “SuperPACs”, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a fundraising advantage over President Barack Obama. EPA/CJ Gunther

Explainer: what is a Super PAC?

David Weisbrot of the University of Sydney explains where the money comes from with the rise of Super PACs in the US presidential elections, in collaboration with SBS Online.
US President Barack Obama with Prime Minister Julia Gillard on his first trip to Australia in November last year. US President Barack Obama with Prime Minister Julia Gillard on his first trip to Australia in November last year. AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: foreign relations and the US elections

Brendan O'Connor from the University of Sydney discusses the foreign policy implications for Australia, Iran and China ahead of the US presidential elections, produced in collaboration with SBS Online…
President Obama addresses the American Latino Heritage Forum in Washington last year. President Obama addresses the American Latino Heritage Forum in Washington last year. EPA/Olivier Douliery

Explainer: the Latino vote in the US

In the first of The Conversation’s video explainer series - produced in collaboration with SBS Online - Dr David Smith from the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney discusses the importance…
Will the London Olympics lead to increased participation in grassroots sport? Will the London Olympics lead to increased participation in grassroots sport? BELAMBRA CLUBS

The sports legacy of the Olympic Games

While competition at the London Olympics only runs for 19 days, the Games are likely to have an impact far beyond this brief period of time. Or so we’re told. In this video Stephen Frawley discusses the…
Margins may get smaller, but will they ever disappear? Margins may get smaller, but will they ever disappear? josterpi

VIDEO: pushing at the limits of athletic ability

Will records keep tumbling as athletes get fitter and technology develops? Or is there a limit to human performance? Kate Murphy investigates. Further viewing: VIDEO: doping, drug testing and the Olympics…
A zero-tolerance approach to doping? “That is pure fantasy …” A zero-tolerance approach to doping? “That is pure fantasy …”

VIDEO: doping, drug testing and the Olympics

Bob Stewart of Victoria University discusses doping, cheating and suggestions that drug testing at London 2012 is the most comprehensive we’ve ever seen at an Olympic Games. Further viewing: VIDEO: why…
Goodnight, sleep tight? Not if these critters have anything to do with it. Goodnight, sleep tight? Not if these critters have anything to do with it. Lynn Friedman

VIDEO: bed bugs at London 2012

In a co-production between SBS World News Australia and The Conversation, University of Sydney’s Cameron Webb explains why bed bugs will almost certainly bite at the London Olympics. It’s creepy. Enjoy…