Melbourne’s heat wave breaks record

Melbourne’s sweltering heatwave reached a top of 34 degrees today, making it the 15th day in February above 30 degrees, breaking a new record.

According to an article in The Age, the previous record of 14 days over 30 was reached in 1997, equalling that set in 1898.

While we thankfully haven’t reached the 46 degree weather experienced in 2009 with the Black Saturday bushfires, humidity is higher than average for this time of year.

A cool change is expected on Wednesday bringing some relief to those having trouble beating the heat.

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Julia Gillard announces $1 billion reading blitz

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a $1 billion reading blitz as part of her plans for education reform.

“There are around 75,000 kids at the moment who aren’t reading as well as we would like,” Ms Gillard said, according to an article in the Herald Sun.

“The evidence shows if you come out at year three not reading well, you are very likely to come out of year nine not reading very well either,” Ms Gillard said.

“Which means you are very likely to end up an adult who never reads well with all the consequences that has got with the jobs you can do.”

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Cat Island, where cats rule

Tashiro–jima Island off the northern coast of Japan has the unique nickname of “Cat Island” due to its large feline population.

Hundreds of cats roam freely around the island outnumbering the 100 permanent residents – who are all over the age of 65.

In the late nineteeth century, silkworms were harvested on Tashiro-jima. Mice eat silkworms so cats were breed to keep the mice at bay.

Cat Island

Fisherman feedings cats on Cat Island, Japan.
Photo credit: Fubiral

Fisherman often stay on the island overnight believing that the cats can predict the weather and fishing patterns, bringing them wealth and fortune.

A number of cat shrines and monuments also adorn the island.

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Kangaroos: hopping to extinction?

An ecologist who has spent years researching our kangaroo population says the national icon is in decline.

It is a commonly held belief that kangaroos exist in “plague proportions” but ecologist Ray Mjadwesch recently submitted a paper to the NSW Scientific Committee suggesting that roo numbers in NSW are not captured accurately by aerial surveys.

In a report by The Age, Mjadwesch said: ‘‘when I started to look at the situation on the ground, I was quite shocked. There are huge areas where, according to the data, there should have been thousands of kangaroos, but the landscape was just empty.”

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Camp A Low Hum: how you always imagined a festival to be

Camp A Low Hum 2013. Photo credit: Bonnie Milne

The lagoon at Camp A Low Hum, New Zealand,
Photo credit: Bonnie Milne

Camp A Low Hum (CALH) is a relaxed, diy three-day musical festival held each February in Wellington, New Zealand. Situated at the picturesque Camp Wainui, Mainuiomata, which is generally used as a location for school camps, CALH is a picturesque 30-minute drive east of Wellington, with stunning views over Wellington Harbour and the Hutt Valley. In a word: paradise.

Festival creator, Ian ‘Blink” Jorgensen, keeps the festival fairly low-key, with no corporate sponsors, VIP areas, no beefcake security guards, and no line-up announcement until arrival. Only a thousand tickets are sold, so there’s plenty of room to set up camp. The camping areas include: quiet, noisy and party so you can match your mood, while enjoying the stunning mountains overlooking the valley, the pristine forests and the lagoon.

Over 150 local independent, Australian and International bands and artists perform over the three days across seven stages, hand picked by Jorgensen, with a focus on indie rock and experimental music. 70 booked bands are on the bill, but the “renegade” stage, where performers can book a 20-minute impromptu set, provides a chance for up-and-comers to be heard. The quality of music is impressive and there’s no pressure if you miss a show as most bands put on repeat performances.

Not knowing most of the bands on the line-up reduces the anxiety felt at rushing about to see your favourite band like at larger music festivals and having to push through packed crowds. The beauty of CALH is in the detail of surprise as you stumble upon a band randomly and become a new fan.

On the CALH website, Jorgensen, says CALH is “my quest to create the world’s most unique, considerate and musically astonishing festival. At its very core is a want to create an event that I would actually want to go to myself. This means BYO, being able to come and go as I please, a diverse range of music, intimate shows, multiple environments, shady areas, grassy areas and not being bombarded with advertising and a constant sound battering.”

“CALH is how you always imagined a festival to be, but never is,” states Jorgensen.

Camp A Low Hum 2013.

Carb on Carb perform at Camp A Low Hum 2013.
Photo credit: Kristy Sullivan

This ethos is what makes CALH so special and amazing. Now in it’s seventh year, the festival is a truly unforgettable experience, with a brilliant vibe that is spontaneous and fun. The music seems to spring from the forest itself as it reverberates between the mountainside, producing operatic acoustics in natural amphitheatres. Punters float in the lagoon on inflatable animal toys or take a swim while listening to a band play on the lagoon stage.

Perhaps it’s the Kiwi sensibility and respect for their beautiful land, but people are aware of just how special the festival and setting is, and festival-goers keep the surrounds neat and clean and drama free. A shuttle bus conveniently takes anyone back in to town who wants to stock up on more beer, there are yummy food vans on site and everyone looks out for each other. Camp A Low Hum is a unique, magical experience, a respite from the pandemonium of larger festivals with ego-filled bands. Jorgensen’s goal of creating the most astonishing festival is well and truly realised. If only school camp had been this much fun.

The 2013 CALH took place between 8-10 February, but there’s always next year…

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All about Girls

Hit HBO television series Girls, now in its second season, has earned its creator and star, Lena Dunham the title of ‘voice of a generation’.

Lena Dunham on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Lena Dunham on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Lena, who graces the cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone admits that as a child she was diagnosed with OCD  – and on “massive doses” of antidepressents.

Her own anxieties are exactly what makes the series so realistic. The writing is whip-smart, and centres on scenarios that young women can actually relate to.

Girls is about a group of four twenty-something female friends fumbling through life and love in New York City.

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Prison laughs created by local lads lands Hollywood award nomination

Comedy web series PrisonPals created by local residents Jackson Juliani and Tim Stone is up against Hollywood’s finest with a “Steamy Awards” nomination for online video production.

PrisonPals follows a group of prisoners participating in a new and controversial online rehabilitation program headed by an idealistic but deluded psychologist, with hilarious results.

Juliani and Stone will share the limelight with Hollywood heavyweights Ben Stiller and Tom Hanks, who are also nominated.

“(It) will potentially open doors for us over there,” Juliani said. “Four years of our blood, sweat and tears has paid off – and we couldn’t be happier.”

See it at

PrisonPals Episode 1

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Black Caviar inducted into Racing Hall of Fame

Officially ranked the best sprinter in the world, Victorian thoroughbred mare Black Caviar has been further recognised with an induction into the Racing Hall of Fame.

Black Caviar won her 23rd undefeated race in a row at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne on the 16th of February. The win equals a record not matched for 100 years.

Managing owner Neil Werrett said he felt “very lucky and very honoured” and was humbled by the award.

In 2012, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph voted Black Caviar female athlete of the year, stirring controversy by insulting other female athletes who often struggle to gain recognition.

Black Caviar's 23rd straight win

Black Caviar’s 23rd straight win at Flemington on 16 February 2013.
Picture: Wayne Ludbey. Source: News Limited

Black Caviar’s 23rd straight win at Flemington on 16 February 2013.

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Europe’s horsemeat scandal gallops to Asia

The horsemeat scandal that rocked Europe and shocked the world has spread to Asia. An article in The Age states that imported lasagne was pulled off the shelves in Hong Kong as it “might be adulterated with horsemeat which has not undergone tests for veterinary drugs”.

The crisis began when French manufacturing company Spanghero passed off 750 tonnes of horsemeat as beef to some of the world’s biggest food players: supermarket chain Tesco, Nestle, and JBS of Brazil; in turn misleading consumers. Spanghero face a fine of up to three million Koruma ($A153,806) and can no longer sell frozen meat.

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From mobile phones to musical orgasms

Technology not only connects us in modern life, it’s also altering the way we have sex. An article on technology website, The Next Web, details the new ways in which technology is changing the culture of sex.

Teledildonics – remotely controlled sex toys – are replacing the humble vibrator, and these toys can be connected to mobile devices, which create unique vibrating simulations through musical apps; more sophisticated “love dolls” on the market can hold a conversation and have changing moods; and the lines are blurring between online and offline sexual communities, with hook-up websites like Grindr encouraging real time meet ups.

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