Monthly Archives: November 2018

Tagger: Six steps from Joe Hockey to Paul Roos

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1. Well, at least everyone’s getting on just fine. Nobody agrees with a single thing anybody else says, but they’re getting along a treat, thanks for asking.

2. People say the Hirds have been stubborn and foolish, but as Herald Sun readers could tell you, Tania wore a lovely coat to court the other morning that was both fashionable and a practical garment to combat Melbourne’s winter chill. Very sensible indeed.

3. Of the following possible 2015 MCG fixtures, which is likely to feature the least number of goals?

a) Manchester United v Barcelona

b) Real Madrid v Chelsea

c) Melbourne v GWS

4. And to the five or six Fremantle fans who haven’t emailed or tweeted to say Steve Johnson obviously hurt his foot on Lachie Neale’s head, it’s his other foot.

5. Once again, at the end of another busy week, we pause to quietly give thanks that from changeroom to boardroom, to courtroom, to media workroom, the game is clearly on drugs.


Were you relieved to hear that, having paid millions to get him, Carlton is pleased Dale Thomas has been getting a kick lately in a team that’s going to finish 13th? Did you hear Mick say the Blues had “crossed the Rubicon” and wonder if Mitch Robinson figured that’s just one more nightclub he isn’t allowed in? Stop kicking Carlton and have a game of Armchair Footy Bingo! Rack up more points than there are teams Jonathon Patton’s going to be linked to but never end up at, and you win!

This weekend’s targets:

– “Bombers boss wants end to drugs saga” beats “Sun comes up in morning, goes down at night” and “Joe Hockey is a clown” as most bleeding obvious headline of the year – No shit, Sherlock points.

– Richmond fans are swiftly disabused of the consolation that playing a “mini-final” against Adelaide counts as having made the finals – Not even if you say it fast points.

– Ross Lyon’s vow that the Dockers would “like to get a scalp” against Hawthorn leaves Sam Mitchell wearing a deeply concerned look at the first bounce when Ryan Crowley picks him up armed with a tomahawk – Give him an inch points.

– The Essendon-West Coast clash ends in farce when the Bombers appeal a free kick for a push in the back to a full bench of the Federal Court – It’s never over points.


Six steps from Joe Hockey to Paul Roos.

1. Joe Hockey is the Treasurer of our great country and maybe that’s who Hirdy meant when he said there’d been a lot of silly things said in the paper and there’s been sad things too, but we tend to gloss over people killing each other en masse to wail over the death of …

2. Robin Williams, who was Mork from Ork long before he was the teacher who liked dead poets or Mrs Doubtfire or Aladdin’s Genie or the voice of a penguin, but now he’s gone and that’s a Shazbot shame because goodness knows we could use a laugh just ask …

3. Mark Thompson, who’s the coach of Essendon just at the minute and he’s been chuckling away all year and then last week he said his players needed to know when to get serious, which sounds like the sort of mixed message that had everyone on the wrong bus about …

4. Chris Judd, who isn’t finished after all, which is great news for footy fans and makers of shoulder strapping and he’ll face tougher opposition than Gold Coast minus Gary but he’s still a player we’ll never forget, which happened a bit this week in the testimony of …

5. Aurora Andruska, who’s welcome in the sports pages on name alone and we’d be happy to see “In – Aurora, out – Jarryd/Jared/Jarrod/Jarrad”, but we’re getting sidetracked  and if you spend so much time talking about stuff that happened in the past you’ll sound like …

6. Paul Roos, who used to coach the premiers but now he coaches blokes who can’t kick or handball, but he’s going to hang in there trying to do something with a poor team with little drive, as distinct from poor people who drive little, like the ones referred to by Joe Hockey.


Another serve of a different version of the truth from the bloke who’s looking forward to a couple of hours on the terraces at Denis Arm Field in Preston on Saturday arvo:

“Let me just say, any contract talk that gets put on hold until the end of the season is not going to be good for one of the parties concerned and screams of someone having something to hide. A little bit like going to court because you didn’t like the outcome of your confession, really.”

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ANU ranking slides on respected global research league table

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ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young: “We do take rankings seriously.” Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe Australian National University has fallen eight places on the most rigorous global research league table.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities produced by China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University places the ANU at 74 this year, down from 66 last year.

Meanwhile, the University of Melbourne continues its climb up the rankings, clawing another 10 places to reach 44 and breaking a record for an Australian entry.

Just six years ago, the ANU held the top Australian ranking at 57, compared with Melbourne at 79.

the University of Queensland, has held on to 85th place.

Vice Chancellor Ian Young said the ANU remained committed to “making permanent our place as one of the great universities of the world, and I’m pleased to see we remain in great company amongst the top 1 per cent of universities globally”.

“While rankings do move around, and we have been affected by a change this year in the methodology used, we do take rankings seriously as one of the comparative measures of performance.”

Those changes to methodology relate to the timeframe for calculating highly cited researchers – reducing the time frame for measuring the number of highly-cited papers from the past 30 years to 10 years – between 2002 to 2011.

“We are committed to fostering excellence and to performance development – one of the reasons ANU started an academic renewal program last year focused on creating opportunities for high-potential early career staff was to ensure we build a future on a foundation of solid academic excellence,” Professor Young said.

He noted there was a lag in ranking systems, so he expected it would take some years before the initiatives put in place would be reflected in the rankings.

Overall, Australia lost an entry into the world’s top 500 in La Trobe University but gained another in Deakin University.

The University of Western Australia was 88th – up from 91st place last year – while Sydney University came in in the 101-150 bracket – down from 97th last year. The Academic Ranking of World Universities is widely recognised as the most reliable list which rates universities on objective research performance indicators. It assesses prestige research using indicators such as the number of citations by a university’s researchers in top journals and the number of Nobel prizes and Fields medals won by a university’s academic staff and alumni.

ANU ranked No.50 in the world when the ranking was first published in 2003. This is the fourth successive year Melbourne has been ranked top in Australia.

Harvard University remains the number one in the world for the 12th year running. The rest of the top 10 are: Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, Cambridge, Princeton, Caltech, Columbia, Chicago and Oxford. The University of Tokyo (21st) and Kyoto University (26th) top other universities in Asia.

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Micromon review: finally a good Pokemon-like mobile game

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Monster encounters are better animated and detailed than you might be used to in Micromon. The world is bright and colourful, if a little busy.

As expected, six monsters at a time is the limit, but smart systems for swapping them out are in place.

Micromon on iPhone, iPod and iPad $1.29 Reviewed on: iPad Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10

When Pokemon made its debut almost two decades ago nobody minded the fact that you needed to lug a huge brick-like Game Boy around with you to enjoy monster-catching on the go.

Though the series remains a huge moneymaker for Nintendo, those of us spoiled by super-light smartphones and tablets may be less inclined to take a bulky handheld gaming device with us everywhere just to play.

While many attempts have been made to bring a Pokemon clone to mobile devices, Micromon is the first that succeeds by any measure, and despite a handful of very un-Nintendo hiccups (I’m looking at you, obligatory in-app purchases) it has a lot to offer fans of the genre who prefer to travel light.

Having been sucked into the digital world of Micromon, your avatar immediately meets a quirky professor and is given a vague mission to explore a large and varied world, taming as many of the 130 different Micromon as you can, and leading them into battle against other tamers for fun and profit. So far, so familiar.

But Micromon is just different and fresh enough to serve as a reminder of what Pokemon was like at the height of its charm — before decades of very similar games wore away the appeal.

Each new monster encounter — walking through long grass is still the way to trigger these — is an exciting discovery, and I found myself compelled to catch each new creature I came across.

While several of the designs are almost criminal in their similarity to famous Pokemon monsters, many are funny or cute or cool in their own right.

The world is fun to explore too, and much more expressively rendered than Pokemon’s play-it-safe Kanto or Johto regions.

Some of the characters you meet have a habit of rambling on a bit too long, but thankfully the story is engaging and the writing is frequently surprising in its humour.

But the ever-present lure of micro-transactions does hang over Micromon, giving access to rare monsters and advanced techniques to those willing to fork out extra cash.

You cannot buy anything you cannot also get with hard work (except aesthetic upgrades), but if you plan on playing competitively online be prepared to be beaten by players who have spent more money than you.

Tim is on Twitter: @weeklyrift

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Latest game releases: Road Not Taken, Hohokum, Metrico

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The choice is yours as to how you spend your life in Road Not Taken, although it will more than likely involve a lot of grid-based puzzling. Hitchhikers are plentiful in Hohokum, but what do they want?!

Finally, a great Pokemon clone on iOS.

So much data. Making jumps by the numbers in Metrico.

Your options are sometimes limited by your illness in the very important Depression Quest.

August 1: The Last of Us, Oddworld, Modern Combat, Mount Your Friends, KairoboticaJuly 18: Civilization, Abyss Odyssey, Monster Hunter, Crimsonland, MouseCraftJuly 4: Valiant Hearts, Shovel Knight, Sniper Elite III, Transformers, Squids Odyssey

Road Not Taken / PC, PS4 / Download only / $22.95 / Developer Spry Fox made its name on mobile with the hit game Triple Town, and although its latest is a strictly PC and console affair (for now), its scope and style just screams “tablet game”.

Road Not Taken is a smart, difficult puzzler with cute art and a procession of challenges you can knock off at your own pace. You play as a ranger who returns to a forest every year to rescue children who have become lost while picking berries. What makes Road Not Taken stand out from its contemporaries is you only have a 15-year lifespan. You are free to do what you want with this life: save all the children, meet all the townspeople or do nothing at all. Of course if you do nothing, you will never find out the true mystery of the forest or the interesting behaviours of all the items found within.

Hohokum / PS4, PS3, PS Vita / Download only / $19.45 / Upon seeing Hohokum at E3 this year, talk show host Conan O’Brien’s reaction was immediate: “And how high do you have to be to play this game?”

Featuring a hypercolourful string-snake that visits a series of nonsense worlds, Hohokum has you zooming between monkeys, carnival-goers or a jellyfish mermaid in order to find combinations of elements and progress.

It is a free-flowing, meditative game that strips back common features like specific goals in favour of a whimsical world that needs to be explored and understood. Paired with an incredible soundtrack, Hohokum defies easy description, but its sheer weirdness and sense of innocent fun could be reason enough to jump in.

Metrico / PS Vita / Download only / $19.45 / This is another game that looks to break the mould, although with somewhat less success. Metrico is a sidescrolling platformer with a twist: most game elements are affected by behind-the-scenes data-tracking of your every move.

Cannot make a certain jump? You may find the platform you are trying to reach is tied to the number of times you die, so the only way to extend it is to jump into the pit and fail multiple times. Pie graphs in the background might keep track of your steps, and getting the right ratio is the key forward.

While it is a novel approach and allows for some powerful narrative overtones, the later stages in Metrico take the idea to uncomfortable extremes, using the PlayStation Vita’s touchscreens and cameras to excess.

Micromon / iOS / $1.29 / Having been sucked into the digital world of Micromon, your avatar immediately meets a quirky professor and is given a vague mission.It boils down to exploring a large and varied world, taming as many of the 130 different Micromon as you can and leading them into battle against other tamers for fun and profit. Sound familiar?

Yes, this is an incredibly flagrant clone of Pokemon for mobile devices, but it is also the first of its kind to actually succeed in meeting the fun level of the games that inspired it. Annoying micro-transactions aside (this is a mobile game after all) Micromon offers dozens of hours, a decent story, cute and cool creatures with various evolutions and even online battles.

If you are a Pokemon fan who has grown tired of lugging around your Nintendo handheld for on-the-go monster-catching, this one is for you.

Depression Quest / PC, Mac / Download only / Free / There is an argument to be made that Depression Quest is not a game. Not only because it is mostly narrative fiction or that it is attempting something very serious, but because it really is not fun. At all.

The text describes the everyday events of a life, including a job, a relationship and a family. You are tasked with navigating these situations while also dealing with a crushing depression, which makes some options simply untenable and others the sad and only possibility.

It is a very well-executed experiment that gets its point across, even if that means it is a testing and, at times, a boring experience to go through. As a game designed to comfort those suffering depression by letting them know they are not alone – and also to communicate what depression is like to non-sufferers – it is an important and worthwhile game.

Tim is on Twitter: @weeklyrift

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Book review: The Luck of the Irish, by Babette Smith

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Eviction: An illustration from Luck of the Irish. Photo: suppliedTHE LUCK OF THE IRISH By Babette Smith Allen&Unwin. 292pp. 32.99.

Early one morning in December, 1835, the Aboriginal people living just south of Jervis Bay, on the NSW south coast, went down to the beach to do some fishing. They were startled to discover about  300 Europeans, men, women and children, milling around on the beach, survivors of the wreck of their ship.

The ship was the convict transport Hive, carrying 250 male prisoners from Ireland. The convicts were guarded by 29 soldiers of the 28th Regiment. After a voyage of 109 days across 21,000 kilometres of ocean, and with Sydney Town only a day’s sail away, the ship was beached in a sandy bay, now known as “Wreck Bay”. The water was shallow and after the first panic all the crew and convicts managed to struggle ashore, and were taken to Sydney.

Years ago I explored the area around Wreck Bay but I never thought to ask why it was so named, or what the wreck was. The Luck of the Irish by Babette Smith, a noted historian of the convict era,  tells the full story of the wreck of the Hive and what happened to those on board. With great skill and meticulous research she uses the wreck as a springboard to examine the transportation of Irish convicts to the Australian colonies in the 1830s.

The author has taken the survivors of one ship, both the convicts and those who guarded them like the Lugard brothers, and presented an analysis that focuses on social and economic history. What happened to the members of this group?  What do their lives tell us about the Irish contribution to colonial society, not only convicts but even high officials such as the Protestant Irish governor, Sir Richard Bourke? The result is fascinating and will be a treasure for any reader who is descended from someone on the Hive. The author managed to contact quite a number of descendants.

In following the paper trail of those who arrived on the Hive, Smith found the dramatic and unusual circumstances of their arrival was a badge of honour, something to boast about, even in official records years later. The author asks why the convicts didn’t grab the opportunity of the wreck to escape into the bush, or overwhelm the small number of guards and seize control of the camp, or flee in the longboat. Yet the convicts made no such attempt.

Smith concludes after an examination of the Irish background of this group that they were victims of poverty and hunger, caused by what she calls a pernicious system of landholding in Ireland and the threat of dispossession. But in the colony a local landowner named Alexander Berry, one of the first to hear of the wreck, saw his chance to get some men who would be very useful to him. Records show that most of the men from the Hive assigned to the Illawarra made their lives there, while their shipmates were being scattered across the land, some in Sydney or the Hunter Valley, or west to Bathurst and beyond, or south to the Goulburn district and the Monaro.

About 60 of the Irishmen on the Hive were assigned to the Hunter Valley. The author suggests that after the egalitarian Sydney culture, the Hunter Valley would remind the new arrivals of the Protestant landowning class in Ireland and of the prejudice such people demonstrated towards the Irish. Many free settlers feared an Irish uprising. The only example of such an uprising in the 1830s was the so-called “Ribbon Boys” gang in the Bathurst district, led by one Ralph Entwistle who was himself not Irish at all.

After following survivors of this one convict ship all over the country, the author notes that again and again the egalitarianism of Australian society was underlined. In the convict era the pressure for a classless society was strong and it grew stronger in later generations.

Smith concludes, surprisingly, that Australia is indebted to the Irish for religious equality. Through the influence of Irishmen like attorney-general J.H. Plunkett the constitution of the Commonwealth came to have section 116, prohibiting Australia from having a state religion, and so we emerged as a nation which could accommodate religious diversity.

Smith has given us a splendid study of a major Australian historical theme; the significance of the convict era through the eyes of survivors of this one ship. Her study suggests further topics for historians to unravel in years to come. This is Australian history filled with human interest stories, as it should be.


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