There’s a Milky Way in Australia?

November 26, 2013

Yes, but it’s upside down, right?

Meredith Frost Tweeted: Great shot of the Milky Way over Western Australia (Photo/Mike Salway) An Astronomy Picture of the DayMeredith Frost Tweeted: Great shot of the Milky Way over Western Australia (Photo/Mike Salway) An Astronomy Picture of the Day

Meredith Frost Tweeted: Great shot of the Milky Way over Western Australia (Photo/Mike Salway) An Astronomy Picture of the Day

Turns out this was the Astronomy Picture of the Day back in September 2012.  NASA said:

Milky Way Over the Bungle Bungles
Image Credit & Copyright: Mike Salway Explanation: Which part of this picture do you find more interesting — the land or the sky? Advocates for the land might cite the beauty of the ancient domes of the Bungle Bungle Range in Western Australia. These picturesque domes appear as huge layered beehives and are made of sandstones and conglomerates deposited over 350 million years ago. Advocates for the sky might laud the beauty of the Milky Way’s central band shown arching from horizon to horizon. The photogenic Milky Way band formed over 10 billion years ago and now includes many well-known nebulae and bright stars. Fortunately, you don’t have to decide and can enjoy both together in this beautiful 8-frame panorama taken from the dark skies of Purnululu National Park about two months ago.

Decide Anyway: Land or Sky

I’d make some remarks about silly names for land formations in Australia — but here we sit with The Grand Tetons, The Gros Ventre, and several dozen “Molly’s Nipples” in our nation.

But really:  Bungle-Bungles?

Ain’t geography grand? Ain’t nature grand? Ain’t NASA doing something right?



Aussie’s view of America; can you do as well for Australia?

November 2, 2013

An Aussie's attempt to label the state of the U.S.  Don't laugh -- how well can you do labeling a map of Australia?  From Texas Hill Country's Facebook feed, and unknown origin past that.

An Aussie’s attempt to label the state of the U.S. Don’t laugh — how well can you do labeling a map of Australia? From Texas Hill Country’s Facebook feed, and unknown origin past that.

Found this at the Facebook site of Texas Hill Country.  A little rough for high school geography, especially if it’s ninth grade geography (surely you can moderate this a bit, teachers), but a good idea for a quiz?

How well can your students do labeling the U.S.?  Will they find this person’s obvious anguish and creative non-answers amusing?  Can they do better?

Now turn the tables:  How well can your students in the U.S. do labeling a map of Australia?  Canada?  Mexico?

Ask your students:  Is it important to know such stuff?  Why?

And you, Dear Reader: What do you think?

Here you go, a map of Australia to practice with:

Unlabeled map of Australia to label!  Royalty free produce of Bruce Jones Design, Inc., copyright 2010

Unlabeled map of Australia to label! Royalty free produce of Bruce Jones Design, Inc., copyright 2010

VOTE! dammit!

September 5, 2013

I’m stealing this from Eli Rabett wholesale.

Confess:  Did you know before this moment that big elections loom in Germany (September 22) and Australia (September 7)?

Eli’s post:

In an ueber weird commercial the German Metalworkers Union puts up on YouTube what may be the single greatest get out the vote ad ever.

A rough transcript of the text to juice up the Aussies out there who also have an election coming up, even though they have to vote.

0:05   Germany chills out
0:13   All the important stuff in 2013 has been decided
0:30   Really, already decided?
0:48   On September 22 the cards will be mixed again
0:51   (Merkel)  This government has been the most successful in Germany since the reunification . .
0:57    (Steinbrueck SDP)  This government thinks that they can slide through . .
1:00    (FDP = libertarians) Only one thing can beat the, the FDP itself
1:04    National election 2013
1:07    Problems there are aplenty
1:12    No joy from a lousy job?
1:16    Too few nursery places?  R. Tol appears
1:23    Rather retire earlier?
1:29    Better education?
1:36    Equality?
1:38    It’s not so easy, first you have one house, and then another
1:40    You can never have enough
14:2    Right now we have an asocial market economy, not a social one
1:46    You have a voice, use it
1:56    September 22 is the election
2:01   It’s close
2:07   It’s difficult
2:11   It’s gonna be dirty
2:17   Unexpected coalitions will emerge
2:25   It’s time to beat on the table
2:32   Push!
2:39   Onwards to the election!
2:46   Vote!!
2:51   So, let’s discuss this a bit further

Maybe you’ll watch the G20 meetings with a little different perspective?

Who was the genius behind that compilation (file under “highest and best use of weird internet videos this year”)?  Can we hire her or him for the Texas elections next year?

It’s from the German Metalworkers Union, IG Metall.  Justification enough to revitalize America’s labor movement.  Rich Trumka, are you paying attention?


A good get-out-the-vote (GOTV) poster, according to some design critics.  GRA 217/Intro to Design

A good get-out-the-vote (GOTV) poster, according to some design critics. GRA 217/Intro to Design


Mapping Australia’s history, in a .gif

February 27, 2011

Interesting .gif from Wikipedia:

History of Australia, in a map on a .gif

Political boundaries in Australia, and their changes

I like using such .gifs in PowerPoints, just one more way to add some interest and a lot more information to a session of “direct instruction.”  Do you know of other .gifs that could be used for U.S. history, or other history courses?  Please list them in comments.

Especially let us know if you find errors in this one.

Or errors in this one, which covers deeper time:

History of Autralian political boundaries, from discovery by Europeans

History of Autralian political boundaries, from discovery by Europeans

Last one in the water . . .!

August 12, 2010

Beach sign in Australia - photo by Laura Hale

Sign on an Australian beach. Photo by Laura Hale

Tip of the old scrub brush to Laura Hale.

Monckton’s profiteering: Climate denialists rake in the money

January 19, 2010

Bizarre as it may seem, the imagined profiteering of environmentalists has becoma favorite complaint of global warming deniers.  Ignoring the fact that he’s on the board of Apple Computers and a very savvy investor, and ignoring the facts of his donation of proceeds he gets from lectures, deniers claim Al Gore has gotten rich off of warning people about global warming.

They even complain when researchers get grants to study the stuff, as if the researchers were buying Maseratis and taking vacations to the Caribbean on the money.

How could they think that?

Might it be because the deniers really are pulling in high dollar, luxury fees to campaign against the science?  Christopher Monckton, warming denialist extraordinaire, is touring Australia.  Comes this little slip of public relations:

During this tour, Lord Monckton will be chaperoned by wealthy mining consultant and geologist Professor Ian Plimer. Lord Monckton will also be getting a fee of $20,000 and all his travel and accommodation – somewhere in the region of $100,000 – will be paid for.

Who might be paying for Monckton’s tour?* China?  India?  We don’t know, but following Monckton’s lead, we might hope that the western intelligence agencies are investigating Monckton to see just what he’s up to.

$120,000 to make up political smears that damage national policies and science?  Mencken would be ashamed.



* It’s a paraphrase of Monckton, who evilly worried about funding for climate research and ill-funded environmental groups, “Goodness knows where they get it from!  Foreign governments, possibly!  I don’t know!  I haven’t looked.  But it’s certainly an alarming question:  Are the environmental movements being backed by China or India so they won’t have to compete with us for natural resources because we will have shut our industry down.  It’s a question that the security services, I hope, are looking at, because it certainly worries me.”

DDT nutcases

April 11, 2009

It’s spring, and nutcase fancies turn to thoughts of slandering Rachel Carson and making unholy noises toward environmentalists.

Here’s one nutcase who engages in that peculiar nutcase practice of completely rewriting posts of commenters — claims to be Graeme Bird; is he really running for office?  His claim is that lack of DDT is causing the spread of dengue in Queensland, Australia.  He won’t be swayed by reason or fact (of course — his avatar is a photo of confirmed liar Joe McCarthy).  He asks “how many have died,” but is unhappy with the official answer (one, but that’s not clear — an older woman in poor health).  Nor does he appear to have any sense of irony that drought-stricken Australia has a plague of mosquitoes due to recent rains.  Nor does he appear to understand that dengue is an imported disease in Australia, imported by a traveler, it appears.

Australian officials ask people to drain water from pots, old tires (“tyres” downunder), rain gutters, or any other small pool, which is where the vector mosquitoes breed and mature.  The nutcase appears unfamiliar with the concept of simply preventing the mosquitoes from breeding, in his rush to poison Australia.  Nor do alternative effective techniques for fighting the disease appear to be on his radar.

Alas, there are a lot of these lone nutcases loose.  Watch for updates here for a week or so.

I wonder if it’s a virus that makes them censor any fact or opinion contrary to their own, or whether they simply are complete cranks.  I mean, even Bush’s Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne got  DDT right.

(Bird’s blog is on WordPress, which will automatically post a link from this post to his blog.  Anyone want to wager on whether he has enough cojones to let the trackback stand?)

Typewriter of the moment: Australian journalist Ron Boland, OBE

December 27, 2008

1930s era typewriter that accompanied Australian journalist Ron Boland through his journalistic career - State Library of South Australia (on loan from Jasin Boland)

1930s era typewriter that accompanied Australian journalist Ron Boland through his journalistic career, a Remington Portable - State Library of South Australia (on loan from Jasin Boland)

Ron Boland played an important role in the expansion and maturation of Australian newspaper journalism in the 20th century — in the era before Rupert Murdoch, mostly – though Boland worked for Murdoch and could be said to have created the style that made Murdoch rich — in an era when newspapers still set the pace of the Information Age.  He retired in 1977, the year Altair was a top computer name, the year RadioShack almost got the TRS-80 to market, the year Jobs and Wozniak started work on the Apple II (before Macintosh).

For nearly 50 years, this typewriter was the peak of technology, for a world class journalist.

Boland’s life and timeline could make for some interesting projects or study assignments — see Boland’s campaign for topless swimming on Australia’s beaches.  Topless swimming for men.

Boland’s work is probably mostly invisible to American students, but it should provide some good enrichment for students of world history.

The case for Australian journalist Ron Bolands Remington Portable typewriter, testifying to the globe trotting done by the typewriter, and Boland.  State Library of South Australia

The case for Australian journalist Ron Boland's Remington Portable typewriter, testifying to the globe trotting done by the typewriter, and Boland. State Library of South Australia


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Geologist finds meteor crater – on Google Earth

April 11, 2008

Geologist Arthur Hickman used Google Earth to look at part of Australia he was studying. In the satellite photos provided by Google Earth, Hickman noticed something no one else had seen: An impact crater.

Hickman Crater, Australia

For his alertness, Hickman had the 270-meter crater named after him.

Oceans white with foam, mate!

November 19, 2007

This is cool. Natural phenomena, the stuff that makes geography really interesting — where and what is this? (Pictures from August 2007)

Surfer emerges from foam in New South Wales

It was as if someone had poured tons of coffee and milk into the ocean, then switched on a giant blender.

Suddenly the shoreline north of Sydney were transformed into the Cappuccino Coast.

Foam swallowed an entire beach and half the nearby buildings, including the local lifeguards’ centre, in a freak display of nature at Yamba in New South Wales.

One minute a group of teenage surfers were waiting to catch a wave, the next they were swallowed up in a giant bubble bath. The foam was so light that they could puff it out of their hands and watch it float away.

Perhaps a good geography warm-up: Where are these pictures from? What is the phenomenon shown in the photos? Why might it be unusual for these people to be swimming in the ocean in August?

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Prehistory and art: Lesson plan material

October 7, 2007

Teachers looking for good interactive graphics on human migration in prehistoric times should take a look at the website of Australia’s Bradshaw Foundation. The map requires an Adobe Flash player, and I cannot embed it here — but go take a look, here. “The Journey of Man” seems tailor made for classroom use, if you have a live internet connection and a projector.

Ancient art is the chief focus of the foundation.

Ancient paintings, the Bradshaw paintings, at the Bradshaw Foundation Examples of some of the most famous cave and rock paintings populate the site, along with many lesser known creations — the eponymous paintings, the Bradshaw group, generally disappear from U.S. versions of world history texts. The Bradshaw Foundation website explains:

The Bradshaw Paintings are incredibly sophisticated, as you will see from the 32 pictures in the Paintings Section, yet they are not recent creations but originate from an unknown past period which some suggest could have been 50,000 years ago. This art form was first recorded by Joseph Bradshaw in 1891, when he was lost on an Kimberley expedition in the north west of Australia. Dr. Andreas Lommel stated on his expedition to the Kimberleys in 1955 that the rock art he referred to as the Bradshaw Paintings may well predate the present Australian Aborigines.

This ancient art carries a story that should intrigue even junior high school students, and it offers examples of archaeological techniques that are critical to determining the ages of undated art in the wild:

According to legend, they were made by birds. It was said that these birds pecked the rocks until their beaks bled, and then created these fine paintings by using a tail feather and their own blood. This art is of such antiquity that no pigment remains on the rock surface, it is impossible to use carbon dating technology. The composition of the original paints cant be determined, and whatever pigments were used have been locked into the rock itself as shades of Mulberry red, and have become impervious to the elements.

Fortuitously, in 1996 Grahame Walsh discovered a Bradshaw Painting partly covered by a fossilised Mud Wasp nest, which scientists have removed and analysed using a new technique of dating, determining it to be 17,000 + years old.

Texas history and geography teachers should note the Bradshaw Foundation’s work on prehistorica art in the Pecos River Valley: “Pecos Experience: Art and archeaology in the lower Pecos.” There is much more here than is found in most Texas history texts — material useful for student projects or good lesson plans.

Painting from Panther Cave, lower Pecos, Texas - Bradshaw Foundation

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