THE’s most read stories 2013

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31 December 2013 According to Times Higher Education, its readers have shown particular interest in global stories, including features on the rise of Singaporean universities and on life as an expatriate scholar in Japan, as well as the inaugural THE Global Gender Index, which exposed the inequalities facing women in higher education worldwide.  Here, from fifteen to one (excluding stories on the THE World University Rankings), are THE's most-read stories of the year. 15. Branded to death (18 July 2013) 14. Unbridled success: Germany’s fee foes claim victory (23 May 2013) 13. Is there anything new to say about Shakespeare? (26 September 2013)12. Higher education pay survey, 2013 … [Read more...]

Great books 2013


31 December 2013 A selection of “best books” published in 2013 has been compiled by Booktopia for the the online news service The New Daily. One of the most hailed works of fiction in 2013 has been Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.  Booktopia’s Caroline Baum describes it as  a dense, intelligent, complex and dark story about a small jewel of a painting that goes missing from the New York Metropolitan Museum following a bomb attack. Few works of literary fiction will have been anticipated more than this hefty novel by an author already mythologised before she turned thirty thanks to her cult debut The Secret History. It's been more than ten years since her second novel, The Little … [Read more...]

The best of Life & Stuff


30 December 2013 Life & Stuff is our lifestyle section: art, music, musings, celebrations and anniversaries, silliness, wisdom.   This is our selection from the past two years. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 26 November 2013 In the popular recent ABC TV series Redesign Your Brain , advertising executive and now TV personality Todd Sampson “trained his brain” to enable him to undertake new (for him) and demanding mental challenges, such as memorising the sequence of a shuffled pack of cards and doing a Houdini type of escape trick. Demonstrating what the experts call "brain plasticity", Sampson shows that … [Read more...]

Things to do

Paul Kelly

iTunes U If you’ve got an Apple device - iPad, iPhone or iPod - you can improve your mind while you're relaxing on the beach - cue up ancient Roman history or physics podcasts on La Trobe University’s iTunesU. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Summer School for Gardeners  Open Gardens Australia and the University of Melbourne are conducting the  inaugural Summer School for Gardeners - Keeping Gardening Down to Earth at Melbourne's Burnley campus 22-24 January 2014.  The three-day seminar and workshop program will provide opportunities to learn about the latest gardening … [Read more...]

The year in cartoons


30 December 2013 So much insightful, funny and cutting commentary comes from Australia's great cartoonists. Many people miss out. Inspired by Barrie Cassidy's Insiders Talking Pictures, this Facebook page - Political Cartoons Australia  - has a selection of the year's best cartoons.  Our personal favourite by Fairfax's John Spooner accompanied the post The tide goes out, on the crumbling of the Gillard Government. … [Read more...]

$5 ‘GP fee’ – a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist


30 December 2013 The government has refused to rule out a proposal to make patients pay a $5 fee for bulk-billed GP visits. But it solves a problem that nobody can show exists, writes Mark Fletcher. Tinkering with policies because you want to save cash is nearly always considered a terrible idea.  In Policy Heaven, policy experts sit down, work out what we want to achieve, work out what that will cost, and then raise the revenue.  In theory, we should be able to work out what the policy priorities of a Government are through how it distributes funds.  After all, there’s a reason why schools have fundraisers for infrastructure, but the military doesn’t. Politics, being what … [Read more...]

Cricket on the radio

The sounds of summer One of the sounds of an Australian summer is the cricket on the radio.  And the sound is about to change with the imminent retirement of ABC commentator Kerry "Skull" O'Keefe.  As Tim Lane describes it, the one-time peroxide-haired leggie, with an action more complicated than the deliveries it produced, grew from relative obscurity to cult figure status in the space of one or two guffaws of snorting laughter.  The laugh and his idiosyncratic form of humour annoys some people but for most of us, Skull has given an added colourful dimension to the cricket.  One of his more celebrated moments was the Frog Joke but Harsha Bhogle's Naga Chillies was also a classic radio … [Read more...]