Sunday, December 30, 2018

Australia, get ready to sweat your way through the weekend as extreme heatwave sets in

"Extreme heatwave"??? This is utter BS.  The BoM have been pushing out these warnings for most of December but all we are having is a normal summer.  The normal mid-afternoon summer temperature where I live in Brisbane is 34C and we are not even up to that.  It is 31C at the time of writing at 3pm on Saturday 29th.

Australia will experience a sweltering close to the year, with temperatures soaring above 40C throughout the nation over the coming days.

The post-Christmas heatwave shows no signs of easing, with warnings in place across parts of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

If the heat’s getting you down, we have some bad news: the relief could be more than a week away.

“We’re in the middle of a heatwave at the moment in much of Australia,” Sky News’ Chief Meteorologist Tom Saunders told “Today is day five of the heatwave and there’s no sign of a cool change before New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day will be day nine of that heatwave.

“We won’t see a cool change until the middle of next week — it could be after that or another full week.”

Severe to extreme heat conditions are expected to extend through South Australia, as well as southeast NSW, eastern Victoria and parts of central Queensland.

Up to 70 per cent of NSW will experience high fire dangers, from the southern half of the state up to the Queensland border.

The Bureau of Meteorology has also issued strong wind warnings from the Batemans Coast up to the Macquarie region over the next two days.

Sydneysiders may as well camp out on the beach over the next few days, with tops of 30C today, 31C on Saturday and 34C on Sunday.

The city’s Greater Western region is in for an even more brutal time, with tops of 42C in Penrith tomorrow and 41C on Sunday.

Brisbane will see tops of 30C over the weekend, with very little chance of rain — which means it’s the ideal time to head to the water.


Vietnamese community warns African gangs will turn their annual Lunar Festival into a war zone after violence which erupted between teen thugs and shopkeepers sparked calls for payback

Sad that it takes the Viets to show some guts

A Vietnamese festival scheduled for Sunday week could turn into a bloodbath with fears fed-up Asian youths will go to war with African gangs at the popular event.

Concerned shopkeepers have told Daily Mail Australia the St Albans Lunar Festival, planned for January 6, could go feral if African thugs turned up looking for trouble.

The warning comes just days after a gang of African teens was filmed brawling with middle-aged Vietnamese men dining outside the Song Huong restaurant on Alfrieda Street in St Albans, in Melbourne's north-west.

It is the very same street where the Lunar New Year will be celebrated, with the thoroughfare transformed into a festival featuring stalls, food, entertainment, bands, rides, fireworks and dancing.

On Friday, scores of frightened and angry shopkeepers told Daily Mail Australia that they feared the law would be taken into their own hands if police did not step in to halt the violent teen thugs.

One female shopkeeper, who herself had been a victim of multiple, brutal attacks by African teens,  said she feared the Vietnamese youth would rise up against the thugs.

'I haven't seen the police until the past few days,' she said.

The young woman, who is in phone sales, told Daily Mail Australia she had been attacked twice inside her shop.

So brutal were the attacks that one left her with a huge gash in her scalp after a teenage thug smashed her over the head with a phone he was stealing. A customer was also attacked.

She and her neighbours all called triple zero, but police did not come. 'They told us they couldn't come. They were too busy,' one man said of the attack.

His wife had chased out a gang of youths from their shop not long before the attack.

Another woman, who worked in a shop staffed entirely of young women, said the Vietnamese community was fed up with being afraid. 'We haven't seen the police up until those [recent] incidents ...  nobody is doing anything. None of the guys around here. We've all grown up now,' she said.

'But [the teen gangs] are young and they don't appreciate the laws and rules.

'Next weekend, it's going to be bad on that day because everybody goes out to enjoy the day ... but if they go crazy on that day, plus with so many people, it's going to be bad.

'If it's on, it's going to be really bad. Kids everywhere. It's going to get out of control. And I think it's going to be on.'

Ben Tran, 22, was working at Song Huong Vietnamese Restaurant when a gang of youths turned on patrons. It was over something as simple as the pests being refused cigarettes by the regular customers who congregate outside to eat, drink and play board games.

'The gangs they always come around this area and they sometimes ask the people outside for cigarettes or a lighter or something and if they say no, well something happens,' he said.

It is not the first time the thugs have caused trouble outside the restaurant, with this week's incident being one of at least five over the past couple of months.

Like many others on Alfreida Street, Mr Tran said police are never in a rush to help out when called.

On Friday, police were noticeable in a large van camped out in a grassy section in the middle of the street.

An officer was seen enjoying his lunch from the passenger side of the vehicle before the van drove off.

Mr Tran said police took about 30 minutes to turn up after being called to the brawl.

Like the times before, the restaurant handed over the CCTV footage, but staff don't expect much to change.

'They've come before, they say [the youths] will have some problems, that they've solved the problem, but it's still happening,' he said.

'I don't think the police can stop them ... when they come, everything is done.'

The gang that struck this week was not the same as the previous incidents, Mr Tran said.

Shopkeepers on Alfreida Street say the youths, sometimes still dressed in their school uniforms, are often organised, and use teenage girls to scope out victims and act as lookouts.

Mr Tran said his customers were fed up with the senseless violence. 'The Vietnamese - they fight back,' he said.

'We worry that they'll come back. We stay inside. People are scared.'

Shopkeepers claim until this week, police were hardly ever to be seen on Alfreida Street.

'I don't usually see any police here. On the main road, I see maybe two, three guys over there, but out here we don't see them,' Mr Tran said.

It is a sentiment shared by many on Alfreida Street.

Unlike Mr Tran, they are too afraid to be photographed or have their names mentioned in print.

Ricky Ta, a sales associate at a nearby Optus outlet, said he had also had a run in with a gang of African teens.  Thankfully no one was hurt.

'We have insurance, so we just let them take what they want. The police don't do anything about it,' he said.

Phone services in St Albans are booming as victims of crime flow into the Alfreida Street shops to replace the ones stolen by the thugs.

But being a phone salesperson on Alfreida Street is as risky as being a 1970s bank teller.

Nearly everyone on the street has a story of dread to tell.

The phone shopkeepers say to talk to the cigarette salesman who says to talk to the fish shop bloke.

They have all had violent run-ins with the thugs. They all say the same thing: where are the police?


UPDATE:  It seems that the police have now turned up in the area -- ready to arrest anybody who defends himself against the Africans

Must not video African youths in Melbourne

A group of African men have confronted notorious far-right activists who were filming them at a popular Melbourne beach - moments before one of them was tackled and pepper sprayed by police.

The ugly scenes early on Friday evening were all captured on camera at St Kilda Beach by United Patriot Front-linked activist Neil Erikson, 32.

A terse conversation between two officers and Erikson then ensues as other policemen talk to the African men in the background.

'I need to understand why you are escalating the situation,' one officer asked - to which Erikson responded he was in a public area and had the right to film the group.

The activists could be seen holding their ground in the vision, despite the officers' request for them to move along.

Erikson's footage suddenly cut to officers restraining one of the African youths, and a voice in the background can be heard saying 'yes, yes, yes' as the cameraman closes in on police pinning the man to the ground.

A 25-year-old man was arrested after allegedly attempting to assault police officers, a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.

'Police were forced to deploy OC spray on the male as he attempted to assault police and resist arrest,' she said.

The spokeswoman said officers approached a group of 15 males, some of which were being verbally abusive, in the South Beach Reserve area just after 5.30pm.  'One of the males refused to move on after multiple warnings and was arrested,' the spokeswoman said. 

Erikson has previously been convicted and fined for inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims after a 2015 stunt.

Along with United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell and Christopher Neil Shortis, Erikson chanted 'Allahu Akbar' in a video and spilled fake blood on the footpath and wall of a garden bed beside the Bendigo City Council offices. The group were protesting the building of the Bendigo mosque.

The confrontation at St Kilda Beach comes just days after a gang of African teens was filmed brawling with middle-aged Vietnamese men dining outside the Song Huong restaurant on Alfrieda Street in St Albans, in Melbourne's north-west.

On Thursday, a group of African youths allegedly smashed a glass bottle over a teenager's head before assaulting multiple swimmers and stealing their wallets at Chelsea Beach in the city's south-east.


Principal at remote Australian country high school is slammed after posing with students dressed up in blackface and as Adolf Hitler for 'history day'

Country Australia has mostly local concerns so is less sensitive to what offends urbanites

A public school has been forced to apologise after students were photographed wearing racist and inappropriate costumes during a muck-up day.

Rowena Public School in remote north-west NSW came under fire after students were seen dressed as Adolf Hitler and sporting blackface, New Matilda reported.

'The school unreservedly apologises for two photos that were published yesterday on our Facebook page. They have been removed,' the school said in a Facebook post.

Rowena Public had just 25 students and two teachers, one of whom is the principal.

Students were told to dress up as historical figures in a muck-up day earlier this month.

One student dressed up as Hitler and wore Nazi emblems.

She was pictured next to another student who painted their face black and wrapped medals around their neck to represent American athlete Jesse Owens.

A smiling school principal Paul Cecil posed with students in the photos.

They were then uploaded to the school's Facebook page. 

Neighbouring towns like Walgett, Collarenebri and Moree have large Aboriginal populations and took the photos as a direct insult.

Following the community uproar, Rowena Public School posted an apology then tore down the Facebook page. 'These photos were unacceptable,' the school said.

'Rowena Public School is a caring and supportive learning environment. We reject racism in all its forms.'


Can millennials do maths?

“I can no longer teach with these new brains,” says an exasperated Clio Cresswell, mathematics lecturer at the University of Sydney and author of Mathematics and Sex. The core of the problem, she says, is the diminishing capacity of undergraduates for “linked thinking”. And it’s not just a problem in the classroom.

“I’ve always enjoyed teaching,” she says. “But these days students are so busy posting on social media — ‘love the burger’, ‘great fries’ — that if something tragic happens to a loved one they struggle to understand why they’re feeling the way they do. They’ve trained themselves in first-step thinking. Their worlds are constructed of disconnected moments.”

It’s an axiom of cognition that when the brain learns new ways of doing things, the command centre in the cranium evolves in response. Anthropologists and ­biologists track these changes across large spans of time, but the digital revolution has come on so fast that the brain is being remade in decades, not eons.

Between 2007 and 2012 the number of internet users doubled to two billion. Four years later the world’s digital population had leapt to 3.5 billion, and this year it reached 4.2 billion — more than 55 per cent of the global population.

Cresswell has her own way of measuring the changes.

This year, after a break of five years during which she taught mainly gifted second-year mathematics students, she returned to a class for students who do not particularly like maths but need it for subjects such as psychology and geology. Immediately, she noticed a difference.

“They don’t turn up for lectures and they don’t ask questions,” she says. “They have no idea about the interactive process.”

She describes a sea of “glazed” eyes. “Mostly they’re looking at their screens, and occasionally they’ll take a photo of me and an equation.”

Wiki, she adds, is their go-to tool. “But while Wiki is pretty good for maths it doesn’t teach you how to think mathematically; the whole point is to connect ideas.”

Cresswell’s first-hand observations about what was once, rather quaintly, termed the chalkface are all the more penetrating because she is no badly dressed myopic maths nerd in the mould of The Big Bang Theory’s Amy Fowler. If anyone can cut through the fog of student lack of interest, it’s Cresswell, whose TED talk Mathematics and Sex has been viewed by more than eight million people.

So dispirited is Cresswell with the state of mathematics literacy, in an age when the algorithm rules just about everything, that she foresees a world divided into a numerate priesthood and an innumerate mass.

“I’m seeing a big problem in a society in which everything is maths-based,” she says. “Fewer and fewer people know how maths works, and they’re asking more and more stupid questions and getting more and more dis­enfranchised.”

Steven Schwartz, emeritus professor and former vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, shares Cresswell’s concerns about maths literacy. A board member of Teach For Australia, a nonprofit body set up to tackle educational disadvantage, he nevertheless resists generalising about the digital brain when all brains are different.

Schwartz, whose academic field is psychology, stresses the prior role of genetics, which affects children’s behaviour, particularly the amount of time they spend on devices and how their brains respond.

“Kids who are genetically inclined to obesity may spend more time in the bedrooms playing computer games than riding a bike to the beach,” he says.

“This not only makes them fat but also affects their neurobiological functioning. These kids would probably wind up obese even if they never have access to a computer or phone.

“If a child inherits risk factors for cognitive deficits, as measured by NAPLAN (National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy), he or she may spend more time playing computer games, which could make cognitive deficits even worse. Limiting device time for those kids may help, especially if they spend the liberated time reading.

“On the other hand, limiting device time for kids without the same genetic disposition to cognitive deficits will not have the same beneficial effect.

“The bottom line is that kids are all different and they need to be treated as individuals. When it comes to device time, one size does not fit all,” Schwartz says.

New research does suggest, however, that some conclusions about the brain’s response to digital stimuli can be made with confidence. A recent study out of Norway, published in the International Journal of Educational Research, found that students who read texts in print performed significantly better in comprehension tests than students who read the same texts digitally.

In the graduate employment market, however, there are signs the digital brain may not be all bad. Andrew Spicer, chief executive of Australia’s biggest financial comparison website, Canstar, is “in awe” of new graduates.

“Millennials are highly educated, energetic, with a desire to learn, and many are entrepreneurial in their approach to business,” he says.

Spicer doubts there is an enormous cognitive gulf separating the generations, although he says that his young graduates clearly have different ways of communicating.

This, in turn, puts the onus on managers to learn to communicate with them.

“Millennials’ success in the workplace can be guided by teaching them patience and resilience, and managing their expectations. We have learned that it’s valuable to communicate more, and explain the why as well as the what,” he says.

Trent Innes, managing director of global software company Xero’s Australian operations, is equally sanguine.

“What’s different today is the pace of information,” he says. “Devices have accelerated the frequency with which we communicate, and that can be overwhelming. The next generation needs more advice on how to use these tools. Our education system can help kids navigate what has become a river of information.”

As principal of architecture practice BVN, it’s Matthew Blair’s job to think deeply about the ways technology is transforming architecture and building construction, and the changes, he says, are just beginning to gain momentum.

He foresees a time in the not too distant digital future when virtual reality and automation will turn architectural designs into finished built forms.

He works alongside the generation that will steer and shape this process and the most observable change he has noticed is its ability to inhabit the real and virtual worlds simultaneously.

“Their consciousness is in both places at the same time,” he says. “The brain has enabled that to happen.”

He’s not the first to observe that digital natives feel they don’t need so much to know stuff as to know where to find it.

“They think it’s more important to think critically and have ideas,” he says.

Blair concedes that the downside of the digital brain, with its capacity to traverse the temporal and virtual worlds, is a more diminished capacity to maintain concentration and focus, both of which are preconditions for the “linked thinking” that Cresswell says is essential to mathematics, and may also prove an essential ingredient of the self as conventionally understood.

“But I’m an optimist,” Blair ­declares. “And it’s good to be ­optimistic.”


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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