Litbits April 29 2017

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ABR Gender Fellowship

n Book Review is seeking proposals for a substantial article on any aspect of gender in n literature (any genre). The Fellowship is worth $7500. Applications close May 1. See: australianbookreview苏州夜网.au. ACU Poetry Prize

Entries for the 2017 n Catholic University (ACU) Prize for Poetry are open until July 3, with a $10,000 first prize for poetry with the theme “Joy”. See: What’s on

April 30: At Muse Canberra, in Question Time:Katy Gallagher find out if and how Katy Gallagher, the person is different from Senator Katy Gallagher, federal politician. Tickets $10 includes a drink.Bookings: musecanberra苏州夜网.au.

May 4: In the lunchtime event The Long Table, Meg and Tom Keneally’s The Unmourned will be launched at Muse Canberra at noon. Tickets $75 includes 90-minute two-course lunch and a copy of the book. musecanberra苏州夜网.au.

May 6: Moving Beyond 1915 Remembrance – free public launch by Professor Joan Beaumont of 286-page printed book and e-book compiled by Peace Works! at National Archives of , Queen Victoria Terrace. Book launch at 2 pm; displays and events 10 am to 4 pm; complimentary refreshments all day.

May 6: Come for afternoon tea with Jenevieve Chang, author of The Good Girl of Chinatown: From suburban Sydney to Shanghai Show Girl at 2pm at Asia Bookroom, Lawry Place, Macquarie. RSVP to 62515191. Entry by gold coin donation to the n Childhood Foundation. See:AsiaBookroom苏州夜网.

May 7: Join Roanna Gonsalves in conversation about her debut book of short stories The Permanent Resident with Feminartsy’s Zoya Patel at Muse Canberra. Tickets: $10 (includes a drink) or $30 (includes a drink and a copy of the book). musecanberra苏州夜网.au.

May 8: At 6.30pm, Manning Clark Lecture Theatre 2, ANU, in an ANU/Canberra Times meet the author event, Co-founder and creative director of the Mama Mia Women’s Network, Mia Freedman, will be in conversation with Genevieve Jacobs on Freedman’s new book: Work, Strife, Balance. Free event. Bookings at or 6125 4144. Book signings at 6pm.

May 10: The next Poetry at the House reading is at University House at 7.30 pm. It will feature Louise Nicholas (from Adelaide), Paul Cliff (from Canberra) and Victoria McGrath (from Yass). Admission: $10 waged, $5 unwaged. RSVP: [email protected]苏州夜生活.au.

May 11: Still touching hearts: an evening with May Gibbs for the National Centre for n Children’s Literature. Includes a presentation of original artwork to the Centre by Jane Brummitt, co-author of May Gibbs More than a Fairy Tale. 5.30-7pm at ALIA House, 9-11 Napier Close Deakin. $15 ($12 for CBCA members). RSVP by May 9: [email protected]苏州夜网.

May 11: In The Unknown, Judith Wright Professor Tom Griffiths and Dr Georgina Arnott reflect on the writer’s status as a historian, exploring what can be learnt from her life’s work. National Library of Theatre, Lower Ground 1, 5.30pm, admission free. Bookings:

May 13: Plotting Your Novel with Ian McHugh is a writing workshop from 10am to 4pm in the E-Block Seminar Room, Gorman Arts Centre. Cost: $145 members, $210 non-members (includes 12-month membership). Concession rates available. Bookings:

May 17: John Blay will launch Paula Keogh’s memoir The Green Bell at Muse Canberra at 5.30 for 6pm. Free admission. Musecanberra苏州夜网.au.

May 21: Griffith Review: Millennials Strike Back is a panel discussion devoted to the challenges and opportunities faced by that generation.

May 29: At 6pm at the Copland Lecture Theatre, ANU in an ANU/ Canberra Times meet the author event, Robert Dessaix will be in conversation with Professor Nicholas Brown on Dessaix’s new book, The Pleasures of Leisure. Free event. Bookings at or 6125 4144. Book signings at 5.30pm. .

May 30: At 6.30pm in the Copland Lecture Theatre, ANU in an ANU/Canberra Times meet the author. Chloe Shorten will be in conversation with Anna-Maria Arabia on Shorten’s new book, Take Heart: A Story for Modern Stepfamilies. Free event. Bookings at or 6125 4144. Book signings at 6pm.

June 6: At 6pm in the Copland Lecture Theatre, ANU in an ANU/ Canberra Times meet the author event John Safran will be in conversation with Kim Hunyh on Safran’s new book Depends What You Mean by Extremist. Going Rogue with n Deplorables. Free event. Bookings at or 6125 4144. Pre-book signings at 6pm.

* Contributions to Litbits are welcome. Please email [email protected]苏州夜网.au by COB on the Monday prior to publication. Publication is not guaranteed.

Finals could be the swansong for several of the boys in blue

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One thing seems to be a given in n soccer, particularly so if a team wins a grand final.

The chances of the title-winning XI playing together more than a handful of times in the future is almost non-existent.

Salary cap pressures, interest from other clubs, the ambition of players to test themselves in overseas leagues and the fact that rivals often make higher wage-offers to proven champions all come into play and bring about rapid turnover.

Melbourne Victory bucked the trend the last time it won the championship, in 2015, and several of the players who were in that match-day squad are still with the team, or remained for at least a season after.

Mark Milligan, the captain that day, was the only significant departure immediately after the win.

Seven of the team that beat Sydney 3-0 in that championship decider at AAMI Park are likely to figure on Sunday when Victory hosts Brisbane for a place in the 2017 grand final: goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas, defenders Nick Ansell and Danny Georgievski, midfielders Leigh Broxham and Carl Valeri, winger Fahid Ben Khalfallah and striker Besart Berisha are all still around.

Jason Geria, who has become Victory’s first-choice right-back in the two seasons since then, was on the bench that day, as was midfield utility Rashid Mahazi. Both are likely to be involved again on Sunday in some capacity.

But Victory is an exception. Remember when the Newcastle Jets won the title in 2008 only to lose several key players the following year. The Jets have never really recovered, failing to make the finals since 2010.

The same happened last season to Adelaide United, who won the title in glorious style last year only to fall off the pace dramatically this season when many of their star players left: the Reds did not even make the play-offs in 2016-17.

For several players at Victory, Sunday’s game – should they lose to Brisbane – could, or will, be their last match in navy blue.

Ansell, Ben Khalfalla and Mahazi of the class of 2015 are all out of contract, as are Spanish centre-half Alan Baro, who joined at the start of this season on a one-year deal, and James Troisi, the Socceroo attacker who did likewise.

Ansell, who was only 21 when he won the title two years ago, has been in and out of the team in the past few seasons. A serious injury has hampered his development and he has spent this year in a battle alongside James Donachie, signed from Brisbane in the off season, to partner Baro.

Despite the fact that he missed some seven months after the grand final with a foot injury, he signed a contract extension 13 months ago to keep him at AAMI Park until the end of this season. At his age he needs to play regular football, but the question for him is whether he will get it at Victory.

Mahazi is in a similar position. Two years older, he joined Victory during Ange Postecoglou’s period in charge and while he is a familiar face in the match-day squad it is usually as a substitute, where his versatility ensures he is a useful asset to play in midfield or defence if Victory needs to consolidate a lead or shut down a game.

But at the midpoint of his career he, too, would prefer to be playing regularly.

Fahid Ben Khalfallah is definitely coming to the end of his time at Victory. No matter what happens, the French-born-and-raised Tunisian international will not be suiting up in navy next season.

Coach Kevin Muscat left him out of several matches this season and at 34 (he will be 35 when the next A-League season kicks off) he does not figure in Muscat’s plans for the future.

The coach wants wide players with a high workrate who get up and down the flanks, pressing when the opposition has the ball and helping out Victory’s full-backs when the opponents are attacking. Ben Khalfallah’s talents lie in taking defenders on and at his age he lacks the engines required to get up and down the flanks like a younger man.

At his best Ben Khalfallah was excellent. In his first season with Victory he showed the full range of his talents, with a fluid passing game, excellent skill and invention and the ability to score goals which made him an important contributor to Victory’s title-winning team.

He has fallen off those lofty standards in the past couple of years and Sunday, or the grand final, will be his swansong. He is interested in staying in next season so it will be fascinating to see if any other A-League clubs are keen to pick him up on a one-year deal.

Georgievski is another who is on his way out from AAMI Park, the combative full-back already having announced that he has inked a deal to play for the Newcastle Jets next season.

Troisi is still in talks with Victory about a new deal as a marquee player, while Baro’s future remains uncertain.

Revealed: What you will pay under the new fire services levy

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How much Sydneysiders will pay under a new system to help fund NSW fire and emergency services can be revealed, with some property owners facing annual bills exceeding $500.

From July 1, NSW property owners will be charged the new Fire and Emergency Services Levy based on land value determined by the NSW Valuer-General, replacing the previous system which was a tax on insurance policies.

Fairfax Media can reveal an owner of residential property in the Mosman council area whose land is worth the local median land value of $1.84 million will pay $502.96 for the 2017-18 financial year.

However, in Fairfield, where the local government area’s median land value is $461,000, the annual levy for the owner of such a property will be $200.96.

The figures are higher than the $185 average touted by the state government when it unveiled details of the reform in March.

The annual levy is determined by adding a fixed charge – $100 for residential property – to an additional ad valorem amount based on unimproved land value.

For owners of “public benefit land” such as churches and scout halls, the annual fixed charge is also $100 plus an additional amount based on a separate ad valorem calculation.

But for farms, industrial and commercial landholders, the fixed charge will be $200 plus the additional amount.

A new charge will be calculated annually based on the budget for NSW Fire and Rescue, the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service.

Property owners can work out their precise levy using a calculator on the fire services and emergency services levy website at

The levy, which accounts for three-quarters of the fire and emergency services budget, will be collected by councils as a separately listed charge on rates notices.

The government argues the new system is fairer because previously, responsibility for funding emergency services was carried solely by those who had insurance.

It says the average fully insured residential property owner will save around $47 per year. Additionally, those eligible for pensioner discounts on council rates will get a $50 discount on the new levy.

Former n Competition and Consumer Commission chief Allan Fels has been appointed the Fire and Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor to ensure insurers pass on saving to customers.

He anticipates an average drop in residential property insurance prices of up to 20 per cent.

The monitor, which is in place until the end of 2018, has powers to fine insurers up to $10 million if they do not pass on the savings.

Opposition treasury spokesman Ryan Park said that based on the average Sydney land value of $774,000, “the average Sydney household will end up paying around $270 – which is around $100 more than the government said they would.”

“It just shows that this government can’t be trusted and has no idea when it comes to the cost of living,” he said.

But Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the reform “is without doubt the fairest way to fund fire and emergency services in NSW, while driving down the cost of insurance so that more people can afford to protect their livelihoods.”

“Fire and emergency services are for all of NSW, not just Sydney, and this is the fairest way to spread the cost across the state.

“If Labor think families with lower value properties should be paying just as much as those with multimillion-dollar land holdings, that’s a matter for them.”

The Fire Brigade Employees Union has slammed the levy as “a new billion-dollar tax on property owners that will cost many NSW households hundreds of dollars more”.

The Rural Fire Service Association has said interstate experience suggested a property levy “may not always be able to keep up with the funding needs of a rural fire service, which the RFSA will monitor closely over coming years”.

Noted Writers’ Festival blurs the lines between writer and reader

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Bucking the trend of a traditional format, Noted Writers Festival considers itself a festival that is made with, rather than for the community.

Artistic director Lucy Nelson said the line between writer and reader is quite blurry at Noted.

“Our artist line-up includes people who are only just starting to call themselves writers, all the way through to established writers with international followings,” Ms Nelson said.

“Simply put, this is a festival for anyone who loves to write.”

The festival began in 2015 when a group of local writers and producers asked the question: why should we travel to Sydney or Melbourne for a writers’ festival when our hometown is crawling with literary talent and an audience of avid readers?

In its first year the festival ran on a tiny crowd-funding campaign of $5000 and has since secured government funding as well as support from a number of sponsors and local businesses.

Some of the more unusual events this year include lectures in parks, workshops in spooky underground locations, walking tours with tailor-made poetry at every stop and a collaborative sculpture project that will find creative new ways of repurposing unsold books. Audiences can also participate online through a range of interactive digital events.

Despite a focus on experimentation, Noted has not entirely shied away from some of the more traditional events; punters will also find workshops, readings and panel discussions on topics including the value of humorous storytelling and the role art plays in contemporary .

In the lead-up to this year’s festival, organisers launched a First Nations Emerging Writers Residency in partnership with the National Library of . Last week Melbourne writer Laniyuk Garcon-Mills was announced as the successful recipient and will spend the week of the festival immersed in her work by day and frequenting the festival by night.

Applications for a second residency program aimed at emerging writers older than 60 closed last week, with outcomes to be announced shortly.

“We were surprised by the reaction to the emerging older writers residency,” Ms Nelson said.

“It showed us that there is a strong appetite for this to continue. There just aren’t enough professional development opportunities for older writers and we’re delighted to provide one. It’s not enough. It’s never enough, but it’s a start.”

Creating opportunities where they are otherwise lacking has become something of a mission for this emerging indie festival. For the first time this year, the program includes a multilingual hub, where writers with a first language other than English will offer readings, presentations, mini-language lessons and performances in or about their mother tongues.

“That’s going to be really special,” Ms Nelson said. “You can learn a short song in an Indigenous n language, hear poetry performed in Indonesian and Serbian, write your name in Farsi – it’s a celebration and a sharing of words in all their shapes and sizes.”

Returning to the festival this year is the flagship event LitHop, a pub crawl across inner city venues interspersed with readings, competitions and literary-themed adventures along the way. Also back for a third time is the Independent Publishing Fair. A playground for zinesters, artists, writers and creators, the publishing fair plays host to about 50 local and interstate publishers selling their wares against a backdrop of performances, panels and free events for kids.

Noted Writers’ Festival launches on May 2 at the National Library of , and runs from May 3-7. See the full program at notedfestival苏州夜网

Marta Skrabacz is a creative producer and journalist. She is currently writing a book on memoir and women writers and runs a story-based project, Well In Theory.

‘I look in the mirror and see I’m neither male or female’

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Some days Nevo Zisin doesn’t always like to look at himself in the mirror but on the days he does Zisin is not sure if he sees a man, a woman, child or adult.

”I used to identify as a man, I used to identify as a woman but right now that’s not relevant to me,” he says. ”I see myself as a mosaic of feminity and masculinity and complex thought and ability.

“I’m a person, I’m an activist, I’m a speaker and it’s not just about the sensational story of ‘Look at the transgender’, as if I’m in a zoo cage. I’m actually a person, a flawed person, and I find other people’s gender just as fascinating as mine.”

We have come to Cafe Shenkin in inner city Sydney, close to the offices of Black Dog Books, publisher of Zisin’s new autobiography, Finding Nevo.

The corner restaurant specialises in the kind of street food Zisin lived off during a gap year in Tel Aviv in 2014, a crucial time in his transition marking the first year on hormone replacement therapy.

Zisin has dressed deliberately for the occasion. His wild curls are held back in a ponytail. He wears shirt and shorts, the very picture of gender neutrality. A lighter necklace hangs around his neck to remind himself of his inner “fire”.

Presentation matters for someone who has interrogated their own identity since the age of four and regards their gender as fluid. He requests that he be addressed in the pronouns of they/their or he/him.

”That is my claim to fame,” Zisin shrugs, “I’m constantly confusing people. But I think everything is really confusing. You talk to anyone – no one knows really what they are doing and mostly it’s a performative confidence and so I think we need to lean into the discomfort of not knowing and just being question marks.”

The autobiography comes a year after a backlash erupted over the transgender activist’s appearance as a “case study” in a video resource for the much-maligned Safe Schools campaign.

n Christian conservatives claimed Zisin’s story encouraged impressionable minors to undergo sex-change surgery without parental consent as they mobilised political opposition against the anti-homophobic bullying Safe Schools program. Zisin’s explicit naming was to plunge him into a ”pit of despair”.

”Firstly, there is no such thing as a sex-change operation, it doesn’t exist,” Zisin says. ”Lots of trans people get different operations or none, it’s a myth. There is no all-in-one, turn a machine, come out a different gender. That’s not the way it works.

”Secondly, I was never going to get that surgery, I was only ever planning on getting chest surgery. I’m not sure how I was advocating for surgeries I wasn’t involved in. It was also said I was talking about doing them without my parent’s consent when my parents were with me the entire way. I came from a Jewish family. Family is important. I was never abandoning my family to do what I want. They were at the centre of these decisions. It was pure slander and pure defamation.”

Zisin scans the menu and recommends the shakshuka, a hearty one-pot dish of eggs baked in a spicy red pepper and tomato sauce, a dipping plate of hummus made with fava beans, and a fold of puff pastry stuffed with vegetables not unlike an Italian calzone.

Zisin’s mother Sharon Swiatlo – Zisin lives with her in Caulfield, smack in the middle of Melbourne’s “bagel belt” – makes a “mean” shakshuka. Zisin’s speciality is a tahini made with the sharp tang of pickle juice.

Zisin was not even in kindergarten when he set on the fact he was a boy. Zisin refused to go to the girl’s section at department stores, would only wear boys’ clothing, and would correct anyone who referred to him as a girl. Accused of being a drama queen, Zisin retorted: “I’m a drama king.”

“I didn’t just decide at four years old I’m not going to be a girl, I’m going to be a boy. There was something in me that felt I had to present myself differently. I wouldn’t say it is entirely a socially constructed thing, or entirely biologically determined. I think there is this mish-mash of in-betweens.”

Zisin spent a year learning how to a be ”good” Jewish woman to undertake the traditional coming-of-age ceremony of the bat mitzvah. Upon return from a trip to Israel he shaved his head for charity and found himself at the centre of rumours that he was a lesbian.

”I was very stoked to be this straight woman with bald head and rocking with the stereotypes,” he says, and yet felt ”backed in the corner”.

When Zisin eventually came out as gay at age 14, “I was so scared, I thought, ‘well right right now I am [lesbian] but I don’t know if I want to be in the future’. I always have doubts about everything, all the time and so does everyone.

“I’m not sure about anything 100 per cent.” At the same time, “I always do things full throttle … Keeping up with myself is difficult for me.”

Zisin’s Melbourne private school was the first n Jewish school to join the Safe Schools Coalition and he credits the support he received with saving his life.

As a gay activist he took part in a documentary, Love in Full Colour, which screened for the first time at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival in 2015. By the time he sat with his mother to watch its premiere Zisin was presenting as male.

Zisin’s gender dysphoria had worsened and he had come out as transgender to his mother in his last year of high school at age 18, changing his first name to one selected from a Hebrew baby’s book.

Lunch is served and Zisin declines alcohol: “Not after the other night.” Three-quarters of the book was written in a rush of about four weeks while “drinking wine”, the look back over a life of 21 years being painful, nostalgic and cathartic to recall.

It’s a ”lie”, Zisin says, to say that his gender variance is a mere phase, as critics of medicalised transition assert, or that he’s too young to know who he is.

”At what age does one know who they are, that’s what I want to know,” Zisin says. ”And what isn’t a phase? Is it the guy you dated in high school that you really regret, or that course you dropped out of, or that job you stayed in for far too long, or the relationship that was abusive?”

While it’s exhausting to be a ”walking search engine”, the book is a chance to reach young people like himself undergoing the transition and bring more ”trans” stories into the mainstream because, he maintains, “gender diversity needs to be normalised and understood”.

“It’s a story of life and growing up and body image and insecurity and coming to terms with realities we are faced with. These are symptoms of the human condition. It’s not just a trans narrative.”

Attitudes are shifting. A swim teacher studying Indigenous cultures and creative writing at the University of Melbourne, Zisin was quizzed in the pool a few months back.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”, the boy asked him. ”I said, ‘I don’t know, both?’ He’s like, ‘You can’t be both.’ I was like, ‘Why not?’ He said, ‘??ou can’t be both unless you are transgender. You don’t look transgender.’

“So I was like, ‘Well, I am.’ And he said, ‘Cool, can I do backstroke now?’ To hear a seven-year-old use that word is mind-boggling and that’s not the first or last time that’s happened. Kids have these open minds and they get things on a fundamental level. They understand being a girl doesn’t necessarily mean pink.”

Zisin’s favourite piece of writing in the book is the last chapter. He imagines himself at a party with his previous selves at ages six, nine, 13, 16, then at 18 with his newly-minted name. Nevo asks his future self, ”Are you happy?”, and he replies, ”Well, I’m certainly trying.”

China’s $70 million house price record smashed by Point Piper estate

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$100m Fairfax mansion called Elaine. image supplied.The Fairfax family have sold their Point Piper estate Elaine, setting a national house price record of more than $70 million.

The vast 6986-square-metre estate on Seven Shillings Beach was bought by a local family who are expected to keep it as a single, private estate.

Exclusive listing agent Ken Jacobs, of Christie’s International, was unable to reveal the sale price or buyer details, but was asking $75 million before it sold late on Friday.

The previous house record was set at $70 million in 2015 when Mr Jacobs sold the Vaucluse mansion La Mer on behalf of James and Erica Packer to Chinese-n businessman Chau Chak Wing.

“This is an emotional day. I sold a home that has been in the Fairfax family since 1891. I am delighted it is being purchased in one line by an n family,” John Breher Fairfax said exclusively to Domain.

There were at least two parties vying for the Point Piper residence before it sold, ending a three-year sales campaign for what is widely regarded as one of the most significant properties in .

Last year the co-founder of takeaway delivery website Menulog, Leon Kamenev, set a different record when he spent just under $80 million on four properties in Vaucluse, making it ‘s most expensive property amalgamation.

Built in 1863, Elaine has been home to one of the world’s longest-running media dynasties since Geoffrey Evan Fairfax bought it in 1891 for ??2100.

In 1936 ownership was transferred to Sir Vincent Fairfax and Lady (Nancy) Fairfax for ??19,000, and their son John Brehmer Fairfax bought the bulk of the estate in 1989 for $3 million.

The sale brings an end to 126 years of continuous family ownership.

Mr Fairfax, who sold his remaining 9.7 per cent stake in Fairfax Media for $189 million in 2011, announced his decision to sell the historic property in September 2013 because no one in the family had lived in it for almost 20 years.

After it officially hit the market in 2014 the sales campaign was stifled by concerns from within Woollahra Council of potential over-development of the site, particularly in light of a previous council subdivision into six lots.

The main residence is protected by council due its “special significance”, but is approved for significant remodelling.

DA-approved plans for four separate properties on the estate were approved in early 2016 amid a new marketing campaign billing it “Elaine Gardens” that opened the sale up to include developers or a syndicate of buyers.

Those DA-approved plans also heralded the first official price guides on each proposed property with a total price tag of $75 million to $80 million.

The estimated stamp duty on a $70 million house is $4.84 million.

At the time the propertywas officially listed in 2014, architect and historian Howard Tanner said: “There’s no doubt this property is one of the sort of landmarks on Sydney Harbour.

“People who go past from their boats or walk along the beach look up here and see something that evokes an older, rather special Sydney that survives. And I think these sorts of properties are extraordinarily rare – this one of the rarest.”

The three-storey mansion has sloping lawns extending to Seven Shillings Beach, a grass tennis court, sandstone walls and paths, and five century-old trees.

Prestige agents have long speculated on the property’s worth, with one high-end agency director saying soon after it hit the market that he would run naked down New South Head Road if it sold for more than $55 million. Prestige values have risen dramatically in the years since then.

The estate next door, Fairwater, is owned by Lady Mary Fairfax, who has promised to bequeath it to the people of NSW, which will leave Elaine as the largest, privately held harbourfront estate.

The sale marks the fourth year in a row that Jacobs has topped national house price records. In 2014 he was one of two agents who sold the Point Piper trophy home Villa del Mare for $39 million. Packer’s Vaucluse mansion set a national high in 2015 when it sold for $70 million, and last year Jacobs sold another Point Piper landmark, Altona, for $61.8 million to the Huang family, from China’s paper manufacturing company Shantou Dongfeng Printing.???

The Chinan Bird Guide takes flight

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The Age, news. Jeff Davies – illustrator of a new book on birds.Pic Simon Schluter 28 April 2017. Photo: Simon SchluterIt’s a true story, based on love, obsession and sometimes madness. Thankfully, the authors (and their publishers) managed to avoid murdering each other along the way. But after nearly a decade in the making, The n Bird Guide finally hits bookstores on Monday.

To call The n Bird Guide long-awaited would be putting it mildly. There are a number of field guides to n birds in print, most of which are regularly revised and updated. But an entirely new tome is as rare as, well, a very rare bird indeed: this is the first publication of its kind in about 17 years.

Melbourne artist Jeff Davies was the first of three illustrators, in addition to three authors, to be approached by CSIRO’s publishing division nearly 10 years ago. Instantly, the questions started: “I had various people tap me on the shoulder saying, ‘when are you going to finish’ – and that was when I’d just started,” he said. Some privately wondered if the book might ever be finished.

For the first year, Davies said, he sat at home without income, accumulating a vast archive of avian imagery for reference: much of what’s new about this book is a byproduct in the explosion of new knowledge generated by digital photography.

When the project ran over time – the authors were on a five-year contract – Davies spent another two years without income as the book was finished. It features more than 4700 colour illustrations, with many species illustrated for the first time.

Davies, who had previously worked on the mammoth multi-volume Handbook of n and New Zealand Birds, has a well-earned reputation as a perfectionist and a stickler for detail. In the twitchier circles of ‘s birding community, however, detail is everything. For them, the wait will be worth it.

Davies said he would have refused the assignment if he hadn’t had sufficient time, but also understood the significance of the opportunity, as well as the magnitude of the task.

“I’m 60. I’m going to be dead in a couple of decades time, I’m not going to f— around and waste time,” he said. “I throw everything in otherwise I don’t bother doing it at all. But I think people who knew me already knew that.”

Why only some boys are better at maths

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Girls are better at literacy and reading from the age of four but boys aren’t any better at maths until they turn eight, a new study of NAPLAN and school readiness test data has found.

The study also found that better performance in literacy was limited to girls from low and middle socioeconomic backgrounds, and only boys from high socioeconomic families did better in numeracy.

“If you just look at the [NAPLAN] statistics without looking at socioeconomic factors, it would suggest that this is just a natural difference,” said Dr Julie Moschion, a senior research fellow at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research, and a co-author of the study, published in the Journal of Population Economics this month.

On average across , boys score 12 points higher than girls in numeracy in the year 3 NAPLAN test, and girls score nine points higher in literacy.

“But when you look deeper, it’s not that simple,” Dr Moschion said.

“If boys are just better at maths, boys from low and middle socioeconomic backgrounds would also do better.”

The study also found that the advantage boys from high socioeconomic backgrounds have in maths doesn’t appear until about the age of 8, while four-year-old girls already perform better in literacy and reading in school readiness tests.

This has implications for both parents and teachers, Dr Moschion said.

“Girls’ advantage in reading starts before they go to school, which suggests that to reduce this gap, the solution may be at home with parents reading more to boys,” she said.

“In contrast, boys’ advantage in numeracy appears after students start school, so it’s pretty fair to say it’s generated at school.

“I’m not able to tell you how much gendered teaching practices have an impact here but we can probably safety say this contributes.”

The paper found the gap could lead to higher drop-out rates and employment issues for boys and lower participation rates in high-earning STEM roles for girls.

The n research aligns with similar findings by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development across other developed countries.

A separate study found boys’ and girls’ behaviour at home and in the early years of school could affect their performance in literacy and reading and later success.

Girls are far better at paying attention, staying on task and working independently from kindergarten while boys tend to be hyperactive and have problems with conduct, according to the study, which was published in the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood this month.

Study co-author Professor Susan Walker, from the Queensland University of Technology , said the difference could come down to what parents do before their children start school.

“When parents read to children they tend to do better at language in school,” Professor Walker said.

“We’re seeing that girls are spending more time in that activity.

“Once you have a grasp of language and literacy you can use that in everything, so the gap could have a detrimental effect across all areas of learning [for boys].”

In maths, teachers giving more positive feedback to boys could lead to the numeracy gap that emerges in year 3, Professor Walker said.

“The way boys and girls are perceived and the feedback they get becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” she said.

Donald Trump’s first 100 days

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Trump’s first 100 days: a timeline

The Trump era began on January 20 in a light, cold rain on the western steps of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, with a dystopian speech by the new president in which he described a ruined nation exploited to the brink of collapse by the elected representatives who watched on from the bleachers around him.

“That was some weird shit,” the former president, George W. Bush, was overheard as saying as he left the ceremony.

And it was too.

Inaugural addresses are normally used by incoming presidents to unify the nation in the wake of a long election campaign and to signal a benign American authority to the world.

From where he stood Donald Trump would have been able to see over the heads of his audience to the Lincoln Memorial at the far end of the National Mall. On its wall are carved the words of Lincoln’s second inaugural address, considered by many to be the best of the kind, made in the dying days of the nation’s terrible civil war. Lincoln spoke about national healing, rejected triumphalism and emphasised generosity of spirit.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations,” he said.

In his inaugural address John F. Kennedy implored his fellow Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”. Addressing the real potential of nuclear holocaust and the tension between power and duty incumbent in his office, Kennedy observed that “Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life”.

This sort of meditation on potential and responsibility is not Trump’s way.

“The day I realised it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience,” Trump wrote – or allowed a ghostwriter to write – in his book Think Like a Billionaire. Running for office Trump had been economical with vision, leaving a void for others to fill at the heart of his campaign.

Steve Bannon, a rich and angry anti-establishment nationalist made the space his own, and that afternoon in the rain Trump detailed Bannon’s vision in an address now simply known as the “American carnage speech”.

Far from reaching out to his political opponents, Trump traduced them.

“A small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” he said. “Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.”

And then this: “Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealised potential.

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

The way to stop the American carnage, Trump explained, recycling the name and slogan of a racist isolationist movement of the 1940s, was to put “America First”.

“From this moment on, it’s going to be America First. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

This passage remains the clearest explication of what was to be the central idea of the administration, a guiding philosophy that Bannon called “economic nationalism”.

And it was telling, too ,that it would not be achieved by a unified effort of the people represented by their president, but by the president himself. “I will fight for you with every breath in my body – and I will never, ever let you down,” Trump declared. Gilding the swamp

If these were the ideas of Trumpism, the tone was set the following day as millions attended women’s marches in protest against the administration around the world. Trump watched the rallies – and the news – from the White House and became enraged.

His new spokesman, Sean Spicer, was dispatched to the White House briefing room two days earlier than his planned first appearance to berate the assembled and bewildered White House press corps.

Spicer fumed that American media had lied about the size of the inauguration crowd, which National Parks staff and police estimated to be around 160,000, and had manipulated images to make it look smaller than Barack Obama’s inauguration, which around 1.8 million attended.

Trump’s crowd was the “largest audience to ever to witness an inauguration, period – both in person and around the globe,” Spicer insisted in the face of overwhelming evidence that it was not.

The appearance stunned the press corps, not just because it was itself so odd, but because they found themselves covering an administration unlike any other that had gone before it.

The Trump administration did not just break the old rules and norms, it appeared to have no idea that any existed in the first place.

“I like nepotism,” said Trump three times in an interview with Larry King in 2006 when he installed his daughter Ivanka in a role on The Apprentice, the reality show that became the unlikely platform for his political career.

Trump’s enthusiasm for nepotism and his disregard for conflicts of interest in office became early markers of how far this administration was willing to veer from the norms, and how free it remains of the consequences of its actions, consequences that would have undone previous administrations.

Not only has Trump refused to release his tax returns, he has refused to divest from his business interests, instead handing over day-to-day control of them to his two elder sons, Eric and Don jnr.

Unlike previous presidents, Trump sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission stating he planned to run again in 2020 within hours of his inauguration, thus establishing the legal basis for his continuing fundraising. Much of his so-called “thank you tour” has been related to these efforts, as have “Make America Great Again” merchandise sales. This is significant because Trump campaign events are often held in venues owned by the Trump empire. Trump charges his campaign for this, so donations from his permanent campaign are neatly diverted back into his business’s coffers.

According to a report in The Atlantic, if Trump continues to spend in his own properties at this rate, over the coming election cycle his business will benefit from his campaign to the tune of $US20 million. Meanwhile, his wife, Melania, and youngest son remain residents in Trump Tower rather than the White House. In order to properly protect them the Secret Service and Department of Defence have spent $US3 million renting space in the same building.

With his sons running his business empire, Trump has appointed daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, to senior White House roles.

Ivanka’s role remains unclear, though according to some reports she is to serve as her father’s “eyes and ears” within the White House. Uniquely among advisers she is building an extended staff, hiring her own chief-of-staff earlier this month. As she works in the White House her own business interests are faring well. On the very day Trump and the Chinese leader Xi Jinping dined together this month, the Chinese government approved four trademarks that Ivanka’s clothing line had pending in that country.

Kushner’s role is exhaustive and growing. The 36-year-old cut his teeth working for his father’s New York real estate empire before his father was jailed for tax evasion and witness tampering. Though he has no experience in foreign relations, governance or public policy, Trump has made Kushner responsible for solving the Israel-Palestine conflict (“If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can,” Trump said in a speech appointing Kushner), managing America’s relationships with China and Russia and ending the nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction.

(Already Kushner’s and Ivanka’s role appears to have brought about the greatest change in the administration, with the couple elevated at the expense of Bannon. While Bannon’s alt-right fans are furious at this, and some Democrats see in it the makings of a plutocracy, establishment Republicans view it as sign that Trump is returning to a kind of political moderation.)

Having promised to drain the swamp, Trump has hired a string of Wall Street billionaires to the senior ranks of his administration, including the appointment of an oil executive as Secretary of State and a Goldman Sachs heavyweight to Treasury.

Other cabinet members and agency heads appear to have been appointed for their antipathy towards the departments they have been hired to run. The Secretary for Energy is Rick Perry, who once ran for the White House promising to scrap the Department of Energy. His Secretary of Education is Betsy DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor who has spent much of her life campaigning against public education. The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency is a climate sceptic who is on record as opposing the agency’s regulations. The ‘bigness’ of it all

As Trump’s 100th day in office approached he dismissed the moment as meaningless, calling it a “ridiculous standard” on Twitter, and “an artificial barrier” in an interview with the Associated Press.

Either way the measure is one Trump himself made significant as he sought to reset his campaign after a string of allegations of sexual harassment were made against him.

At a conference centre in the village of Gettysburg, not far from where Lincoln made his famous address, Trump gathered together and unveiled his “contract with America”, laying out what he would have achieved by his 100th day in office.

By now he planned to have 10 key bills either passed or making their way through Congress. So far just one has appeared, his bill to overturn Obamacare. It was an absolute failure, unifying the opposition from Republican hardliners, moderates and Democrats alike.

Likewise his two attempts to ban immigration from Muslim majority nations have been killed by the courts.

Other bills, including a $US1 trillion infrastructure spending package; tax and education reforms; a boost to military spending; a taskforce on crime; and ethics reforms for federal politicians, have not been forthcoming as bills, though some have been discussed or flagged in executive orders.

In other key areas Trump has simply reversed course since winning office. China, he says, is no longer a currency manipulator; NATO, he says, is no longer irrelevant.

Professor Barbara Perry, director of the University of Virginia’s Miller Centre, which studies the first year of all American presidencies, says the first-100-day measure is short rather than arbitrary, and that it can be usefully graded and compared across administrations.

She gives Trump a “C”. Perry says Trump’s success in having a highly regarded Supreme Court justice confirmed so early in his administration is a clear and considerable achievement. She also rates his missile strike against the Syrian regime highly – though it was another reversal of his stance during the campaign – if only because it signals to the world that the US will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons.

She believes that his efforts to have immigration banned from some Muslim-majority nations are at least in keeping with his election promises, though they have failed, and whatever the wisdom of the policy.

On the other hand, she says his failure on the Obamacare repeal was catastrophic because it revealed how badly his administration was in dealing with Congress, even with his natural allies in the so-called Freedom Caucus.

In Foreign Policy magazine this week Stephen Walt, a Harvard University professor of international relations, wrote that Trump’s first 100 days was so full of blunders it was hard to pick which one was worst.

Trump’s appointment of Mike Flynn, a retired general who was sacked after three weeks due to his murky ties with the Kremlin was up there, wrote Walt, as was his eager embrace of authoritarian governments in Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

But what really stood out to Walt was Trump’s “ignorant and incompetent” approach to Asia.

Asia, Walt argues, is the region of greatest geo-strategic significance to the US due to its economic growth and China’s rise, as was reflected in the past administration’s so-called “pivot”.

“For this reason the United States needs smart, sophisticated, knowledgable and, above all, disciplined people working to solidify and nurture our Asian alliance ties. What has Trump done instead? He started by tearing up the TPP, an enormous blunder ??? Then Trump held that acrimonious get-acquainted phone call with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of .

“Since then, Trump has raised the temperature with North Korea, hinted at preventive war, and inaccurately claimed to be sending an ‘armada’ to patrol the waters of the Korean Peninsula.”

Perry also raises North Korea. She says in her talks with analysts in Washington, DC, views on how he has handled the crisis fall down along party lines, with many conservatives relieved to see Trump taking a tougher line than Obama.

But, taking care to note she is taking off her “scholarly hat”, Perry confesses to feeling an existential dread when she thinks of Trump and North Korea, a sick feeling in her gut that she recognises from her Cold War childhood when her father proposed building a fallout shelter in her Kentucky backyard.

Perry notes that as he prepared to take office at the height of the Cold War, John F. Kennedy read The Guns of August, the history by Barbara Tuchman of how the great powers stumbled blindly into the Great War. Kennedy, she said, was determined not to let this happen again.

Trump, she feels, is by contrast incurious, ill-disciplined and impulsive. He is, she says, an agent of chaos, both by habit and inclination. Perry believes that authoritarian figures, or those like Trump who are drawn towards authoritarianism, cultivate chaos as a means to unsettle opponents. Trump, she says, also uses the chaos of his administration as a political smokescreen, obscuring motives for his actions and blame for his failures.

For this reason she believes the chaos will only continue.

Americans are also divided on their president, though Trump’s approval rating is the lowest at this stage in modern polling history. All five major networks have now released 100-day polls. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has Trump at 40 per cent approval, CBS at 41 per cent, ABC/Washington Post at 42 per cent, CNN at 44 per cent, and Fox News at 45 per cent. When the first of the polls were released Trump dismissed them as “fake”.

Polls also suggest that some of his supporters do not believe he is truthful. Even some of the Americans who approve of President Trump don’t think he’s honest or trustworthy. Only 37 per cent of Americans overall say he’s honest, according to CNN/ORC’s latest poll, released this week.

For all that, 98 per cent of those who voted for him say they would do so again.

Via Twitter this week Trump said he believed the 100-day scorecard to be a “ridiculous” measure. Nevertheless he said in two interviews that his first 100 days to have been greater than any other in history. No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!??? Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2017

The day Pacquiao gave a man $100 to shine his Louis Vuitton shoes

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On Wednesday afternoon, in the Virgin Lounge at Brisbane Airport, a man begged Manny Pacquiao to let him shine his shoes.

The man was the employed shoe shiner for the lounge. He also happened to be Filipino.

Pacquiao’s family were cautious, because the shoes were made by Louis Vuitton – expensive slippers no matter how much a man is worth, even $500 million – but the 38-year-old boxer waved them away. When the man was done, he handed him a $100 tip.

The man refused to take it but finally did so after much insistence from Pacquiao.

“I came from nothing,” Pacquiao says softly. “I know what the feeling is of being poor, of having no food, of being nothing. You know, my philosophies ??? I came to this world naked and I will depart naked. When you die, you take nothing no matter how much you have.”

He doesn’t so much say but whisper this to me in a small conference room in a hotel near Sydney Airport on Wednesday night.

Pacquiao had just flown in from Brisbane with his family, various managers, advisers and security detail as part of his hurricane east coast tour this week to drum up publicity for his July 2 fight against Queensland schoolteacher Jeff Horn to defend his WBO welterweight title.

The largest crowd he’s fought in front of is 51,000, according to his management. They’re trying to get 55,000 to Suncorp Stadium for the Horn fight.

Taking nothing for granted: Manny Pacquiao. Photo: Wolter Peeters

In reality, it’s an easy sell. I mean, this is Manny Pacquiao, arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of his generation, and easily one of the best of all time. The man American boxing writers voted the fighter of the decades for the 2000s. The boxer who claimed 11 world titles across eight weight divisions.

On this night, he is dressed in a dark grey suit, pale blue shirt, pale blue tie and a pair of black shoes so shiny you could see your reflection in them.

His story has been told inside out, through countless stories, books and documentaries, all charting the rise of a kid who left the family home when he was young because he was one of too many mouths to feed, lived on the streets of Manilla for a time, before finding a way out of poverty through boxing.

What else is there to ask? The question I had for Pacquiao was a simple one: why? There is nothing sadder than an old pug shuffling around the ring for the sake of a few more final paydays.

Pacquiao is a long way off that sombre final chapter. He’s a long way off Roy Jones Jr, the near-perfect fighter who is still throwing them at glacial pace at 48. They rarely finish at the peak of their powers in boxing these days. They usually finish facedown, eyeballing the canvas.

Pacquiao’s story is so good, his career so storied, why sour his legacy when there’s enough money in the bank?

“It’s not about the money,” he insists. “No, it’s not hurting my legacy [if I keep fighting], because I have already accomplished my dream in boxing, my career at the top. I’m a champion. I have to defend my title.”

Slippery character: Manny Pacquiao dodges a punch from Floyd Mayweather in their 2015 Las Vegas mega-bout. Photo: AP

When will he consider retirement?

“It’s hard to say, a couple more fights and then I’ll think about it,” he says.

Among the people sitting at the stable while Pacquiao chats is Michael Koncz, an adviser who also runs Manny Pacquiao Promotions, which is separate to Top Rank Promotions, owned by the legendary fight promoter Bob Arum.

Many within n boxing had suspected the fight against Horn would never happen when it was announced at the start of the year. Koncz’s preference had been for Pacquiao to fight against Amir Khan in Dubai this month.

But when the money couldn’t be raised in the UAE they came back to Horn. The Queensland government and Brisbane City Council found the money. Pacquiao was looking to earn $49 million against Khan. Against Horn, he’ll pick up $10 million.

“It’s all about money at this stage,” Koncz says. “It’s not greed. Manny has been boxing for 20 years. I was working for Manny when we were making $400,000 a fight. People call it what they like but it’s not about greed, it’s smart business. So that was the delay – the financial package I was after was much more lucrative than this package.

“My job is to get the best economic package together, especially at this stage of his career. We’re not done yet but it’s getting close to the end. That’s what we did before with Amir Khan and I plan to work the Amir Khan fight for later this year, November or October. We were thankful this offer was still on the table.

“I wasn’t sceptical about coming here to fight in . But I’m Manny’s main adviser. I’m the one that negotiates all of his contracts and boxing is a very small part of what I do now. When I started it was all about boxing. My job is to maximise the profits for Manny. That’s the reason I went to Dubai, I went for Amir Khan.”

Money comes, money goes. The winnings from Pacquiao’s first professional fight, as a 16-year-old against Edmund Enting Ignacio, went towards food.

“1000 pesos,” he says when asked what he earned from it. “About 20 US dollars.”

What did he do with it?

“Bought rice. You can buy one kilo of rice for that much.”

Since then, his generosity in his own country has become legendary.

“I help the people,” he says. “Building house and giving them free.”

Koncz nudges him. How many houses?

“A thousand,” Pacquiao says quietly. “It’s not from government money.”

How much does he think he’s handed out over the years to people he does not know?

“A billion,” he says. He’s talking about pesos. A billion Filipino pesos is roughly worth $A26 million.

This is what also makes Pacquiao so appealing on a global stage and at home: his humility.

It was brought into sharp focus around his 2015 mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather, the flashy American who flaunts his wealth, who still posts $100,000,000 cheques on his social media accounts just because he can.

On a collision course: Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn. Photo: Getty Images

“Floyd Mayweather is different, different lifestyle,” Pacquiao grins. “He’s flashy, he shows his money. I believe in God. I am a Christian. I am only in his command.”

Earlier this week, he did a photo shoot in Brisbane and was expecting 200 people to turn up. More than 2000 turned up, many of them Filipinos. At the press conference, Horn’s family, including both his grandfathers, were among the excited throng.

“They take picture with me,” Pacquiao smiles. “It was nice. I never expected this kind of popularity here. I thought a few people know me here. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t put that popularity in my head. I never do that. I don’t want to put that in my head. It’s not hard. That’s my attitude. That’s my heart. I don’t like arrogant. I’m humble. Those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

He says that religion has become a stronger part of his life in recent years. It has also got him in trouble.

Instructions were issued before our interview not to raise his controversial comments about same-sex marriage and comparing homosexuals to being “worse than animals”. The same deal with his political career. Pacquiao ran for Congress in 2010 and was elevated to the Senate last year.

“I want to help people,” he says of becoming a politician. “I want to defend the right of the poor people. It’s not easy. It’s very hard to be a politician and a boxer, but I manage my time. I discipline myself. What happened [with the Horn fight], they offered me to fight in May but I can’t because I have work in the office, so I choose to fight July 2.”

Indeed, he flew out of on Friday evening so he could be back in the Philippines in time for resumption of the Senate session, which is trying to bring in President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial death penalty bill as part of his bloody war on drugs.

“Don’t they [opponents of the death penalty bill] consider rampant drug-related crimes and the magnitude of illegal drug problem in the country as compelling reason?” Pacquiao is quoted as telling a Filipino boxing website. “Shall we allow this kind of poison to continue killing our people particularly the youth sector? This is not just addictive but it also kills the dreams and future of our youths and the moral fibre of our society.”

These are parts of the Pacquiao story that many still want to hear. Hopefully, outside of the all-stops promotional tour this week, the n press will be given a chance to know him better. Like most superstars, Pacquiao is more than just an athlete.

Up for the challenge: Jeff Horn. Photo: Getty Images

Meanwhile, there’s Horn to consider: the schoolteacher who took up boxing as a teenager because he was being bullied.

“He’s young, I know what he’s feeling,” says Pacquiao.

What is he feeling?

“He feels hungry to win, because I have been there. I’ve experienced that feeling when you are young and you are fighting a champion.”