Monthly Archives:July 2019


Four-time Dakar motorcycling winner and defending champion Marc Coma claimed his first stage victory of the 2015 edition on Thursday, finishing the run to Antofagasta in Chile ahead of compatriot and overall leader Joan Barreda.


Just as he had done on Wednesday’s fourth stage, which crossed the Atacama desert, the driest place on earth, Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla took third spot.

On Thursday’s 458km fifth stage to the Pacific Ocean stop of Antofagasta, KTM rider Coma took 2min 16sec out of Honda rider Barreda’s overall lead.

But Barreda still boasts a lead of more than 10 minutes while Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves, also on a Honda, remains third in the standings after finishing fifth on the stage.

Spain’s Laia Sanz, the leading female rider, was 20th on the stage to stand at 12th overall after losing 26 minutes.

In the race for the title on four wheels, 2010 champion Carlos Sainz was virtually ruled out of contention after he lost more than nine hours on a disastrous stage on Wednesday which crossed the Andes from Argentina into Chile.

The two-time world rally champion suffered mechanical failure on his Peugeot buggy as the French team, making its Dakar return after 25 years, endured another rollercoaster day.

Sainz was forced to pull off the track and wait for his support truck to repair the fault.

Eleven-time champion Stephane Peterhansel fared slightly better, ending the stage in fifth to move to 12th overall and keep Peugeot hopes alive even if the Frenchman was more than an hour behind race leader Nasser Al-Attiyah in the all-conquering Mini.

By Baden Eunson, Monash University

American comedian Taylor Mali in his YouTube sketch “Totally like whatever, you know?” attacks inarticulateness in the US, describing new language trends as making the current generation of Americans the most “aggressively inarticulate generation”.


He despises the rise of discourse particles or “fillers” such as “like”, “you know” and the tools of vagueness, “approximators” such as “sort of” and “and that”.

Take the transmutation of the verb “go”. Time was, this simply meant “to move”, but it has evolved into a synonym for “say”. For many the most known example of this evolved in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s in The Comedy Company’s character Kylie Mole.



Yet, strangely enough, the first instance we have of “go” in this new sense is not new at all – it’s from The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens in 1836, according to the Oxford Dictionary.

We can track the “new” meaning of “like” back even further, from the novel Evelina by Fanny Burney, published in 1778, where the word in a sentence meant “as it were” or “so to speak”, which may be derived from the Old English gelīc, from which we get adverbs (quickly = quick-like) and adjectives (friendly = friend-like).

Yeah, no

Another major language trend to have emerged is that of “yeah, no”. That too appears to have Australian origins. It is first analysed in a 2002 issue of the Australian Journal of Linguistics by linguists Kate Burridge and Margaret Florey in a paper called Yeah-no He’s a Good Kid: A Discourse Analysis of Yeah-No in Australian English.

“Yeah-no” can be a politeness strategy, especially where conflict might occur – as, for example, if a shop assistant recommends a cheese/coat/lipstick that the customer really doesn’t want, but rather than potentially offend with a straight-out “no”, the customer might say “yeah-no, I was looking for something a bit more…”

It can be a self-effacing downtoner; when a person is embarrassed by a compliment. As Burridge and Florey point out, it is often heard in sporting contexts. They give the following example from the 1999 Coolangatta Iron Man contest:


And with me is one champion, a phenomenal effort, Ky Hurst. You said you felt buoyant today, you proved that. Some of the best bodysurfing we’ve ever seen.

Ky Hurst:

Yeah-no, that was pretty incredible I think. It was, you know, in one of the swims, I think it was the first swim leg and also the second swim leg, I picked up some really nice waves coming through.

Yeah-no, is certainly spreading, and not just within the world of sport: even Bill Clinton seems to have succumbed to this bad habit.

The character from the TV show Little Britain, Vicky Pollard, won a British Award in 2010 for her “yeah but no but yeah” catch phrase. Even though many people love the Pollard character, her main characteristic, according to her creators David Walliams and Matt Smith, is her inarticulateness. Walliams remarks that:

people didn’t talk like that ten years ago […] people constructed sentences, and now it’s getting rarer and rarer.

So what does it all matter?

Is inarticulateness a hanging offence? What’s wrong with these apparently minor weaknesses in expression? Well, articulateness will get you a job, or at least be the first thing an employer will consider. Graduate Careers Australia, in its reports for the past five years, has listed the top ten selection criteria for recruiting graduates. Work experience usually comes sixth; calibre of academic results, in spite of the propaganda of the education industry, comes fourth; while interpersonal and communication skills (written and oral) always come first.

Languages are studied by linguists, who tend to be either descriptivists who prefer to scientifically observe and record language without making any value judgements, or prescriptivists who try to prescribe or lay down rules of usage.

Flickr/Jay Denhart, CC BY

Most linguists are descriptivists, but, to return to Vicki Pollard et al, it’s obvious that David Walliams, Matt Smith and Taylor Mali are prescriptivists – they argue strongly for articulateness, and recommend changes in the way we speak and write. Burridge and Florey’s interesting analysis notwithstanding, as a closet prescriptivist I think we have a problem with our articulateness.

If Taylor Mali refers to this generation of Americans as the most aggressively inarticulate one in yonks, then we might just be the most passively inarticulate generation of Australians in yonks. If so, what do we do?

It seems fairly simple, according to Walliams and Mali – think before you speak, and then speak in complete, declarative sentences, and say “yes” or “no”, but not both. If Australians started this stuff, let’s finish it.

Baden Eunson does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.


Reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson tops a field of 34 players at this week’s US PGA Tournament of Champions in the first event of 2015 after a seven-week holiday break.


Seven events have already been completed in the 2014-2015 program, the second such wrap-around schedule in US tour history, but players open the calendar year on Friday on Kapalua’s 7,452-yard, par-73 Plantation Course for the 17th time in a row.

Watson has won three times since playing in last year’s event, including a world Golf Championships victory last November at Shanghai that has helped him stand fourth in the world rankings, the best of the entrants in the $US5.7 million ($A6.17 million) tournament, which has a Monday finish.

South Korean Bae Sang-Moon, Canada’s Nick Taylor and Americans Robert Streb and Ben Martin have already won in the start to this season to book their first berths in Hawaii.

Also among the 13 first timers at Kapalua is Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who won the Japan Tour’s Dunlop Phoenix event last November.

Australian Geoff Ogilvy, paired with Matsuyama on day one, won his two prior Kapalua starts in 2009 and 2010 but an injured finger thwarted his bid for three titles in a row.

The 2006 US Open winner returns this year, thanks to a victory last August at Reno, Nevada.

An Ogilvy victory would give him the most money from the event of any player and match him for the most titles with countryman Stuart Appleby, who has $US3.52 million ($A3.81 million) in eight appearances to $US2.44m ($A2.64m) for Ogilvy in four prior starts.

“People can say what they want about the schedule but the tour season starts at Kapalua,” Ogilvy said. “It’s such a good feeling there and a great reward.”

Aussie Jason Day shared ninth in 2011 in his only prior start in the event while countryman John Senden is at Kapalua for the first time since 2007.

American Matt Kuchar has finished no worse than ninth in his past four trips to Kapalua but has yet to walk away with the title.

Billy Horschel, the 2014 US PGA playoff winner, and defending champion Zach Johnson are paired for the first round.

By Tim Olds, University of South Australia

January is the month of fat-phobia, when you regret that you allowed the gym membership you took out in August (the most popular month for gym sign-ons) to lapse in September.


You’re not alone: 67% of people with gym memberships no longer use them.

So let’s cut to the bone on this fat business: How do we measure fatness? What is this BMI thing, and is it all it’s cracked up to be? Is life just one long slide into adiposity, and what can I do about it?

Epidemiologists most commonly use body mass index (BMI) as a measure of fatness. BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in metres.

Take me, for example. I weigh 81kg, and am 1.8m tall, so my BMI is exactly 25. BMIs less than 18.5 are considered to be dangerously low, 18.5-25 in the “normal” or “healthy” range (so I just scrape in, fasted, nude, fairly dehydrated, on a good day), 25-30 is considered overweight, and greater than 30 obese.

These cut-offs came from studies of relationships between BMI and all-cause mortality in non-smokers in the 1950s, when the risk of dying was lowest for BMIs of 20-25.

Now the limitations of BMI should be obvious to anyone. What if I’ve got a lot of muscle and not much fat? Michael Hooper (the current Wallabies’ captain), boxing champion Mike Tyson and Rugby League great Mal Meninga in their prime would all be classified as obese, but I wouldn’t describe them as fat, and certainly not to their faces.


Michael Hooper (centre) would have a high BMI but isn’t fat. EPA/Gerry Penny


What about Samoans and Fijians, who have a very large muscle mass, or Asians who tend to be much more lightly muscled? Some researchers recommend higher or lower cut-offs for specific ethnic groups.

There’s some evidence that adults are getting fatter at the same BMI — that is, someone with a BMI of 25 today is fatter than someone with a BMI of 25 a few decades ago. BMI is probably also biased against taller people due to some inappropriate scaling assumptions.

Some rather more surprising difficulties with BMI have emerged recently. While the risk of death may indeed have been lowest in the normal range in the 1950s, it certainly isn’t now. A slew of recent studies have shown that the risk is now lowest for people right in the middle of the overweight range, with a BMI of about 27.

The problem is that BMI measures relative weight, at best a poor proxy for fatness, which may be the real metabolic culprit. Fatness may be better estimated from skinfolds (pinches of fat at embarrassing sites on the body), which the Exercise and Sports Science Australia-accredited exercise professional at your local gym should be able to measure for you.

Even more to the point is the distribution of body fat: being fat in the wrong places (around the abdomen) is worse than being fat in the right places (hips and thighs). In fact, thigh fat appears to be protective, leading to a healthier blood fat profile, but unfortunately less chance of attracting the desirable targets on the beach.

A simple measure is waist girth — measure it with a tape half-way between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the hip bones. The Australian government recommends cut-offs of 94 cm (bad) and 102 cm (very bad) for men, and 80 cm and 88 cm for women.


When it comes to disease risk, getting fat is worse than being fat. Ed Yourdon/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA


If you’ve really got some time and money to spare, universities and some radiologists can give you a DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan, pretty much the gold standard these days, which will tell you just how much fat you have and where it is.

Does getting older inevitably mean getting fatter? Just about every longitudinal study shows weight gain with age. American and Australian studies report weight gains of 0.2 to 1.0 kg/year in adults aged 20 to 60, with slower rates of gain for people who are physically active, and richer.

There are good physiological reasons to expect increasing body fat with age: anabolic hormones responsible for converting excess calories into muscle rather than fat — testosterone, human growth hormone — decline rapidly with age, and physical activity becomes harder with age-related musculoskeletal and joint problems.

There’s bad news on the weight gain front, I’m afraid: getting fat is worse than being fat. In a 16 year follow-up of almost 10,000 Americans aged 51 or more, those least likely to die were overweight people who remained overweight, while gaining weight led to higher risk.

Certain life events can trigger rapid weight gain. There is a sudden weight gain of a few kilograms when women move in with a partner — perhaps it’s the “I’m no longer on the market” effect. But there’s still hope: divorce will reverse it.

Mothers’ weight increases permanently by up to 4 kg after the birth of their first child, for reasons which any mother will be happy to tell you about. After about age 60, weight starts to fall, usually marking the beginning of the slow decline to frailty and death.


Avoiding weight gain comes down to good diet and exercise. Ed Yourdon/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA


So what can you do to avoid weight creep, or at least minimise its effects? I have nothing new to offer in this department: eat lots of fruit and veges and wholegrains, get lots of exercise, get a good sleep, get rich.

Remember that being lean and unfit is worse than being fat and fit. In one study, men who were lean but unfit had almost twice the risk of dying compared to men who were overweight but fit. And all the rest, from crossfit to core training, from carbs to quinoa, all the rest, as Verlaine says, is just literature.

Tim Olds receives funding from the NHMRC and ARC.


Several hundred fans have braved freezing cold to join Elvis Presley’s family in Memphis, Tennessee on what would have been the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s 80th birthday.


Cheers went up as Presley’s former wife Priscilla and their only child Lisa Marie sliced an eight-tier cake frozen by the minus nine degrees Celsius temperature on Thursday.

Fans got a chance to get a bite of the cake at a diner across the street from Graceland, the Presley residence that has become a shrine to his life, work and rich musical legacy.

“My gosh, I’m in total shock. So many of you here!” said Priscilla Presley, 69, adding that Elvis “would have been amazed” to see so many fans come out for his birthday.

“There’s really no where else we’d rather be,” added Lisa Marie, 46, accompanied by her four children — Riley and Benjamin Keough and twins Harper and Finley Lockwood.

An American pop culture icon like few others, Presley rode high in the rock music charts in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s before his untimely death in August 1977 at the age of 42.

His legacy includes 108 songs on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 pop music chart as well as 129 records in the Billboard 200 album chart — most recently in 2002 with a greatest hits set.

Other birthday events Thursday include an auction of authenticated Elvis memorabilia including his first driver’s licence and the jacket he wore in the movie “Viva Las Vegas.”

Also up for grabs is the first recording Presley ever made — an acetate disc from Sun Studios on which he sang the 1940s chestnut “My Happiness” for his mother. He was 18 at the time.

Fans with deeper pockets can meanwhile bid in a separate auction on Presley’s two private jets, which have been on display since the 1980s across the street from Graceland.

Their owners say they are under an April deadline to remove the Lockheed JetStar and Convair 880 after Presley’s estate said it would not renew a joint venture agreement to exhibit them.

But on social media, both Priscilla and Lisa Marie have signaled they are unhappy with the sale, which is being handled by a Los Angeles auction house.

“It is the owners who are doing all of this to try and get more money,” wrote singer-songwriter Lisa Marie on her Twitter feed, to which she added the hashtag: “#Greed.”