Monday, April 13, 2009

Facebook, Failing

F is for Fail and in this case, is also for Facebook as well. It has become so easy for college students to get caught up in hours of online procrastination thanks to Facebook. You may have an assignment due in an hour and get caught up scrolling through various Facebook accounts or photos of someone you haven't seen since elementary school. Academic research has concluded that on many such students, Facebook is having a detrimental effect of university results. Researchers from the US have found that students prone to accumulating friends, uploading photographs, chatting and "poking" other on Facebook may spend as little as one hour per week to their studies and academic work.

"Every generation has its distractions, but I think Facebook is a unique phenomenon," said Aryn Karpinski, a researcher in the education department at Ohio State University. Her study, conducted with a colleague at OSU, questioned 219 US undergraduates and graduates about their study practices and general Internet use, as well as their specific use of Facebook. They found that 68% of students who used Facebook had a significantly lower GPA then those who did not have an account with Facebook or use the site at all.
It is all to easy to waste precious study hour time and click aside to check Facebook messages. Rather than addressing this issue, some Australian university students have instead started setting up Facebook support groups to discuss how the site adversely affects their university grades. Which is quite ironic, in the sense that, rather than not using the social utility site or shutting their computers off they are simply creating anti-Facebook groups, using the actual website. The Sydney University-based group called "I want to sue Facebook if I fail university" has almost 1000 members who cite the social networking site as the primary cause for an increasingly amount of people failing universities. Thanks to the latest tech-savy invention of Facebook applications for Blackberries and iPhones there is even more tendency to simply stay on the website for hours at the palm of your hand.

You Want Garbage With That?

McFilthy, is what this McDonald's along Hindley St. in Adelaide, Australia is being referred as. Numerous discarded brown bags, burger wrappers, and fry dispensers lay across the floor of this what looks to be abandoned McDonald's. Although it is really open, this video was taken in the dining area at 3 am last Sunday by an Adelaide law student, while on a night out with his friends, looking to grab some late night grub. The store manager stressed that the number of people that come in and out of the restaurant at those hours make such a mess. It's a safety hazard as well as a food hazard. According to the Food Act 2001, inadequately cleaned food premises can be fined up to $2500 on the spot. Whether the restaurant was short-staffed, extremely busy, or just plain lazy, thanks to a 22-year-old with a video cell phone, it now has a new name: McFilthy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

United by Ink, the Tale of Two Improbable Acquaintances: Mary and Max

Adam Elliot has always seemed to feel out of place. The Oscar-winning Australian animator can often relate to the characters he creates based on his own real-life experiences. In his feature-length film debut, Mary and Max, Elliot provides us with the simple tale of a pen-friendship between two very different people: Mary Dinkle, a chubby lonely eight year old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia and Max Horovitz, a 44 year old, severely obese, Jewish man with Aspergers Syndrome residing in the chaos of New York. The concept for the idea of the film is based on a true story in which Elliot's own 20-year pen friendship with a Jewish-atheist-Aspergers-New Yorker inspired the film. Will he ever meet his long-lost friend who he communicates via mail? Elliot hopes to finally meet his pen-pal for the first time on an upcoming publicity tour to the Big Apple. The film utilizes a total of 212 puppets layed across 133 different sets in which he uses a form of stop-motion animation, or "claymation." Although Mary and Max may seem like a children's film it takes us on a journey that explores friendship, autism, alcoholism, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, obesity, kleptomania, sexual difference, trust, copulating dogs, religious difference, agoraphobia and much much more. The often dark yet comical film hits theatres nation-wide tomorrow (Thursday) debuting over the typically competitive Easter weekend. Here is a short trailer of what the film has to offer:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Summer Heights High: An Australian Success

Australian media has taken a hilarious and satirical parody of high school life. Summer Heights High is an Australian television mockumentary series that lampoons Australian high school life and many aspects of the human condition and is filmed in a documentary style, with non-actors playing supporting actors. A mockumentary is presented as a documentary recording real life, but its actually fictional and is commonly used for parody and satire, both executed profoundly in Summer Heights High. The series premiered on September 5, 2007 at 9:30 pm on ABC TV and continued for eight weekly episodes. The program was a massive ratings success for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. To research this hysterical mock of high school life production and filming team traveled to a typical Australian public high school and followed the events and daily lives surrounding the students and staff for a single term. The team would then film a documentary from the opinions of the students and staff, especially the three main characters: Ja'mie King, a mean girl-type prefect exchanged from a private school; Mr. G, a charismatic drama teacher; and Jonah Takalua, a stereotypical Pacific Islander delinquent, all played by the series writer, Chris Lilley. Here is a short trailer of the hit Australian series, Summer Heights High:

Truly Australian: Aussie Pride in Wine

The Australian wine industry is the 4th largest exporter in the world, exporting over 400 million litres a year. Australians consume over 400 million litres of wine per year, resulting in a compelling domestic market for Australian wines. The wine industry itself is a significant distributor to the Australian economy through production, employment, export and tourism. You may ask yourself: We'll what's so special about Australian wine? Watch this video to find out:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Sticky Situation

As today is April 1st, have you know, Aussies sure know how to utilize a fun yet devious holiday - April Fools Day. Several residents in inner-city Melbourne woke up to their cars wrapped in cling wrap this morning. The April Fool's day stunt sought out at least 28 vehicles which were wrapped tightly in the plastic wrap. According to tradition, people can pull pranks before noon today in the name of April Fools' Day but become the fool if they do it in the afternoon. The mischievous bandits hit upon popular shopping centers, railway stations and even in residential areas. On some cars, a note signed from “Evie” wished the owner a Happy April Fools' Day. [As seen in the photo] Fortunately enough for the victims, the hooligans held responsible for the acts conveniently left a pair of scissors for the innocent to cut the plastic wrap off to access the doors of their cars. How nice of them to do so, although I'm sure the victims of these pranks may have other uses for these metal cutters!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Toadal Annihilation

For decades these poisonous cane toads have plagued Australians, breeding hastily, eating voraciously and bestowing death upon most animals that dare to consume it. Australians solution: Toad-Day-Out, which is to hold a festive mass killing of the creatures and turn their corpses into fertilizer for the same farmers who initially battled the toads for years.

The toads were imported from South America to Queensland in 1935 in a failed attempt to control beetles in sugar cane plantations. However, the toads couldn't jump high enough to eat the beetles who lived on top of the sugar cane stalks. It seems like Australia experienced a complete boomerang effect with this idea. This may seem likely to occur when you mess with the almighty Mother Nature. Now Australia's Toad-Day-Out is in a sense "celebrating" their mistakes with an annual day to exterminate these pests.