“Four stars in the night sky have been formally recognised by their Australian Aboriginal names”: This fascinating article shows you which ones they are, and outlines the Indigenous stories about them. Fittingly, one of the stars in the Southern Cross is now officially called Ginan, which has long been the Wardaman name for it.

I really enjoyed Neko Atsume, the cat collecting game. Not enough to go and see the movie, but enough to be excited about the developer’s follow-up, Tabi Kaeru. (“Tabi” means travel/journey, and “kaeru” means frog, but it has homophones that mean “to keep a pet” and “to return”. The game is about a pet frog who travels and returns to you.)

The concept of the original game has been turned inside out: instead of laying out items to attract as many cats to visit as possible, you equip your sole frog friend and send it off on an adventure, looking forward to postcards and souvenirs revealing the places it has visited. It seems there is a bit of complexity in that the things you equip the frog with influence its destination, so here’s a good roundup of reviews and how-to guides.

The January sumo tournament starts this weekend, and the NHK World preview show is on their sumo site now. You can watch a daily 20-minute highlight package for the 15 days of the tournament there, too, but I recommend watching it via the NHK’s Apple TV app. The competition starts on Sunday, and the highlights show is released the next morning.

One of the many baffling things about American democracy is the lack of consensus in favour of an independent electoral boundaries commission. So, inevitably, we see cases like this:

A panel of federal judges struck down North Carolina’s congressional map on Tuesday, condemning it as unconstitutional because Republicans had drawn the map seeking a political advantage.

The ruling was the first time that a federal court had blocked a congressional map because of a partisan gerrymander, and it instantly endangered Republican seats in the coming elections.

Judge James A. Wynn Jr., in a biting 191-page opinion, said that Republicans in North Carolina’s Legislature had been “motivated by invidious partisan intent” as they carried out their obligation in 2016 to divide the state into 13 congressional districts, 10 of which are held by Republicans. The result, Judge Wynn wrote, violated the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

Of course, it is far from certain the US Supreme Court will agree that partisan boundaries are unacceptable. For more on the upcoming legal fight over partisan gerrymandering, see Amicus, More Perfect, and especially FiveThirtyEight’s The Gerrymandering Project series background, and SCOTUSblog for detailed coverage of the pending decision in Gill v Whitford.

Shitpost is the American Dialect Society’s digital word of the year.

Yikes. The Pokémon Company spent six years in a legal dispute with Redbubble over copyright infringement. It sought $44,555.84 in lost royalties — but the Court found “[t]here was no evidence to establish that many of the sales were of the kind of items which were available for sale and commercialisation within the Pokémon universe.” (The infringing items included Pikachu/Sailor Moon mashups, and shirts that read “I might <Pikachu> in the shower”.) The Court awarded the Pokémon Company just $1 in damages and 70% of its costs.

Now let’s see how the Hells Angels fare…

Some of these stories about foreign objects lodged in people’s bodies in various ways are horrible but also amusing:

When a 47-year-old man with a 30-year pack-a-day smoking history came into hospital with a chronic cough and an X-ray showing an opaque white haze in the lower zone of his right lung, his doctors suspected carcinoma.

On closer inspection, they found a “mustard coloured foreign body” that turned out to be a plastic toy witches’ hat from a Playmobil set had been wedged in his lung since he was seven years old.

John Hattie is a very important man in education; he’s currently the head of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. Hattie is big on data-driven reform, which is good, but his technique of throwing dozens of disparate studies in the “meta-analysis” blender has faced criticism.

So I was interested to read this reflective interview with Hattie about how his ideas have been interpreted and implemented worldwide… but I was derailed by this answer:

HK: I also wondered about the language issue between New Zealand, Australia, Denmark and the UK. There must be a lot of language issues?

JH: Oh, yes. I am not sure with Danish, but certainly in the Scandinavian countries, they don’t have a word that distinguishes between teaching and learning. Japan doesn’t.

This claim struck me as a snowclone — Language Log’s term for this kind of silly linguistic argument:

Journalists and others often make an ethnographic or political point by observing that a particular language or culture “has N words for X”, where N is either zero or some number viewed as excessively large. … [T]hese rhetorical flights are hardly ever true in linguistic terms, and their logic would be suspect even if the facts were correct.

It was Hattie’s definitive “Japan doesn’t” that sent up the red flag for me. I’m a (very beginner) student of Japanese, and I recalled that Lesson 7 in the Minna no Nihongo textbook listed oshiemasu (polite form of 教える, “to teach; to instruct”) and naraimasu (polite form of 習う, “to take lessons in; to be taught; to learn (from a teacher); to study (under a teacher); to get training in”) as separate words.

So much for data.

I am absolutely furious about the current racist campaign against young African people in Melbourne. Every time I try to put my thoughts about it in order, I get so angry I need to step away.

Fortunately, the tireless campaigners at the Flemington-Kensington Law Centre have published a comprehensive myth-busting list of 10 Things You Need to Know About Crime Reporting in 2018.

Victoria does not have a youth crime wave – ethnic or not. However, facts and statistics are of little interest to a person already convinced that their intuitive, deeply felt, folk wisdom is enough. Arguing with a ‘tough on crime’ proponent is like arguing with an anti-vaxxer. When the independent Victorian Crimes Statistics Agency released its latest data report in December and stated that overall criminal incidents recorded in Victoria was down 4.8% and significant downward trends in many crime types, much of the online law and order world did not believe it. “Look at the papers” they cried. “We read about crime every day!”

But for everyone else here are some basic stats. …

Please read it, please share it, and please recognise the patterns so that you can speak up next time you hear someone regurgitating the latest racist nonsense from the Herald Sun or The Australian.

It is 2018 and I’m going to try to post something here every day. Of course, 2018 may be a bad time to revive a blog, since the cool kids have apparently moved on to newsletters:

The appeal of a specific, engaged audience is also responsible for the return of community email. Newsletters distributed only through the “phone tree” friend-to-acquaintance-to-friendly-stranger model were wildly popular in the days of early email and early blogging, took a nearly two-decade break, then reappeared thanks to a Miranda July pet project, the buzzy 2012 email community Listserve, and most notably, the 2013 founding of TinyLetter. As part of a May 2017 New Yorker survey of the death of the public personal essay and the return of email newsletters, Awl alum Carrie Frye speculated that writers, and female writers in particular, have declared to themselves, “I’m going to make an Internet on which my essays go out in pneumatic tubes to just who I want them to go to, and no one else.” Newsletters are an easy a way to build that tiny, private audience away from the ugliness of the internet at large.

So if you want the ugliness of the internet at large, stay right here, but if you want Quality Content™ you should instead subscribe to these email newsletters: Erin Cook’s Dari Mulut ke Mulut, Anthony Agius’s The Sizzle, Osmond Chiu’s Agitate, Educate, Opine, and Sophie Benjamin’s The Monthly Missive.