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Torrential rain and muddy roads are not
enough to deter a young Kununurra man
in his bid to run in one of the worlds most
famous footraces, the New York Marathon.
Joseph Davies, who fnished Year 12 at
Kununurra District High School last year,
has just returned home from selection trials
in Alice Springs, where he was coached
by Australian running legend Robert de
Castella, a four-time Olympian and two-time
Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
Davies, 18, was one of 12 hand-picked
Indigenous hopefuls who attended the Alice
Springs selection trials.
If selected in the fnal six-person squad,
he will travel to the Australian Institute of
Sport in Canberra for more training before
fying to the US to compete in the marathon
in November.
De Castella said the squad , the brainchild of
his not-for-proft organisation, SmartStart,
was the frst step in establishing a program
to develop Indigenous long-distance runners
in Australia.
Davies, who is training daily, even in wet
season downpours, said he understood
training for the marathon would not be easy,
but it was a challenge he was ready for.
I know its a once in a lifetime opportunity
and I really hope I get selected, he said.
The northern hemisphere cold will drive him
to just run faster.



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On his frst day at a new school, Michael has been sent to the Principals offce.
Im Michael. Im new here. I gave her my best shallow smile and hoped
shed take the offer. She had to have better things to be doing with her time.
I know who you are, Michael, and I know why youre here. In other words
shut up and let me do the talking. Fair enough too. I took the advice. She
didnt look all that angry though. If anything she almost seemed amused by
me and her tone was friendly. I tried to remind myself who she was, in case
it was some sort of trap. She took a deep breath, like I was a small part in a
big battle shed long since stopped trying to win, and smiled at me.
Youre hardly the frst person to change schools, Michael, and youre
certainly not the frst to try to make an impression. And just between you
and me, youre not the frst to be sent here by Mr Jensen. She stopped, so I
gave a little nod and mumbled my agreement, which seemed to please her.
Quite. So what do you think we should do about this?
Maybe we could just chalk it up to experience, I tried, heartened by her
apparent good humour. She acted as if she hadnt heard me.
Were you pleased your family decided to move here, Michael?
Um, not pleased exactly, I admitted.
And how have you found us? It was bizarre. She was beginning to sound
like some old auntie stuck for conversation during a Christmas visit.
All right, I suppose.
Yes, we are. She smiled at something I couldnt even guess at.
And you think we should just leave this here do you? It had to be a trap.
I nodded, not trusting myself to say anything useful.
Let me just tell you this then. You dont want to cross me, Michael. Youll
fnd me a very loyal person to my staff. Do you understand that? Again I
nodded. Of course Ill have to ring home, to let them know things havent
started too well for you, but apart from that I think you should just get back
to class and concentrate on keeping a low profle, dont you?
It didnt feel right. She was being reasonable, no doubt about that, but I
couldnt quite trust her. There was something about the way she looked at
me when she spoke, like she had some private joke going I would never
understand. And she was an adult. There had to be something in it forher.
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The double life of a slippery axolotl
In 1865 scientists were surprised when some of the Mexican axolotls at
an exhibition in Paris turned into yellow-spotted, brown salamanders. Very
surprised, in fact, because scientists had thought that the axolotl and
salamander were different species, not different life stages of the same
animal. What they had observed was an axolotl metamorphosing into
a salamander. They had not seen this occur when the axolotl was in its
natural habitat.
So why dont axolotls always metamorphose into salamanders? Well,
the lakes in Mexico where axolotls are found are surrounded by barren,
dry country which is an unsuitable environment for amphibians like
salamanders to survive in. The lakes, however, are full of food and good
water, the perfect place for an axolotl to survive. This environmental
pressure has caused the axolotl to adapt and retain the aquatic, larval
(immature) form of the salamander. At the same time it has developed
the ability to increase in size and reach sexual maturity. This is called
neoteny. The axolotl never has to change into the adult salamander form
to grow and reproduce. But this does not mean it cannot do so.
If an axolotl is taken out of water it will most probably die. But if its lake
or pond slowly dries up it may metamorphose into a salamander. Other
changes in environmental conditions such as temperature and day length
can have a similar effect. The change in environment affects a part of the
brain called the hypothalamus which controls the release of a hormone
called thyroxin. Thyroxin is essential for metamorphosis in amphibians. In
its natural state the axolotl has adapted to switch off this biological signal
so it can remain in its watery paradise.
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A guide is taking tourists to an isolated Australian beach where turtles are laying their eggs.
The party of twelve stood around murmuring solemnly and casting shadows. The
sky amazed them. A woman exclaimed at a shooting star. They were in awe of
constellations and geography, impressed by the blazing night and the encircling
silence. The tourists were pleased with themselves just being in this yawning
nightscape, especially knowing that where they presently stood would soon be deep
ocean.
It was almost eleven oclock but the moon on the white sand, the absence of
any interfering artifcial light nothing along the silent breadth of land or sea or in
the air gave the night a stark clarity. Stars fzzed like freworks. The sky was bright
enough to read by. Grace could make out individual ghost crabs now resurfacing
and regrouping, as well as their whorling sand patterns, as ordered and ornamental
as Maori facial tattoos.
Several turtle species chose to lay their eggs on this slope of coast. Green
turtles, loggerheads, olive ridleys, leatherbacks, hawksbills, fatbacks. The beach
was sheltered and gently shelving, with few outcrops and obstacles to hamper the
females laboured passage up from the sea.
Okay, she called out. Were looking for semicircular marks in the sand.
Almost immediately they saw tracks the intuitive dragging scrape of the
fippers. The imperative haul of the body. She handed out torches. Use these if you
need to. Id prefer not to use the headlights. We dont want to make the old girls big
night even more uncomfortable.
The green turtle sprawled and gasped beside a pile of sandy, pulpy-looking
eggs. Its straining face was eaten by the light of the torches. The front fippers, as
automatic as a wind-up toys, constantly ficked sand on the eggs. When the people
came nearer, the turtle heaved a phlegmy sigh, as if something important had
suddenly registered, and closed its eyes. It gave another shuddering sigh and two
fnal eggs dribbled in quick succession onto the sand. Mechanically the fippers
ficked sand on them.
The onlookers stood reverently by.
In its dazed convalescent state, the turtle
ignored them and their doting cameras.
Neither its pained expression nor the
rhythmic fippers seemed to indicate
suffcient resistance to the large sand
goanna that emerged then from the cliffs
and snatched the last egg, still mucoid and
dripping, from under it.
Oh! the shocked people shouted, as
one. No!
b
Inventing daylight saving
Amongst the objections which have been urged against the adoption of
my scheme, I shall only briefy deal with those of more serious importance.
A number of minor objections have been raised, which have simply arisen
through the objectors not having taken the trouble to make themselves
conversant with the subject. For instance, it has been urged that this scheme, if
carried out, would deprive people of their long winter evenings, those raising
this objection evidently having overlooked the fact that, during the seven
months of the year which include the winter, the time would remain precisely
as it is at present.
A more reasonable objection is that regarding the alteration of the
clocks, some contending that it would be better for us to alter our habits
during the summer, and leave the clocks alone. The reply to this is that such
an alteration in habits would be wholly impracticable, as it would involve
endless adjustment throughout the whole of the society, which could never
be carried out in all its detail. Meal times, arrivals and departures of trains,
steamers etc, opening of places of business, theatres etc, would all have
to be simultaneously altered, whereas, by moving the hands of the clock
in the middle of the night, all these adjustments could be efected quite
automatically, without disturbing in any way the existing state of things.
It has also been urged that by lengthening the hours of daylight at the
end of the day shopkeepers and others might be tempted to extend the hours of
labour for their employees. This, it may be remarked, is really a side question
which has already been specially dealt with by legislation, and although there
are at present nearly two hours daylight after closing-time in summer, I am
not aware that any systematic attempt has been made to lengthen the hours
of labour in summer on this account. The milkmen, and other persons who
have to begin their work very early in the morning, would undoubtedly sufer
under my scheme, as they would have to start their duties in the dark of early
morning almost the entire year through. As these persons, however, constitute
a very small minority in the social community, it is not to be expected that
their personal comfort or convenience would be allowed to interfere with the
adoption of the scheme if it were found to be benefcial to the large majority.
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