Micosoft’s AI earns perfect Ms Pac-Man score

Some tasks are just too complex, too nuanced to tackle all at once, like beating all 256 levels of Ms. Pac-Man on the Atari 2600 while earning a perfect score of 999,990. That's why Microsoft didn't even try to train its AI to take it on in one go. I…

How to make the gr Australian musical: from The Sapphires to Strictly Ballroom

With Muriel’s Wedding the Musical making its debut in October, we take a look back at mainstage shows through the ages – the good and the bad

The great Australian musical can easily be mistaken as an understudy in the wings, struggling for the spotlight in competition with Disney lions, British boots and Mormons on a mission.

Yet as Sydney Theatre Company prepares to launch Muriel’s Wedding the Musical at the Roslyn Packer Theatre this November, with an eye to domestic and international success, it is but the latest strike in a rich seam of quintessential Australian musical storytelling, with better-than-even odds of kicking up its uggs from the West End to Broadway.

Continue reading…

Fed raises interest rates again in further sign of confidence in US economy

  • Central bank raises rate from 1% to 1.25% and plans to reduce bond holdings
  • Committee says job market has strengthened and suggests more rises in future

The US Federal Reserve announced it was raising short-term interest rates by a quarter percentage point on Wednesday as the central bank continued to unwind the massive economic stimulus plan brought in after the great recession.

After a two-day meeting, the Fed raised the target range of the federal funds rate to 1% to 1.25%, the third consecutive quarterly increase. The move follows a record run of jobs growth in the US that has driven the unemployment rate down to its lowest level in 16 years.

Continue reading…

The Grammys take voting online at last

Say what you will about the Grammys and its problems, but at least the Recording Academy has been making an effort to catch up with the times. After making streaming-only albums eligible for awards this year (allowing Chance the Rapper's Coloring Boo…

Is it time to make the Medicare levy progressive? High incomes earners can afford it | Greg Jericho

Australia’s progressive tax system does not heavily penalise high income earners but the flat rate Medicare levy burdens lower income earners more

Since the May budget one area of dispute has been the raising of the Medicare levy to 2.5% to pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. While the ALP is arguing the new rate should only apply to those earning over $87,000, the progressive thinktank the Australia Institute has released a paper arguing it is time for the levy to become fully progressive.

Progressive taxation has a history of being mangled by treasurers. Joe Hockey did it when talking about the petrol excise and now Scott Morrison has joined the party.

Continue reading…