Do they like me?
Running linked to reduced risk of early death
Leader of the Islamic State dies upon US raid
Tory trial and tribulation
Science & Environment p.8
Register to vote
It does not matter who you vote for, as long as you do! by Rosie Benny
Photo courtesy of BBC
University braced for Christmas strike
University staff are striking due to dissatisfaction over pensions and pay by Natasha Doris
he University of Aberdeen is bracing itself for eight days of strike action across the campus beginning on the 25th of November. The strike is being organised by the University and College Union (UCU) over the working conditions proposed changes to the pension scheme. 65% of votes cast by members at the University of Aberdeen were in favour of strike action over pay and 75% in favour of strike action over the pension plan changes. UCU posted details of the strike to their website, stating: “Sixty Universities will be hit with eight days of strike action from Monday 25th November to Wednesday 4th December.” The post continued that “The disputes centre on changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and the
universities’ failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualization and workloads.” Dr Pugh – the Communication officer for the AUCU – described the strike as a last resort measure: “There isn’t one of us who wouldn’t prefer to be in a warm lecture theatre, talking about a subject we’re passionate about, or in our labs or offices, rather than standing on a picket line in winter. But we know that, in taking a stand now, we are protecting our students’ futures, as well as our own.” Aberdeen is one of twelve universities and colleges listed as taking place in the strike action in Scotland due to dissatisfaction both with working conditions and with pensions, with the strikes estimated to affect approximately one million students across the UK. UCU general secretary Jo Grady said
that, “strikes will hit universities later this month unless the employers start talking to us seriously about how they are going to deal with rising pension costs and declining pay and conditions.” The University of Aberdeen saw strike action take place from February until March of 2018, during which 40,000 university workers nationwide halted their scheduled work, with institutions across the country grinding to a halt. Senior Vice-Principal of the University of Aberdeen, Karl Leydcker told the Gaudie that, “these are national negotiations over pay and pensions and we hope the situation can be resolved. We are disappointed that the UCU has announced 8 days of strike action.” Continued on p.2
ere at The Gaudie we firmly believe in political participation. Only by participating in politics can one begin to have an influence. Across campus, student politics is vibrant and active, with multiple strikes for climate change, solidarity with oppressed peoples and occasionally, our own lecturers. Now it’s time to bring this passion to the polls The upcoming UK General Election will have huge ramifications for the future of the country and will have a lasting impact on the University, the students and of course Aberdeen as a whole. Therefore it is vital that you make sure you’re registered to vote and can ensure that your voice is heard in Westminster If you aren’t sure whether or not you are registered to vote, want to check your eligibility to do so, or want to change where you vote, you can do so here:
The election is on the 12th of December and the deadline to register to vote is the 26th November at 5pm.
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An apologising culture W
e are reaching the end of the semester, the end of the year and also the end of a decade. I know that New Year’s is a bit far off yet, and we still have the rest of November and Christmas to get through, but considering that this is the last Gaudie issue for the semester, I just want to take a minute to reflect on certain things. We live in a time where we are constantly seeking self-improvement to more or less success (usually less, in my case), where we try to be better and do better in various different ways. Improvement isn’t a new thing, obviously, or else there would never have been any new inventions of the like, but I’m thinking that improving the self feels very much contemporary. I came across a thread on social media, for example, where people explained the differences between students in 1997, 2007 and 2017. After reading a few of them, it became obvious that the younger generations seem to be kinder than the previous ones, but also softer because they feel like everything is so important that they can’t mess up anything, or it will ruin their future and any prospects for success. Doing several odd jobs in my life, I have had so many moments where I have felt that I completely messed everything up. And
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“Sorry, are you...?” “Oh... no! No, I’m not, sorry...” “Ah! That’s ok, haha, thanks, sorry” “Sorry”
This is a transcript of one Brit asking another Brit if they’re in a queue. In this example, there are about four too many apologies that could have been saved for when they are actually needed. I mean, even the buses here apologise for not being in service. Wouldn’t it be nicer if those sorry were saved for when they are really called for? My boyfriend keeps reminding me of this because I do apologise a lot, and he would say “don’t apologise for that, that is nothing to say sorry for.” If you make a genuine mistake, something happens or if you have indeed done something wrong, own up and apologise for it - but perhaps we can leave all the others in the past. We are moving into a new decade, the 20’s, which so far have been associated with the roaring 1920s. Let us make something great of the new decade and be more confident to be ourselves and improve ourselves. Let us not be motivated by never making mistakes, but by attempting to be our best selves and create a better world. Let us be bold, stay strong, and not say apologies for taking space. Save the sorry for later.
2019 GENERAL ELECTION HUSTINGS WITH THE GAUDIE
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there I am. Sorry after sorry after sorry. Just thinking that I need to do better, hold myself to a higher standard. But mistakes are unavoidable - there will always be things that don’t go according to plan, we will have to say sorry, and in the UK, it seems to even be a cultural thing. One needs to apologise, just in case. Moving from Sweden to Scotland didn’t bring a lot of cultural shocks, but some things I noted with amusement. Here, if you even walk close to someone in a store, they will apologise profusely and move out of the way, and in other places, you say ‘sorry’ instead of ‘thank you’ when someone makes way for you. It’s almost like apologising for taking space. We do apologise in Sweden as well, but not when walking closely past someone. If you collided, then yes, sure. Thinking about it, I think we just don’t talk with strangers unless absolutely needed… But that is getting off-topic, we were talking about Brits saying sorry. I found the greatest example of that via the Twitter account “VeryBritishProblems”, as they posted the tweet:
Collage courtesy of bartek001 and Clker-Free-Vector-Images via Pixabay and Isti Miskolczy Continued from front page Leydecker maintained that the university was open to negotiations with the organisation, and that the priority of the university was to avoid any strike action by its staff if possible. “Universities UK and UCEA remain open to further talks and we hope that the UCU take the same view and that any action can be averted. The University is committed to a fair and affordable pay settlement and pension scheme for our staff.” Action taken by UCU members will also include action short of strike (ASOS)
including “working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing the reschedule lectures lost to strike action.” Such action is scheduled to start on November 25th, and will end “no later than 29th April 2020.” Aberdeen University Students’ Association Communities Officer Louise Henrard has released a statement on the UCU strike action, stating AUSA’s support for the strike, and their aim to promote student awareness and support during the eight day period.
“AUSA will be working closely with the UCU to ensure good communication before and during the strikes so all the students are aware of what is happening and have answers to all the questions they might have.” Students have been assured that exams will go ahead as scheduled, despite the strike’s overlap with exam season. An FAQ page is being developed with the aim of ensuring a clear line of communication between staff and students.
Next week's General Meeting to debate "Meat Free Mondays" motion The AUSA General Meeting, scheduled for Wednesday 12th will require at lease 250 attendees in order to go ahead by Derek Gardiner
motion which proposes banning the sale of meat products on campus on Mondays has been put forward for the AUSA General Meeting. Other motions submitted for consideration include a motion to remove the Sabbatical work reports from the agenda of Student Council on the basis that they “take up too much time” and “deter attendance by student councillors”. Instead, the motion suggests that Sabbatical Officers be held to account with “Q and A sessions for each Sabbatical Officer”. There is also a motion to make the Butchart Recreation Centre once again available to sports clubs. The “Meat Free Mondays” motion, proposed by Vice-Chair of the Communities Committee, Tomas Pizarro-Escuti Aedo, states: “This motion aims to raise awareness of the detrimental environmental impact of eating meat and to encourage Aberdeen University students to help fight the climate
emergency, preserve precious natural resources and improve their health by having at least one meat free day each week. “AUSA will be mandated to lobby the University of Aberdeen to ban the selling of meat from its premises every Monday of each week. “That AUSA will encourage the students of the University of Aberdeen to stop eating meat at least once per week with immediate effect. “That a campaign aimed at decreasing meat consumption on campus will be initiated, promoting the positive impacts of a plant -based diet using posters, labels, flyers, promotional events, etc.” This follows Student Council’s support of a motion mandating AUSA to declare a climate emergency and to act accordingly at its last meeting in October. The General Meeting, in which all students can participate, speak and vote, will take place on Tuesday 12th November at 5pm in New King’s 6.
Photo courtesy of AJN
Police and bomb disposal called to King Street 3 times in less than a week Police have arrested a 26-year-old man on explosives charges
by Anttoni Numminen
Photo courtesy of AJN
n the night of Saturday, 2nd of November, emergency services were called to a property on King Street in a situation believed to have been a bomb threat. Police later announced they had retrieved chemicals and “certain items” from the property, but failed to disclose their nature as it was “an ongoing investigation”. A 26-year-old Aberdeen man was arrested and appeared in Aberdeen Sheriff Court on charges of making or knowingly possessing an explosive substance, and assaulting or impeding police. The suspect, identified as Richard Hume Smith, made no plea and was remanded in custody. Police also said they were working with “specialist agencies”. Members and vehicles of the Royal Logistics Corp Bomb Disposal unit were present on the scene, but again, Police did not disclose what the “specialist agencies” were. The force said that there had been no immediate risk to the wider public. In a later statement, Chief Inspector Darren Bruce, Area Commander for Aberdeen City North, said: "As always, our priority is the safety of the public. We have moved residents as a precaution and are working with local partners to provide appropriate advice and support. “I'd like to reiterate my thanks to the residents and surrounding community for their patience and understanding while our enquiries continue." The following Monday afternoon, however, police, bomb disposal and fire and rescue services were on the scene once again, though officers did not disclose the reason for their presence. A part of King Street was cordoned off once again on the evening of Friday 8th with emergency services including RLC Bomb Disposal on the scene, this time with plainclothes officers also in attendance.
Medic students to be disciplined over costume controversy Members of the Medic Society are accused of causing significant offence to the Jewish community
by Rosie McCaffery
wo members of the UoA medics society dressed up as orthodox Jews for last month’s ‘big night out.’ The event is held monthly by the society and is not a fancy-dress event. The students posted a picture online, but it was later removed after backlash. A spokeswoman from the university said they were “extremely disappointed” and disciplinary proceedings have begun. The medic society echoed this sentiment. The Aberdeen University Jewish society
A spokeswoman from the university said they were “extremely disappointed” and disciplinary proceedings have begun. added that they “urge the School to rethink and not to take any formal fitness to practice proceedings against the students as their behaviour is unlikely to cause significant
offence to the Jewish Community in Aberdeen.” Adding “It would be a lot more reasonable to organise an educational event in the framework of the university regarding cultural appropriation”. Last year, the Med Soc also faced backlash for intimidating guests and disturbing the peace at a wedding happening in the same venue as their annual ball. This led to some students facing expulsion, but they were ultimately referred to a ‘fitness to practice’ watchdog. This is part of a wider problem of offensive costumes, especially around Halloween. The movement ‘My culture is not your costume’ takes on this issue, with supporters such as Alexis Jones saying, “some people treat it [cultures] like a cartoon character, but they are actual races and cultures.” The University of Sheffield adopted the slogan ‘my culture is not your costume’ this year. They urged students not to wear anything “sexist, racist, ableist or transphobic" this Halloween. But even they face criticism for suggesting a sombrero is offensive, which many students disagreed with. Most people and groups trying to tackle this issue emphasize the education of other cultures, rather than attempting to ban certain costumes.
Photo courtesy of Aberdeen University Hockey Society
University library turns ground Hockey society receive life ban from popular Aberdeen restaurant floor into public library The Univerity have collaborated with the City Council to create the Old Aberdeen Library on Campus
by Natasha Doris
he University of Aberdeen has opened the new Old Aberdeen Library to the public. The library is on the ground floor of the Sir Duncan Rice library, behind the gallery which hosts the University’s monthly art, history and cultural exhibits. The space, which according to the University was “underused”, has benefited from £80,000 of external funding and is now open to the public as The Old Aberdeen Library. The library had an official opening ceremony on the 30th of October. Approximately fifty guests were in attendance, including the Lord Provost Barney Crockett and University of Aberdeen Principal George Boyne. In an announcement on their website, the University said: “The public library service will be called the Old Aberdeen Library, restoring a City Council lending library to the area for the first time since the 1990s. This has been an innovative and exciting collaboration with Aberdeen City Council, and we will continue to work in partnership to manage and develop the service.” Simon Bains, the University Librarian and Head of Library Services, said: “This academic/public library partnership is the first of its kind in Scotland and it is an extremely exciting time for everyone involved in the project.” Bains further commented: “I am
absolutely delighted to see Old Aberdeen Library open, alongside the other
The library had an official opening ceremony on the 30th of October. Approximately fifty guests were in attendance, including the Lord Provost Barney Crockett and University of Aberdeen Principal George Boyne. improvements we have introduced to The Sir Duncan Rice Library. This will be a wonderful new service to our students, staff and visitors. My thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make this a reality and I’m looking forward to developing it further in partnership with Aberdeen City Library and Archives.” The new edition to the campus introduces new furniture, along with charging points for laptop users, which the University hopes will “provide University students and staff with furniture and services that support their wellbeing and a dedicated space which encourages library users to relax.”
The society have been accused of "general arseholery" as a reason for their ban
by Natasha Doris
he University of Aberdeen Hockey Society has officially been banned from Rishi’s Indian Aroma restaurant in Aberdeen due to “disgusting behaviour, damages up to £1,400 and general arseholery.” A leaked Facebook post by the group revealed that the society had been forced to relocate their annual curry night social due to prior behaviour. The post read: “I am devastated to announce that after a six-year relationship with Rishi’s Indian Aroma, we have decided to part ways.” The group have chosen a new venue for their social, writing: “However, after a short rebound period scouting Tinder, we have found a new, better-looking establishment: Light of Bengal.” A representative for Rishi’s has said that that on previous socials, the society had caused damage which had to be paid “all out of pocket.” The manager said: “They broke lights, light fixtures and damaged some of the bathroom. They threw food at the walls too so they had to be repainted. The decision to ban the society came after the restaurant went under a £60,000 renovation. “We didn’t want any more damage from them.” A representative for the society said: “On behalf of the whole club we would like to apologise for all the damage and distress that our club may have caused to the owners and guests of Rishi’s Indian Aroma. We
want to assure that we do not condone this type of behaviour. We are working closely with AUSA Sports Union taking all the necessary steps to investigate and make sure these actions do not take place in future and all members in question are dealt with accordingly.” A spokesperson for the university commented: “We are disappointed to learn that the behaviour of individual students has fallen below the standards we expect. We acknowledge the steps that the AUHC Executive Committee and AUSA Sports Union are taking to address this issue, and welcome the Committee’s stance in relation to the standard of behaviour it expects from club members.” According to a follow-up Facebook post by the society, the club is now “under intense scrutiny” from the Aberdeen University Students’ Association, and group members have been warned “Don’t be the one that ruins it for everyone else.” Members have also been warned that further misbehaviour will lead to being banned from the hockey ball, as well as paying for any further damages and being banned from future socials “should we be allowed any.” The manager of Rishi’s Indian Aroma has commented that an inaccurate figure has been cited by other outlets – According to the manager, £7,000 has been cited as the amount of damage caused by the society in the last six years. He declined to provide the accurate figure for the damages caused, and did not give any further comment on the situation.
Do they like me, do they like me not? The importance of mental health in our society
by Chloe Mackay
he pressure society brings to the human race has been a very important topic for a long time, with its value growing immensely over the last few years. It has sparked the conversation for mental health and how we are affected by everything society puts on us. This pressure can feel similar to having heavy weights on your shoulders, constantly pushing you down. I can almost guarantee that the typical university student has the same early morning routine as I do before getting ready for a lecture: it’s 8am and
We are constantly pretending to be someone we aren’t by posting only the best photos with the best captions to persuade our viewers and followers that we are living a life everyone should want, when in reality, there may be more bad days than good. But you’ll never get to see that side of the story. the alarm is ringing. We turn it off and automatically, the first thing we do is check our phones. Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. Sound familiar? Me too. I usually do this for about 20 minutes every morning and each time, I see the same things. The same ads are being thrown my way: “use this and you could lose a stone in 2 weeks”, “buy this
cream to achieve the perfect skin”, “have you tried this low-calorie drink?”. And most commonly, before-and-after photos. These ads and the influencers promoting them are trying to convince us that we aren’t good enough, that we need to change. Social media has been criticised immensely due to releasing content of unrealistic lifestyles to young children and teens. These looks are idealised and can have later impacts on life. Within an evolutionary world and a modern society, it’s easy to understand why the human population can never be fully satisfied with the body they are in or the life they live. With the rate at which social media is growing, the need to be yourself is slowly decreasing. If you’re like me and visit social media apps often, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that society wants us to fit into the perfect model. We are constantly pretending to be someone we aren’t by posting only the best photos with the best captions to persuade our viewers and followers that we are living a life everyone should want, when in reality, there may be more bad days than good. But you’ll never get to see that side of the story. We are so hung up on the likes and views that we forget about what is really important - our health and wellbeing. Again, if you’re similar to me, likes are important to you and have almost consumed your media life. For instance, if my posts don’t achieve a certain amount of likes in a certain number of minutes, I’ll delete and repost later in hope that people don’t notice and the post will gain more interaction. Because without likes, who am I? Society has led us to believe the number of likes determines our worth, and that the person we are isn’t good enough. That we must put on a facade to mask our private despair. It forces us to hide our struggles and distress towards
Photo courtesy of Tracy Le Blanc via Pexels
daily tasks. Society wants us to hide the ‘flaws’ underneath by making us feel like we are attending a masquerade ball with a new costume each day. And what happens when people don’t fit into this category society has created for us? What happens when we aren’t the perfect size or have the perfect skin? Society criticises us. We become un-beneficial to our community. After interviewing some students of
receive the treatment they require. One of the things I have learned from dealing with people with mental health issues is that there is no distinction between the two – both are important and it’s crazy to think that people cannot see this. Society needs to stop viewing the people who suffer from these issues as crazy when they deserve the same rights as everyone else. A person is not defined by their illness. A change needs to be made, and although this change will be hard, it is still very likely to happen. With 2019 nearing its end, our new year’s
Because without likes, who am I? Society has led us to believe the number of likes determines our worth, We must show that we are stronger and that the person we are isn’t good than ever before. Break the mould. enough. Listen to your peers, family, and different levels, I noticed that many people strangers. You never know the feel the same way. Chloe, 19, told me that “I feel pressured to fit into a mould I wasn’t struggle people are facing due to social made for”, while Elroy, 16, opened up about pressures. his experiences with social media, stating that he “feels insecure on Instagram”. Lastly, Megan, 19, expressed that she “feels victimised”. These quotes alone show the pressures faced by young people in a modern-day society. In addition, mental health is criticised vastly due to people not believing or listening, which makes it a lot harder for people to speak out. And for those who do, waiting lists can be months long when emergency attention is needed then and there. Mental health, for as long as can be remembered, has never been seen as important as physical health. Society needs to recognize mental health and mental illnesses as highly important so people can
resolution should be to not let the voices of society win and take over. We should become more open-minded and understanding towards others. With an unclear definition of what mental health is, society’s perception of mental health needs to change. We must show that we are stronger than ever before. Break the mould. Listen to your peers, family, and strangers. You never know the struggle people are facing due to social pressures. If nothing else, from reading this article, you should try to increase your knowledge on the matter. And one way you can do this is by listening to others.
Making study social at Aberdeen University Cosy revision spaces abound - at other institutions
by Jake Roslin
ith assessment season starting again, the Duncan Rice campers are out in force, bagging a prized desk space first thing in the morning. Yet even early in the semester it’s never particularly easy to find a seat in our main library, nor the only other self study venue on King’s campus, the Law library. And despite the proliferation of “social study” at other institutions - quiet, warm spaces with comfortable seats, tea and coffee-making facilities and long, if not 24/7, opening - our university still has nothing like this. A recent report in The Guardian found university students study for longer hours than ever, but also in different ways. We’ve grown used to coffee shop culture and no longer necessarily want to sit upright at a desk in solitary silence. Having creature comforts on hand makes us more productive, and the concepts of napping in the library and having food delivered there have gone from urban myth, to frowned upon, to facilitated in just a few years.
The recent half-hearted conversion of the downstairs back of the SDRL (pictured) is a case in point. However architecturally awesome this building is, it’s not comfortable, with cold air and cafe clatter permeating the vastness of the atrium. The recent half-hearted conversion of the downstairs back of the SDRL (pictured) is a case in point. However architecturally awesome this building is, it’s not comfortable, with cold air and cafe clatter permeating the vastness of the atrium. The university had correctly identified that the ground floor behind the museum had potential, but in placing rather sparse numbers of sofas and distinctly flimsy feeling chairs, and doing nothing to make the place cosy or warm (curtains and a mezzanine level perhaps?) an opportunity has been missed. The only vaguely relaxing space in the whole Rice Cube is the 7th floor breakout room. While this was proudly shown off on at least my own Open Day, no one mentioned that much of the time it is being used or locked up ready for meetings, with no way of knowing if it’s even available for us mere mortals without trekking up to see for ourselves. As for the Law library, with its uncomfortable wooden benches, lack of PCs and endless rule and regulation signs, it truly serves as a relic from a bygone age. Even worse is the lack of anywhere other than libraries for students to chill between lectures. Yes, there are computer rooms and, at the other extreme, noisy cafes, but good luck finding any of them open after tea time. What there are not are common rooms. Even my sixth form had one of those - it was a bit run down but had plenty of sofas and you didn’t have to buy a drink to sit in it. What we need is a mix of different types of seating and tables, bean bags, pod type chairs, recliners, plenty of power and USB sockets,
speedy WiFi, and hot and cold water - and no chance of being kicked out for a class or a building closing for the day. Somewhere to go in those gaps between lectures, or between classes and evening socials. And that lecture gap problem is acute at Aberdeen because many students, and practically all freshers, live a long hike from campus. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone home, forsaking a late afternoon lecture, purely for want of somewhere pleasant to hang out in the meantime.
Even worse is the lack of anywhere other than libraries for students to chill between lectures. Yes, there are computer rooms and, at the other extreme, noisy cafes, but good luck finding any of them open after tea time. The odd thing is, there isn’t a lack of spaces on campus, they’re just poorly utilised. The centrally located Butchart building is virtually unused except for exams twice a year in its sports hall. Large parts of the Crombie-Johnston halls complex, including Johnston dining hall, are mothballed for no apparent reason. Elphinstone Hall and the Linklater Rooms, also perfectly placed for between-class use, are locked up except for special events.
Surely at least one of these spaces could be kitted out as a kind of student lounge? As often seems the case, we have to look to other universities to find innovation. Not far away, Stirling are currently building a three-storey extension to their already spacious union which will house a variety of group study and relaxation spaces. They’ve also placed fun-sounding “study cabins” around their campus, and allocate a huge loch-side dining room to student use after the lunchtime rush. Meanwhile, the lower floors of Glasgow University’s library have recently been remodelled to provide numerous American diner style booths, plus plenty of semi-private “egg” chairs. Again, a daytime restaurant with a variety of seating types remains open into the evenings for quiet study. In England, a large room has simply been filled with bean bags at Warwick University and Loughborough have cleared two floors of their library of books for open plan informal study. Exeter continues this innovative trend where no less than four differently configured social study spaces have been developed, one of which even includes a relaxing koi carp pond. Many of these spaces are open 24/7 all semester. But the ultimate social study space must be one in which students can actually fall asleep. University College London seems to have been the first to introduce sleeping pods into their library, and these have now spread to the University of East Anglia’s “Nap Nook” and Manchester’s “ZZZ Zone”. Closer to home, Edinburgh’s union has passed a motion to demand the university provide campus sleeping facilities after a survey of 1,500 students found 93% in
favour (and for a consideration of the pros and cons of campus snoozing, see Natasha Doris’ Opine piece elsewhere in this edition).
The Duncan Rice is a fantastic looking building, but it’s not a welcoming one and it’s certainly not somewhere you go to be cosy in winter in what is, after all, the coldest city in the UK, and, emphasised by its huge windows, the darkest in winter. The Duncan Rice is a fantastic looking building, but it’s not a welcoming one and it’s certainly not somewhere you go to be cosy in winter in what is, after all, the coldest city in the UK, and, emphasised by its huge windows, the darkest in winter. Whilst concentrating on eye-candy projects like this and the new “Toastrack” science building emerging behind it, our university seems to be ignoring the sea change that has taken place in students’ study habits over the last few years. Aberdeen needs to reassess its estate and spending for the needs of 14,000 shivering, stressedout students. Every news story of some innovation taken by one of our southern neighbours shows we are being left out in the cold, and it is such innovations that will ultimately benefit the university itself in attracting future applicants.
Are you having the symptoms of a mid degree crisis? The solution might be more simple than you think...
by Blaise Jones
ith the end of the first semester rapidly approaching it is not unusual for many students to be facing doubts about their chosen degree. The idea of drastic change can be overwhelmingly daunting but it is comforting to know that this is not an unusual situation and many students are experiencing the exact same thing. Many of us jump straight from High School into University, which doesn’t leave much room for contemplation over our degree once it has been decided. Unless you are part of the lucky few who have had the same vivid career-driven dream since they were a child, then it is very possible that your future is marred with uncertainty and confusion. However, all is not lost, as change is entirely possible, and the future is not as bleak as you may think! I talked to three students at the University of Aberdeen to find out their incentives and thought processes behind changing degrees.
When did you first begin to realise your chosen degree wasn’t for you?
What made you finally make the change?
Have you ever had any regrets over your decision?
Can you imagine yourself on the alternative life path if you hadn’t swapped degrees?
What advice would you give to students who are similarly doubting their chosen degree?
Film and Visual Culture and International Relations to Politics and International Relations Well, I was thinking about it from year one to be honest because I knew that you would have this 50% split and that the courses don’t really go well together. I don’t think I had one specific moment… Probably it was just before the summer when I had this amazing opportunity to go to two film festivals and I got to meet professional film critics. A lot of these high profile writers didn’t necessarily have a background in film so I realised it is something I can still pursue whether I continue to study it or not.
JODIE Scottish Law to English Literature Probably in the very beginning, to be honest. In fact, I probably knew before I even started that there were other degrees I would rather be doing but I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed and told myself I would get a good job when I graduated. I am now a lot less naïve and realise there is no point wasting your life on something you aren’t passionate about.
TAM Primary Education to Animal Behaviour As soon as I started. I enjoyed my extra electorates (including Psychology, which I do now) more than my actual degree. Also everyone I knew studied Zoology; pulling apart animals looked a lot more fun.
I think I was just tired of convincing myself that law was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I couldn’t see a future in it for myself, and I just hated it more and more as time went on. The workload is very intense and I feel like to really succeed in the field, since it’s so competitive, you really need to love what you’re doing. I also feel like it limited me in so many aspects of my life… I didn’t have any time for the things I was passionate about anymore and I became miserable.
Honestly, a whole bunch of factors. I was never 100% set on teaching in the first place. It was just the easiest thing I could get work experience for in Skye and is the easiest way into Uni. The idea of being stuck in Scotland my entire career gives me actual chills, and I didn’t really vibe with the people on the course at all.
Well from next year on they will have this really cool screen writing course. To be fair, I had already studied screenwriting on my year abroad so it is not necessarily a big regret. There were always many pros and cons over the decision so I can’t really say I have any big regrets.
Never. Honestly I don’t even think about it. English is literally the perfect degree for me and I can’t imagine my life any other way. Maybe not waiting until almost two years to change is a regret.
No. I really enjoy my current degree and feel a lot more relaxed. Before I was just constantly thinking about if I was doing the right thing.
Yeah for sure, like just because on paper I’m a politics student it doesn’t mean I’m dedicating my entire life towards it. On the contrary, it seems like I’m just using politics when it comes to uni but in my free time I am dedicated to film. I’m part of the filmmaking society and part of a radio show so I think I’ve managed to find a good balance.
I feel like if I had continued to study law I would have eventually crashed anyway. Like even if I did continue, I don’t think it was ever what I was destined to do with my life. I would be a really bad lawyer. If I hadn’t changed I would have been forced to drop out of uni completely and waste even more time so quite honestly I don’t think law was ever going to be an extended part of my life path.
Make sure making the change is 100% what you want to do. It’s really helpful to have a list of pros and cons, you shouldn’t make any impulsive decisions. Everyone’s different and has their own agenda but listen to what your peers and family have to say. Be open to their advice but not necessarily obey it. It’s your life, so it’s your decision, so you think about it!
It’s difficult because I really understand how hard a decision it can be to make. I think it can reach a point where you struggle to justify your own decision to yourself and it feels like you’re just studying your degree for no reason. Expectations from others can really make you believe that it’s the end of the world if you switch, but really everything stays the same, you just realise you’re living a life more true to yourself.
It’s not like you are studying two things at once - it’s completely split in half so that you’re only studying 50% of politics and 50% of film - which isn’t a huge issue in the first two years. However, in third and fourth year you feel like you’re not getting the proper workload for either course. I was always aiming to focus on just the one - either film or politics.
I can and I don’t like it. I think I would be a lot more stressed and unhappy than I am at the moment.
Swap, for the love of God, SWAP. I just got out of writing a 3000 word essay and I still don’t have a horrible itching fear of regret like I used to.
How a good night’s sleep refreshes the brain of toxins
Running linked to reduced risk of early death
Recent research found cerebrospinal fluid cleanses the brain in New study proposes any amount of running contributes to rhythmic waves during sleep decreased risk of an early death by Nidhiyaa Anagananthan
t has previously been established that sleep is important for basic maintenance and restoration of functions. Recent research, however, has found simultaneous hemodynamic alteration and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow during sleep may be connected to how the brain rids itself of harmful toxins. These findings suggest the involvement of various processes during the low arousal stage. A recent study conducted at Boston University compared blood-oxygen levels during wakefulness and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep using various measures such as fMRI and EEG to show temporal changes within the brain. Thirteen healthy participants from the ages of 23 to 33 fell into NREM sleep, after which a rapid fMRI process was conducted to measure fluid activity. The researchers were pleasantly surprised to find activity of rhythmic release of CSF at a fast rate while the participants were asleep. These oscillations were comparatively low when they were awake. ‘We've known for a while that there are these electrical waves of activity in the neurons. But before now, we didn't realize that there are actually waves in the CSF, too,’ says Laura Lewis, study co-author and BU College of Engineering Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering. These fluids are associated with washing away harmful toxins and memory-impairing proteins which may possibly cause Alzheimer’s disease, as shown by previous animal studies. It seems like these rapid processes during sleep are important for clearance of metabolic waste.
As people age, their brains release slower waves which signify lower blood flow and which reduce the pulses of CSF. This causes a build-up of toxins, resulting in a decline in memory abilities. This, in turn, explains the increased risks of neurodegenerative disorders that are associated with ageing. It also questions previous assumptions about blood flow and CSF waves being separate processes.
It seems like these rapid processes during sleep are important for clearance of metabolic waste. Another study found that sleep deprivation led to an increase in betaamyloid in the brain of healthy adults. ‘As we learn more about this role of sleep,’ Dr Raman Malhotra, an Associate Professor of Neurology at Washington University in St. Louis says, ‘It may help explain why individuals who don't get enough sleep, or suffer from sleep disorders, are at higher risk of certain chronic health conditions.’ The researchers hope to expand on these findings, specifically the connection between blood flow and CSF and how these processes are coordinated. They also hope to recruit older participants so as to find an association between degenerative diseases and CSF pulses. This may also help explain if these hemodynamic alterations in older people precede the development of disease.
Photo courtesy of Matthew T Rader (Unsplash)
by Megan Sinclair
pooled analysis on available evidence regarding the benefits of running has recently been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. When looked at more closely, there are substantial claims that if a larger portion of the population took up running, disregarding both distance and speed, then substantial improvements in health and longevity would become apparent. It is largely unclear how effective running is at decreasing risk of death from various diseases, especially ones such as cardiovascular problems and cancer. The amount of running and the intensity, duration, and pace of the jog necessary to reap potential benefits is also unknown. This is, therefore, what researchers attempted to investigate. To find out the above, researchers conducted a systematic review of relevant published research, conference presentations, and doctoral theses and dissertations on the subject of running, jogging, and the population risk of death due to all causes, including illness, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. They then attempted to find associations between these topics. Fourteen studies were found which qualified for the review, involving a total of 232,149 people whose health had been followed and documented for 5.5 to 35 years. During this time, 25,951 out of 232,149 participants passed away. When data was analysed and pooled, researchers found that any amount of running, of any kind, was associated with a 27% decreased risk of death from all causes for both males and females when compared to non-runners. Running was also associated with a 30%
decrease in risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 23% lower risk of death from cancer. The study showed that even minimal running sessions of once weekly or less, lasting under an hour and at a low speed of about 8km or less per hour, were significantly associated with increased longevity and health. Running for 25 minutes less than the weekly recommended amount of duration of physical activity could, therefore, significantly reduce the risk of early death. Researchers extrapolate that this could mean running becoming a better and more popular sport and option for those who desire to exercise but lack time.
When data was analysed and pooled, researchers found that any amount of running, of any kind, was associated with a 27% decreased risk of death from all causes for both males and females when compared to nonrunners. However, it must be highlighted that as an observational study, it is impossible to establish cause and effect, and researchers warn that the studies analysed were small in number, counting fourteen. Study methods also varied considerably between one study and the next, which could have impacted the results. Nevertheless, researchers state that moderate exercise is never a bad choice, and running may be an easy way to lower the risk of future health problems.
Photo courtesy of Andrea Leopardi (Unsplash)
arts culture fashion lifestyle food gaming technology The Dumb Waiter: A Centre Stage production
A call for unionisation in gaming
Gaming and Tech p.11
Conspiring success Life and Style p.14
his one is for the stressed out students dancing with an empty wine glass in their hand who stay up til dawn for a last minute essay rave This one is for the stressed out students who live off meal deals and sleep in their gym clothes, sleep in armchairs This one is for the stressed out students at Starbucks who believe a cup of coffee means productivity or suggests productivity And this one is for the stressed out students who put aside their colour-coded notes and brightly coloured highlighters to read this
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photo courtesy of Warner Bros
Blade Runner’s bleak portrayal of climate change: reality or fiction?
by Wesley Bryan Kirkpatrick
s we are currently living in the year in which Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner takes place, let’s take the time to consider the predictions of the last 37 years and decide whether our version of 2019 shares any resemblance to that of Blade Runner. Countless sci-fi movies have predicted future happenings, such as The Truman Show’s prediction of the future state of television and entertainment made real by the rise of reality-TV, or the most obvious, 2001: A Space Odyssey, with its prediction of software such as Skype and Siri. The original Blade Runner also has its fair share of technological predictions, such as the idea of gigantic commercial billboards which nowadays adorn the sides of buildings in cities such as New York, Tokyo and London. Blade Runner depicted a version of Los Angeles in the year 2019 which may seem idyllic to some with its flying cars and its futuristic technology whilst to others, its environment and climate appear as a hellish, yet plausible version of our future. Indeed, whereas on the surface the movie may seem like a harmless science-fictional detective
noir, deep down it inhabits themes of climate change and globalisation that, although today might seem exaggerated given the time span predicted within the film, cannot be fully disregarded, nor deemed entirely far-fetched. This question of climate change has never been more topical than it is currently in 2019, with mass protests over what some perceive as a lack of action from governments to protect the environment, but also due to climatic catastrophes from the likes of the California wildfires, cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique, and the current drought in Australia. Although our version of 2019 may not seem as doomed as that of Blade Runner, that does not mean that it may not still occur in the future. Whilst Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner may not have painted the worst imaginable version of our future climate, 2017’s sequel Blade Runner 2049 was not as clement. This time, the movie did not hide its theme of climate change, most notably in the opening scene with the desolate single tree. As a new generation has grown up since the events of the first movie, this new generation has therefore
only known the Los Angeles of that reality. Therefore, at first, it doesn’t even cross the audience’s mind that this tree is the first that K (Ryan Gosling) has ever seen throughout the course of his life. The sequel paints horrific pictures of mind-boggling desolate wastelands and desolate landscapes cursed with dust-ridden fog. The sequel was originally thought-up by Ridley Scott after he had spoken to several scientists who told him that environmental effects tend to be delayed by 30 or 40 years, meaning that currently we are suffering the effects of the pollution created around the time of the creation of the initial movie. Whilst once again the depiction of 2049 may seem exaggerated, who can actually be certain that we won’t see a version of these hellish landscapes in thirty years’ time? To an extent, Blade Runner’s portrayal of our current year was both accurate and imprecise, however none of it seems far-fetched to today’s inhabitants, making Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner a timeless classic. Time (and climate change) will tell whether its sequel will be remembered the same way…
The Dumb Waiter A Centre Stage production
motion, as the audience is given a frame within which to assess the peculiarity of these two individuals: the mastermind, Ben, is absorbed in his newspaper-reading; Gus, on the other hand, has an obsessive thought which he seems unable to shake off. His borderline OCD attitude puts the audience in a hesitant, almost unnerving state. We, as the audience, wait thirstily for Ben’s reaction, for a climax, a sudden retort on his behalf. But the leaf is too green yet; we are left without an openly burstout laughter climactic moment, yet we gain insight on how the rest of the play is going to unfold and especially how these two characters balance each other’s energy - courting, prancing, just like lions sharing the same cage, never explicitly jumping at each other’s throats. The pace picks up as we gain an insight into their hesitations, doubts and, in Ben’s case, well-rehearsed
arts | theatre
steel certainties. It becomes clear it is a masquerade when, on the arrival of a sealed black envelope, he jumps and shakes, demonstrating how tense he is despite the stoic approach he boasts when answering Gus’s questions about their never-ending wait. The moments of comic relief are masterly played, triggered by the argument over the semantics of ‘light’ or ‘put on’ the kettle; Arri and David are superb at giving this moment the dramatic tension it deserves, persuading the audience of the veracity of their respective beliefs. Arguably, the overall energy of the play revolves around the construction of witticisms of these two peculiar and deeply-flawed characters. Even when the tension comes from outside (the lift, the bathroom not working, the mysterious letter), the true paceand place-setters are the two main protagonists with their own conflicts
Review by Rory Buccheri
photo courtesy of Centre Stage
tepping forward from the red curtains of AU Centre Stage, this semester’s production of the Dumb Waiter, starring Arri Smith and David McIvor as the two protagonists Gus and Ben, has managed to light the fire (or, indeed, to light the kettle?) of the Aberdeen audience. Harold Pinter’s comedy, written and performed for the London stage in 1957, has found a new cut and a new location by landing in Aberdeen’s Arts Centre this November. The stage belongs solely to the two characters, two hired assassins
waiting for their next assignment in the basement of an abandoned restaurant – a location that spares them no surprise throughout the evolution of the play. It is hard not to pay attention to the dramatic pauses and breaths between one line and the other, as the stage is shared by only two actors. All the work is left to them, and it’s up to the players to set up the pace of the game. The chemistry between the actors definitely works: what Arri lacks, David complements, and vice versa. The act kicks off almost in slow
and tensions growing from the inside out. The title of the play itself deserves attention: does the Dumb Waiter refer to the automatic lift (a ‘dumbwaiter’) that transports their last reserve of food? Or is it the dumb waiter Gus, unaware that he is the target of their assignment? Is it, instead, Ben, failing to bottle his anger and giving away too much to his partner? Despite, the play is at times dawdling, leaving us with just too much time to wonder and to speculate; this contributes, though, to that sour
taste that the ending leaves which is, nevertheless, meant to be there. The bomb is not meant to go off, not until the very last breath, and the riddles are meant to dwell in the audience’s mind for a while. If we are looking for a resolution – and we know we are – the answer to the play’s riddles lies, since the very beginning, in the language, in the debates, in Gus’s growing suspicion and restlessness, in Ben’s newspaper digressions, in Gus’s apparently irrelevant questions and finally, in Ben’s unconvincing answers to these questions.
arts | catharsis
That F*cking Wall
by Emily Burton
obody had ever told me that, in order to heal from heartbreak, you need to acknowledge you’re going through one. So here I am, sitting comfortably in my denial. Yes, I’m heartbroken. And no, I’m not in love with you. I’m heartbroken by you, but you’re not the centre of my desire. I’m starting to suspect the centre of my desire is desire itself. Pretty nasty philosophical shit, right? No matter how deep I dig, I’m always at the starting point. And it’s driving me mad, you see? It’s driving me mad that for every brick I build, you build another, and I whenever I add another, so do you, and our wall is turning out amazing – so the day after, in the middle of the construction, you come and tell me you like another wall.
Which, rationally putting it down in words right now, makes complete fucking sense. I hate this. You don’t like our wall. I do, I find it nice. But that white and purple wall over there? Well, man, that’s your thing. You like that wall. Not this one we’ve built. What can I do? I’m not going to smash it, of course. I’m not that kind of person. I’ll find some other use for it, though. I’ll let it shield me from the sun on hot days. I’ll use it as rescue when it’s raining. I’ll punch it, if necessary. But I won’t take it down, nor I will wallow. It’s our wall. It’s built now. I was happy building it. Even though, once completed, nobody told me that, in order to heal from heartbreak, you have to acknowledge that you’re going through one.
photo courtesy of the BBC
Podcast review: Fashion Fix
by Theresa Peteranna
illustration by Rosie Mccaffrey
s there any quicker fix than clothes shopping? Anything more thrilling than the Eureka! moment of finding a new top that is just so you? Anything more satisfying than the clasp of the receipt signifying your new belonging? (Or the feel of a package and the closed door on the Hermes courier man because our in-demand culture means you don’t even have to queue.) But the rise of the new nagging feeling, different to bank balance anxieties, is concern for the impact of our fast fashion. BBC Sounds’ Fashion Fix podcast not only navigates what empowers us about our style but explores the science and production behind our clothes. Essentially, it is an exploration of why we are addicted, empowered and victimised by the fashion industry. Crucially, Fashion Fix is far from being a doom-and-gloom series of lectures of how we consume. That would be hypocritical - Charli Howard, the show’s host, is a model. Not just any model, but a self-proclaimed body positive model in the liminal space of straight and plus-sizes. She discusses how the industry almost ‘broke’ her through triggering her eating disorder. Throughout the podcast she disperses
her personal story and continuous struggle against the ‘mind-deviant’, a collection of negative thoughts which reflect the cruel and narrow vision of beauty within fashion. Her different guests are a conscious effort to show a variety of experiences with her own. The episode on modest fashion and its relationship to Muslim culture stands out with model Mariah Idrissi. Charli is a charming but straightforward host who comes across as genuine in her pursuit for knowledge. The podcast lives outwith the studio. Charli records in Depop pop-ups, cafes, and even spas. At only little twenty five minute bursts, Fashion Fix is an easy listen even if the facts can be hard to swallow. The episode on microplastics is divided between two interviews, one of science and foreboding and one of environment activist and designer whose upcycling solution combines design luxury without contributing to waste. This episode sums up the theme of the podcast. It begins as a light interrogation of our own behaviours but ends on the glimmering potential within fashion which celebrates all things vintage, recycled, sustainable, and feel good.
arts | opera
Scottish Opera : Tosca
by Enxhi Mandija
here are some women, in art and in history, that disturb and fascinate in equal measure. Like moths to a light, we are drawn to them for the same reasons we recoil from them in fear – they are Medea, Morgan, Lady Macbeth – and Tosca. In this production of Puccini’s opera directed by Jonathan Cocker, her tremendous character – her charisma, her jealousy, her unflinching moral standing – come to the fore thanks to outstanding performances from both cast and orchestra that convincingly evoke the atmosphere of the original without, however, necessarily adding anything new. A stark, brutal tale of violence devoid of thrills and sentimentality, where villains are villains and heroes are nothing but human, it was not particularly well received in its 1900 premiere, for it was felt to be too realistic, too violent. In 1900, audiences thought of the opera as light, pleasurable entertainment; what made Tosca a controversial work at the time
is what makes it a compelling one now. Andrew Risch’s 1980 adaptation, on which this Scottish Opera revival is based, sets the scene in 1943, in the days of terror as the Allies have just started taking over Italy, while the regime is tightening its stronghold on the nation and anti-fascist repression is at its worst. Puccini’s Tosca was set in 1800, during tensions between Napoleonic supporters of a republican state and royalist conservatives. The logic behind Risch’s choice is simple: the tense political climate and the violent tales of fascist Italy would have been much more familiar to a 1980s audience that the distant and intricate politics of 1800, a reasoning which still bears (even more relevance) today. The performances, in this Scottish Opera revival of the 1980 production by Anthony Besch, are superlative. Gwyn Hughes Jones is genuine and convincing as Tosca’s good-hearted lover Cavaradossi, even though he felt a
bit subdued at times; Roland Wood as ruthless Scarpia embodied the character so well he got booed during the curtain call, as it was felt it was Baron Scarpia, and not the performer, saluting. Natalya Romaniw’s Tosca, against these two different but controlling, polarising masculinities, emerges in her fierce humanity oscillating between extreme emotion and a granitic, unique moral code. Her performance was controlled and dramatic to the right extent, never exaggerating into sentimentalism – the most gut-wrenching moments were those tense instances where her voice would falter from the soprano lines and utter a word in parlando, without singing. Stage design is perhaps where this revival could have added strength or a new twist to the opera. Faithful to Besch’s vision, which is in turn very close to Puccini’s, the stage makes you aware you’re unequivocally in Rome – a Rome which is baroque, excessive, ornate, taking up too much space. It is telling that
the first two acts take place in interiors (a church and Scarpia’s room in Palazzo Farnese) but the third is an open scene, a liminal space: the roof of Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome’s prison, from where Tosca leaps to her defiant death. While that’s meant to complement the atmosphere of suffocation and inescapability, it does reduce the scope of the action – there is a lot of standing around and pacing up and down. A revival of a classic demands at the same time renovation and preservation – you want it to be familiar but at the same time you don’t want to see something you’ve seen a thousand times. I would have preferred a more modern take, for instance in a more minimalistic approach to set design. To those already familiar with Tosca, through this or other adaptations, it’s worth going along to for the sheer high level of the production and the performances. To those who aren’t, it’s certainly a really good place to start.
arts | film
The joie de vivre of Agnès Varda biopic shows auteur was far more than grandmother of Nouvelle Vague by Jake Roslin
ou never forget your first French New Wave. Mine was Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin Feminin, a random Fopp DVD multibuy, possibly bought due to genre icon Jean-Pierre Léaud’s insouciant raised eyebrow, as he struggles to maintain his icy Parisian cool in the face of an undressing Chantal Goya across a symbol-heavy sleeve. That inability of the genders to interact satisfactorily while maintaining a permanent air of studied, chain-smoking indifference seems to have been compulsory for French twenty-nothwings in the sixtysomethings, or at least if you believe Godard. His contemporary and friend
the Belgian-born film director Agnès Varda, however, had wider strings to her bow. Integrated but never subsumed into the Cahiers du Cinema crowd, Varda was the sole female auteur of the dense and prolonged movement which was the Nouvelle Vague, and arguably still resonates, since Godard ploughs his furrow to this day. Varda sadly died on 29 March this year, at the age of 90 yet clearly still in the zenith of her life. A multi-faceted visual artist yet no dilettante, her general placement by film buffs on the periphery of the boys’ club of directors Godard, Truffaut, Chabrol and the rest belies her legacy, captured just in time
Pillars of French New Wave (clockwise from top right): Agnes Varda, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut
photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
in her extraordinary autobiographical swansong Varda by Agnès, which showed at the Belmont earlier this semester and was released on DVD last week. The New Wave cut up the studio system rule book: actors were made to improvise; cuts were made to jump; prolonged, brooding cityscapes; the ubiquitous Léaud’s eyebrows and shrugs conveying more than realms of explanatory dialogue. Finally and most remarkably, directors exposing the process of film making, blurring lines between reality and fiction (in Truffaut’s La Nuit Américane the director plays the director of the film within the film), ensuring we remember the politics (Godard’s Brechtian inter-titles). The destruction of the grammar of the Hollywood movie shocked audiences and re-established the cinema as vérité, the response as visceral. These were no escapist nights at the flicks. Varda’s 1955 debut La Pointe Courte lays claim to being the first of the Wave. An existential study of broken marriage against an idiosyncratic fishing village in the south of France prefigured the general use of Paris as the movie’s central character. The film is odd and endearing, precisely because 27-year-old Agnès had no film school training. Working solely by instinct, filming as if she were writing a novel, she said, and out of financial necessity shooting entirely on location and sometimes with amateur actors, Varda’s actual academic background as both philosopher and photographer meant she defined many of the tropes of Nouvelle Vague several years before the men came along: Chabrol’s Le Beau Serge, Truffaut’s Les Quatre Cents Coups, and Godard’s A Bout de Souffle are only officially where this decadelong, if not century-defining, movement began. Varda by Agnès is an autobiography. Varda, addressing a theatre audience in between location inserts, is in control. Supremely comfortable with life and advanced age, with dishing the dirt on her old Nouvelle friends, with enthusing about the democratising new digital film technology, even with updating her Instagram account until days before her death, Varda is the extra granny you wish you’d had. Dressed in her inevitable purple and with her
trademark two-tone bowl haircut, she explains how she travelled France for 18 months in the company of street artist JR, producing 2017’s Faces Places with little idea how the movie would turn out, simply filming the quirks of human nature as they found them in the rural nooks, crannies and especially beaches she had already explored with her camera for seven decades. Despite weighing in at two hours, every moment is riveting. The sheer enthusiasm of Varda and her determination to make the life of her participants a playful artwork infects every frame. Describing her use of tracking shots in 1985’s Vagabond, the nonagenarian is tracked herself across a landscape. She tells of her masterpiece, 1962’s Cléo de 5 à 7. In this movie we follow in almost real time a young woman walking through Paris to kill time while awaiting the result of a test for cancer. As may be expected, existentialism is present, yet that film too is full of joy and life. In all her vast oeuvre (24 features, almost all as writer as well as director, numerous short films, photographic exhibitions and books) Varda never stopped experimenting, idiosyncratic while accessible, and being ever the feminist’s feminist, but without ramming it down the lens. It doesn’t really matter where you start with French New Wave. It doesn’t have to be Souffle, it doesn’t have to be Jules et Jim (though you’ll find both and many others in the more than adequate French section of the SDRL’s DVD collection). Like the narratives of the films themselves, there is no sequential journey to be taken through the movement, merely an ocean of perspectives on the Gallic human condition of the later 20th century, to be dipped into from time to time, to let wash over you. Indeed you could do worse than start with Varda by Agnès, because if this film does not engage you to delve deeper into a place and time with a very particular sense of being, and of which history may yet decide Agnes is the more important, not François or Jean-Luc, then probably nothing will. Varda by Agnès was released on DVD on 4 November and is also available on the British Film Institute and other streaming platforms.
Nightline Awareness Week What is Nightline?
Nightline is a student listening service which is open 8pm to 8am. It is run by students for students. Every night of term, trained student volunteers answer calls, emails and instant messages from their fellow university students about anything that’s troubling them. As the Nightline volunteers are fellow students, they can directly empathise with their callers’ problems. We follow five core principles: • C o n f i d e n t i a l : what callers discuss with Nightline volunteers will not be shared outside of Nightline • A n o n y m o u s : callers don’t have to give any identifying details about themselves • Non-judgemental: Nightline volunteers don’t judge and support callers through whatever it is they’re going through • Non-directory: meaning callers decide what they want to talk about and the volunteer gives them a safe space to do this • Non-advisory: Nightline gives the caller space to make their own decision, and supports them in this rather than telling them what to do. “We’ll listen, not lecture”
Who can Nightline?
Any university student can contact Nightline. Whilst the first Nightline was set up to reduce student suicides, Nightlines today receive calls from students troubled by a variety of issues: from academic stress, bullying or debt to loneliness, depression or
bereavement; from arguments with flatmates or worries about a friend to addictions, eating disorders, or self-harm; from relationships or family problems to sexuality, sexual abuse or abortion. Walking home alone and wanting a chat or need some information give us a call. Nothing is too big or too small to contact Nightline about – whatever’s troubling a caller, Nightline is there to listen.
How can we contact Nightline?
Phone: 01224 272829 IM: aberdeen.nightline.ac.uk Email: listening@aberdeen. nightline.ac.uk
What is Nightline Awareness Week?
Each year, Nightline Awareness Week (NLAW) offers each and every Nightline across the UK and Ireland an unparalleled opportunity to raise awareness of the fantastic service that our volunteers provide. Not only that, it opens up the wider discussion about student mental health. On a national scale, we can work together as a movement to celebrate the dedication of our volunteers and raise awareness of the real concerns regarding student mental health. Together, we can: • Raise funds for both individual affiliate Nightlines and the Association • Call on universities across the UK and ROI to support Nightlines and to recognise the extent of student mental health problems. • Raise awareness of the service Nightlines offer so that every student is able to talk about their
feelings in a safe, nonjudgmental environment; fewer students have their education compromised by emotional difficulties; and fewer students die by suicide.
When is it and what do you have planned for Nightline Awareness Week?
Nightline Awareness Week will run from 18th-22nd November. We have yoga, a bake sale and various other things in the works. On Friday 22nd at 12:30 hear us talk a bit more about Nightline on Aberdeen Student Radio. We are still working on our timetable but keep an eye on our Facebook page for all of the latest information https://www. facebook.com/AberdeenNiteline/
What is Nightline50?
As an Aberdeen nightline we were set up in 1992, but the association is much older. The first Nightline opened in Essex on 7th May 1970. It was founded by a group of students who recognised the need for peer support at night, with support from a university chaplain and an academic who was a Samaritans volunteer. Over the last 50 years the Nightline movement has grown, with almost 40 Nightlines now based in universities across the UK and Ireland and over 1.8 million students with access to a Nightline service. Our 50th year is a golden opportunity to reflect on our history, celebrate our services and volunteers, raise awareness of Nightlines and build momentum for the future.
What is it volunteer Nightline?
like to with
You realise very quickly that every call matters, and because when you are there for someone who has no one else to talk to, when you can be a friendly ear to the friendless, an ear for the frightened, the lost, the happy, the hopeless, the tired, the calm, the philosophical, the angry, the abused, the ashamed – because then it doesn’t matter that it’s four am, because being there for someone is timeless and essential and amazing. My Nightline friends are my most special because we are bonded by this shared sense of recognition that no-one is ok all the time. We’ve been through a lot together, and there’s no group of people who will listen, understand, safeguard and support better than them. Being a Nightliner isn’t about recognition or public reward – that’s the thing about anonymity. Your friends, classmates and lecturers aren’t going to tell you that what you do is amazing. It’s not about feeling good about yourself, or patting yourself on the back. If anything, the opposite is true. Being a Nightliner is recognising that, at times, we are all weak; we all behave badly; we all have fears; we all have secrets; we all have things we couldn’t or wouldn’t share with others. If you are someone who can see this and say ‘I am here, without judgement or advice, for you to talk to’ then join Nightline, because it will be the best thing you ever do.
How can I get involved?
There are always opportunities to get involved with Aberdeen Nightline, whether you want to become a listener or not. Send an email to email@example.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
01224 272829, aberdeen.nightline.ac.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org p. 7
arts | film reviews
Non-Fiction by Stuart Neave
by Wesley Bryan Kirkpatrick
BC Two viewers were left flabbergasted on the night of Sunday 27th October as they were introduced to a speechless, 7-minute-long short-film which aired without intro nor credits. What they didn’t know was that the enigmatic thing that they had just witnessed was none other than British-director Jonathan Glazer’s latest short-film. His previous BAFTAnominated film, Under the Skin, saw Scarlett Johansson play a seductive alien who prowled the streets of Glasgow in search for unsuspecting men who would inevitably fall under her spell. With The Fall, Jonathan Glazer returns in a rather different fashion with a short-film which presents itself as an allegory of intolerance, made all the more interesting by the fact that Glazer’s upcoming movie is set to be a Holocaust movie set in Auschwitz. At its surface, the short depicts a group of masked individuals who are shaking a tree from which another masked individual is trying to hold onto. Once they finally manage to make him fall, they take a picture with him, put a noose around his throat, and drop him down an interminable hole in the ground. The use of masks allows the director to dehumanise the characters and allows the viewer to be fully concentrated on the message of the short-film, rather than on the actor’s acting skills and facial expressions. Many interpretations of The Fall have surfaced over the last fortnight, with many considering it a critique of trophy-hunting, as Glazer told The Guardian that he had been inspired by photos of the Trump family trophy-hunting. Whilst there are many ways to interpret this short-film and its messages, I will not attempt to do so. Instead, I invite you all to make your own opinion by viewing it for yourselves as it is available for free on the BBC iPlayer for whomever is mentally prepared to be confused, but hopefully eventually enlightened all the same by one of Britain’s most talented filmmakers of this generation.
by Miguel de la Cal Moreno
he Mustang follows Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts), a convict with anger management problems, that has been in jail for the last 12 years. We meet him just after he is transferred to a Nevada correctional facility, where he gets introduced to the Wild Horse Inmate Programme, a real-life initiative that attempts to reintegrate convicts by allowing them to train a wild mustang to be sold in auction. With the help of the bronco he is assigned to, Roman undergoes a cathartic journey through fatherhood, friendship, and inescapable violence. Although fictional, the story has a strong love for this initiative and the people in it. The team of inmates, led by old cowboy Myles (wonderfully played by Bruce Dern), is mainly portrayed by real participants and their horses, playing themselves. And in a sense, this film is about all of them, their love for the animals, and the wild heart that mustangs and prisoners share in their truest of cores. However, the film loses its focus by incorporating many tropes of the hero narrative that take time from the main spectacle, namely, the interactions of the animals and their trainers. While interesting, the main character of Roman falls flat. Although not a stereotype, he is given a sense of uniqueness, but mainly through constant reference to the bravado of his horse Marquis which makes all of his problems feel permeated of personality and less relatable or just generalised. This impacts the movie because it makes the audience less likely to empathise with the rest of the inmates, and the programme as a whole, which is a shame, as they are obviously what the filmmakers are mostly in love with. The best part about ‘The Mustang’ is the ending. I don’t mean to imply that it was torturous or uninteresting to sit through the 90 minutes this film lasts or that the third act created and solved so much tension I leaned forward to closely I could smell the sEATt in front of me. What I am claiming is that in the last moments, just as the music fades and after a short silence the dark screen shines again with photographs in black and white (of horses and men who inspired this story), is when you really understand best the passion, care and interest that has made this movie.
nhabiting the very French world of Olivier Assayas’ latest feature, ‘Non-Fiction’, are an array of fiercely passionate writers, publicists, journalists and actors. Fully embracing the wine, sex, and cigarettes of stereotypical French melodramas, Assayas’ affair-driven deceit-drama is dominated by an oozingly pretentious subtext of digitalisation. Incessant debates ensue on the prospective repercussions of eBooks, the level of esteem that blogs should be granted, and even the morality of Tweets. Engulfed in a cloud of cigarette smoke while sipping on a glass of merlot, these characters could draw out a slogging, ten-minute conflict on how you, yourself, chose to read this review. Maybe you picked up the latest copy of The Gaudie from Duncan Rice or Taylor, maybe you simply scrolled down to the culture section of the paper’s website. Unbeknownst to you, Assayas’ has compartmentalised you into either ‘traditionalist, hopelessly clinging to the past’ or ‘millennial, lost in their cell phone’. If this is beginning to sound like the sort of premise a filmmaker may struggle to pull off, seek solace in the fact that it is. Attempting to squeeze a tongue in cheek comedy out of the most boring of subjects is a difficult task, and in the process of crafting a so-dull-it’s-parodic melodrama, Assayas has floundered and coughed up a so-dull-it’s-dull sedative. It’s surprising, given the vast amount of acting talent involved, that nobody once questioned the repetitive script and overly-complex language. It is one thing to persuade an audience that the characters on screen care deeply about the most mind-numbing of topics, but it is another to make the audience care about this themselves. To his credit, Assayas never expected (hopefully) viewers to lose themselves in a digitalisationdrama. However, surely he intended them to connect somewhat to the feelings of the characters on screen. This, at least for non-French speaking audiences, was a complete failure. Twice I’ve seen this film, and both times it was easier to lose oneself in the train of complicated language streaming across the subtitle section than in the actual events onscreen. ‘Non-Fiction’ evokes nothing from audiences than begging for another lie, affair, or rendition of the sporadically meta humour which is, albeit, one of the few positives of the movie. A swing and a miss from a director who has previously toyed with more exciting terrorist thrillers and ghost stories.
arts | album reviews
The 1975 : Frail State of Mind by Julie Toft Carlsen
he 1975 have undergone a very public development since the lead-up to the release of their third studio album, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, last year. Announced as part of the Music For Cars era, their upcoming album, Notes on a Conditional Form, was slated for release in May 2019 but has been pushed back to 21st February 2020. The third single released ahead of the new album, ‘Frail State of Mind’ deals with band leader Matty Healy’s social anxiety, an issue he has addressed in interviews in the past. Melodically, it mixes the dance beat of ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ with the urgency of the song ‘Give Yourself a Try’ from A Brief Inquiry. These connections to the past album set ‘Frail State of Mind’ apart from the two previous singles, which were both stark contrasts to the sound on A Brief Inquiry. Healy sings of ignoring calls and leaving plans early, refusing his friends’ attempts to help. He repeatedly apologises for having a ‘frail state of mind’, an interesting description of anxiety as something which is a separate part of your person. Describing his mind as ‘frail’ creates a personal connection, giving Healy agency to speak of these feelings. The ultimate message this song sends is the guilt and helplessness which anxiety can make you feel, a welcome change from the romanticising of anxiety in pop culture as of late. ‘Frail State of Mind’ shows the growth of The 1975 as a band developing a new sound and representing, rather than appropriating, an important issue such as anxiety. Healy has been talking to fans and media throughout the process of creating their new album, allowing us access to the idea development and production process. But the band seems determined to surprise their fans by releasing widely different songs, keeping the sound of Notes on a Conditional Form absolutely unpredictable.
Sunn O))) – Pyroclasts by Benjamin Wooldridge
ioneers of drone metal genre Sunn O))) add to their busiest streak of releases since the aughts, with a sister album that at times outshines its already bright counterpart. Sunn O))), a duo made up by Seattleites Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, have spent the first half of their decade perfecting their simple craft: crushing abrasion. The deeply rich textures and overwhelming heaviness of their drones positioned them at the forefront of metal music as they carved out an audience for their admittedly niche music. However, the 2010’s have seen only one full album from them that is outside of countless collaborative projects, all of which sought to push their sound compositionally, adding more and more elements to their sound with diminishing returns. This changed, however, with the release of ‘Life Metal’ in April of this year, an album in which Sunn O))) strip their sound way back to its bare bones, revealing something dense and dark, yet incredibly lively and affirming in its simplicity. Pyroclasts, recorded in the same sessions as Life Metal, seeks to strip back their sound even further, creating a project that thrives as Sunn O))) focus purely on creating thick, luscious and overwhelming drones. In between the detailed recordings of material for ‘Life Metal’, the band would refocus and destress by spending ten minutes developing improvised drones, and it is these drones that make up the material here on Pyroclasts. The first track, ‘Frost (C)’ feels heavier and more destructive than most all moments on Life Metal, as its heavy, throbbing bassline overwhelm and take over the track for the bulk of its runtime. ‘Ampliphaedies (E)’ is another highlight; behind the usual inescapable wall of fuzzy noise lies the closest thing to a melodic moment on the album, with guitars screeching an almost solo. Overall, there is no distinctly low moment on the record, and its true strength is the minimal song writing elements Sunn O))) pour into it. By abandoning any attempts at grandeur, Sunn O))) have left only their music’s strongest feature: its thick, muddy overcoming texture and the rewards of sitting underneath its crushing weight are great and many.
by Rosie Mccaffrey
KA Twigs has released her first full length album, Magdalene, in four years. With a biblical metaphor running throughout, she is the Mary Magdalene of her narration: confused and sometimes powerless, but resilient in her remaining and trying. Although the album is calmer and more abstract than its predecessors, Magdalene keeps her signature otherworldliness. The self-produced album is speculated to reflect her breakup, female power and fame. It is confusing and cohesive at the same time, as she expertly puts her past few years of personal turmoil into music. With the choreography and art, the album is an experience, as well as a piece of music. In fact, I doubt if the music was the sole focus, at best it shares attention with visuals. Just like any art, it works best if you take it how the artist intended, and with the videos or performances alongside the tracks, it’s magical. FKA Twigs creates something more than just the music: the art surrounding it is incredible, the album art itselfis gently terrifying in every aspect: her likeness is never quite right, her size, shape, colouring and even of the texture of her skin are not what they should be, and the result is alarming. Which is only fitting, in a project intending to challenge its audience it reflects the process of finding power in pain, a shower of hardship on the artist’s behalf never could have been easy listening. Instead, with Magdalene, complex and messy at the same time, I think the result is beautiful. The album is honest, and all round artistic: videos, album art, production and music in Madgdalene deserve to be taken seriously in their own right. In preparation for the ‘Cellophane’ video, FKA Twigs spent a year learning to pole dance and dance suspended from the ceiling. She lived as a professional athlete, doing cardio twice a day, at least two hours on the pole, cross training and yoga once a day– and a similarly athletic diet plan to match. This commitment pays off by beautifully offsets the song, as she sings the lyrics ‘why won’t you do it for me? When everything I do is for you.’ The incredibly complex moves she performs give more power to the lyrics, permeated of vulnerability.
gaming and tech | waiting
A case for delays T
by Amy Smith here’s been a recent trend in which game companies have been delaying some of their biggest releases. Nintendo announced Animal Crossing: New Leaf as being a 2019 release, but as of right now, it has a March 20th 2020 release date. Bethesda’s Doom: Eternal is now also being released the same day as Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but was also originally announced as a 2019 release. Naughty Dog’s highly anticipated sequel to The Last of Us has continued to be delayed for over a year now, but even with a release date announced, it ended up being pushed back a further two months. With videogames highly linked to the online system and therefore majorly talked about on social media, these companies want to try and create buzz for their projects sooner rather than later. With gaming properties, getting the news out about any gaming footage is better done sooner to prolong the amount of attention their game gets, or to potentially capitalise off of the success of the predecessor in a franchise. With announcing games so early though, it has led to several companies having to think realistically about their schedule and make further announcements which have disappointed much of the fanbase. So, why has there been a trend like this recently, and why am I personally okay with this? With so many videogames coming out frequently, competition is running high. Unlike movies or TV shows, where people can pay an average of £10 for a few hours of entertainment, videogames on average cost £50 to purchase and one game can last for several months for some people. There may not be as many franchise games made as there are films, but the cost and amount of content in a videogame makes it more difficult to market. There seem to be higher expectations when it comes to videogames, and companies are scared to release a bad game now. Bethesda is one such company who experienced this first-hand last year when they released Fallout 76. Despite being part of a huge franchise for the company, many people were left disappointed with the game and ended up finding a lack of trust for Bethesda as a company. They are desperately wanting to get Doom: Eternal right to regain the trust of gamers, and therefore may want that extra few months to make sure they
create a success with this franchise entry. Making a videogame also takes a longer process than most films nowadays do because of the amount of work that has to go into every aspect of it. Unlike a film, where the camera can pick up a lot of the action that will be on screen, the individual elements of a videogame have to be done through animation and coding. Not only does every action, every character and every location have to be animated and rendered, but these actions and characters have to be coded to respond to the player’s controls and movements. The production of a game, alongside the other aspects such as scriptwriting, voice-acting and marketing, all have to come together to make a cohesive and well-made final product. That is a lot of hard work. Several of these companies have said the reason for the delay was due to work conditions that the staff have been placed in to finish these games off. In their statements, Nintendo and Naughty Dog both made it clear that the main reason behind these delays came down to not wanting to put extra strain on their staff to finish the job on the original release date. This is an example of great management in my opinion. Putting the extra strain on the workers and making them work longer and extra days may get the final product completed on time, but it will make their work ethic worse and may end up affecting the final product. Not only does appreciating your workers and giving them more time on a product make them appreciate you as employees, but it will also create a better game in the long run due to the amount of effort they will put overall in the project. Some of us have been waiting for these games for several years now, and it may seem frustrating that our favourite franchises will take longer to release another one in their series. However, if the options are either having a rushed final product, which creates a bad strain on those in the gaming industry and potentially ruins a franchise due to the lack of quality, or waiting a few more months for some great entertainment that could satisfy us for years to come, then I am happy choosing the latter here. image courtesy of John Tenniel via Wikimedia Commons
gaming and tech | politics
A call for unionsation in gaming P by Martin Hare Michno
nder the breath of capitalism, labour so easily becomes toil. Workers are so thoughtlessly alienated from their craft that all cruelty, abuse and evil is quickly normalised. It is forgotten that the worker works not for themselves nor for the product, nor do they produce for their children or neighbours, but for the pockets of a class already rich. Cogito ergo sum becomes ‘I work, therefore, I am’. This essential truth of capitalism, that the worker is subjugated to the interests of the rich, is one which has lost impact today. The triumph of neoliberalism – a mutated form of capitalism – was heralded as the end of all history. ‘The human’, argues the capitalist, ‘are inherently selfish’. It only follows that the capitalist system and all its intricacies is but the natural order of things, and there’s not much to be done about it. Of course, this myth will inevitably arise in a system which thrives on greed. Yet it is necessary to remind ourselves that it is a myth. Alas, a myth so widely spread and so deeply entrenched into our ideas and institutions that it has surpassed reality. It must therefore be remembered that capitalism is not the result of human greed so much as greed is the result of capitalism. A reality does exist outside the confines of the neoliberal ideology. A world of possibilities awaits at the event horizon of its demise. Workers in the game industry have been fed this myth mercilessly. However, those who toiled for Electronic Arts until their mental health deteriorated, who spent sleepless nights for Rockstar Games, or who were left with unpaid labour at Telltale Games, know all too well the injustice of this myth. And so, against injustice, Game Workers Unite has organised a movement within the industry. It is not the end of history; a wave of revolutions is to come. Our struggle against the ruling class shall not end until victory is claimed by the people. The class war manifests itself in the very cruelties and exploitations which prevail in our society. The worker shall not remain subjugated, labour shall not always be toil. We fight for a new reality. Whether breadmaker, miner, lecturer, postal worker or game developer – against those who seek to exploit you, abuse you and chain your soul for their own profit – unite!
oor working conditions in the game industry have been making headlines for years now. But so far there’s been little concrete action to actually address widespread issues like unpaid internships, mass layoffs, or wages that are much lower than the rest of the tech sector. Unions are a tried and tested way for workers to fight back against exploitation and abuse. WHAT IS A UNION? A union is an organization of workers dedicated to improving wages, hours, and working conditions within their workplace or industry through collective bargaining. Unions leverage the collective power of workers to balance out the power held by bosses and shareholders. HOW DO DEVELOPERS BENEFIT FROM UNIONS? In a contract negotiation, an employer’s financial leverage lets them set the conditions of our labour. Workers can only counter this leverage by negotiating the terms of their contract collectively. The ability of a group of workers to disrupt production means employers cannot ignore the group’s demands as easily as they might the requests of an individual. Unions are a tried and tested way for workers to fight back against exploitation and abuse. Health insurance, overtime pay, parental and sick leave, and the forty-hour workweek are all the results of unions wielding collective power to demand that employers treat workers with dignity. As students, we understand unions are the most effective way to win working conditions that respect intrinsic human dignity.
THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY According to the 2018 GDC State of the Industry Survey, the average career of a game worker lasts only five years, and fewer than half of respondents reported careers lasting over seven years. The reason? The game industry exploits its talented workers with long hours and unfair compensation. Compared to other technical and creative industries, roles at major game studios are known for lower
wages, weak job security, and poor work-life balance. Contract workers, who form the majority of games teams, face unstable careers without benefits or advancement. These conditions are indefensible in an industry that generated over a hundred billion dollars of revenue in 2017. This bulk of this money goes to investors and executives, and not to the workers that generate it. Students form an integral part of
the game industry and will direct its future. We will not defend an industry characterized by workplace discrimination, low wages, crunch, and short careers ending in burnout. Whether or not we are currently employed, we are still game workers, and we reject the unsustainable conditions endured by previous generations of developers. The game industry is our industry, and we have the power to improve it.
WHO ARE WE? Game Workers Unite is a broadreaching organization that seeks to connect pro-union activists, exploited workers, and allies across borders and across ideologies in the name of building a unionized game industry. We are building prounion solidarity across disciplines, classes, and countries. The organization is run exclusively by workers (non-employers), but we actively encourage employers, academics, and others to engage in the community and help support the organization’s direct action efforts both materially and through their visibility. Poor working conditions in the game industry have been making headlines for years now. But so far there’s been little concrete action to actually address widespread issues like unpaid internships, mass layoffs, or wages that are much lower than the rest of the tech sector. Unions are a tried and tested way for workers to fight back against exploitation and abuse.
Game Workers, Unite!
A pamphlet by GameWorkersUnite p. 11
gaming and tech | reviews
Kentucky Route Zero -
the good, the bad and the ‘what was that?’ Contrasting Views by Alba Lopez Da Silva and Cameron Owens
entucky Route Zero is like taking an unexpected exit down a winding nonsignposted road where nothing quite makes sense but fascinates you regardless. The story starts with our protagonist, Conway, stopping at a gas station to ask for directions for his antique delivery – this quickly introduces you to the fantastical and mysterious story to follow.
The good (Cameron Owens):
Kentucky Route Zero is perhaps the most intriguing and fascinating game I have played in a while. The artwork is striking and guides the player along in stunningly unique ways in every single scene. The true magic in this game comes from its varying uses of angles, where it seems more as if you are watching the protagonist rather than playing them, making it feel like you
Kentucky Route Zero is on par with Danielewsky’s excellent House of Leaves in terms of esotericism and mystery – you’re never quite sure what just happened or what will happen next. Yet, like in every game, there are some good and bad elements, sometimes contrasting with each other, sometimes melting into one another. are intruding on their misery. Kentucky Route Zero also manages to interlude music at opportune moments to increase tension and emotion throughout parts of the game – which certainly kept me on edge at times. An increasingly apparent aspect is the game’s critique of contemporary capitalism, and especially its effects on everyday workers’ physical and mental health. This social commentary serves as a thought-provoking backdrop to
the main quest of the protagonist, who simply wishes to complete a delivery. Unfortunately, the overall dialogue is completely perplexing and the paths which the protagonist takes are similarly bizarre and definitely led to an awful lot of head-scratching confusion. Whilst this is the case, it still served a lot of enjoyably memorable moments which I often think back to – even if they made little sense.
The bad (Alba Lopes da Silva):
Despite the beautiful artwork and overall mystical feel of the game (I am a big fan of magical realism and everything mystical), I did not enjoy this game as much as I would have liked to. Yes, the criticism of the economic realities of many blue-collar workers in the United States was poignant and very pertinent, but for me, the game just did not make the cut. The story is slow (VERY slow) and it is also too mysterious and perplexing
for my taste and my already very tired brain, and the dialogue at times can be quite soporific – something that is not very ideal when the only time you can play video games is in the evening after a long day at university. The game has good aspects, obviously, some which I really enjoyed; some parts of the story were so puzzling that they made me excitedly want to find out what would happen next. Yet, the overall lethargic pace of the game turned it into a slight disappointment for me.
The ‘what was that?’:
The only part on which we agreed is that none of us were sure what the f*** just happened. And we will have to wait a few more months to find out, as the game is divided into 5 Acts and the final one is yet to be released.
images courtesy of Cardboard Computer and René Magritte
life and style | mental health
A sex life after dealing with trauma Content warning: sexual coercion, sexual assault, rape by anonymous
hen I was fifteen, I was raped. But if you’d asked me up to the age of twenty, I wouldn’t have said the same thing. I had a perfectly typical sex life in my late teens and early twenties. We are much better at talking about consent now than we were eight years ago, and so it took me a long time to realise what had happened to me. It went from being a story I had no problem discussing, to something I felt ashamed of but didn’t know why. But I never described it as it actually was. That was partly due to denial and partly due to ignorance. For a start, my age made the whole situation illegal regardless of what I had said. And secondly, I had been a victim of multiple crimes: coercion, assault and rape. The mixture made it very confusing to process, as well as the fact that it involved two men who I considered to be friends at the time. I was never taught at school that you are more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone you know – only to carry an alarm, and always keep an eye on my drink. Familiar with the threat of strangers, but not of those close to me. I didn’t take any of those measures until I processed what had happened to me. I wasn’t attacked in the street, but now I’m terrified – I can’t be on my own in the dark, I finish my drink before I go to the toilet in a bar and I jump every time I hear someone enter my building. This has resulted in
a very different and almost nonexistent sex life. My brain struggles to process sex as consensual and it enters a state where I feel I’m being threatened. Fight or flight seems to kick in if sex is even offered to me. And it’s taken counselling and a lot of reflection, but I think I’ve reached a place where my sexual desire is slowly coming back. First of all, I had to not rush it. I was telling myself that if I could just ‘power through it’ once, then my body would know that sex was safe. That when I was having sex my mind wouldn’t rush with intrusive thoughts that made me need to stop and sob. I also didn’t relive my trauma like how it’s often portrayed on screen. I’m sure others do have those exact flashbacks and feel that the same incident is happening to them again, but mine has manifested itself differently. I often begin to mentally manufacture that my sex partner is a threat, that they’ve actually coerced me in the way that happened when I was a teenager. I spiral and convince myself I’m in danger and have to stop. It’s exhausting. And although it’s gotten a lot better, it still happens. I’ve now found that the times I truly want to have sex are few and far between, and that I need to be honest with myself that most of the time I just can’t fathom the thought. This has made me feel unsexy, uptight and, honestly, boring. It’s been a long journey getting myself to a point where I
know that not being able to have sex is OK, and it certainly doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me. I just need to put myself in a position to have sex when I feel able, and only when I feel able. Secondly, I’ve encouraged my drive (and kept myself sane) through masturbation. It’s been a point of shame for me to think the only person I’d ever be able to have sex with was myself, but I know now that, well, if you only feel safe having sex with one person, there’s no reason it can’t be you. It’s helped my imagination come back to life sexually and in turn made me crave sex with another person. Again, it’s been important not to rush it, and to not feel like the end goal in dealing with trauma should be sex with another person. But for me, that’s what I missed, and so that’s what I wanted back. And, gradually, it has come back. I went years without ever strongly craving sex like I used to. It started to feel like such a chore that it took a toll on my mental health; I began to believe that I would never be ‘normal’ and that those people who had assaulted me had ruined a part of my life. But I’m starting to have more impulses and to see myself as sexually available to other people. I don’t feel like I need to hide it away anymore. It’s still very much a sensitive topic for me, especially given that I used to be that person who spoke about sex more openly than anyone else in the room, but it
feels less like a taboo subject to me now and I’m slowly returning to the way I felt about sex before coming to terms with my trauma. As I dig into the lives of those who open up to me about similar issues, I learn that I’m not alone – that a lot of people in my life have lost interest in sex and when they continue to do it, it’s with reluctance. This has been painful for me to hear, but also stopped me from feeling alone in dealing with my trauma. I know people who were regularly assaulted within a relationship and now struggle to let anyone close to them to the point where they rarely date. I know people who lost interest in sex at a young age because they learned that something awful had happened to a relative of theirs. It scarred them and their view of sex was been tainted until they sought support. And we’ve seen the same themes with all of us – that we can’t get through it without support, and that we can’t force ourselves to be ready. It’s so vital to remember that everyone is different. Everyone deals with things at their own pace. I knew when I was ready to seek help and I didn’t force myself to do it before that. Sex has been an extreme point of stress for me for a long time and when I stopped putting pressure on myself, this was less and less the case.
Rape Crisis Grampian
Rape Crisis Scotland
University of Aberdeen
www.rapecrisisgrampian.co.uk 01224 590932 9am-4pm Mon, Wed, Fri 9am-8pm Tues, Thurs
Freephone 08088 010302 Daily 6pm-midnight
Freephone 116 123 Available 24/7
Help after rape and sexual assault https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/ sexual-health/help-after-rape-andsexual-assault/
Report and Support https://www.abdn.ac.uk/students/ support/report-support.php
life and style | makeup
How Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star pulled off the most successful makeup launch in history by Abbie Morrice
hane Dawson, Jeffree Star and their team launched the Conspiracy Collection on November 1st and had the most successful makeup launch of all time. After an initial launch of millions of products, a small relaunch via presale for 60000 units sold out the main product in 26 minutes. So, why is this collection such a big deal? And how has it been so successful? Shane Dawson has been making a name for himself as a comedy Youtuber for the last ten years and is one of the longest-serving content creators on the platform – now at 23.1 million subscribers. Consistent uploads, collaboration with other Youtube stars and a long list of rumourdriven scandals have kept his name in headlines throughout his career, and this has ensured his fame remained. And so he was a great candidate to team up with a beauty brand and release a cosmetics collection. Celebrity endorsement is by no means specific to this generation; celebrities have been endorsing fragrances, skincare and even food products for almost as long as the concept of a celebrity has existed. The difference now is that brands now cling on to influencers and/or celebrities as their entire marketing strategy. Sian Gabbidon, a contestant on The Apprentice 2018, had a business plan which would see almost the entire £250000 investment go into paying influencers massive amounts of money to wear her swimwear products on social media, because she recognised that that is how many brands are building relevance and sales. Celebrity endorsement in the early 2000s was all about seeing someone on a high platform use a product that you could buy and ‘be like them’. Influencer marketing in the 2010s is all about the bridge between celebrity status and personal connection from audience to influencer. People trust those who open up their lives to the internet and make their audience feel like their friends. And Shane Dawson has viewers that have watched his content for 10 years. He is the perfect candidate to launch a product into record-breaking success using his name as the biggest selling point. Jeffree Star recognised this over a year ago. Jeffree Star’s name has also stayed in headlines throughout his career as a musician, influencer and cosmetics company owner. Jeffree Star Cosmetics is known to the makeup community for its three glaring USPs: 1. A company owned by someone who truly just loves
the artistry and freedom that makeup provides, 2. Products that are original and aren’t more uninspired neutralcoloured products and 3. Products that are more expensive to make than most makeup but are not marked up to create high profit margins. Jeffree Star Cosmetics are known for their high pigment content, gorgeous and durable packaging and very reasonable price point. In its five years, it has never produced a product that has left consumers angry or disappointed. Combine this with Shane’s name in the Youtube community and you already have a collection guaranteed to sell well. Other cosmetics brands have also been relying heavily on influencers to sell their products, despite not necessarily launching anything innovative. Tarte Cosmetics have a lot of high-quality products but have needed the picturesque Bora Bora to feature in the Snapchat and Instagram stories of influencers to sell uninventive palettes. The Conspiracy Collection made sure it latched onto Shane’s brand – using eyeshadow shades named and coloured after recurring themes in Shane’s videos, such as food items, conspiracy theories and phrases of his. The colours are branded on themes that some viewers associate with Shane after up to 10 years of viewing. The two did not stop there. Although knowing that Shane’s fame and JSC’s impeccable reputation would be enough to sell the collection, the two decided to document the entire process in a long-form vlog docu-series – combining the worlds of both individuals. Shane recently broke ground in Youtube video format by switching from regular, shorter uploads to uploading only a few times a year with content that takes months to film and edit. His views have gone up from an average of 10 million views to 20 million views, initially with an exposé of the disastrous result of Tana Mongeau’s ‘Tanacon’ in 2018. His most viewed videos have also hit the 30 and 40 million view mark since adopting this format. What Shane Dawson and his editor Andrew Siwicki achieved was taking the cliff-hanger from standard television and applying it to Youtube videos. Rather than waiting for the day of the week (every week) that a Youtuber tends to upload, Shane built anticipation by letting his audience know what he was filming for months at a time and releasing videos in an episode style. In the series documenting the release of this makeup collection, viewers saw the product come to life from the initial meeting, to the sketching of ideas, to approving and rejecting samples, to the finished product. And days after the collection
was revealed on Shane’s channel, it went on sale. From October 31st – the day before the launch – #ShaneDawsonXJeffreeStar was trending on Twitter in the UK and the US. At the time of writing, the collection has sold over 1.1 million eyeshadow palettes in total and has completely sold out of every product including liquid lipsticks and accessories. When the collection went live at 17:00 GMT, Beauty Bay, Morphe and Jeffree Star Cosmetics websites all crashed. Shopify, the host of JSC website and over a million other stores, completely crashed and left the collection unable to sell out to its millions of waiting consumers due to technical difficulties. It took five hours for the collection to actually sell out, and some consumers were online the entire time, slowly checking out their orders. This record-breaking success is down to much more than creating a product under a famous name and pushing it out to the right audience. The Conspiracy Collection has sold out and literally broken the internet because its campaign utilised the personal connection viewers feel to Youtubers; Twitter users were announcing that they were buying this palette despite
never using makeup before in their life. What Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star achieved with the launch of this makeup collection was the feeling that you wanted to be involved in the launch; you watch the videos, you keep up to date with
them on social media, and when the palette drops, everyone wants to be a part of it. The full Conspiracy Collection will be restocked in early 2020.
photo courtesy of The Occult Mueseum
Tried and tested Shane Dawson X Jeffree Star Cosmetics: The Conspiracy Palette
by Abbie Morrice hrough the madness of the launch of the Conspiracy Collection, I managed to score a Conspiracy Palette and the Mini Controversy palette. My mini palette is yet to arrive (on its way from America) but I have had a chance to play with the Conspiracy Palette and I’m…so impressed. The packaging is just as stunning as it appea-red online. It’s sturdy, sleek and innovative. It feels as th-ough you could travel with it every day and it would with-stand it. The pans for the eyeshadows are not perfectly applied, which I forgive after having seen that that stage of production is done by hand. The pressing on the shades is mostly perfect, although a little less vivid on shade Spiraling. But the selling point for me is the selection of shades this palette offers. When I saw its final layout, I realised I could throw out every eyeshadow palette I own and achieve any eye makeup I wanted just with this palette – and I was sold. The top row alone offers day and evening looks that, because of the generous pan size, could last for months. Its all-neutral shades make it wearable for anyone, and the mattes could be used every day as a basic eyeshadow look. You could add a small amount of Just A Theory to your lid for a softer look, or create a crease with Tanacon and Diet Root Beer then pack Spiraling on your lid for an evening glam look. The first column also offers a look of its own: Conspiracy on the lid blended out with What’s The Tea, Ranch on the brow bone and inner corner and What’s The Tea on the lower lash line. The second column could be done with Pig-Ment on the lid (it comes up darker and brighter than it appears on the pan), blended out with My Pills and Diet Cola in the inner corner. Diet Cola works on the inner corner with any combination of these shades because it catches light well without being drastically lighter than the rest of the look. Just A Theory would also achieve this highlighter affect on darker skin tones. The bold mattes – Pig-Ment, Food Videos (which has a slight shimmer), Cheese Dust, Flaming Hot, What’s The Tea and Not A Fact are all gorgeous shades which can create an entire look on their own. Pack a light amount onto the lid and lower lash line, then blend out gently with a soft fluffy brush and these shades will all deliver as a full eye makeup look. Food Videos comes up more sheer
photos courtes y of Ab bie Mo rrice
life and style | makeup than the others and has a lot of fallout, so use a flatter brush and very carefully apply a generous amount of the shade if you want a bold yellow. However, it is also very buildable and looks lovely as a subtle yellow as part of a look. Same goes for What’s The Tea, but the rest are very pigmented and so just a small amount of product is needed. My Ride’s Here is a fantastic true black that really does not need a lot either; I used a small amount on my lower lash line and blended it out and ended up with a much darker look than I intended. Use a tiny amount if you’re deepening a shadow or a more generous amount if you want it to dominate the look. The bold metallics are…stunning. The pigment is unbelievable and it goes on to the eye beautifully. I can never get a shimmery shade to create a sharp curve following my lid, but I found it quite easy with Illuminatea and Conspiracy on a small rounded flat brush. For a very grungy but glam look, any combination of Food Videos and Conspiracy on the lid will work because of the green undertones in both of them. Then, with a medium-sized fluffy brush, apply Food Videos on the undereye from the lash line and generously blend it right down to where the bag of your eye is/would be. Then use a small amount of Conspiracy on the lash line and a tiny amount of My Ride’s Here and blend out until there are no harsh lines. Add more Food Videos on the lowest portion of your lower line to ensure the yellow still pops. If you are an expert blender, you could use a tiny amount of Cheese Dust to create a more mustard-y yellow rather than a neon shade. In trying to be artsy, I took advantage of the yellow, orange and red to create a flame-inspired look on one of my eyes. I started with a small amount of Ranch on my lid, but in hindsight I would recommend creating a base with concealer for this look (Makeup Revolution is the ultimate for this job). This is because the white base washed out Food Videos even more whereas concealer would have helped set the pigment in place. Using a very small fluffy brush, I applied Food Videos all along my crease to ensure the next shades would blend into the yellow neatly. Then in the middle of my crease, I used Cheese Dust and blended outwards so as not to hide the yellow. Then on the outer crease I attempted a downwards flick with Flaming Hot, which is a stunning pinkbased red. After that, I used concealer on a tiny flat brush to sharpen the bottom of the lines and applied Ranch on my lid. You could put more of ranch on your brow bone, but I would recommend a separate highlighter or keeping it matte. On my lower lash line, I used a small amount of My Ride’s Here applied in a straight line and used a fluffy brush covered in Food Videos to buff it out. A tiny amount of Conspiracy also works here if you want to avoid the undereye looking too dark and tired. Diet Cola looked nice on the inner corner of this look, but again I think it would look super cool to just leave it all matte plus the sheen of Ranch. In an attempt at a night-out glam look, I first shaded out a crease with Tanacon, then Diet Root Beer, then a small amount
of Not A Fact. This was tricky (for me) so I used some Pig-Ment to help blend Not A Fact into the other shades. I then cut my crease and used Illuminatea all over my lid (which is just to die for) and used a small amount of Conspiracy on the middle of my lid to create dimension with the metallics. For the bottom, I used a generous amount of Pig-Ment and a small amount of Not A Fact along the lash line and blended it out, and the combination is nothing short of gorgeous. Again, to avoid the under-eye from becoming heavy with matte shades, I added a tiny amount of Trisha to help the pink shades catch the light. Finally, although I didn’t manage to incorporate it into my trial, I want to give special mention to the shade Sleep Paralysis. It is a stunning gun metal metallic shade with a lavender shift and I want to wear it all day every day. The lavender shift means that if you blend some Pig-Ment into it, you can bring out the pink-y purple-y tones and create a flirty night-out eye look in literally seconds. All of the shades have a fair amount of fallout so be sure to keep your dust cover for your mirror and tap the excess off your brush. Other than that, I have no complaints about this palette and just want to keep trying different combinations. Bring on the arrival of my Mini Controversy palette! Best Shades: Sleep Paralysis, Illuminatea, My Ride’s Here Worst Shades: Food Videos, What’s The Tea (only for lack of pigment on application – the shades are lovely) Best Combinations: Food Videos + My Ride’s Here, Diet Cola + Ranch, Sleep Paralysis + anything
Last edition's crossword solution:
Down 1. Op-ed
5. American Dream
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS?
Across 7. Upland
Look out for the solutions in our next issue!
Across 7. Murderer, assassin (6)
16. Loyal, unswerving (7)
8. Arranged in several layers or levels (6)
18. Chemical compound sometimes used as a bleaching agent in hair bleach
9. Plant-based protein often used as an alternative to dairy (4)
19. A toothed rotating machine part (4)
1. A durable material often used as a floor covering (4)
12. Bearing flowers, decorated with a floral pattern (8)
2. A person who has not yet decided which political party to vote for (8, 5)
14. City in the central Netherlands (7)
3. To widen (7)
17. Phropetess in ancient Greek literature and mythology (5) 20. Related to, possessing similar qualities (4)
10. Rotating dynamo coil (8)
21. Only, nothing more than (6)
4. A postage label (5)
11. Member of the police (7)
22. Hooded sweatshirt (6)
5. General practitioner of dentistry (6, 7)
13. Fine-grained metamorphic rock often used for roofing (5) 15. (British) A large amount (5)
6. Affected by neurosis (8)
Coordinated cooperation between dolphins by Chelsea Ward
Learning how pairs of dolphins can coordinate their cooperation around a shared task
ithin most social species cooperation is a key skill that has been proven multiple times to benefit not only the group, but the individual as well. Humans are an excellent example of how cooperation can allow a species to thrive, but in recent years we have been improving our understanding of how cooperation has evolved in other species, such as primates, canines, lions, and, as mentioned here, dolphins. It is well known that dolphins form complex social groups, known as pods, which vary and split over time, with new individuals constantly filtering in and out. Unfortunately, as with many aquatic species, cooperation within dolphins is not as well studied as it perhaps should be, when considering terrestrial species with similar levels of cognition or intelligence. It has previously been observed that dolphins may actually be able to understand their partner’s role in completing a cooperative task, although due to their unique physiology testing this using conventional mechanisms has proven to be challenging. Recently, a study was carried out by researchers at Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute, Kindai University and Kagoshima City Aquarium to investigate
how bottlenose dolphins coordinate their cooperative behaviour. Their setup for testing this cooperation was the Hirata Rope Pulling test which involves having the two dolphins pull on opposite ends of the rope to release a food reward for them both. In the test itself the researchers would first send out one dolphin, the initiator, and
It has previously been observed that dolphins may actually be able to understand their partner’s role in completing a cooperative task, although due to their unique physiology testing this using conventional mechanisms has proven to be challenging. would then send out the second dolphin, the follower. What they found was that the initiator would wait for the follower to reach the task before starting to try and complete it. The follower also learned how to coordinate their own swimming speed
to match that of the initiator. What this shows is that the dolphins understand how the cooperative actions of another dolphin impact their completion of the task. This same test method has been used in quite a few different species, such as chimpanzees, dogs, and elephants. This process of the initiators and followers coordinating their behaviour has already been observed in both chimpanzees and orangutans, so it in itself is not unique to dolphins. What is unique, however, is the flexibility that dolphins seem to show when completing these cooperative tasks, adjusting their behaviour, swimming and position depending on where their partner is. It is very likely that this level of coordinated cooperation has evolved in conjunction with natural behaviours that the dolphins perform, such as synchronized swimming. In dolphins this is a behaviour that is closely linked to social bonding within a group, something that is important when the group structure changes frequently. This ability to cooperate in a coordinated manner appears to be key in building relationships and bonds in a tight knit social group. Eventually, this may even lead us to better understand how cooperation has evolved in mammals and how it continues to influence social groupings to this day.
Photo courtesy of Wynand Uys (Unsplash)
Prolonged exposure to blue light may accelerate aging Recent research has suggested that blue light may cause retinal cell and brain neuron damage, as well as shorten lifespans in fruit flies Photo courtesy of Pixabay
by Natalia Dec
ew research conducted at Oregon State University proposes that blue light and, more specifically, blue wavelengths produced by diodes, damage not only your retinas, but also brain cells. The research has been published in Aging and Mechanisms of Disease and involved the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, which shares some of its developmental and cellular mechanisms with humans and other animals. Jaga Giebultowicz, OSU College of Science researcher, led the investigation and collaboration, which examined how flies responded to daily 12-hour long exposure to blue light from LEDs, which is similar to the blue light commonly found in our phones and tablets. Some flies were subjected to a daily cycle of 12 hours in blue light and 12 hours in darkness, while others were kept in total darkness or light with blue wavelengths filtered out. It was found that those exposed to blue light had shorter lifespans, as well as showing retinal cell and brain neuron damage, and impaired locomotion. Certain flies used in the experiment did not develop eyes due to mutations, and even those showed brain neuron and locomotion damage, therefore suggesting that one does not have to look at blue light in order to be harmed by it. "The fact that the light was accelerating aging in the flies was very surprising to us at first," says Giebultowicz. "We'd measured
expression of some genes in old flies, and found that stress-response, protective genes were expressed if flies were kept in light. We hypothesized that light was regulating those genes. Then we started asking, what is it in the light that is harmful to them, and we looked at the spectrum of light. It was very clear cut that although light without blue slightly shortened their lifespan, just blue light alone shortened their lifespan very dramatically."
Eileen Chow, co-author of the study, notes that technological advances and progression on medicine may work together and, in the future, address the harmful effects of blue light if further research proves to be applicable to humans. Giebultowicz mentions that natural light is crucial to the regulation of our bodies’ circadian rhythm. However, she says that "there is evidence suggesting that increased exposure to artificial light is a risk factor for sleep and circadian disorders.” "And with the prevalent use of LED lighting and device displays, humans are subjected to increasing amounts of light
in the blue spectrum since commonly used LEDs emit a high fraction of blue light. But this technology, LED lighting, even in most developed countries, has not been used long enough to know its effects across the human lifespan,” Giebultowicz continues, highlighting that flies, if allowed, will avoid blue light. "We're going to test if the same signaling that causes them to escape blue light is involved in longevity.” Eileen Chow, co-author of the study, notes that technological advances and progression on medicine may work together and, in the future, address the harmful effects of blue light if further research proves to be applicable to humans. "Human lifespan has increased dramatically over the past century as we've found ways to treat diseases, and at the same time we have been spending more and more time with artificial light," she says. "As science looks for ways to help people be healthier as they live longer, designing a healthier spectrum of light might be a possibility, not just in terms of sleeping better but in terms of overall health." Meanwhile, researchers say there are certain things we can all do to minimise exposure to blue light without complete withdrawal. Blue light glasses, or glasses with amber lenses, may help protect against retinal damage, while laptops, phones and other electronic devices can be set to filter blue wavelengths.
Leader of the Islamic State dies upon US raid
by Isti Miskolczy
S sources have confirmed that after several years of chasing, American special forces have located and attacked Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The leader of the extremist jihadist terrorist group called ‘Islamic State’, reportedly blew himself and three of his children up before US soldiers could have captured him. The world’s most wanted terrorist, who is said to be responsible for thousands of deaths and millions of people suffering, was hiding in a ‘safe house’ in a northwest province of Syria, called Idlib. Retrospectively, it turned out not to be as ‘safe’ as once hoped; reporters said that US forces managed to overcome massive gunfire, traps and terrorists with explosive vests before reaching and cornering al-Baghdadi. Baghdadi, however, wearing an explosive vest himself too, managed to detonate the bomb, killing not only himself and his sons, but also the whole tunnel he was hiding in, before the US soldiers could have arrested him. The forces recovered and identified the remains of his body under the ruins of the collapsed tunnel soon after the operation. Later, DNA tests have confirmed that the leader of the Islamic State was indeed amongst the victims of the operation. Six enemy fighters were killed during the operation, US officials added. US President, Donald Trump, was following the operation from the White House and announced the death of al-Baghdadi the next morning. He said, “He died like a dog, he died like a coward.” The president also praised the success of the
Photo courtesy of US Army, via Wikicommons
n October, thousands of people marched down the streets of Santiago and the surrounding cities to protest against the raise of subway fares. There was some vandalizing, including metro stations and even setting an electrical company building on fire. What started as a student protest catalysed into countrywide marches. The demonstration is believed to be one of the largest in decades, drawing comparisons to the protests in 1988 against Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship. Armed forces were mobilized on the streets for the first time in almost 30 years. Many of the protesters are now calling for a new constitution, since people are furious over inequality and the nearly complete privatisation of healthcare and education, the high cost of public services such as transport, on top of low wages and poor pensions. Chile is believed to be one of South America's most stable countries, it has one of the highest levels of economic inequality in the developed world. Sebastian Pinera, the Chilean President said that he had ‘heard the message’ of demonstrators. He has however declared a state of emergency in a televised address to the nation on Friday the 15th of October. He also declared that the government was ‘at war with a powerful enemy, relentless,
How Lithuania is trying to fight Russian fake news
by Sarah-Marie Thomas
Protests in Chile
by Floriane Ramfos
operation and highlighted that all American troops were out of harm’s way, except for a military dog, who, thereafter, has been awarded a medal of honour for his service and injury – even though the relating picture on Trump’s twitter has been proven to be fake. Meanwhile, Turkey claims that they have captured al-Baghdadi’s sister, wife, and brother-in-law also in northwest Syria. Thereupon, some say that the IS seems to be declining and losing many territories. The death of the leader was definitely a victory for the US and Donald Trump. However, critics argue that despite their massive losses, IS remains a serious security threat in the Middle East.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
that does respect anyone or anything’, which indicates that armed forces will continue to try to contain the population by all means necessary. Interior Minister Andres Chadwick and Sebastian Pinera have been heavily criticised over the handling of the protests, which have seen at least 19 people killed, and more than 3,100 detained. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed their concern over the government’s response to the unrest, and have condemned an ‘excessive use of force’ against the population. "I hope this will be an opportunity to review the big injustices they have never addressed," said Cristin Correa, a senior expert at the International Centre for Transitional Justice. ‘There needs to be open and sincere dialogue by all actors concerned to help resolve this situation, including a profound examination of the wide range of socioeconomic issues underlying the current crisis," said Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights and two-time Chilean president, in a statement. The protests are currently still ongoing, and demonstrations of solidarity with have flourish across the globe, notably in Auckland, New Zealand, on the 27th of October.
ithuania has introduced a new software to take action against Russian fake news and propaganda in the country. The software, ‘Demaskuok’ (engl. debunk), has been developed by Delfi, which is the biggest online news portal in the Baltic States, in coöperation with Google. The huge scale of Russian disinformation was at the origin of this novel initiative by Lithuania’s military. ‘I believe in the 21st century we have to be ready not only to fight in kinetic wars, but in information wars, too’, claims Sgt Ceponis, who is part of the Lithuanian army’s strategic communications department. Russian-language news about NATO in the Baltic States and Poland are seen to be a real security threat to those countries, which is why the Lithuanian military has always kept a close eye on the most popular news stories in Russia and how they spread on social media. This fake news includes, for example, stories about Nato troops starting violent fights or testing biological weapons. What is novel about Demaskuok is the fact that it is based on close cooperation between the media, the military, and the civil society. But how does the software work exactly? Instead of solely relying on the so-called ‘2G strategy’ (where the Gs stand for Google and gut feeling), the software
scans up to 20,000 new items in Russian and Lithuanian media per day and flags them with key words. The flagged articles are carefully read and analysed by thousands of volunteers who will then rate the potential fake news threat. After having identified a suspicious news article, the software tracks down its online history in order to detect its origin. The volunteers who analyse the articles have expert knowledge on the content of the articles, and add comments to them before they will reach journalists. In response to ‘Russian trolls’, these volunteers call themselves ‘elves’. As much as Lithuania claims to now be at the frontline in this cyber-conflict with Russia, criticism seems inevitable. One of the main concerns is, of course, the extent of suppression of news content, be it actual fake news or undesirable political opinions. For instance, it has already come to light that Lithuania’s complicity in the Holocaust has been flagged and labelled as fake news. The risk resulting from those actions is that journalists feel pressured to censor themselves and stick to one single accepted historic narrative. Moreover, Western European countries are far more hesitant to involve their militaries with the media, and emphasise that this software might not be the best solution for all European member states. Photo courtesy of Carlos Figueroa
Baudrillard on Banksy: death of the street protest
by Dillan-James Carter
ool Killer or The Insurrection of Signs’ was a postmodern essay written by Jean Baudrillard in 1975. Using a post-structuralist model based upon Saussure’s linguistic semiotic model, Baudrillard writes about a series of graffiti which appeared during the early 1970s, which he argued challenged the city’s operational signs in a display of radical individualism. Baudrillard’s work is seen as a key part of the postmodernist movement within social theory, however, the influence of that movement has diminished in recent years and is now seen as more of a product of its time than anything else. Although, that does not mean that his theory has become redundant, rather, its impact and legacy have changed the way we understand society, the urban city and graffiti. Kool Killer used Baudrillard’s simulations theory to show the value of graffiti in the 1970s New York. The graffiti, according to Baudrillard, acted as a radical individualist statement by those who felt alienated, which challenged the uniformity and accepted ‘metanarratives’ of the city. This work had lasting effects on the way in which we understand the aim of the graffitist - it challenged the accepted view that graffiti was just an act of vandalism, viewing it rather as a form of artistic vigilantism. It could be argued that the following implementations made by the New York City Council (NYCC) to tackle crime (which graffiti was lumped in with) were attempted to keep the narratives of the city safe by hiding the inequalities within the ghettos compared to the ‘white city’. The broken windows theory of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, which aimed to tackle ‘urban blight’, saw the creation of the Anti-Graffiti Task Force in 1995, which, if we understand the value of graffiti in Kool Killer terms, is not hard to see as a form of ‘sign secret police’. However, the assumptions that Baudrillard makes do allow his work to be heavily criticised. Some critics, like Philo and Miller, have argued that the reliance of the linguistic model to understand
reality allows the boundaries of what is fact and what is fiction to be blurred allowing for a very abstract conception of society which bears no relevance to the real world. They also argue that Baudrillard is too pessimistic in his view of human nature; people can understand that media representations have an underlying agenda - they can tell the authentic from media buzz. The work of Killer Kool itself could be seen as making a few assumptions on the intent of the graffitist as a form of bourgeois observation. It could be argued that this in fact wasn’t a radical strike at the city of symbols but rather a criminal outlet and that Baudrillard has given them far too much credit by fitting these ‘symbols’ within the simulation theory framework. Today, we see the combination of the city arts project and the 1970s graffitist with the re-emergence of graffiti in the 21st century city. Street art combines the message of the individualist graffitists with the skill of those hired to work on projects like the city wall project, to create art which is both impactful and beautiful. A key figure who represents this new movement is Banksy, the anonymous artist who has sprayed urban environments with messages aimed to challenge the accepted features of modern life like capitalism and surveillance. However, it could be argued that graffiti itself has lost its edgy impact as it has become more mainstream - The NUART festival in Aberdeen highlights this point. It has moved from the abnormal to normal. In conclusion, though postmodernism as a movement and a focus in social theory has reached its peak, Baudrillard’s work has had an everlasting effect in the way we understand graffiti. His essay transformed graffiti from a simple act of vandalism to a stark outcry from an ignored population, and since then, graffiti has sought to encapsulate the message of the 1970s graffitists, with those like Banksy calling into question the systems of our modern society. However, one could argue that the prevalence of Banksy’s work and the way it has become commercialised has turned his spray paint protest into nothing more than another simulacrum.
Photo courtesy of US National Archive (Grafitti in New York)
On Ken Loach’s “Sorry we missed you” and the gig economy by Vicky Kluzik
e can see them everywhere: food delivery drivers on their bikes, stressed postmen knocking at doors, and your grandma’s carer from a lower-income country. Are gig workers the ‘new industrial reserve army’, as Karl Marx once famously quoted? Going to the cinema will update your image of the flexible work of Deliveroo and others. After his highly acclaimed sociopolitical drama, ‘I, Daniel Blake’, Ken Loach released another strikingly timely tragedy. In his new Cannes-celebrated film ‘Sorry we missed you’, the 83-year old director dives into the reality of working in the so-called ‘gig economy’, the peak of our contemporary neoliberal work culture. Set in Newcastle, it tells the story of a forty-something couple, Ricky (Kris Hitchen) and his wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood), who both depend on zero-hour contracts to support their young family. One working as a home carer and the other in a parcel-delivery company, they experience the devastating impacts of lacking employment stability, indebtedness and the vicious circle of insecurity. To better understand the ambiguities of the gig economy, it is useful to turn to the research. Are Ken Loach and his screenwriter Paul Lawerty depicting the reality of a gig worker’s life? Turning to scholarship, the attention towards an increasing informalisation of work isn’t new. What is unprecedented is the scale on which platforms operate and take control (and ownership) over our lives. Nick Srnicek, in his instant classic ‘Platform Capitalism’, outlines how the historical conjunction of crises paved the way for Silicon Valley Zeitgeist to infiltrate our everyday lives. In the research, platforms can be understood as social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, or as digital labour platforms, such as Uber, Deliveroo, Airbnb and Care. com. These platforms serve as orchestrating socio-technological architectures, a new business model which is based on the extraction of personal data, algorithmic
control, governed by user agreements and reinforced through reputation systems which allow for discriminatory practices for vulnerable groups (‘it’s the algorithm who decides’). What is crucial is that platforms organize non-standard employment (parttime, zero-hours, on-demand) within which many workers are not considered to be employees but ‘independent contractors’ without being entitled to sick pay, health insurance or holidays. In ‘Sorry we missed you’, the struggles of gig workers become visible. And it hurts. Their precarious living situation clearly affects their mental health and the relationship to their children. This ‘destabilization of life through employment’ is empirically grounded in findings from a study of the University of Hertfordshire which shows that gig work is mostly occasional ‘top-up’ work, it is therefore not accurate to speak of platform workers as a specific kind of worker distinct from the overall workforce. Consequently, they call this phenomenon ‘patchwork livelihood’, as people need to combine different jobs to pay their bills - a similar living reality that Abbie and Ricky are confronted with. The story of the film is based on the true story of the death of Don Lane, a courier for DPD, who collapsed and died aged 53 in January 2018 after working through illness in the Christmas delivery rush. Workers, policy and customers should rethink the social contract of the future of work to avoid these tragedies becoming the norm. Across the world, workers don’t accept this condition. They are on the rise - despite the absence of a traditional trade union support, in many European cities, workers are organising themselves and putting strikes forward, as for instance Deliveroo drivers in London and Bristol. They oppose ‘slaveroo’ practices and demand security in their employment relationship. Workers’ resistance and bargaining powers are still possible in the age of algorithmic control.
Photo courtesy of f Wild Punch Production
In defence of jury trial Why abolishing juries is dangerous for democracy
by Derek Gardiner
he very foundations of the Scottish judicial system are under attack from the recommendation in the Carloway Review that the ancient requirement of corroboration be abolished, to the suggestion that in certain cases the jury should be abolished. While these proposed reforms may have the best intentions of victims at hand, they put at risk the rights of the accused and the protections that have been in place for centuries. The right to trial by jury, and the adversarial system that goes with it, is something unique to these islands; the European Convention on Human Rights makes no mention to a right to trial by jury, but the right to trial by a jury of one’s peers was established in England in 1215 by the Magna Carta. That same year, Pope Innocent III introduced the inquisitorial system into canonical law, through the Fourth Lateran Council. In Scotland, however, King Alexander II retained the adversarial system where both sides would present their arguments to a neutral arbiter and men from the neighbourhood who knew the truth of the matter. While the jury went through many changes over the centuries, by the time of the institutional writer Baron Hume, it was settled practice that the jurors were to number 15, with a simple majority required to convict and had three verdicts open to them, guilty, not proven and not guilty. The jury has remained one of the cornerstones against wrongful conviction to this day. While it has never quite been held as sacred in Scotland as it is in England, it still remains one of the foundations of democracy itself. Many may argue that laymen as jurors do not understand the complexities of the standards of evidence, but if that is the case, it is more to do with
bad explanations on the part of the judge than on the jurors. As in an election for parliament, some jurors will have a better understanding of the issues involved than others; the same is true with voters, does that mean we should abolish democracy? A jury is perhaps one of the purest expressions of democracy we have; rather than an unelected judge being entrusted to pronounce verdicts, it is left to the ordinary citizens to do so. This is a great exercise of people power and it is something to be celebrated, not abandoned. It has also been argued that trial by jury has led to trials being decided wrongly. This is especially the case with the “Not Proven” verdict which allows jurors who are unsure of the guilt of the accused to acquit, if the evidence is not satisfactory. It is a reflection of our “beyond reasonable doubt” standard of proof in criminal cases and an insurance policy against conviction on insufficient evidence. To echo the words of Blackstone: “It is better that ten guilty men escape than one innocent suffer.” Juries have also been accused of being synonymous with “preconceived notions of justice”, but it is the principles of justice that have guided our judiciary since its inception; if we abandon them, then we abandon all principles, and the courts cease to be places where justice is administered, according to the rule of law. Juries allow people’s natural sense of what’s right and wrong and the moral conscience of society to be the guiding light in deciding whether or not those who deviate from society’s moral norms deserve to be punished. Democracy is not expressed by one election every five years where you cast a vote for an MP who, nine times out of ten, does not represent the views of his/her constituents. It is through institutions such as the jury where the people can hold the courts to account on behalf of the principles of justice.
Photo courtesy of voigtländer Vitoret D
Photo courtesy of Eric Molinsky
Tory trial and tribulation A brief look at Tories trips and trip-ups
Photo courtesy of Matt Cardy
by Finlay Macleay
his year has been far from a good one for the Conservative Party, so let’s review it. With the end of the year approaching my intention was to construct a short list of Tory blunders and review them in a light-hearted tone. However, before I begin it is important to address the comments made just days ago by two members of parliament to which casual discussion does not apply. While on live radio Jacob ReesMogg suggested that he would have had the ‘common sense’ to escape Grenfell Tower before the blaze spread. Andrew Bridgen then defended his comments, implying that Rees-Mogg is more intelligent than most people, disregarding the possibility that factors such as, fear for their lives as well as others around them, may have influenced their ability to respond to such a situation. And while we should keep such comments in mind, I will now delve into some less serious examples of Tory indiscretion. First up on the list is Michael Gove admitting to having taken cocaine. One suggestion regarding his admittance was that he hoped to come across more relatable. But even class A drugs couldn’t do that for Michael Gove, heroine maybe but not cocaine. The only thing relatable about him is his hypocrisy. We have all been guilty of it in the past, but at least our hypocrisy doesn’t result in people actually being found guilty. During the wake of his admittance, he oversaw the banning of multiple teachers for the use of drugs. As the phrase goes: you are who you condemn. Not sure that’s entirely right but it’s at least applicable. Which is surprisingly similar to his policy on drug use in professional industry. Second on the list is their consistently awkward use of social media. During the Tory leadership contest each candidate had their own hashtag. One of which was
#HastobeHunt which if you hadn’t guessed was adopted by Jeremy Hunt who incredibly enough was Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport. However, you should know that he wasn’t in the position at the time of the hashtag’s use. He appears to be one of very few people capable of lowering their understanding of something after a decade more experience with it. Third on the list is Boris Johnson’s response when asked to recount an occasion on which he put self-interest aside for the benefit of the country. After a few seconds of unintelligible noise, he said that he could have made more money by not being a fulltime politician. Then, possibly after realising this reply didn’t go down well, he produced the more cultured answer of how he is unable to finish the works of Shakespeare. Although, I find his obvious concern with personal income confusing; between 2015 and 2016, he voted eight out of nine times, in favour of reducing corporation tax. The same corporations that produce minimum wage jobs which often provide no real opportunity for workers to progress in. Proclaiming that to be selfless lets us know what kind of a leader and individual he really is. Last on the list has to be the recycling of the October 31 coins that the Royal Mint produced to commemorate the UK’s departure from the EU. The Brexit deadline was a sure thing according to some, and in early September Boris Johnson stated that he “won’t be deterred by anybody” from leaving on October 31. His optimism was clearly appreciated, as it wasn’t just a few coins that were produced - 3 million were set to be put into circulation. I guess I could call it a shiny setback, but that’s more Boris’ style; reducing the perceived severity of his actions through speech and writing, a common theme throughout his party which I have no doubt will continue. Particularly with Brexit negotiations forecast to continue for 5 to 15 years by recently retired house speaker John Bercow.
DISCLAIMER All opinions expressed in the opine section are those of the authors of the articles and do not necessarily represent views held by The Gaudie, AUSA, or any company which advertises in The Gaudie.
Harming horses in the public eye Riding stables need higher standards
by Paige Woodend
orse riding has been a hobby and sport for hundreds of years, for both the privileged and less well-off, and I’m sure many people have fond memories of being treated with a trip to the local riding stables. An exciting day out for children who gazed up at the massive beasts with awe and unfortunately, rose-tinted glasses. Tiny, un-seeing eyes, buzzing with joy at the prospect of sitting high and mighty upon a great steed, as story-book characters do, spine tingling as the beautiful horse they were assigned nuzzled a carrot from their hand. Riding stables are one of the few things in which I have heard people complain about the ethical issues they come with, often trapped in a stable far too small, only released to be bridled up and lumped with a child that knows nothing of them, pulling at the metal bit, screaming with joy, and rubbing them up the wrong way – both metaphorically and literally. The welfare of cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and pets are all made fundamentally clear to us as we grow up; we know what to look out for and avoid but riding stables seem to be mostly glossed over, and rarely questioned, but, thinking about it, the issues become abundantly clear. Aside from a stable much smaller than horses would and should be used to – and I’m not talking about your personal pony being kept in, away from the cold weather at night, I’m looking at a much more commercial level, but no less common – they have limited social interaction. Sure, they can see the other horses but how often are they left in a field to kick and play and roll around in the muddy grass? Oh no, if they’re going to need to be saddled up multiple times a day, all that mud just isn’t feasible, and play bites from other horses just wouldn’t look good. Horses are huge, intelligent creatures,
easily trained for a reason, they require all the entertainment in the world, and walking in a straight line, or being led round an arena on a lead can’t be enough for them. How often have you seen salt licks or puzzles, “enrichment” as it’s technically termed, in a stall? It’s easy to think I’m just another one of these overly-dramatic characters with no evidence to back this unease up, but having studied animals for three years, and having grown up around horses both commercially and personally, the symptoms are all there. Stereotypies are repetitive behaviours with no clear function or goal, performed by most animals when in a state of boredom or stress, as a sort of coping mechanism. In horses, these include weaving (rocking their head from side to side, usually over a stall door), cribbing (resting their teeth on a hard surface and arching their neck muscles), and stall-walking (fairly self-explanatory as pacing). All of these are surprisingly common. Weaving is often caused by separation anxiety rather than just boredom, and while some of the methods to prevent it, such as ensuring the sufferer has eye-contact with other horses at all times, seem reasonable, anti-weaving grills are also publicly available to buy - these are simply a V shaped grill to put in the stall door, so they are physically unable to do it - only elevating stress levels. Equally, if not more obscene, anti-cribbing collars are also available, to stop the horse craning its neck, although if they choose to do it anyway, this can cut into the bottom of their neck only causing more and more issues. I’m not calling for the abolition of riding stables; as so few would be with me, it’s basically pointless. But I am calling for higher welfare standards, checks and management of such facilities to prevent even one horse in twenty from suffering with mental torment.
AUSA needs to listen
AUSA Refuses to recognise Aberdeen Student Climate Network as a Student Group by ASCN
or those who don’t know, ASCN was set up by a group of students who were inspired by the powerful and direct protests made by young people against climate inaction across the world. We believe that youth-led climate action can be used as an effective influencing tool for national and global environmental policies in order to prevent the catastrophic effects of climate change. ASCN has a multifaceted approach to environmental activism, connecting with students through discussion groups, social media, awareness campaigns and demonstrations throughout the year. ASCN is deeply disappointed with AUSA. It has been six months since we started trying to be recognised as a Student Group and despite having met all the criteria stated in the Association's byelaws, they are reluctant to accept us. In fact, they have even failed to give us a proper explanation for their refusal, arguing instead that we should be a Student Society, when we don’t meet the criteria to be one because ASCN does not see itself as an integral part of the Association (Byelaw 3.2.i.). ASCN is eligible to be a student group because:
(1) ASCN has a broader appeal than a society. ASCN is a collective of young people organising themselves to take action against climate change. (2) Climate emergency is a topic affecting all students as it is the biggest threat to our generation and humanity in general. (3) ASCN is an independent group which gets support from the SYS (Scottish Youth Strike) (Byelaw 9.i.c). (4) ASCN wishes to stay financially autonomous and does not need funding from AUSA (Byelaw 9.i.c). (5) ASCN must be allowed to critically engage with AUSA’s efforts towards policy changes concerning the climate crisis (Byelaw 9.i.c). (6) ASCN is not a political group such as Labour students etc. because whilst it demands political action, climate change is a scientific apolitical topic (Byelaw 9.i.a). (7) ASCN is a student-led collective (Byelaw 9.ii.b). (8) ASCN provides an opportunity for students to express and face the biggest threat to our generation, it offers a group to speak to others affected, it is a source of learning and a space for non-violent action (Byelaw 9.ii.e).
Photo courtesy of Kalyan Shah
Following morals Why is it so hard to stick to our beliefs?
by Penny McArthur
Photo courtesy of Fajrul Falah
veryone has vast, varying beliefs covering topics of race, culture, superstitions, welfare, veganism, abortion – and the list goes on. From tiny everyday things, like when you like to wake up, to what you feel comfortable eating, to bigger issues like who you’re going to vote for, we all differ and even change our opinions on things with enough supporting evidence. I’m not here to change or question your long-held beliefs, I’m sure you’re glad to hear, but I am going to convince try and convince you to stick to them. Like changing an answer last minute and getting it wrong, nothing is more uncomfortable than following along with something you don’t actually agree with, and nothing hurts more than the negative consequences that may follow. Children aren’t nice. We’ve all seen, been, or been on the wrong end of bullies at some point in our lives, and no doubt we regret it now. But did you regret it then? It’s often
all too easy to laugh along when someone is made fun of, especially if you aren’t ‘technically’ involved, falling on the excuse of just being a spectator. Being witness to a crime and not coming forward, however, is still a crime. And is the social factor really a big enough influence to justify this behaviour when you could have just kept quiet? Social pressure is a big topic in psychology, fuelling outrageous behaviour encouraged by drinking, drugs, even leading to partaking in riots such as that in London in 2011 where businesses were burned, buildings were looted, and people mugged. Almost 4000 people were arrested, over 600 of these, actually charged. All because of mob-mentality incited by few, giving rise to many – when many of these people would likely have preferred to stay home, have been safe, and may not have even known what they were behaving so atrociously for. They did it because they could. Because the size of the group meant individual consequences were far less significant then they would have been. Because they could
hide behind a hood and go home to their families like nothing had happened. Now, I’m not implying that every one of us would partake in anything so severe, but the idea is there, and it’s a relatable one. An experiment by Asch on conformity tested a group (all actors bar one) that were shown three lines (A, B and C), and asked to compare it to another line (D) and choose the one that was the same size. All of the actors prior to the participant said line C, when the answer was made to be very obviously B, and as a result the participant also said C, fully knowing he was wrong. When asked the same question alone however, he said B, thus showing the powerful effects of social pressure and the ultimate fear of social isolation. I argue that this isn’t enough to disregard your morals and knowledge for. Yes, you may be wrong some of the time, but I at least prize those characters in movies and books that stand up against the crowd for what they believe in. And they are the people that are remembered. Not the sheep.
In defence of nap stations
You didn’t meet the right person at the wrong time Why soulmates are a fallacious ideology
by Bathsheba Everdeen
met someone about two months ago. Handsome, self-assured, charming and intelligent, he shared my interests and my passions. I was ecstatic to find out that we had both spent weeks pouring over old English classic novels to find the same lifealtering moments in the text. We both spent our weekends watching boxing matches, and we both shared a love-hate relationship with nutrition and a strict (his more than mine) gym schedule. So, one day, when he asked me to lunch, I thought, ‘This is it, my person, someone I have all my loves and passions in common with! It’s wonderful!’ We got lunch a few times a week for the next few weeks, while he took his break at the job he worked. We chatted about travel, philosophy, art, literature, our passions, our work and our social habits. It was a dynamic which clicked unlike anything else I’d had the pleasure of experiencing before. Suddenly, one day, he sat down and sighed. ‘Life’s a bit difficult at the moment. I just moved flat, and now I’m living with a friend of mine…’ I nodded. Moving is pretty tiring. ‘And my girlfriend.’ Oh. So, I didn’t see that one coming… Here is where the social conditioning kicks in. If you have any familiarity with romantic comedies, especially those cheesy Christmas films, or any sort of experience reading a classic English love triangle, then you will also be familiar with the one undying trope which we have all consumed: Man loves woman. Woman loves man. There is, however, an obstacle, and that obstacle is that either man or woman, at some point in the narrative, chooses someone that is wrong for them. Oh, dear. This is where the trouble begins. Because this “wrong” person’s true function is to operate as the roadblock, the dramatic tension, the seed of doubt in the will-theywon’t-they mapped road to these two as soul-mates. It naturally follows, therefore, that if we are to root for our heroine and our hero, then this obstacle cannot be rooted for - we have to all be on the same page, of course. So, what to do but make the obstacle either two-dimensional, unfaithful, a liar, a Photo courtesy of Jin
cheat, a dastardly scoundrel or a bitch with a heart of ice? We hear ourselves crying to the screen, ‘“No, you’re not meant to be together! You should be with him, with her, not with each other!’ So, what happens? If this is Thomas Hardy or Charlotte Bronte, the villainous other woman or man is put to death, so our heroine and hero may finally unite. If it is a romantic comedy, then the stone-cold woman, or the inattentive man, are dumped, humiliated, taken out of the picture, left at the altar. You get the general picture. This is the message we unwittingly consume, and we tell ourselves that we are happy with this ending, because the love interest our main character initially chose was so blatantly immoral and wrong for them. The cad, the bitch, the scoundrel – they needed to go. When I realised that this man I thought I connected so well with was taken, my immediate thought was not to let him go, leave, and call it a day. I hate to say it, but my immediate thought was that someone I connected so well with must surely be better off with me, and that he was with the wrong person. She didn’t enjoy the things that he enjoyed, didn’t understand his life philosophy, his hobbies, his habits, or his take on life and art and literature; I did. But this is not right. It never can be. Life is rarely so one-dimensional as our love stories have made them out to be, and that woman or man, the one who has your interest, is not really with the wrong person. That person has a soul, they have a heart, they have a mind and they have trust that the person you might long for is faithful to them and loves them. That girl who lives with him, he made a promise to commit to her. She loves him and trusts that he will honour that promise. Imagine if it was you? Would you feel good, knowing that the one you love is actively being pursued by someone who has no regard for your heart and your life together? Put yourself in their shoes. The dating scene is already such a treacherous and horrible landscape, littered with shards of a thousand broken hearts, flooded with tears, under a shroud of sleepless nights. You may already know how dark it is. Don’t add another person’s life to the pyre.
Because I can’t be the only one sick of napping on desks by Natasha Doris
icture this. You’ve gotten out of bed for a 9am lecture. You were up late the night before studying, doing laundry, seeing a few friends. You have a mountain of reading to get done, labs to complete, notes to write, and the flat, house or couch you crash at is a good half an hour walk away at least. If you’re me, your home is a half hour bus ride away, not counting time spent waiting for the bus, making it on average an hour to two-hour round trip on a good day. You are looking to maximise your time, your energy, your efficiency, and… all you need is thirty minutes to rest your mind and muscles somewhere, and you’ll be back to work. Your body is begging, pleading with you to let it rest, but you have so much work to get done. So, at this rate of memorisation, and this level of efficiency, you acknowledge that time is precious, and the journey to your place of habitation is anything but convenient. You need to nap, now. So, you look for a place to rest your weary head. On this campus, that means sleeping with your head on the desk again. Oh, you can try to curl up in one of the library armchairs – If you don’t mind waking up with an ungodly crick in your neck, that is. The staircase at the back of the library? The carpet’s prickles actually pierce your jeans and sweater, who would have thought? Somewhere in the corner of the first floor of the MacRobert building? Manageable, but the floor is hard and uncomfortable (at least there are no prickles in this carpet, however). The couches in Starbucks? Judgemental looks from patrons, and it’s also not feasible napping there with an empty cup of coffee. The place is packed and people with full coffee cups want that couch. The hub, then? Noisy, busy, and again, judgemental looks from patrons. Okay, an empty classroom? Not empty for long, and your peaceful nap will come to a calamitous end of being chased out of the room by an irate and also sleep-deprived professor of some discipline or another. What are you going to do? Hear me out on this idea for a second. Photo courtesy of Seb P (Flickr)
Nap. Stations. A few empty rooms, or an underused floor or department of a university building, where all we need are somewhat comfortable couches, beds, cheap futons, for the love of all, to be set up, and students who only need brief moments of respite might take the time out of their schedules and curl up for just thirty or forty minutes, to rest their heads without paying the price of that awful, painful crick in their mangled neck. We students have a lot happening in our lives. We work jobs, manage assignments and reading, manage our flats, laundry, meal prep, we attend lectures and spend endless hours writing notes in the library. We run societies and social lives, raise funds for charities, break our backs searching for jobs and internships, and all we want is some small, merciful assistance to our productivity when our ultimately busy lives lead to our ultimately inevitable sleep deprivation. We want to nap, and the science supports our request in this regard. Research conducted by NASA found that only a twenty-four-minute nap has the benefit of increasing performance by up to 34%, and alertness by up to 54%. Furthermore, a multi-year study found that napping for thirty minutes three times per week lowered the risk of death from heart disease by 37% - and given the lack of affordable healthy food options on campus, we can definitely all agree that this is a vital statistic in favour of napping facilities. The lack of napping facilities is not a solo crusade on my part. Students have been commenting for years that the campus is sorely lacking in social spaces; pantry facilities (try finding a microwave to heat up your dinner after 5pm, I challenge you), places to chat, relax, eat their food – you’ve snuck your hot food in the stairwell at Duncan Rice, don’t lie – amenities such as hot water dispensers and lockers for the books we heft around all day, breaking our backs. So many other universities take for granted the facilities which, to us, are long overdue. Really, it’s no wonder we’re no longer “Scottish University of the Year.” I’m surprised we ever were – But then, maybe that’s just the sleep deprivation talking.
Facts about the Rice Cube
by Not Tom Byam Shaw
(1.) Assuming each grain of rice was 10cm, it would take precisely 100,000.000 grains of rice to fill the entire Rice Cube. (1.1.) This is taking into account the unconventional portions of the Rice Cube – the quirky dimensions. (2.) The Rice Cube was initially designed as a storage unit for rice. The hole that passes through the middle of each floor used to hold a rice silo, a silo of groovy and slanted design. (2.1.) The Rice Cube was eventually scrapped and left to become a library. Compromises are always made in business. (3.) Only rice milk is given with beverages at the ground floor café. This is why when, in scarfs or whatever, students who ask for, say, an oat milk cappuccino, are told, No. (3.1.) Rice milk with your latte. Rice milk with your breakfast tea. Rice milk with your camomile. Compromises are always made in nutrition. (4.) The 8th floor is exclusively for students of Rice Management Studies, the latest success from campus think-tank Nascent Pedagogy. (4.1.) You can only see the 8th Floor in certain twilight. The tables are made of glass – the chairs, sleek Perspex. The floor is cold white stone. Built into the floor is a coffee machine, with rice milk, which shoots its froth up as a geyser. One has to be quick to drink it; one has to slurp from the spout. (5.) Conversely, there are fifteen basement levels. The first few are International Student lounges, for those whose parents have provided sufficient donations. International Students from a less convenient background are placed below by the pipes and soil of the situation, the groundwork, the mills. (5.1.) Below this is a floor of absolute darkness and great breathing. (6.) Lifts are the most effective form of public transport. However, there is another option – for a certain fee, International Students can take the AFG Lift. Going diagonal, it runs an invisible line through the central hole. By tipping the driver, one can stop off at whatever table they like. It looks like a giant rice grain. (6.1.) If International Students cannot afford the AFG Lift, then that is acknowledged. Compromises are always made in education.
DISCLAIMER All opinions expressed in the satire section are written primarily for the sake of comic value and therefore do not necessarily represent the honest views held by the author, The Gaudie, AUSA, or any company which advertises in The Gaudie.
(7.) There is an exhibition space in the Rice Cube. It shows the history of rice, from our prehistory to now. There are beautiful Oriental engravings of rice paddies, vases depicting beautiful men of the Golden Age farming rice, monochrome war photography of rice silos on fire during the 90s, a placard of smiling International Students in a Rice Management Studies seminar. (7.1.) We have ambitious plans to expand the portfolio. (8.) In the toilets, the bowl is always full of rice. As a multicultural university, we provide chopsticks to International Students. (8.1.) Sanitary products are pending. Compromises have to be made in hygiene. (9.) There is actually a secret entrance to the Qatar campus in the Rice Cube. Take a diagonal left by the International Students toilet (paywall restricts access) on Floor A. This will lead you to the third set of stairs, usually locked, though International Students should have key-card access after their parents have passed over enough thick envelopes at reception. Each step is a wide slab of cold white stone - the whole edifice hangs in the air, adjacent to the teal mirror of the glass, built like an optical illusion. Go up and down then up and down then up then down then energise then down and down and down, through the blue tunnel in the central hole. Ignore the infernal scream of Mammon and you will appear at reception. (9.1) There used to be an entrance to the South Korean campus but it is now defunct. International Students that attempt to access it will be trapped in Purgatory. (10.) The library hole is designed to prevent suicide. Only an International physics postgraduate could calculate a fall that perfect. (10.1) If a rice salad is left unsealed, the fungal takeover will be lethal.
Oil's well that ends well University unveils its "No" Climate Plan
by Wagril Slane
n response to the Scottish Government and numerous other countries and academic institutions declaring states of climate emergency, Aberdeen University has finally announced its new stance on the matter, which it is calling its “No” Climate Plan. The university’s spokesperson, Eva Sieve, told The Gaudie, ‘These are unprecedented times. The world is on the precipice of environmental disaster. Scientists agree we are at the tipping point at which our actions will determine the whole fate of the human race and biodiversity of the planet. Worst of all, David Attenborough still hasn’t retired. Placed uniquely as the University of Aberdeen is in the oil and gas capital of Europe and with strong academic links to the fossil fuel industry, we are continually being asked by students and campaigners alike to make clear who invests in the university, how ethical our oil and gas degree teaching is, and what we are doing about our appalling ranking in the latest university sustainability league. So, after long deliberation, we are proud to announce what we call our “No” Climate Plan, which we hope will please everyone, but particularly our industry friends. Our primary initiative under the plan will involve our highest officials changing the subject whenever we are asked anything difficult, especially how much money we get from fossil fuel companies.’ Other measures to be taken in the coming months include top staff at the university being sent on a range of training workshops. These will include Speaking Honestly, taught by Boris Johnson, European Relations with Nigel Farage, Decision Making with Jeremy Corbyn, and How To Try And Stop Those Ugly Windmills Being Built Off The Coast Of Aberdeen with Donald Trump.
‘The university is part of the European Community,’ continued Ms Sieve. ‘Or at least is till January, or something. The EC has a very strong environmental policy, I’d imagine, therefore as the university is part of the UK and the UK is in the EC we are definitely covered by that, I’d imagine, and so don’t need to do anything ourselves.’ The Gaudie spoke to a lecturer who did not wish to be named, Professor Eilyke Roxxe of the SuperOilConglomerate PLC Department of Petroleum Geology. ‘Our research continually shows, once adjusted in the usual ways, nothing at all wrong with fossil fuels,’ said Professor Roxxe. ‘Most of these fuels are made from fossils, which are very old, and were in many cases buried under the ground, so weren’t being used for anything in particular. Chlorofluorocarbon gases may sound complicated, but fluoride is merely part of toothpaste, so releasing them into the atmosphere simply means all the seagulls will have nice teeth. And as for the predicted five metre rise in sea levels by 2040, well that’ll just make the walk to the beach from campus shorter, won’t it.’ ‘Furthermore,’ said Ms Sieve, ‘We’ve just discovered there’s something at the university called “AUSA”. I’ve no idea what it is but I’m told it is run by very “green” minded people, as I think you kids call them on your “MySpaces”. As such we are very happy for AUSA to take various environmental initiatives which we in the university proper can subsequently bask in the reflected glory of.’ The Gaudie reached out to the Principal’s office for comment but was told that due to the excessive amount of time he has spent standing too close to his good friend Dr Brian May, the electric-guitar playing, frizzle-haired musician turned astronomer, the Principal can unfortunately no longer hear any of the awkward questions about the university’s “No” Climate Plan that The Gaudie would like to ask him.
Megan Rapinoe: re-imagining South Africa are champions of the world the face of women's football FIFA Women's Player of the Year goes beyond football
The 2019 Rugby World Cup was nothing short of spectacular
by Aedan Brennan
t was a World Cup for the ages. With upsets and dominant performances, Japan battled tornados to hold one of the sport’s most thrilling spectacles. The hosts had a spectacular campaign, downing Scotland and Ireland to send the tier rankings into disarray. This tournament showed that the once dominant sides’ grip, consisting of the home nations and the Southern Hemisphere quartet, had loosened. With the ball now firmly in the court of developing rugby nations such as Japan and Namibia, their display shocked the rugby community in the most compelling World Cup this century. The build-up to the World Cup increased tensions as Wales took the top spot in the world rugby rankings in August which New Zealand had previously held for 10 years after dominant displays against Ireland and England. The World Cup, beginning on the 20th September 2019, very much carried on these proceedings as Wales came out top of their group, downing Australia in a thrilling game, and New Zealand dominating South Africa in the opening round. The pool stages broke many records, such as Uruguay coming away with their first victory in a Rugby World Cup. This team had been through many heartaches like losing 11113 to England back in 2003, so to come away from this campaign edging Fiji 30-27 was a massive achievement for a growing rugby nation, deemed one of the games of the tournament. The Fiji team almost repeated their heroics of 2007, taking Wales to the wire in a thrilling encounter which saw them lead by 10 points in the first half. Thrilling is an understatement when it came to Japan’s heroics. Beating Ireland for the first time and showing this was no fluke by winning the group that consisted of two top tier nations; it has never been seen before in the sport. The first Asian team to reach the quarter finals, Japan both hosted a World Cup whilst being almost derailed by tornados, shifting rugby’s perception of tier two nations. An altogether successful World Cup that rose the stock of Jamie Joseph and his exciting Japanese team. Many teams shined this world cup, but England’s dominant display came as quite a
by Alessandra Puglisi
shock. There were many doubters who didn’t consider them serious contenders coming into the World Cup following a shaky year, but destroying New Zealand in a clinical display saw them become favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy for the second time. Young flankers Sam Underhill and Tom Curry were simply superhuman, putting in bone crunching performances which saw the outspoken Eddie Jones quieten his doubters. Other home nations did not fare so well however. The once all-conquering Ireland team, who only a year ago stopped New Zealand in their tracks, suffered humiliation at the hands of Japan and were put away by the Kiwis in the quarter-finals. For Joe Schmidt and Rory Best, this was not the farewell they wanted and Ireland will need to rejuvenate their aging squad to improve on a somewhat woeful tournament. Wales took eventual champions South Africa to the wire and Gatland can certainly be proud of their display as he also ends his historic tenure, lifting 3 Grand Slams in his time with these Welshmen. Scotland couldn’t get out of the group which had many question Gregor Townsend’s ability on the international scene. Yet, in the end, no team could cope with South Africa’s brutally efficient game plan. Although they got off to a shaky start, they ran rampant thereafter. Brushing aside England in the final with relative ease, no one expected such a destructive performance. It is testament to Rassie Erasmus who took a team bereft of confidence two years ago to becoming World Champions this year. It is without a doubt a historic victory which brought together a nation currently struggling as racial tensions rise once again. The effect may be far greater than back in 1995, when South Africa’s first black captain Siya Kolisi pushed his side to greatness, inspiring and unifying a nation with a history of conflict, as rugby had a new hero. Altogether this World Cup was momentous in many ways, and it brings hope to rugby fans all over the world as the future looks bright for each nation. Once more the world of rugby comes together in great unity and, after this tournament, fans will already be counting down the days until the next 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
n the 23rd of September, the ceremony for the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Award took place and there was little doubt over the fact that Megan Rapinoe would lift that trophy. The 34 year-old American clearly made a huge impact during the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, helping her country win the tournament for the second time in a row. A two-time World Cup winner, one-time Olympic gold medallist and titlist of the Golden Ball and Golden Boot in 2019, it would’ve been a surprise not to see her on the stage of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, surpassing her long-time teammate Alex Morgan and the English star Lucy Bronze. Rapinoe astonished fans all over the world with her World Cup performance, being the oldest woman ever to score in a World Cup final at 34. However, just a few years back it would’ve been unthinkable for her to make such an impact as her career seemed to be taking the course of a steady decline, especially after she tore her ACL during the Victory Tour, post 2015 World Cup. She then made her return on the big stage for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, where the USA team fell against Sweden during penalty shootouts. But Rapinoe’s sudden burst of talent during the 2019 Women’s World Cup is not the only prominent thing about her. Known to be an advocate for different LGBT associations, Rapinoe identifies as a lesbian and is in a long-time relationship with WNBA athlete Sue Bird. She also
Photo courtesy of Jamie Smed via Wikicommons
SPORTS RESULTS BASKETBALL
UWS Men's 1st Aberdeen Men's 2nd
St. Andrews Men's 1st Aberdeen Men's 1st
Heriot-Watt Women's 1st Aberdeen Women's 1st
Queen Margaret Men's 1st Aberdeen Men's 1st
Glasgow Women's 1st Aberdeen Women's 1st
Strathclyde Women's 1st Aberdeen Women's 2nd
FOOTBALL Aberdeen Women's 1st St. Andrews Women's 1st
Strathclyde Men's 3rd Aberdeen Men's 2nd
Aberdeen Men's 3rd Dundee Men's 2nd
RUGBY UNION Aberdeen Women's 1st Edinburgh Women's 2nd
Heriot-Watt Men's 1st Aberdeen Men's 1st
Aberdeen Men's 1st Edinburgh Men's 4th
Aberdeen Women's 2nd Edinburgh Women's 3rd
came to the attention of the more general audience for supporting Colin Kaepernick’s iconic gesture in 2016. The former NFL quarterback started a controversy after he kneeled during the national anthem to protest against police brutality and racial injustice in the country. Rapinoe said that, as a gay woman in America, she understood what it meant not to feel her rights protected under the flag and she reinforced the need for white people to support people of colour in that battle. Actively involved in the Equal Play Equal Pay campaign with her fellow national teammates, Rapinoe does not shy away from clearly stating her political views, such as the declaration she made during the 2019 World Cup, affirming that the US team would not resume the tradition of visiting the White House at the end of the tournament. In 2019 she also co-founded the gender-neutral brand Re-Inc alongside current teammates Christen Press and Tobin Heath and former teammate Meghan Klingerberg. The brand aims to represent the philosophy guiding the players’ lives by promoting equality, progress, creativity and art. Love it or not, Megan Rapinoe is not only an exciting player that greatly impacted the women’s game, she is also not afraid of boldly raising her voice to speak up in the face of injustice. By showing steady support towards her teammates, shining bright in the sport she loves and fighting fiercely for the causes she believes in, it was hard to imagine a more suitable competitor to raise the trophy that FIFA awarded her.
WATER POLO Strathclyde Men's 1st 23 Aberdeen Men's 1st 19