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ISSUE 8: EXTINCTION
CONTENTS 4 NEWS
5 EXTINCTION AND CONSERVATION OF AUSTRALIA’S BIODIVERSITY
16 POP CULTURE REWIND: DAVID ATTENBOROUGH
43 UNDER THE WATTLE TREE
18 ILLUSTRATED: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES IN AUSTRALIA
7 IN BLUE WE TRUST 9 THE EXTINCTION OF GOOD-QUALITY AND ACCESSIBLE HIGHER EDUCATION
44 BROKEN THINGS
23 CHALLENGE: MURDER MYSTERY
12 THE RESURRECTION OF STUDENT ACTIVISM
48 REPEAT OFFENDERS
25 WRITING ON THE WALL: RETIRING AMBITION
49 SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING
13 NEWSFLASH: EFFICACY OVER SAFETY?
26 YOU ARE HERE: DUNMORE LANG COLLEGE
50 YOU’RE DEAD TO ME
14 NEWSFLASH: UPROOTING CULTURE AND TRADITION
20 I DON’T GET IT: NIHILISM
28 FEATURES 29 LOVE NATURE MORE. 32 IN BETWEEN TWO WORLDS 34 DEATH, DOOMSDAY, AND DISASTROUS PREDICTIONS 36 LANGUAGES ON THE BRINK 38 AGAINST ECO-FASCISM 40 WE, THE THANATONAUTES
51 EMILY IN PARIS 53 HOROSCOPES
Editors’ Letters Welcome to our final issue of 2020, EXTINCTION. The inspiration for this theme came from the fact that we are currently experiencing the world’s sixth mass extinction. Countless wonderful and unique species that have inhabited the planet for thousands of years will disappear forever. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jaco Le Loux, an Associate Professor in the department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University, who added that we should “Be amazed by the variety and splendour of all things living. Without this biodiversity humanity cannot exist. The air that we breathe, the water we drink and the food that we eat, all depend on healthy ecosystems, and therefore biodiversity.” Jimmy García’s article “Love Nature More,” is a reminder of the joys of appreciating and reconnecting with nature. Our contributors also explored the theme from another perspective, and considered what it means when cultures, languages, or ideas go extinct. When the university slashes units primarily on the basis of economic value, the Arts and Humanities are among those that suffer the most. Education becomes homogeneous, lacking in a diversity of thought. To learn more about the troubling state of tertiary education flip to Rayna Bland’s article “The Extinction of Good Quality and Accessible Higher Education.” It has been a momentous and chaotic year in the wider world and as an editor and writer at Grapeshot. Encapsulated in our eight-issue run of magazines are snapshots and insights into it all. See you in the new year! Jodie Ramodien Deputy Editor
Well MQ, we’ve made it. It’s the final issue of the year and somehow we’re all still here, save for a few shreds of sanity and the obligatory deep COVID-induced depression. It’s been a wild ride and I definitely could not have envisioned how this year would pan out when I decided to take on Editor in Chief at the end of 2019. But alas, hindsight if a gift and if Grapeshot is nothing else, it is a resilient publication. On that note, as this is my final issue I need to thank my team who has been the picture of resilience throughout this entire process. My brilliant section editors, Saliha, Harry and Sara, who have moulded each section into an exciting, challenging and inspiring forum for different student voices. My long suffering designers Sam and Kathleen, who have had to endure many a last minute edit but who have done such an amazing job creating a beautiful and boundary pushing aesthetic for Grapeshot this year. My online team, heading by the brilliant Gabby, have been nothing short of astounding in their ability to adapt Grapeshot to an online forum during the height of COVID and build an engaged social media following. My tenacious editorial assistants, Rhys, Aylish, Madi, Eleanor, Ky and Rayna have all been amazing in their commitment to Grapeshot and producing brilliant work, I believe it is the start of a great career at Grapeshot for all of them and I cannot wait to see what they will continue to do at the magazine in the future. Finally, I could not have done this role without the hard work of my Deputy Editor, Jodie. Thank you for always dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and keeping Grapeshot afloat during this year. I feel grateful to be able to hand off Grapeshot to Jodie next year and cannot wait to see the wonderful work I know she’ll produce. I started my time as Editor in Chief strong in the belief that Grapeshot was not about me. It wasn’t about my voice or the articles I wanted to write. It was about providing a platform for my team and Macquarie students to have their voices heard. A place for others to express their point of view and their creativity. I sincerely hope I’ve achieved that goal and I hope you have seen yourself reflected in the pages of Grapeshot this year. That you have been challenged, inspired and entertained by the content we’ve produced. Grapeshot was and always will be a voice to and from Macquarie students. With that in mind, please enjoy the final issue of Grapeshot for 2020. EXTINCTION is quite an ironic title given the whole pandemic situation, and believe it or not I did pick it before Rona really took off so there’s a weird moment of serendipity to finish off the year. So please dive in and enjoy pondering our eventual demise! Happy reading! Katelyn
EDITORIAL & CREATIVE PRODUCTION EDITOR IN CHIEF Katelyn Free
DEPUTY EDITOR Jodie Ramodien CREATIVE DIRECTOR Sam van Vliet LEAD ILLUSTRATOR Kathleen Notohamiprodjo DESIGN/EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Elizabeth Laughton NEWS EDITOR Saliha Rehanaz REGULARS EDITOR Gabby Edwards FEATURES/CREATIVES EDITOR Sara Zarriello ONLINE EDITOR Brooke Mason
EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Rayna Bland, Rhys Cutler, Aylish Dowsett, Madison Scott, Ky Stewart, Eleanor Taylor
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS + ILLUSTRATORS Jimmy Garcia, Sofia Ihsan, Steph McCarthy-Reece, Glenn A. Kershaw
COVER Sam van Vliet
EDITORIAL REVIEW BOARD Sowaiba Azad, Neenah Gray, Marlene Khouzam, Jay Muir, Ateka Rajabi, Angus Webber
GRAPESHOT acknowledges the Wattamatagal clan, of the Darug nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and meet. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceeded, no treaty was signed, and would like to pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging. We would like to extend those respects to all First Nations people reading. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land
Tasmanian Tiger Thylacinus cynocephalus
Thylacines became extinct in mainland Australia when the dingo was introduced, 3-4000 years ago. A small population survived in Tasmania, until the British invasion in the 19th century. They were seen as pests, and excessive hunting of the Tasmanian tiger was encouraged by bounty. The last surviving thylacine, Benjamin, died in 1936 of exposure as a result of being locked out of his shelter.
The Extinction and Conservation of Australia’s Biodiversity Grapeshot interviews Jaco Le Loux, Associate Professor in the department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University and Dr. Sandy Ingleby, the Mammal Collections Manager at the Australian Museum. In conversation with Jaco Le Loux: What are some of the major threats posed to Australian wildlife?
Like elsewhere in the world, the main culprits are human-mediated climate change, habitat destruction, and invasion by exotic species. Australia is special in that the continent has been isolated for tens of millions of years and has therefore exchanged very little biota with other continents historically. This, in part, resulted in the evolution of very remarkable animals and plants, found nowhere else on Earth, that may be particularly vulnerable to novel threats.
How has climate change affected biodiversity in Australia?
There is no doubt that climate change negatively impacts most species, especially those with small population sizes and limited dispersal opportunities, like threatened plants. Climate and its interactions with other abiotic conditions, as well as with organisms themselves, are complex. Therefore, ascribing the extinction of a particular species to climate change per se is difficult. Yet, the impacts of climate change on biodiversity is undeniable. For example, sea surface temperatures were largely responsible for the low rainfall and humidity that Australia experienced in 2019 which, in turn, contributed to the devastating 2019-2020 Black Summer fires. Some scientists have estimated that more than 800 million animals may have perished in NSW alone during these fires. We also know that large parts of the natural habitats of many native species were burned down. The recent Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) “State of the Climate 2020” report suggests that Australia will experience even warmer temperatures, drier periods, and more extreme events in the future, spelling disaster for our unique biodiversity.
What is the impact of invasive species on extinction rates among Australian flora and fauna?
The impacts of invasive species on native Australian biodiversity are massive. Let’s consider mammal extinctions. In other parts of the world the primary drivers of mammal extinctions are habitat loss and hunting, but in Australia only two (!) invasive species (cats and European red foxes) have been responsible for the extinction of most of the 30 or so extinct native mammals. Some have argued that Australia’s historical isolation may underlie these devastating impacts, as many native Australian species lack evolutionary experience to mesopredators like cats and foxes. Similarly, native plants with little or no evolutionary experience with invasive animals like camels and brumbies (Australia has no native hoofed animals) have been severely impacted through trampling and grazing.
Have we been able to improve the status of threatened species through conservation practices?
There is a lot going on in the conservation arena in Australia, with numerous initiatives at both state and national levels. Biosecurity in Australia is arguably one of the most significant initiatives. While biosecurity is primarily focussed on safeguarding the country from unwanted pests and diseases of agricultural crops, there is no doubt that native biodiversity is benefitting from the stringent measures that are in place at all major ports of entry to the country. Excellent programs also exist at state level. For example, the NSW Saving our Species program is one of the biggest commitments ever undertaken by any state to conserve native biodiversity. The program involves various expert and stakeholder groups and aims to secure the future of threatened species in the wild and to control/manage the key threats they face. For example, as a ‘climate-ready’ strategy, Saving our Species coordinates the translocation of threatened plants to areas outside their current distributions that will have suitable climate conditions in the future. Similar programs have saved many of Australia’s mammals from certain extinction through captive breeding programs and translocations to predator-free islands.
What are some of the insights you have gained as a result of your research?
My own research is focussed on invasive species biology and plant ecology. I have learned that the impacts of invasive species can be highly complex and, importantly, context-dependent. This means that, while negative impacts on biodiversity by invasive species will always be evident, it is almost impossible to predict the types of impacts that will manifest. My research has also found current rates of plant extinction to conform to the so-called ‘sixth mass extinction,’ akin to the sudden disappearance of dinosaurs. While extinction has occurred throughout Earth’s history, we showed that, over the last 300 years, plants have been going extinct up to 350 times faster than historical rates. These estimates are likely to be gross underestimates and I am certain that we will witness the loss of a significant number of plant species in the near future.
Is there anything you would like to add or that you would like readers to know in regards to this issue’s theme of Extinction? Be amazed by the variety and splendour of all things living. Without this biodiversity humanity cannot exist. The air that we breathe, the water we drink and the food that we eat, all depend on healthy ecosystems, and therefore biodiversity.
In conversation with Dr. Sandy Ingleby: What is Australia’s track record like when it comes to mammal extinctions?
Australia has an extremely poor record when it comes to mammal extinction. Over 30 mammal species have become extinct since European settlement in Australia and many more have vanished from large parts of their former range on the mainland. This represents nearly one third of all mammal extinctions worldwide over the last 500 years—quite a record when you think about it. This is even more significant when you consider that nearly all these species were only found in Australia—so extinction here means extinction everywhere.
Why is this? Why have Australian mammals fared so badly compared to those in other parts of the world?
Australia has a unique suite of mammals-egg laying mammals such as the platypus and the echidna, marsupials like wombats, koalas and, kangaroos, and a diverse range of native rodents and bats. Most mammals here are what we call ‘endemic’ in that they occur nowhere else on earth. Being an island continent, most mammals have evolved in isolation from the fauna of other regions of the world. Most notably exotic predators such as foxes and cats. So, when these two highly effective predators arrived with Europeans they wreaked havoc on the native mammals and are still doing so today—over large parts of the continent. Other factors such as habitat loss are also major contributors but certainly cats and foxes had a huge impact very early on.
What are some of the mammals that have become extinct since European settlement?
The most well-known Australian mammal to go extinct in recent rimes is undoubtedly the Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger as it was also known. This beautiful animal was the largest marsupial carnivore to make it to modern times but the last known individual tragically died in a Hobart zoo in 1936 and no confirmed sightings have occurred since then. The Thylacine was unusual in that it was quite large – around the size of a Labrador. Most mammal extinctions since the mid-1800s have been of so-called medium sized mammals – those ranging in size from a large mouse to a small kangaroo. Most vanished without much being known about them—except of course by First Nations people who would have had a detailed knowledge of many aspects of their biology. Most mammals that disappeared were either small wallabies like the eastern hare-wallaby, crescent nailtail wallaby, and broad-faced potoroo, bandicoots or bilbies such as the pig-footed bandicoot and lesser bilby or native rodents such as the lesser stick-nest rat or long-tailed hopping mouse. Species that were an important part of our biodiversity and that now exist only as specimens in museum collections or old photographs and drawings.
Have any mammals recently become extinct?
Just last year, in February 2019, the bramble cay melomys, a small native rodent that lived on a tiny sand island in the Torres Strait was declared extinct. In another first for Australia it was the first mammal to have gone extinct as a direct result of climate change—its island home was simply washed away by increased storm activity due to climate change. Prior to that, in September 2017, a small insectivorous bat found only on Christmas Island, the Christmas Island pipistrelle, was also declared extinct. So that’s two mammals in yours and my lifetime.
What are we doing to stop the decline of Australia’s mammal biodiversity?
Many mammal species have been put on the threatened species list in recognition of their plight but this is just the first step. Where certain mammal species have disappeared from parts of their former range but survived in other areas such as on predator free islands those animals are being used in captive-breeding programs. These captive bred animals are then released into predator free areas or enclosures in efforts to “rewild” or repopulate those areas. Museum collections like the one at the Australian Museum play an important role here as we are the custodians of specimens from these extinct populations and these can be used to help choose the most appropriate genetic stock to be used for the introductions. These reintroductions have been successful in some cases but they rely on ongoing control of fox and cat numbers. However, at the same time we are continuing to impact important habitats of many threatened species and further fragment existing habitats and that can only end badly. by Jodie Ramodien
In Blue We Trust With an overturned economy and tragic health crisis, a large burden waits for the new president of the United States. Close your eye lids and take one second to think about where you were on the 31st of December 2019, when the clock struck twelve and you welcomed a year with some of the most unprecedented times witnessed in history. Close your eyes again and think back to five years ago, when a reality star, business tycoon, and alleged sexual predator became the 45th president of the United States of America. Donald J. Trump won the Presidency in his first ever run for any political office, with the largest Electoral College landslide for a Republican in twenty-eight years. In 2016, while the nation was painted blue with more popular votes towards former First Lady and Democratic Candidate Hillary R. Clinton, Trump succeeded Barack H. Obama with 304 electoral votes. On October 22nd, Business Insider reported the United States had the most coronavirus cases and deaths of any country in the world. While the large number of cases and deaths may not come to us a surprise due to the contagious and deadly nature of the virus, it is shocking to hear that a powerful first world nation such as the United States would be unable to fight to control the situation. While previously numbers such as gross domestic product and employment rates would have been used to reflect the leadership capabilities of a nation’s leader, the pandemic has become a new parameter to measure the influence of a governing body. One of the most notable leaders who has previously been celebrated for her swift action to reform gun laws after a terrorist attack, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, had once again come to fame for her comprehensive strategies to protect the nation against the novel coronavirus. In a similar manner, Donald Trump, quickly became the topic of conversation, however, this time it was not for his ridiculous tweets, but his unbelievable mishandling of the pandemic. As the pandemic affected the entire globe, the coronavirus has created both a public health crisis and economic crisis in the United States. In terms of the public health front, the spread of the virus has exhibited clear geographic trends, starting in the densely populated urban centres, and then spreading to more-rural parts of the country. Additionally, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) determined that a peak in month economic activity occurred in the United States economy in February 2020, marking the end of the longest recorded United Sates expansion, which began in June 2009. Therefore, as election campaigns from both Republican and Democratic parties proceeded and presidential debates took place between candidates, the focus was largely on how the United States economy can be recovered after the pandemic, health care for the average American, and the livelihood people in the ‘new normal’. Previously, American presidential debates have included conversations surrounding immigration, terrorism, and racism. However, this year stakes were very different, and Americans were not only voting for the development of their nation, but it was also a lot more personal. The United States stands out amongst all the democratic nations in how it chooses its head of state. Close attention came to the American voting system in 2016, when Trump won despite receiving nearly 1.3 million fewer popular votes. Hence, this year, the focus was once again on ensuring Democrat candidate Joe Biden would receive majority of the electoral college votes to defeat Trump from running office for a second term. As the voting ballots closed across different states in the United States, the whole world watched as the map of the nation would either turn blue or red. Blue representing the Democratic party and Joe Biden, and red representing the Republican Party and Donald Trump. The election of 2020 had been the most anticipated event in the history of United States, and perhaps the most theatrical to some extent. However,
the sigh of relief the nation felt on November 7th when Joe Biden was elected the 46th president of the United States does not compare to the sheer disbelief Donald Trump had felt after he lost. From accusations of voting fraud, lawsuits about unfair elections, and even millions spent behind recounts of votes from key states, the results were apparent. Former Vice President Joe Biden is set to run office as President for the next five years, with his running mate, Kamala Harris, the first Black and Asian American woman, to be vice-president elect. Despite Trump’s best attempt to overturn the results of the United States presidential election while spending most of his time on a golf course, the time is fast approaching where he and his family will need to leave the White House and return home. More than any other president in the United States history, questions swirl about what exactly will happen next to him. Once Trump leaves the presidential office on January 20th, 2021, he will be vunerable to a dozen legal investigations and civil suits involving his business practices, as well his taxes. He is under investigation for insurance fraud, criminal tax evasion, grand larceny, and a scheme to defraud, according to The New York Times. Not only does Trump face a number of legal battles, but he also owes millions of dollars in income taxes, real estate debts, and other loans, The New Yorker reports. “It’s the office of the Presidency that’s keeping him from prison and the poorhouse,” Yale history professor Timothy Snyder told The New Yorker. While it remains a mystery about what the future hold for Trump, there is buzzing optimism and hope for the Americans as they await a new president. With aspirations for a new reformed America with better health-care and employment opportunities, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have a large responsibility on their shoulder and must carry the pain, suffering, and tears of everything the Americans have lost over the year due to the pandemic. Take a final moment to close your eyes, and imagine the presidential inauguration on the 20th of January, 2021, and hopefully instead of ruminating over the tragedies of 2020, the Americans can look towards the brighter future of a nation that once prospered. by Saliha Rehanaz
The Extinction of Good-Quality and Accessible Higher Education Ah, the University Sector. What a shitshow. As a reader of the Grapeshot Magazine, I am sure you have heard of the current higher education crisis. Well, buckle your bootstraps because for the next few minutes I am going to rant away. University enrolments have dropped significantly from international students, and because universities can no longer squeeze their pennies from these students there have been budget shortfalls (well that is what the institutions say anyways). Instead of dipping into the millions of dollars universities have in reserves or cutting bloated executive salaries, the bosses have let the brunt of the crisis hit workers and students. This crisis has manifested at Macquarie University and others alike by staff redundancies, unit cuts, zero casual budgets, and just deleting some bachelor and master degree options for future students. Cuts like this have never been seen before. Macquarie University has stated they will rest 9 Bachelor Degrees (16% of total) and 20 Master Degrees (22% of total). This information is available in their FAQs. In total, 53 courses (including certificate and diploma courses and 63 course components will be rested for entry in 2021). What does this “rested” word mean? In my opinion, it is a softer word for dead. Extinct. Gone. In terms of communication between University administration and staff and students, there have been multiple virtual town halls held where only the Executives speak, while others are muted. There has also been a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor and the SRC; however, the SRC has not communicated anything to students and emails from the VC are short. The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) predicts that 600-1000 workers will lose their jobs. Similar cuts are being made sector wide at universities, including the University of Sydney, Charles Sturt University, University of Wollongong, University of New South Wales and many more. This does not make the cuts at Macquarie any more justifiable. Just because your friends jump off a bridge does not mean you should too. This notion applies to Vice-Chancellor salaries too. When Bruce Dowton’s salary is questioned the Macquarie administration likes to say that this is standard across the sector. Well these bloated salaries should not be the accepted standard, especially when so many workers’ employment is at stake. Dan Tehan, Liberal party member, is proposing significant amendments to the Higher Education Bill. This bill increases the price tag of arts and humanities degrees by 113% (ABC, 2020). If this bill gets passed, the fields of law, politics, and arts will become even more elitist and reserved for the upper-class. Sounds pretty classist to me. This amendment is obviously incredibly disadvantageous for prospective students coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. They will have to try and bear the costs of their limited education while also trying to survive through a recession. You know what is not going to become extinct? The ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. Is life not hard enough for young people already? We are the generation that are going to face the horrors of a burning planet with our children. We are the generation that has to give away two thirds of our ever dwindling income to landlords. We are the generation that has to figure out how to manage climate
refugees, food shortages, and extreme natural disasters. And at the moment, everyone is in a god damn recession and the human race is going ‘cray cray’. This is a time where we need as much education as possible. We need our workers to be educated in many different fields so we can have a well-rounded and flourishing society. It is currently a conspiracy theory that the ruling class is working together to push people out of higher education and into vocational work such as fruit-picking. I can buy it. How can you critique the government or corporations if you are uneducated and sweating out in a field to survive? A line that has been spouted out by both the Liberal government and Macquarie University to justify these changes is that more STEM, teaching and nursing jobs will create employment. This is funny considering unemployment is basically the same across STEM and Humanities graduates. In fact, Humanities graduates are employed at a rate of 91.1 per cent – this is high above Science and Math graduates (The Conversation, 2020). These cuts are arbitrarily cutting down great value study paths at the expense of killing student dreams. I recently chaired an online forum called ‘MQ Cuts and Why We Need to Fight Them’. The panel featured staff from Macquarie University and the University of Sydney and included Aimee Lamont, a student activist from the Macquarie Students Against the Cuts campaign. As you can imagine, the discussion was lively and in opposition to everything Macquarie University has told us. If you would like to watch the Livestream, it is available on the Macquarie University Students Against the Cuts Facebook Page. The forum is invaluable and full of great information about the state of the University sector. It provides extensive personal insight from academics whose employment is at stake. During this livestream, Alma Torlakovic, University of Sydney staff member and NTEU activist, who has been fighting for workers for over a decade, shares that “the university bosses have wanted to restructure the sector to suit their profit driven vision of higher education for a long time.” Throughout the forum, the term ‘coup’ was often used to describe the current situation. It has been called this as well in staff testimonials available on the Macquarie Students Against the Cuts Facebook page. It can (and has) been said that COVID-19 is merely a guise for such a coup that the executives may be enacting to save their profits. This sentiment is interesting in light of the recent financial data unveiled by the NTEU which reveals that the University of Sydney has actually gained more profit in 2020 than in 2019 and is projected to keep increasing in 2021. Wowee, another loss for the workers, and students. This is not good. You know, once upon a time tertiary education was free for the average Joe. That all changed in 1989 with the introduction of HECs and the abolishment of free education. Ouch. It pains me to think that the rude pollies in Parliament who are making this decision received their education for free while I know that I have a mountain of debt piling up while I consume a sub-standard ‘Zoomed’ in education. Students of my generation and the next gen coming have definitely received the short end of the stick. Since the fateful year of 1989, staff and student conditions have consistently been compromised to benefit the bosses’ pockets as the university sector continued to devolve into a neoliberal machine. Universities have become degree factories set on streamlining degrees which is evident through the increase of overpacked lectorials, online learning, and a lower standard of passing. Universities are corporations whose values and goals are aligned with the pursuit of profit, not education. This neoliberal operation has also meant that there are less staff to students ratio. It’s just cheaper that way! At Macquarie University, we sadly hold one of the worst staff to student ratios. 69 students to just one staff member (Times Higher Education, 2020). This workload is stressful for staff and severely deteriorates the quality of education for students. Students also lose out on valuable support and moments with their teachers. In the livestream, Dr Siobhan Irving, a casual academic from MQ and leader of the
MQ Casual Collective, highlighted how these cuts are “an incredible indignity for staff and most of her fellow casuals are going to be out of work.” Macquarie University also has quite a contentious history with student politics and has worked hard to stifle student voices lest the neoliberal machine dare be stopped. In 2007, it jumped on revelations about Liberal Party member and student politician Victor Ma’s corrupt practices in order to shut down the student council. Well, to be fair the wannabe Liberal pollie leading the council momentarily stole $200,000 and rigged the elections but that is a story for another time. In 2012, it dismantled the undergraduate student organisation, Macquarie University Students Representative Association (MUSRA). This very article you are reading has also been reviewed and censored by the University. There is also the SRC. Although, as their constitution reads, the candidates are selected by an appointed selection panel so they can sift out the ‘unsuitable’ nominees such as people with mental illnesses. This miserable state of student politics and University stifling inspired Macquarie student activists to develop an independent Student ‘Counter’ Council. The Macquarie Council, which is a board full of financial cronies and consultants, meets annually to discuss the future of the University. An open letter was published by students asking if we could be permitted into the meeting considering the circumstances of this year. We were straight up ignored. RUDE. In response to a lack of response, we held our own council and talked about how we would like the University be run. A motion was passed during the council to storm the Chancellery and try and get into the Macquarie Council meeting. This action was very fun and empowering. I recommend you come along next time (and bring snacks). University of Sydney students occupied their executive building for 5 hours! Macquarie used to be a hub for this kind of activism, to find out more read Katelyn Free’s article in this issue about Macquarie’s Activist history. Macquarie University said in their FAQs that “feedback [from staff and students] has not traditionally extended to business decisions of the University.” Well, in response to this I say that these are not traditional times and we should not accept their lack of consultation as normalcy. A lot of people are going to be affected by the changes the university is proposing. There is still time to fight back and make a change. Please, I beg you – don’t let good quality tertiary education become extinct. Join the Macquarie Students Against the Cuts – Find us on FB! Support an uncensored Grapeshot. Participate in politics and pay attention! by Rayna Bland
The Resurrection of Student Activism How executive decisions revived Macquarie’s radical history It’s no secret that Grapeshot has had a longstanding grudge against Macquarie’s pesky student population for its lack of engagement with university politics and management decisions. SRC meetings? No dice. University mismanagement? Couldn’t care less! But finally, this year, the tide turned. The once extinct student activism scene at Macquarie was given a second life. When course cuts and fee hikes barrelled down towards the student population, Macquarie students inhabited the spirit of students long past to stand up and protest against what was and is happening to the university. Macquarie’s radical history is well documented and stretches back to the 1960s’, having it’s heyday in the early 70s’. There was the Round Table protest in 1969 where amongst rising student discontent at university management and the growing organisation of the political left on campus, 70 students forced their way into a ‘Round Table’ discussion between university representatives, academic staff and some selected students. What perhaps really formed the bedrock of Macquarie’s radical protest scene was the infamous Tent City of 1969. In protest to the university refusing to provide adequate student housing, students in need of housing set up a make-shift slum of tents, wood, tin and fibro on the front lawn in front of the former student union. On the first night, Tent City had 30 residents, which quickly became 80 permanent residents, with up to 200 students being present at any time. Despite torrential rain that the University Council hoped would displace the students, Tent City lived on. Eventually, the University agreed to provide housing if Tent City was taken down. When the Vietnam War rolled around, Macquarie was primed for serious political protest. The Moratorium protests against the Vietnam War were the first political events on campus to gain serious traction and paved the way for greater student activism on campus. Grapeshot’s predecessor, Arena, ran extensive coverage on the anti-Vietnam war campaign and stirred students into action. However, the Vice Chancellor refused to allow Moratorium materials to be printed at the university. Despite this, Moratorium marches took place on 8 May 1970, 8 September 1970 and 30 June 1971. In the wake of the Moratoriums, Macquarie well and truly radicalised. This was further demonstrated through the protests in the wake of Jeremy Fischer’s expulsion from Robert Menzies College in 1973. Until now, Macquarie’s radical legacy has lived on only in memory. The University remained one of the most politically disengaged campuses, compared to that of USyd, UNSW and UTS. But all that changed at the end of last year, when in October 2019 significant staffing anf funding cuts were announced, including the disbanding of the Faculty of Human Sciences. In response, students organised and created Macquarie Students Against Cuts (MSAC). The group organised protests on campus against the cuts, starting in November last year. It seemed like change was in the air at Macquarie, although no one could anticipate how much change the next year would bring and how this grassroots protest group would come to define the student political scene at Macquarie. When fee hikes to particular university degrees were announced across the sector (mainly arts and humanities degrees), MSAC mobilised again to join with other university groups in protesting the fee increases. But things really gained momentum when in August, the University announced significant cuts to course and unit offerings. Rallies and protests started up in September and gained momentum in October, as students stormed the Chancellery and demanded a response from the University executive. Joining forces with other universities, protests were happening at least once a week as students became increasingly incensed at University decision making. While it remains to be seen what the ultimate outcome of this student resistance will be, Grapeshot has learnt that cuts (in particular those to the Arts Faculty) were not as severe as predicted by the University, when they were finally revealed to staff after the protests. Whether the University continues to listen
to student voices and be held accountable to engaging with the student body when making decisions about their education, still remains to be seen. Grapeshot has learnt from sources within the Arts Faculty that there potentially will be cuts to PACE units and offerings, however this has not been confirmed or announced by the University as of yet. Even if the cuts do go ahead and Macquarie’s corporate structure runs wild with power and disregard for students, there is one silver lining to this whole debacle. Grapeshot’s gripe with Macquarie’s student body has finally been settled. Macquarie students have risen up and become engaged. We have protested and demanded and made the University Executive listen to us. We have disrupted the peaceful ambivalence executives counted on to push these cuts through. We are finally listening in, standing up and holding our University to account. We are tuning into the radical legacy of our University. While we haven’t gone as far as building a tent city yet, I wouldn’t put it past us. So, dear MQ, rage on, get radical, protest and bring hellfire to the Macquarie University Executive. by Katelyn Free
Newsflash: Efficacy Over Safety? Unless you have been living under a rock, there is no way you do not know about the pandemic which has completely turned our lives upside down. And even if you despise biology, your basic biology knowledge should remind you that the only way of combatting the coronavirus is through a vaccine. The media has also been a key factor to remind us everyday about the race to make a vaccine, and how different nations show their dominance with their ability to secure vaccines after approval. Two popular names which have been associated with COVID-19 vaccines are Moderna and Pfizer. If you have not already seen a meme about the 95% and 90% effectiveness of the vaccines respectively, then you are clearly not a part of an Asian household where nothing short of 100% is acceptable. With both the vaccines being an RNA-virus genetic code, the results of the effectiveness come from preliminary trials. In an article by BBC News, apparently your age and where you are in the world are determining factors on whether you will be able to get a vaccine or not. Moderna says it will apply to regulators in the US in the coming weeks, and it expects to have 20 million doses available in the country. They also hope to have up to one billion doses available for use around the world next year and are planning to seek approval in other countries too. Here’s the catch, while world leaders can use these instances as a win towards ‘defeating the coronavirus’, it is not that simple to get vaccine approvals. Even if under the stressful circumstances, the vaccine is approved, time is the only factor which can determine significant side effects. But who knows, maybe under these desperate conditions, we will just have to accept unpredictable pathologies over dying from a virus. by Saliha Rehanaz
Newsflash: Uprooting Culture and Tradition The Victorian state has cut down sacred Djab Wurrang trees so highway developments can take place. The Djab Wurrang Embassy has protested for over 900 days in opposition to the cutting down of sacred trees and the blatant disrespect the Victorian government demonstrates in light of First Nations sovereignty. The ‘Directions Tree’ protection was a key focus of the Djab Wurrung embassy's work. The sacred tree was deemed culturally significant by the Djab Wurrung people. Many Djab Wurrung women have journeyed to give birth at the sacred tree throughout history. On Monday 26th of October, this sacred tree was ripped from the Earth. This tragic act sent ripples of grief through First Nations communities. The felling of the tree was likened by some to Rio Tinto’s destruction of a 46,000 year old sacred rock formation in Western Australia. The following day more than 25 protestors were arrested at the embassy site as they stood their ground resiliently. One protestor suffered a broken arm by the hands of the police. In response to such adamant and severe opposition to the destruction of the sacred tree the Victorian Government and Major Road Projects Victoria claimed to have consulted with traditional owners. Both stakeholders also stressed that the roads needed to be upgraded as 43 people have died in car crashes due to the condition of the road. "The duplication of the highway will vastly improve safety for people in Victoria’s west and has overwhelming support from both the recognised Traditional Owner groups that represent the Djab Wurrung people," MRPV said in a statement. There were alternatives to this highway where the sacred trees could have been protected. Ms Janet Rice, a Greens MP, suggested the highway could exist for 20kms as a two lane highway in order to save the site. Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation has also been working with the Victorian government since 2017 in designing a plan to protect the trees and continue highway development. Eastern Maar member and Djab Woman Marjorie Thorpe stated she had “major concerns” (NITV, 2020) around the approvals process for the project. "I have been to every full group meeting and never at any stage did the full group decide they want to go against saving these trees," said Ms Thorpe. On the 7th of November, the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN), the UTS Enviro Collective, Usyd Enviro Collective, UNSW Environment Collective, FISTT and NUS Aborigial and Torres Strait Islander Department held a solidarity rally for First Nations people of Djab Wurrung Country. Unity of the people, solidarity with First Nations people and fighting against the system were key sentiments expressed on the mournful day. At MQ, groups that expressed their solidarity for this cause and actively pursue social justice are The Macquarie’s Women’s Collective, the MQ Uni Students for Climate Justice and the Macquarie Socialists; all groups can be found on Facebook. Sovereignty never ceded. Always was. Always will be, Aboriginal land. by Rayna Bland
REGULARS Diprotodon Diprotodon optatum The closest living relatives of the diprotodon are wombats and koalas. They are likely to have gone extinct about 44,000 years ago. This is theorised to have been caused by a combination of changing climate conditions and early Indigenous influence in the form of hunting and fire-stick farming methods, although there is less evidence for the latter.
David Attenborough POP CULTURE REWIND There seems to be few things as universally loved as everyone’s favourite English broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough. Whether it be the captivating visuals or soothing voice overs, there’s truly something for everyone in each of his series and documentaries that keep us coming back. A 2018 poll even revealed Sir Attenborough to be Britain’s most trusted celebrity. So how did this zoologist rise in notoriety and become the beloved pop culture icon he is today?
After achieving a degree in natural sciences, David Attenborough first rose to notoriety during a training program with the BBC in 1950. While executives initially thought his teeth were too big to be featured on television, he was still assigned as producer for the factual broadcasting department. As the BBC had minimal programming covering the natural sciences at the time, his influence began with producing quiz shows such as Animal, Vegetale, Mineral, before eventually working his way to co-presenting. This included the series Animal Patterns, in which animals from London Zoo were brought into a studio. Though, he was dissatisfied with the format of these shows, for taking animals out of their natural habitat and potentially making them uncomfortable. In 1954 Attenborough attempted to rectify this through Zoo Quest, where he earned his first main presenter credit. The series followed David with London Zoo staff, capturing animals for their collection, filmed in combination at the zoo and in the wild. While these practices obviously wouldn’t be accepted today, the show’s intimate yet respectfully distant approach to filming wildlife established this new genre, redefining the standards for nature documentaries. The series’s influence and appeal was so prominent it led to the establishment of the BBC Natural History Unit in 1957. In the following years, the content Attenborough produced and commissioned evolved and increased as he gained a higher role within the organisation. Though, by 1972, he ultimately decided to quit his job to pursue freelance broadcasting and begin working on a natural history epic. Life on Earth was released in 1979, redefining documentary filmmaking and cementing David Attenborough as a household name. The program explored the influence of evolution on nature around the globe, taking hours to shoot, using advanced and unique filming techniques to capture the action. This included camera operators often spending hours on end following specific subjects. By treating his subjects and research seriously, Attenborough and his production team gained the trust of many scientists and ecologists, who responded by allowing him to feature their subjects in his program exclusively. All in all, the show was a great success, gaining an estimated audience of more than 500 million and launching a recurring franchise known as The Life Collection. Across the collection he covered a wide variety of topics from animal behaviour at different stages of life (The Trials of Life), the natural history of Antarctica (Life in the Freezer) and even plants and their growth (The Private Life of Plants). Outside of this collection, he of course worked on an extensive list of natural history documentaries. This includes Planet Earth, the biggest nature documentary ever made and the first BBC wildlife series to be shot in HD in 2006. The sequel Planet Earth II subsequently came out ten years later, scored by none other than Hans Zimmer. He also narrated the BBC show Wildlife on One, which ran for 250 episodes over 28 years and popular documentary The Blue Planet and The Blue Planet II. Working with Netflix in 2019 he narrated the series Our Planet, and in 2020 began filming for his upcoming series, Green Planet. Beyond his work in documentary filmmaking and presenting, he is a renown environmental activist, particularly regarding climate change and environmental emergencies. For sixty years he has advocated for issues including environmental sustainability and animal welfare across his platforms, both within and outside his documentaries. Even some of his early work such as The Living Planet dedicated time to sharing the impact of human society in the destruction of the environment and ways this could be addressed. Despite this, a few environmentalists criticised him for not further acknowledging this impact but instead portraying a false idealistic picture of nature.
Over the years, his advocacy and responses have grown more prominent. For example, he has supported and organised a variety of campaigns and initiatives including work with The World Wide Fund for Nature, The Conservation Volunteers, Wildscreen, World Land Trust, Population Matters and many more. His documentaries State of the Planet in 2000 and Saving Planet Earth in 2007 also directly addressed these issues. In 2020, the release of David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet on Netflix acted as a ‘witness statement’ for him to share his biggest concerns about the current state of the planet and the impacts this will have in future. This included an overview of his life and career and the observations he’s made about the environment and the attitudes of humans toward it. He also outlined some steps individuals, organisations and governments can take to address these issues and begin to solve them. These include promoting more plant-based diets and switching to reusable energy. On a larger scale, he advocates for universal healthcare, increased education for girls and bringing countries out of poverty, all as steps toward stabilising the growing population. While providing a bleak and honest presentation of the state of our Earth, holding us all accountable for our actions, he still provides a hopeful tone that has, and continues to inspire us to care about the world around us and work to protect and save it. And perhaps this is why Sir David Attenborough has been able to hold our attention and interest over all this time. After working in the field for almost seventy years, his passion and enthusiasm for the world and sharing its wonders with us all could not be clearer. With his continual commitment to educating viewers and advocating for a brighter future for the planet, his influence and legacy will long be admired. by Gabby Edwards
I Critically L L Endangered U S T Species R Ain TAustralia E D The facts: we are currently experiencing our 6th mass extinction. Within the span of 20 years, more than 500 species will likely disappear. The same number of species we lost over the past century. The rate of extinction has accelerated with researchers and biologists from Stanford University noting that “extinction breeds extinction.” The natural world relies on biodiversity and so 1 species going extinct may cause a chain reaction of further disappearances. Currently, 32 000 species are threatened with extinction. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species breaks this down into the percentage each animal group is at risk. 41% of amphibians, 26% of mammals, 34% of conifers (plants), 14% of birds, 30% of sharks and rays, 33% of reef corals, and 28% of crustaceans.
Northern hairy-nosed wombat
Scientific name: Lasiorhinus krefftii Number of Mature Individuals: 80 About: The Northern hairy-nosed wombat is the world’s largest burrowing herbivore. They primarily graze on native and introduced grasses. Despite being solitary creatures that are active at night, that tend to share their burrows which are deep underground. Either dung, urine, or scratches will be used to mark the entrance/s of their burrow.
Threats according to IUCN Red List: • • •
Livestock farming and ranching which caused their habitat to be destroyed. Fire and fire suppression. Invasive and other problematic species, genes and diseases e.g. in Epping Forest National Park, the introduction of buffel grass took over its natural habitat.
Hawksbill sea turtle
Scientific name: Eretmochelys imbricata Number of Mature Individuals: Estimate of 20,000–23,000 nesting females About: These turtles have a narrow, pointed beak, which they are named for. The majority of their diet is sponges which they extract from coral reefs with their beaks. They have a uniquely beautiful pattern of scales that overlap on their shells and that has made them a highly sought after commodity. Coastal development and beach armoring has caused degradation in their natural habitat. When hatchlings make their dash to the water after being born they are also likely to mistake artificial light for the moonlight sea and to be snatched by predators because of their mistaken destination.
Threats according to IUCN Red List: •
• • • •
The tortoiseshell trade which has seen millions of Hawksbill sea turtles killed for the tortoiseshell markets of Europe, the United States, and Asia over the last 100 years. Being slaughtered for meat. Developing tropical coastlines for tourism destroys their nesting habitat. Climate change has led to massive coral bleaching events with permanent consequences to their foraging habitat. Pollution, including both oil pollution and the entanglement and ingestion of marine debris.
Scientific name: Anthochaera phrygia Number of Mature Individuals: 350–400 About: The Regent Honeyeater is a striking yellow and black feathered sociable bird that moves in a flock. It will forage for food in foliage or amongst flowers and its diet consists of nectar, plant sugars, insects, spiders, and fruits. The honeyeater uses puddles or pools to bathe in. This bird likes to nest in forks of trees and will breed in either a loose colony or an individual pair.
Threats according to IUCN Red List: • • • • •
75% of its habitat has been cleared for agricultural and residential development. Food sources like nectar have been removed due to removal of large mature trees. Reduced rainfall in south-eastern Australia. The destruction of eggs or nestlings by the introduced House Sparrow, Sugar Glider, Squirrel Glider, Australian Magpie, and Pied Currawong. Internal and external parasites on captive-bred birds which when released could endanger wild populations.
Scientific name: Neophema chrysogaster Number of Mature Individuals: 20–25 About: Named for the circular orange patch on the lower belly of this colourful parrot. They nest in tree-hollows, knotholes in trunks, or holes in dead branches and feed on button grass seeds, fruits, and berries. The parrots migrate between the west coast of Tasmania in summer where they breed and spend winter on the coasts of South Australia and Victoria.
Threats according to IUCN Red List: • • • •
Degradation of their winter habitat by grazing, agriculture, and industrial development. Degradation of their remaining mainland saltmarsh habitat due to a 10-year drought. Competition with introduced seed-eating finches. Deaths from random events, e.g. predation or disease, are significant threats to this tiny population.
Mountain pygmy possum
Scientific name: Burramys parvus Number of Mature Individuals: Estimate of 330 About: This possum is so small it can fit into the palm of a hand. The
mountain pygmy possum inhabits alpine regions and hibernates up to 7 months during winter. They eat berries, seeds, and Bogong moths. Due to pesticide use, droughts, and lights from built up areas, the moths have diverted from their migration route and are also in decline. As a result the pygmy possums do not have enough food to keep their babies alive. Threats according to IUCN Red List: • Road construction, dam/aqueduct construction, and development of infrastructure for the downhill skiing industry at Mt. Bogong and Mt. Higginbotham. • Habitat destruction due to bushfires, particularly in the Kosciuszko habitat. • Predation by feral cats and the introduced Red Fox. • Global warming will intensify threats to this hibernating species. By Jodie Ramodien
I D O N ’Nihilism T GET IT Guten Tag readers and welcome back to I Don’t Get It, where each issue we explore something that gives off some complicated vibes but actually isn’t really complicated at all. For Extinction we are going to be delving into nihilism; the idea that everything is hopeless and meaningless. If you’re like me, 2020 really isn’t the time to be getting into this but trust me reader, there is some solace to be found in the rather beguiling idea of nihilism.
Nihilism first came onto the scene in the late nineteenth century with German philosopher Fredrich Nietzsche’s grim diagnosis of modern society. Literally, nihilism means to believe in nothing, but such a definition is sorely lacking in my opinion. More detail is needed in order for nihilism to really make sense. According to Nietzsche, nihilism describes a particular occurrence in society, where established standards and frameworks of meaning have come undone and in this vacuum arises a sort of existential crisis and a sense of despair. This can most be seen in the loss of value. Here we aren’t talking about ‘values’ per se (although we kind of are in a sense), but rather the act of valuing something, which is detrimental to finding purpose and meaning in life. Putting this into the material terms, for Nietzsche nihilism was the disintegration of the foundation of moral meaning and value in Western civilisation. Judeo-Christian values and the inherited philosophical tradition from those like Plato once offered a metaphysical explanation for life. By metaphysical I mean the sense of a reality outside of human perception, a realm where nothing can truly be verified by us. For example, the soul or a metaphysical being like God. Despite my philosophy lecturers’ pleas to eschew negative definitions, to help define and understand nihilism it is useful to distinguish it from other ideas, such as pessimism and cynicism. Pessimism is the antithesis of optimism, the glass half-empty approach to life. It is easy to see how nihilism and pessimism can be confused but there is a crucial difference between the two. Nolen Gertz neatly explains this difference in reference to Woody Allen’s 1977 film Annie Hall, in which one character Alvy Singer, an obvious pessimist who is struggling to see the point of living, interacts with a couple on the street. The exchange goes something like this: ALVY (He moves up the sidewalk to a young trendy-looking couple, arms wrapped around each other): You-you look like a really happy couple. Uh, uh … are you? YOUNG WOMAN: Yeah. ALVY: Yeah! So … h-h-how do you account for it? YOUNG WOMAN: Uh, I’m very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say. YOUNG MAN: And I’m exactly the same way. ALVY: I see. Well, that’s very interesting. So you’ve managed to work out something, huh? YOUNG MAN: Right. Alvy is a pessimist and the couple are nihilists. Let’s explore why. While the pessimist is overtly grappling with a lack of meaning and purpose, restlessly stumbling through life with a sense of cynicism and melancholy, the nihilists are seemingly happy. Under scrutiny however, it becomes clear that the nihilist couple are not really happy but experiencing a sort of hollow and equally meaningless contentedness. When confronted by a pessimist, a nihilist is questioned as to what lies beneath, they discover there
is actually nothing there to find. There is an optimistic complacency that underpins the nihilist couple’s outlook; they are at best wilfully blind and at worst delusional as to the superficiality of their happiness. Another associated school of thought is cynicism. A cynic ultimately sees society as false and all the morals and values within that society carry no value. Morals are a mirage for self-interest and ardent individualism and anyone who claims to be bound by morals is a liar. The cynic believes only in self-interest and again, it is easy to see how cynicism and nihilism can be confused. Just as pessimists are not nihilists, neither are cynics. A cynic gains fulfilment and purpose in life by uncovering and exposing the naivety of those who respect and believe in the power of morality and norms. They are dubious of people who believe that the world is good, rewards goodness and time unfolds in a positive progression, always improving. Once more, a cynic can reveal a nihilist by challenging their lack of cynicism. This is seen in the argument between Socrates and Thrasymachus in the opening of Plato’s seminal work Republic. Thrasymachus is introduced as mocking Socrates for asking people about what justice means. Thrasymachus asks to be paid in return for telling Socrates what justice truly is and ultimately defines justice as a trick used by the powerful to trick the weak into believing that obedience is justice. It follows then that injustice may be better than justice. In response, Socrates likens political leaders to doctors who have power and knowledge to help others rather than themselves. Thrasymachus characterises such a view as naïve and argues that Socrates is like a sheep who think his shepherd that protects and feeds him does it because he is good instead of because he is fattening them for slaughter. Socrates then spends the rest of his time trying to prove that justice is better than injustice and appeals to metaphysical notions of the soul to do so. Cynicism can only really be counteracted by faith in a metaphysical world that rewards justice for the good of the soul, a claim that has no real grounds in the physical world. It is in this way that Socrates’ nihilism is revealed. We are confronted by the knowledge that under scrutiny, the justification of societal morals and values (at least in their traditional conception from philosophical and religious doctrine) does not exist in the real world. Nihilism then can be described as a mindset that is subliminally aware of a lack of meaning and value but by clinging to superficiality, you can avoid the existential dread that naturally follows this knowledge. This is the basis for Nietzsche’s famous aphorism: God is Dead. And we have killed Him. Let’s unpack this. What Nietzsche is saying is not that God existed and is now dead, but rather that our belief in him is dead. God never existed except as an illusion and now we don’t even really believe in the illusion. This is where is starts to get good. When we are unable to deny nihilism, the lack of inherent value and meaning in the things which we once considered, albeit misguidedly, full of meaning and value there are two typical responses: passive and active nihilism. Passive nihilism, or also described by Nietzsche as decadence, is a cultural phenomenon where people react to nihilism by clinging to the decaying values and morals. Instead of facing the challenge of nihilism in critically evaluating existing moral structures and even positing new goals and values, passive nihilists engage in a form of pessimistic indulgence. The characteristics of such a society are decline, decay and despair; innovation is replaced by stagnation. The source
of the problem lies in the fact that people are wilfully shutting their eyes to the reality that there is no metaphysical justice and people can actually do as they please. Yet stunningly, they continue to appeal to this non-existent source of metaphysical good. Let’s take some real-world examples to see decadence in action. Harry Styles wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue magazine. Some conservative commentators like Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro signalled this act of dismantling fragile notions of patriarchal masculinity as an attack on Western values. They even went as far to coin the phrase “Bring Back Manly Men”, a call to action for proponents of toxic masculinity everywhere. If you’re like me, I found these responses to a man wearing a dress…intriguing. Firstly, why is wearing a dress not manly? Owens claims that no society can survive without strong men. To which a cynic responds, why is a man in a dress not strong? Any answer some conservatives might give to this are going to be problematic due to sexism or absurdity. The only argument I can think of is that it’s not commonplace in the West for men to wear a dress and our conceptions of masculinity have been normalised to the extent that breaking with norms is uncomfortable. Unfortunately, that is not a good enough reason to take on the role of fashion police. Under scrutiny, there is no valid reason as to why a man should be discouraged from wearing a dress. Yet in the face of expanding notions of masculinity and femininity, some still cling to values that have no basis. When confronted by the meaninglessness of the norm that men should not wear dresses (at least in the West), Owens and Shapiro are engaging in pessimistic nihilism. They cannot move beyond the sinking ship that is hegemonic or toxic gender norms and so they baselessly adhere to them. But reader, there is another way. This is my favourite part, because in the face of nihilism, you can be active and respond to meaninglessness in a way that embraces the liberation is offers. Nietzsche himself regarded nihilism as a sign of increased power to the spirit. Despite the brutal reality that comes with nihilism, that the old has fallen away to leave nothing in its place, it is possible to find new values and goals. Rather than whipping a dead horse so to speak, one can engage in a process of re-evaluation of morals and values and in doing so, pushing beyond the pessimism and decadence. When you find that there is no reason, for example, for men to not wear dresses because it doesn’t threaten the fabric of society, you can instead form a new value that says, clothes are for people. Period. Why? Because it is of no consequence in the world whether someone wears one type of fabric or another. It doesn’t matter. You might be slugging away at a job you hate and think to yourself, “one day I’ll be dead, and no one will care that I felt a duty to do this job for whatever reason”. You can either feel a sense of dread at the futility of it all. Or, you can free yourself from whatever pointless factor that made you think you needed to take that job. If you ask yourself why you need to do or not do something and can’t find a good enough reason, it might be because there isn’t one. Nihilism has the potential to liberate. Using a critical lens to evaluate moral norms and societal values is an extremely helpful tool when navigating life and finding meaning for yourself. The key is seeing the freedom it offers. By Harrison Fraser
C HMurderA Mystery: L L OneE LastNTimeG E Hey Sunflowers, this is Sara Zarriello, your Features & Creatives Editor for Grapeshot. Your faithful Regulars Editor, Harry Fraser has gifted me the special honour of narrating our final challenge for this year. Over the course of 2020, Harry has taken all of us on a ride through challenging himself to live on 70 dollars a week to reading his old diaries. Therefore this challenge marks the end of not only this crazy year, but the end of Grapeshot’s 2020 team. For many of us, our roles will change. For some, new responsibilities will be taken up. For a few of us, this was the end of our Grapeshot experience. On Wednesday the 18th of November, the Grapeshot team assembled like the Avengers before some gigantic earth shattering war between galaxies. Well to be fair, it felt more like a drunken Shrek, Donkey and Dragon teaming up to go save a perfectly capable and conscious Princess Fiona from marrying an objectively short cashed up man. Anyways – we gathered in the only place fitting for our last hoorah of sorts, Ubar after hours. Some of the team were fortunate enough to grab the BEST vegan garlic bread to exist before everything closed. Yes this detail isn’t exactly important to the plot of the story, but I have been threatened by the team to include it, so don’t sue me. Enter our Editor-in-Chief, the greatest lawyer-in-training you’ll ever meet and one of the strongest women anyone the team has ever known, Katelyn Free. Laying the law out for us simpletons, she starts by explaining that we’re on a hunt for the dreaded murderer of Macquarie Uni. Who could it be? Why did they kill? Who will they get next? Find out in a few more paragraphs! Patience. It wouldn’t be our last Grapeshot challenge without alcohol, so a bottle of wine is attached to each clue. Literally drinking our way to victory! Before we’re off, we all participate in a good ol’ fashioned Aussie pre’s. A few bottles of wine later and we’re set to boogey our way to this infamous killer. The first clue is hidden in the grassed area past MUSE. Holding red cups and bottles of wine whilst walking through campus is definitely an experience. Especially when you’re in a group of about 12 students who are half-assed attempting to conceal said bottles in their jackets whilst campus carts scoot past. Ce la vie. We make it do our destination in one giggly piece. Everyone lifts their phone lights on the message which directs us to the new building just opposite. There’s a kind of electricity coursing through each of us as we race to find the next clue. Katelyn stays patiently at a safe distance, trying not to give anything away, whilst knowing full well we’ve all walked past the wine… I mean clue, two or three times now. Eventually the bottle/clue is grasped, and we gather again to hear the next clue. Something about ‘a sculpture near the place where water flows’. That’s got to be the lake, right? It is at this point we all start to wonder how the hell Katelyn put these everywhere without being stopped, and how has no one stolen a single bottle yet? After refilling our glasses for the… (well we lost count okay) time, we make our way over footpaths and grass to the place where our next clue lies. The air is warm now, and the only noise comes from our soft chattering and the cicadas. The grass spreads beneath our feet as we walk towards the cool running lake that twinkles underneath the silvering moon, in full view. Our News Editor, Saliha discovers the wine bottle secured in between the folds of the sculpture and reads the third and final clue to our puzzle. Refilling our glasses for one of the last times that night, we slow our pace to a languid stroll now. It feels like no one wants it to end. We reach the building where the Vice Chancellor of our university resides in a small office, with wide windows surrounding it, possibly testing our restraint as we find the last bottle and the last piece of the puzzle. We’ve made it.
As we walk back to the Grapeshot office, there is a wider pause in conversation than usual. For everyone one of us this year has been a test of faith in our creative abilities. It has thrown us curve balls, in the form of online meetings and campus shut downs. The pandemic has affected our social media engagement, printing practices and campus Open Days. This year has not been normal. Maybe that’s exactly what we needed. For you, our reader, we have delivered our stories in very different ways. On Facebook and Instagram we heard you. In our virtual interviews and online fact checking hunts, we researched for you. In our wildly unique designs and our turn to interactivity, we engaged you. Through our theme choices and our wonderful contributors who gave us not only their words, but their creative voices too, we moved you. We’ve brought you the best in one of the worst times. We gave you the most visionary stories and designs available on our campus. A campus full of hope and joy and wisdom. A place that many have found a home in, including us, the Grapeshot team. This year has been special for Grapeshot. Reporting to you in the height of pandemic times, through restrictions and mask wearing. Through 20 second hand washing and the rise of the ‘Karen’ pandemic. This team has weathered it all to provide you with genuine storytelling in all its forms. It feels fitting that we end this momentous year with a group challenge that physically, mentally and emotionally brought our team together. Sitting in the Grapeshot office for one of the last times in my life, I looked around and saw in each person a gift no one else could possess. The true uniqueness of each person who I met throughout my time at Grapeshot has been a blessing. I believe that every single Grapeshot member is of a divergent quality, maybe not always the shiniest prize in the room, but the one of most value – the kind that gets forgotten in a tin somewhere under the earth for centuries, is dug up and breathed new life into by some other person with this great quality. So our quest is over, Donkey can sit beside his favourite boulder, Dragon can yawn without inflaming anyone and Shrek can eat gooey eyeballs in his beloved swamp. Goodbye Grapeshot, I have loved you with all my heart. Now go be something even greater. by Sara Zarriello
W R I T I NRetiring G O NAmbition THE WALL I’ve always felt the weight of potential. Of feeling like I needed to be doing more, doing better. That if I tried hard enough that I could and would achieve great things. But the older you get, the more room there is more failure. For taking the wrong path, not seizing the right opportunity. The margin of error expands and expands until you wonder whether that potential you used to feel has ever truly been within reach. Up until this year, I felt that my achievements outweighed the failures. I considered myself ‘accomplished’, an ‘achiever’, someone who was on the path to do the great things I’d always fantasised about as a teenager. Until I failed at getting two of the most important jobs of my career. Two jobs that would’ve defined my final year at university and my graduate life. Two opportunities I desperately wanted, even needed. While this is not the most life altering thing to happen to any individual this year, to me these failures gave way to reckoning on the person I thought I was going to be and the person I actually have the capacity to be. They made me rethink my ambition. What it was I was actually striving for, and who I actually wanted to be. Failing at something that felt seminal to my future success, derailed me. The plans I made were no more and never would be within my reach again. I had to re-frame my life with that failure in it. It couldn’t be painted over or covered up, it was obvious and glaring. It was like everyone who looked at me could see it. I spent nights awake, scrolling my phone. Frantically searching for something to fill the black hole in my future prospects. My sleep started to dwindle into a few hours a night as I became increasingly consumed with dread and worry. The more I tried to compensate, the more desperate became, the more deeply resentful I found myself. Both with others and myself. I resented myself for not being smart enough, witty enough, charming enough. Not saying the right things or being the right version of myself when it counted. And I resented others for succeeding where I had failed. For it being so easy for them, so effortless. Their achievements seemed to float into their lives, a natural destination for these people who did what I could not. As I watched others succeed, I felt a knot at the back of my throat that maybe I had been wrong all along: I wasn’t good enough. That potential I believed I had seemed to be rapidly fading away, a kind of fairy tale I’d told myself as a teenager. Except the happy ending hadn’t materialised and didn’t feel like it would. In the depths of my rage at myself and my past hopes I began to question my ambition entirely. When would I be satisfied? When would I feel like I had achieved enough? When would I finally think that I had fulfilled the expectations both myself and others put on me? The more I frantically searched and tried the more it became clear that I would never feel satisfied. I would never feel that I had achieved enough or fulfilled the endless expectations that were choking me and stealing away my sleep. That’s the thing about ambition, it compounds relentlessly. Your achievements become signs of your potential and need to go further, try harder. There becomes an endless list of new territory to cross. This is never a point will there will be enough. Ambition becomes an insatiable hunger. A hunger which can rob you of perspective, rob of joy in what your have achieved. I still feel the weight of potential. Still fear I won’t reach it. That fear is worse now than it has maybe ever been, and I believe now more than I ever have that perhaps I won’t reach my potential. Won’t be successful. Won’t be someone who is ‘accomplished’. Or someone who would achieve great things. But if that happens, I hope I’ll be okay with it. I hope that I won’t let me ambition crush my perspective and joy. Because I have done great things. Because, in the end, my job and my career won’t define my life or anything meaningful in it. If my career is my main source of joy and purpose, I don’t want that career. I want perspective. I want to be able to see outside myself and my failures and recognise that they ultimately aren’t that important. I want to retire my ambition, so I can live my life.
Y O U Dunmore A RLangE College HERE For some, living with a bunch of other uni students would be their worst nightmare but for me, it has been a lifesaver. Dunmore Lang College is one of the many student accommodation options at Macquarie University and for myself and about 250 others, it’s home. Before you ask, no it is nothing like the American colleges you see in movies. In my opinion, this is far better and far less culty. Dunmore Lang College, more affectionately known as DLC, is a place to have fun, meet other people you never thought you would, and create a family you never knew you needed. Oh, and it is a place to focus on your tertiary studies too. You will find us nestled between Robert Menzies College and the ever growing towers of apartments along Herring Road. Blink and you will miss us, but those who you meet here will leave a lasting impact on your life. From the outside, it looks like the Abnegation buildings in Divergent (you’ll appreciate the 2014 reference once you see it), but on the inside, it is bursting with colour, vibrancy and excitement. If there is one word to describe the exterior (and interior for that matter) of DLC, it would be bricks. Every inch of this building is covered with soft honey bricks. Bricks that residents here have grown fond of over the years. Years from now, if we ever see an Instagram photo of someone with these bricks behind them, we will instantly know it is DLC and be flooded with memories. I am originally from a small suburb called Kings Langley. Which is kind of near Blacktown but also kind of near Glenwood. Yes, I’m aware that is literally only 20 minutes away from Macquarie but I was fortunate enough to gain a scholarship here at DLC. For various reasons, Kings Langley wasn’t right for me anymore, and DLC provided me with somewhere I could feel at home. I am one of the very few people who live here who are from Sydney. A large portion of DLC is made up of rural and regional students who come from all over the country. Mostly from small country towns that I had never heard of, and probably would never hear about if I didn’t live at DLC. There are also a number of International students that enrich DLC like breaths of fresh air. The dining hall is the beating heart of this college. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunches, 9 pm supper during exams, Monday night pancakes, Wednesday night toasties, formal dinners - it all happens in the dining hall. The weekday lunch rushes are always filled with excitement. You’ll either find people buzzing around trying to quickly eat their Friday fish and chips before their class, or those who have just gotten out of bed just in time to make it to lunch. Either way, you will always catch yourself having a chat and a laugh with someone. This is a stark contrast to the weekend brunches, where the smell of bacon wafts through everyone’s windows, cooked by a groggy resident who is still recovering from the previous night’s expeditions. Every year, the Residential Advisors will go to extreme lengths to decorate their floors with different themes. From Disney and Monsters Inc. to Stranger Things and Star Wars, every floor you enter is like entering a different funhouse filled with memes and cutout photos. The Residential Advisors are like our parents away from home, who give up their time to make sure their floor is supported and having the best time possible. DLC is also a unique college in that it has various student-led groups that ensure everyone here is respected and made to feel like they belong. There is an established student-led group, called Narrilila (Darug for Standing Together), that promotes Indigenous excellence and ensures that there is a strong connection to
culture at DLC. There is also a student-led Queer and Allies group that provides a safe space for LGBTQI+ residents. I consider DLC to be a micro utopia of what this world could look like if we treated each other with kindness, compassion and respect. The people who choose to live at DLC are compassionate, generous and most importantly, respectful. It is not every day that you can be sitting at a dinner table with people from all over the world and get to learn about their lived experiences that differ so greatly from your own. No one here is categorised by who they are or where they came from. Irrespective of sexuality, gender, class or ethnicity, you are a DLC resident and you belong in this family. Here you will find friends whose paths would have never crossed if they didn’t bump into each other in the halls, or at an O-Week event, or at dinner, and now they can’t imagine a life where they didn’t know each other. All it took was one small decision to move to DLC and they never looked back. I could go on about this place for hours, and I’m sure my fellow residents could too. Everyone here has a unique story filled with resilience, perseverance and love. So if you are ever in a class with someone who says they live at DLC, or you spot these iconic bricks in the back of their zoom call, ask them about where they have come from and what they think about DLC. I can guarantee that you will find out so much more about this world than you previously thought. By Ky Stewart.
FEATURES Bluff Downs Giant Python Liasis dubudingala At 10 meters long, the giant python was the largest Australian snake ever, and larger than any living snake species. It lived in the place we now call Queensland during the early Pliocene, becoming extinct about 5 million years ago.
Love Nature More.
It's hard to care more about nature when we have so much more “urgent” stuff constantly keeping us busy. The relatively slow threat of environmental collapse lacks that urgency punch we feel when we need to pay bills or meet a deadline at Uni or work. Maybe that's the reason why we don't change. Or maybe we think that because we live in cities, the melting glaciers, the coral bleaching and the burning forests are not really our business. It’s not like we’re deliberately trying to fuck the planet. “It’s not really my fault” we all seem to think. Besides, what can one possibly do to fight a crisis of planetary proportions, when there are entire nations and industries destroying everything on an overwhelming scale? I'm all about the social aspect of the environment. Every major environmental issue involves human activities. We are the problem, there is no way around it, and it’s scientifically proven. Our excessive demand of resources, our lifestyles, our obsession with money. Development and progress in terms of money, where happiness is abundance and success is profit. Even freedom means economic freedom. The monetization of everything is our disease. Our relationship with nature is the problem. The good news is that positive change also relies completely on us. Every potential solution to the climate crisis involves our actions. Almighty science alone can’t save us from this one. Neither can technology. We need to engage and do stuff. Small things if you will, big things if you can. Only our collective efforts can heal the planet. Even better: our collective power can shape the economy and the political discourse. But we need to care more, to love nature more. Love is a very powerful thing. We protect what we love. The first thing then is to reconnect with nature. To feel the awe, to be humbled and mind-blown. We are nature too. It’s in us. Let’s be out more, feel the sun, dive in the sea, get lost in the forest, climb a mountain, sleep under the stars. Love nature again, get attached to it. Then find your own way to do something. Recycle, buy sustainably, eat better, protest, donate… whatever works for you. Just get on board already! My thing has been cycling, and it hasn’t even been a sacrifice. It happened organically. I started in Mexico City using public bicycles because the traffic there is madness, and I immediately loved the freedom that came with it. No tickets, no parking fees, no registration papers, no insurance, no fuel, no traffic… and yeah, no emissions. Instead some good cardio, panoramic views and adventure-vibes. In fact, I believe riding is so uncomplicated it changes your mood and your entire mindset. It takes you to different places.
Fast forward a few years in my story, I'm crossing Cuba by bike with some friends for over a month. Ain’t that the definition of positive change right there. So simple, so rewarding and yet a pretty big deal in terms of sustainable actions when you consider that the transport sector is one of the biggest contributors of carbon emissions and climate change. I haven’t owned a car in almost 10 years now and I don’t think I ever will again. And don’t get me wrong, I love driving on the open road listening to my music but I’d rather just rent a car when that happens or take an Uber once in a while, get in the backseat and relax. Easy.
Here in Sydney, I got my awesome second-hand bike from another MQU student for $50 AUD. It’s not much but it does the job. I spruced her up, gave her some love and now we're cool. I’m collaborating with the Mq Cycling Network (IG @MqCyclingNetwork) to create awareness and inspire others to ride.
They know A LOT about cycling. They can advise you on the best routes around campus, the end-of-trip facilities, safety basics, mechanics, news and events. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need some advice and if you need a little boost to find the courage and start riding. Or maybe just find your own way to get involved. It is your problem too, you know?
by Jimmy García
In Between Two Worlds Melting ice cream, scattered snack packets and the deafening laughter and chatter drowns the ticking of the clock. She eyes towards the packed suitcases and then to the sleepy eyes and warm smiles in front of her. A yearning in her heart arises, an ache she had been suppressing, tears that she had been controlling. “I don’t wanna go…” she says in a meek, almost inaudible voice. They all stop and look at her, as if waiting for her to say this very sentence. As if even through all the noise, they were listening for her silence, waiting for her to form words. Nobody responds. Mourning lingers in the air. She stands up and paces to and fro, almost wanting the room to be bigger than what it is, so the space could engulf all that she feels. Visibly frazzled and exhausted, she plonks herself down on a chair and starts to sob uncontrollably. “You… you… okay? You alright?” One of them asks her, placing a gentle palm on her heaving shoulder. She lifts her head up, angered black eyes, moist with tears, boring into their helpless souls. “It’s time”, she says and drags a suitcase out of the room with her. The rest of them follow with her luggage to the car. Formalities of hugs and good-byes are exchanged with some embraces lasting too long for oxygen to remain. She drives off with her father, taking in all the scenes that the dark night and her tearyblurred eyes allow her to. They will all leave too. They have to. This soil, this land, this country never promised us a forever. That is the destiny of the persecuted. The need for migration claws up to us and digs us off our roots and plants us into new soil, foreign soil that bears no familiarity, just a hope of survival. It has been eight years. That night still haunts me and not in a 2:00 am nightmare kind of way. Memories creep up to me in the middle of a busy afternoon when I am intently listening to Mr Shaun Wilson’s lecture podcast about the social dynamics of inequality. That night replays in front of my eyes when one of my ‘oblivious from reality’, naive and privileged students from the school I work at says, “How horrible was World War II. I am glad there are no wars in the world anymore.” I am drawn to think about it when a fellow university mate from the same ethnic background as myself says he is raised in Australia, when I ask him where he is from. I ask what age he moved here and he replies, “thirteen.” I feel an uninvited gut-wrenching anger and I don’t identify the source immediately. I was thirteen years old when I had to flee to Australia with my family. I was not raised here. I was raised in a place where my mother-tongue was the preferred language and where Eid was a public holiday. But it still remains as difficult a concept to explain to them as it was eight years ago when a friend of my mom asked me why I missed Pakistan. “That country took away your Grand-father. You were in danger there. Our community lives in constant danger there,” she said. Try explaining that to a thirteen year old whose accent was not mocked upon in her native country, who missed the smell of soil when it rained there, who would do anything to have those winters sitting in a quilt with all her cousins laughing at the lamest jokes while eating peanuts. I try to shake that night away from my mind. The first time I was successful in doing that was during a year eight school formal assembly. Lost in the chorus of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ it occurred to me that I had fallen in love with this country, this new home of mine. That feeling has stayed with me. I have grown to love and respect this land that has given me and my family a new life. I have done my best to fit in.
Sydney suburbs are awake early morning and bathing in the warmth of a fierce November sun. I catch the 611 bus to my university for a session two exam. Outside the exam room, I exchange casual “good mornings” and “the weather is so hot today” with some of my classmates. One of them responds with “I know, man I wonder how you handle your head-covering in such heat.” I look at her. I don’t see any mocking or racism, just an innocent curious wonderment. I go back to that night. Then I go back to many days and nights back in Pakistan. My family was proud, and my friends had a newfound respect for me when I started wearing a hijab. I never had to try to fit in. I just did! Sorrows of that night follow me. Thoughts come and go of what could have happened and what could have been if we didn’t migrate. Would we even have been alive? Would we have been living in hiding? Or would we have thrived and lived normally in between our own people. There is no way to know. “Distinguish melancholy from sadness… You need to breathe. And you need to be,” Albert Camus states in his autobiography ‘Notebooks’. I don’t let go of memories, of what was and what could have been, nor do I separate myself from the reality of what is and what will be. I bask in the radiant Sydney sun eating a Zooper Dooper viewing its reflection in the water at Parramatta riverside park. I think of melting ice cream, scattered snack packets and deafening laughter and chatter. by Sofia Ihsan
Death, Doomsday, and Disastrous Predictions
Why we’re obsessed with the end and what you can do about it
It’s a familiar scene: Two characters stand side by side, gazing out across the destroyed landscape of the earth. It’s grey, it’s dark and their loved ones have most certainly been killed. Yet we still watch, glued eagerly to our TV screens and the characters’ creeping demise. It’s all just a little bit strange, isn’t it? Since the dawn of time, humanity has been obsessed with the end of the world and our own personal expiry. But whether we snuff it by natural causes or some gigantic catastrophic event, we will always be fascinated by the end: it’s final, it’s scary and it’s everywhere. The concept of doomsday is nothing new and seems to play a role in much of recorded history. Religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism highlight this event in their beliefs, impacting much of the world’s population. In fact, doomsday predictions predate even organised religion with the oldest written story – a 5,000-year-old Sumerian text called The Epic of Gilgamesh – which describes how a Goddess wishes to raise the dead from the underworld in order to destroy the living. Yikes. It’s clearly evident that our fascination extends across cultures and, in particular, contemporary popular culture. Everywhere you look from music, to books, to jokes, to cinema, we just seem to love death. I know some of my favourite films and TV shows – like Doctor Who, Brave New World, Harry Potter, The Matrix, Inception – centre their plots around death or at least have some main character tragically kicking the bucket way before their time. Doctor Who even has episodes named ‘The Unquiet Dead,’ ‘The End of the World,’ and ‘Doomsday’; and that’s only from season one. So why are we so obsessed with our grim demise? Social psychologist Daniel Sullivan suggests that this fascination could be a way for us to cope with potential danger and evil in the world. “Obviously, the world is a chaotic place and people have trouble predicting what will happen to them,” he tells Newsweek. “Sometimes it is preferable to see danger as coming from one single identifiable source…than it is to simply imagine that danger is endlessly complex and simple.” Sullivan also says that we may make doomsday predictions in order to avoid randomness, an annoying basic human instinct. “When I think about doomsday predictions, it reminds me of a classic study in which participants were told they were
going to receive an electric shock,” says Sullivan. “The majority of participants opted to receive the shock right away rather than wait for it to happen randomly.” We humans also have a strange attachment to death because, well, it scares us. “It’s something we fear and things we fear we are also intrigued by,” says Dr. Jeff Greenberg, social psychologist at the University of Arizona. “There is a natural interest into the things that we worry about and that scare us. There is a fascination with us.” Although we may love death in popular culture, we are actually terrified of admitting that we’ll die, even though it’s the inevitable. A 1987 study suggests that people born after World War II “generally lack firsthand experience with death” and that the concept of death and dying has become “abstract and invisible.” We have become a ‘death-denying culture’ where we politely say someone has passed away, that they’ve departed, gone to heaven, or, if you’ve ever euthanised a pet, been put down or put to sleep. To add to this, we generally segregate the dead and dying into hospital and nursing home environments, where we hand over the grim task to professionals, like funeral directors. According to the National Institute of Mental Health in America, the average American will have seen 18,000 murders on television, all by the age of 16. It has further been suggested that violent death “befalls five percent of all prime-time characters each week.” This honestly shocks me. We see so much death, yet we still don’t accept that we’re going to die. What on earth is going on? So, what should you do when faced with death and doomsday? Author Phil Torrens suggests that we should study basic epistemology – a fancy term meaning nature, origin and knowledge. “[It] may sound odd or pedantic, but we simply can’t expect to navigate the wilderness of big-picture risks before us if our beliefs about the world aren’t properly hinged to reality,” he tells Psychology Today. “Humanity must divest itself from change-resistant dogma and blind ideology, and instead embrace a philosophy of critical thinking. Evidence is our very best “guide to truth,” and without true beliefs about reality, our chance of dying in the wilderness could be high.” Along with knowledge, I also believe we need to change our perception of death. Yes, it’s scary – I certainly think about my impending doom but, most of the time, it’s easier to just not think about. This, however, is not the healthiest mind set. We all push aside our own demise in favour of a bright future. But death shouldn’t be something we are scared of because we are all going to die. It’s what makes us human and our existence more meaningful. Thinking about death is uncomfortable, we just don’t know what will happen to us. But try, if you can, to cosy up to death. Get familiar with it. Try to embrace the idea and all its scariness; and be grateful for the time you have. by Aylish Dowsett
Languages on the BBrink rink
In the Age of Extinction, technology can help or hinder cultural preservation. The extinction of languages is an ongoing process across the world. Every two weeks, the last speaker of a language dies, and at the current rate 50-90% of languages will be extinct by the end of this century. Imperialism and globalisation are two critical factors in driving languages and their respective cultures to extinction. The Sinicization of Tibet has eradicated much of Tibetan culture, including languages. This form of cultural genocide leads to rising crime rates and mental health issues. In Canada, one study found that youth suicide in Indigenous populations dropped to almost zero when members of their communities could speak conversationally in their native languages. Languages are an integral part of cultural identity, and when people lose their cultural identity, it severely detriments their mental health. In Australia, at least 100 Aboriginal languages have been lost since the arrival of European colonists who committed a violent genocide which aimed to erase Indigenous people and their culture from their land. The oldest living cultures in the world belong to Australia’s indigenous population, and it is a tragedy that we as a society have endangered it's survival. But not all language extinction can be attributed to cultural genocide which is enacted systematically by settlers and governments. On the internet, approximately only 7% of the world's languages have been published online. The internet excludes marginalised communities and has also forced many people to learn English and abandon their native languages. For example, Spanish and English are two languages dominating the web. Spanish is the primary language spoken in Guatemala. The problem with this is that there are 22 Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala, but these dialects have no representation online. This effectively forces the language speakers to learn Spanish for them to be able to access information and engage with the world. Only 57% of the world's population have access to the internet and online infrastructure. That means that about 3 billion people are offline, a huge amount of people who aren’t writing, communicating or sharing with the world. Clear drivers behind this are poverty, instability and other factors limiting the development of infrastructure. But one often overlooked aspect is the language online content is in. Over 80% of Wikipedia articles come from Europe and North America; 75% of domains also come from these regions. This lack of accessibility is likely part of what prevents people from using the internet. Not only does this block out marginalised groups but also disincentives people from learning them. Why would someone choose to learn a rare Indigenous Mayan language, when they could learn English or Spanish and interact with a far larger group of people. There are other limits to the accessibility of the internet which seem small but have significant impacts, for example, keyboards are often not available in indigenous languages; instead, they are only manufactured for dominant ones. Another contributor to this issue is the fact that some indigenous languages simply have no written form which further complexifies this multifaceted issue. It should come as no surprise that tangible inequality offline is reflected on the internet, where Indigenous language speakers are excluded from conversations, information and entertainment.
It is imperative that the internet adapts to its users rather than the other way around. But there are projects taking advantage of modern technology to develop innovative solutions to the problem of language extinction. For the first time, we have the technological capacity to record languages so that even if their native speakers die out, there will always be a video record. Wikitongues is a nonprofit based in New York who record languages. Their founders Bogre Udell and Frederico Andrade aim to create an archive of every language in the world. So far they have documented over 300 and are aiming to reach 1000 soon. In ancient civilisations, languages can be indecipherable or impossible to speak because we have no idea how to pronounce their sounds. Not only does this project preserve current languages, but it has also discovered one from Vanuatu which had never before been heard. Similar to this, National Geographic's Enduring Voices project compiles audio, definitions and images to document rare languages. Working to bring the internet to people who speak the Mixtec language of Mexico (over half a million people), Victorias Aguilar is currently developing a typeface which will enable her to write online using her language. Wikipedia has acknowledged the issue of multilingual diversity and has published in over 300 languages. However, they rely on second-hand sources and what already exists online. In some ways, corporations such as Wikipedia have made a significant contribution to the preservation of languages, but ultimately communities, media and journalism all need to build these sources. Fortunately for oral languages, Lingua Libra, A Wikimedia project was launched in 2018 and hoped to record as many verbal languages as possible. In Australia, the government has invested 5 billion dollars in the Indigenous Advancement strategy and is also investing in initiatives to recognise the role of language and culture for Aboriginal people. Currently, massive conversations are occurring between the government and Indigenous groups to discuss how to use technological solutions to preserve Indigenous languages. The United Nations had predicted that 90% of the world’s population will have access to the internet by 2050 and ultimately the rising importance of technology in our lives will either help or hinder the preservation of minority cultural groups. by Eleanor Taylor
Against Eco-Fascism hUmAnS aRe ThE vIrUs!!1! The memes might be funny, but there’s a darker side to them – something called eco-fascism. Eco-fascism is a fairly recent ideology that rejects the nonviolent methods of mainstream environmentalism, instead favouring the extremist view that the reduction of human populations (and therefore, negative human impact) is the only viable way to save the planet from climate change and environmental destruction. Humans are the virus, and should therefore be eliminated, etc. etc. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of eco-fascism. After all, wouldn’t the easiest way to save the earth from humans would be to reduce the number of humans? To eco-fascists, I would ask the following question: which humans do you propose we ‘reduce’? The burden, I predict, will almost always fall on the poor, the workers, the disadvantaged, and the underprivileged.
According to Oxfam’s 2015 Extreme Carbon Inequality report, “the richest 10 percent of people produce half of the planet’s individual-consumption-based fossil fuel emissions, while the poorest 50 percent — about 3.5 billion people — contribute only 10 percent.” This isn’t a human problem. The eco-fascist viewpoint neglects to perceive the real threat – the real ‘virus’ – to the environment: capitalism. It is capitalism and the craving for profit it necessitates that drives environmental destruction, that pushes stakeholders to oil over solar or nuclear energy, that discards or destroys un-purchased food and clothing instead of selling it for cheaper, that puts a Maccas and a Starbucks on every corner. Not humans. The answer to climate change is radical change, both in politics and in industry. As scientist and journalist Leigh Phillips states in his work Austerity Ecology and the Collapse-Porn Addicts, the left wasn’t always so diametrically opposed to industrial, economic, or technological progress. “Rather,” Phillips argues, “our demand has always been that the fruits of civilisation be extended to all of humanity. When did we turn away to the idea that capitalism was the problem, and begin to believe that it was modernity instead, or even the advent of mankind itself, that was the problem?” To stand against progress is to stand against our inevitable future. Rather than reducing the human population, we need to channel it positively. Invest in environmental scientists, in politics that champions environmental restoration and progress, in modernisation that benefits the earth. Technological and socio-political progress that is free from capitalism harnesses the best parts of humanity and has the actual ability to make this world habitable for future generations. Ending humanity is a stupid idea. It’s a cop-out, a waste of time to consider. It’s exactly what corporate interests would want if humankind wasn’t so vital to their profits. Ingenuity, technology, industry, and humanity are necessary to be able to engineer a future that is sustainable. It is the investor and the corporation, not the worker or the technology that drives climate change and environmental degradation. Yet it is the worker and the technology, not corporate capitalism, that ecofascists attack. So next time you see a meme saying that ‘hUmAnS aRe ThE vIrUs’, contemplate what that means. Try not to forget that humans have also been the ones fighting the [corona]virus, making PPE for doctors, developing vaccines, donating to charities, and helping their neighbours. It is capitalism that is the virus, capitalism that withholds vaccines for profit and makes charities a social necessity and turns neighbours against each other. Don’t be an eco-fascist. It’s still fascism. We need to push towards progress and away from capitalism, not get caught up in a disturbing, fantastical make-believe wherein all humans except you and your select few cease to exist ‘for the good of the earth.’ Humans are not the virus. Humans are living things with hearts and minds and consciousness and the ability to make the world a better place. Capitalism, however, is not a living thing; it does not have a heart or mind or consciousness or the ability to make the world a better place. by Steph McCarthy-Reece
We, the Thanatonautes “Le secret de la liberté, c'est la librairie.” – Bernard Werber This quote comes from a book I read so long ago I barely remember it, Les Thanatonautes, and it translates to “the secret of freedom, is the bookstore.” An interesting notion right? That freedom is obtained at the price of a paperback book that you found in a small second-hand bookstore hidden away down an alley. But the name of the book itself has always fascinated me, even captivated me in the way a beautiful person strikes an unending envy to be them. I wanted to understand how we could be Thanatonautes, the name itself functioning like ‘astronaut’ but rather than walking amongst the stars you’re dredging through death. Death has always been a part of this world for me, something just out of reach – hushed tones too quiet to hear – so that what we see is never what it means. It never quite makes sense. As a child I wondered what death entailed, for the end is rarely the end and sometimes the beginning isn’t the beginning. If we die does it all cease to exist or does the world keep spinning? I’ve always craved to know death, like people wish to know a lover’s embrace or the gift of childbirth. I wanted the rules to be clear and I wanted them to be just, how naïve a child I was. It’s a pretty dark topic, one that most people shy away from. Maybe it’s too uncomfortable to admit that time is running out and one day we’ll be all out of time – can a person truly starve on time? It’s these sobering thoughts I think that people run from. I guess recently I haven’t had that luxury. This year my Grandmother has been in and out of hospital numerous times and I can see my family living with the sobering reality of the inevitability of what comes next. But that isn’t why I’ve decided to talk about death. You see I had a dream recently – I was walking through a hospital, down a hallway with open doors, the staff were gliding around, entering and leaving rooms and talking in hushed tones. I made it to a room and entered. It was a room for my mother, and she was laid out on the bed – gaunt and tired, red of face and short of breath. She was dying. The scene was horrific. Whilst it was a dream it still pervaded my every thought; I woke up startled and sweat stained in the middle of the night. The rest of those witching hours were spent in a fretful limbo unable to sleep but only half awake. I’ve had dreams and nightmares since I was a kid, and some of them have been far worse and others have been kinder – like feathers on the wind. This dream was different somehow. My mother was rushed to hospital a few days later. I was afraid, I’ll be the first to admit it. I was scared. And here was my mother
being rushed to the place I’d dreamt of – I’m ashamed to say I let my fear control me. I did not handle the situation very well, but I’m sure you can imagine why. I’m old enough to not let my dreams affect my reality but at that time my dreams and reality felt like one in the same. John Keats, one of my favourite poets, placed that version of myself into words within Ode to a Nightingale: “Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music: — Do I wake or sleep?” Sometimes it’s hard to separate our dreams from our realities. It’s nice knowing I’m not the only person plagued by this. There’s another quote from Les Thanatonautes that made me question the function of death in all its form – “La mort était le meilleur remède contre tous les petits maux de l'existence”. Approximately meaning, ‘Death was the best remedy for all the little ailments of existence’. And I guess that’s true. Death ends the hunger of the starved, quenches the thirst of the parched, alleviates the burdens of pain from the suffering. In a way it is the panacea, the cure-all that humanity craves, and it is the philosophers’ stone, an elixir of life. It is the fountain of youth and we all drink from it eventually. Whereas life is a constant vigil against torment, death seems to encompass a removal of the suffering. Maybe that thought is radical – but maybe, just maybe, it’s true. The fact is we don’t know. The dead so seldom deem to inform the living of anything. Ashes to ashes and all that. I wonder, is that saying why some people choose to burn their dead? When I die, I think I want them to grow flowers upon my grave. I don’t need a tombstone – those are never really for the dead anyways; they are for those of us that persevere. But I want flowers or a tree, something that marks that I’m nothing but nature now, that I am nothing but green. Small little daffodils upon a hilltop – that shall mark me. I don’t think I’ll get into heaven or any form of paradise. I’ve made so many mistakes and I’ve lived outside what is considered normal – and sometimes what is considered right. I don’t need a golden city in the sky, nor a vision of fire and brimstone beneath the earth. I’d like to stay here. Even if it’s not in a bodily form. Maybe I’ll cease to exist and only my spirit, that most primal form of me, will carry on – an echo of my memory. But I guess we don’t know do we? And I don’t have any more answers than you do. But I guess we’ll find out when we die. All things must end, but as Keats said, “The poetry of the earth is never dead”. From our lives something else shall arise, we just don’t know what it will be. I think what Werber is trying to say in the quote I used to open this piece is that, freedom from the world and all it’s harshness begins with art in its purest form – the book, the stories we tell, the memories we hold. A way of exploring death by creating an alternate, by building something in its stead. There’s a reason people cling to the teachings of the Bible, of the Qur’an, of the Mysteries of Greek cults, of the Torah, of the Lun Yu, of the Adi Granth, of the nights my mother pushed the hair back from my brow and spoke wonders in hushed tones. Maybe that’s all we are. Thanatonautes finding some meaning in life through the worlds we create and through our explorations of death. Life is all that more beautiful because it’s finite and soon we’ll be nothing more than memories. by Rhys Cutler
CREATIVES Giant Flamingo Phoeniconotius eyrensis This bird lived in Arabana Country at Kati Thanda (European name: Lake Eyre), which was a vast inland lake that supported a thriving ecosystem. Interestingly, another flamingo species also lived at Kati Thanda, and their differing diets allowed them to coexist without competing with each other. The giant flamingo became extinct due to the formation of the outback and the increasing aridity in the area.
UNDER THE WATTLE TREE by Aylish Dowsett
My paws are raw, pink with lavender smudges. I’ve been digging, digging, digging for hours and I am yet to see the black and pearl sky. My stomach calls and rumbles. Darkness strokes me I shiver. The hairs on my nose prickle. Ma and Pa are gone. They left early to feed. But I slept, longer dreaming of silky roots and snow grass and crunchy bursts of flowers. Then the monsters came and I woke. My world shook and screamed. I hid until those arms, beetle black cheery and roaring, left. They’d never been so close before.
I begin to dig again, one paw after another. Burnt dust clogs my claws. My stomach yearns. My breath quickens. If I just keep digging, digging, digging I might get out. I think of Ma and Pa huddled, worried, scared. Their brown coats splashed with dust. Ma’s face. Again I dig and dig and dig. I won’t give up, dig dig dig. Never. But then, something moves beyond the wall. Voices, loud soft urgent. Have the monsters come back? I freeze I sniff. They smell different of sweat, and dirt and flowers. Fear. Or is that just me? The wall begins to shatter and I cower as it crumbles. My world shakes and screams once more. Golden light blinds me and I cover my eyes. When will this end? Then there is silence. I breathe out. I open one eye.
A cream head peers at me holding the golden light. A darker one nods, noises I don’t understand tumble from its mouth. I squint and rub my eyes looking up. The pearl sky. But then, another noise a call and my head snaps down. Ma. I jump skidding around the startled faces. I run run run. Ma, Ma, Pa. I see them huddled like I thought under a wattle tree. I leap and tumble into them. Pa cries, Ma wipes the dust from my claws, my coat my eyes. I am home.
BROKEN THINGS. by Glenn A. Kershaw
Detective Inspector Sheridan Quay paused. It was one of the things he did, a technique he used with a suspect. Not that Johnny Dash was a suspect anymore. His alibi had checked out, still there was one last thing Quay needed to know, one last piece of the jigsaw puzzle. No, not a jigsaw. Susie, his wife, had always laughed at him for using that metaphor. She said solving a crime was like smashing a bowl then restoring it with gold paste and resin. As if what you finished up with was the same as the original. Better. The Japanese had a name for the art, he tried to remember but the word wouldn’t come. Susie knew of course, she knew all about that stuff. For a moment his mind left the interview room and he imagined his daughter, Asuka, pushing herself around in her walker laughing, getting into things as Susie tried to work on a pot. Quay looked up at Johnny Dash. He was an everyday man, with an everyday face. ‘Tell me about your relationship with your brother,’ Quay asked. Johnny Dash looked tired. Deep lines ran around his eyes, his head drooped. ‘I went through this with that copper,’ he ground out, nodding behind him to where Detective Constable Andrew White rested his back against the tiled wall. Quay lent forward, looking deeply into Dash’s eyes, searching. ‘Well, tell me about it, Johnny.’ Johnny Dash’s eyes flared like fireworks. ‘It’s not Johnny, right! That was Franky. He was into all that. It’s just John, John Dash.’ Quay liked this interview room. The lights weren’t so bright they washed out the lies, nor the shadows so dark they hid them. There was no smell of cigarettes or fear. ‘Right, John Dash. Tell me about it,’ asked casually, more casually than he felt. He glanced at the clock on the recording machine. Time was against him. Dash put his head in his hands as if the weight had become too much for him. ‘We were just a couple of boys, you know? The type you see down the street. At first.’ Boys down the street, where all the girls meet. Quay filed that away. ‘But Franky had it, just like dad, only more. Franky was good with the piano and fucking awesome on the axe.’ Blues for a Single Girl had played softly in the background while Quay and Susie had made love. Before the pregnancy. ‘And Franky had the pipes, see?’ John said. ‘When the band did that gig at the Colosseum…’ ‘I had the live album,’ Quay said. Susie had bought it for him. He kept the remark matter-of-fact but it prompted Dash. ‘Yeah. Like an angel. I felt the song in my soul.’ The song in my soul. Quay added that to the list. ‘But you didn’t have it?’ Quay asked. Now Dash stared Quay in the eyes. ‘I can play, you know. But it wasn’t that. Kelley, she’s my kid, Kelley and me, we liked to watch Franky and the band on the box, Wembley and the Greek. That was his life, it wasn’t mine.’ Quay changed tack, going slowly after his objective. ‘After the fifth album Franky went into seclusion,’ Quay stated, ‘about a year before his murder.’ Dash folded his arms on the metal table. ‘Franky and the Flyers. Five straight platinums,’ John said. ‘You must have seen his mansion. Sixty-five rooms and I forget how many loos. And the cars. But it changed him. By the last album I didn’t recognise Franky anymore.’ ‘What changed him?’ Quay asked, his voice soft. ‘The usual. It’s why I didn’t want our Kelley going into the game. People, family, they didn’t matter to Franky anymore. They were just the people you see on a ferry to him.’ Quay stored that too, just people you see on a ferry. The man couldn’t help himself. ‘Tell me about the cars?’ John Dash shook his head slightly. ‘He bought them like they were packets of fags. He’d bend one and get that assistant of his to go buy another. Once he broke three in a week.’ ‘Tell me about that? Was anyone hurt?’ ‘Me and Kelley, we just read the headlines and turned the page,’ he said. Read the headlines/turned the page when you’re gone. Off the Red album. ‘I think,’ he continued, ‘I read this bird got knocked about. Dunno…’ *
It was raining. Big fat drops still fell out of the sky. The road glistened and the scene seemed to be defined by the light of the single street lamp. The driver of the Lamborghini stood underneath. Someone held an umbrella over his head and a steadying hand on his arm while he signed autographs for the paramedics, the cops and a fortunate teenager. On the other side of the little shredded sedan was a gurney with the body of the woman. The rain glued her hair to her face. Her blue and white dress, now mostly red, was plastered to the shape of her. She had a ball on her stomach and her arms hung limply. Quay had tried to get to her, but fear dragged at him. She was packed into the ambulance and gone by the time he got there. He was left to stare at the red eyes that vanished into the night. * ‘Your daughter’s going into the game?’ Quay asked. He slid a bill from amongst the papers in the folder. ‘Yeah. That’s why I went to see Franky,’ John said, ‘to borrow some money and get help from the band for a proper demo. I asked if he’d help get it on the air.’ Quay nodded as if this was new information. ‘Franky said “No”.’ Quay said. ‘You were angry. You almost had an accident as you left his place.’ John Dash frowned. Andrew White looked puzzled, eased his back from the wall. ‘How’d you know that?’ John Dash asked. Quay thought quickly, ‘It’s our job to know.’ ‘Yeah, I was angry. They were my words in his mouth. But that bastard butler of his saw me go.’ Quay nodded. ‘You couldn’t have shot him and gotten home in time. We checked,’ Quay said. ‘Why wouldn’t Franky help?’ Dash smiled but rather sadly. ‘As soon as Kelley sang, everyone would know,’ Dash said. ‘The industry…’ Quay made a sound as if he was ready to finish up. ‘You weren’t jealous of Franky. After all, he had everything; the money, the mansions, cars, the girls…’ ‘The light that shines the brightest,’ John Dash said. ‘It’s something Franky’d never have. You’re married. You got kids?’ Quay covered his wedding ring. The pain of a widower who’d buried his wife and unborn child was like a knife slicing through him. ‘No. No, I don’t,’ Quay said, almost inaudibly. ‘Kelley’s the light of my life. It’s all about her now.’ Quay nodded slowly, glanced up at White. ‘Interview terminated at twenty-two twenty hours,’ Quay said as he switched off the recorder. ‘I just needed to clear up that last point,’ Quay said. ‘Constable White will arrange for a car for you.’ Dash stood. ‘You’re not giving up, are you?’ he asked. ‘You’re still looking?’ ‘Yes. We just had to clear you, procedure.’ John Dash nodded. ‘He had so much,’ Dash said. ‘But really, he had nothing.’ * Quay was filling out a leave form on his computer when White stopped by his desk. ‘Couldn’t get a car, so I sent him home in a taxi,’ he said. Quay nodded. ‘What was that bit about the Johnny Dash almost having an accident as he left his brother’s place?’ White asked, he was guarded in the way he spoke. ‘I wanted to see how he reacted.’ ‘But he wasn’t a suspect. We’d crossed him off.’ Quay stopped typing and appeared to think. ‘He might have arranged something. I just wanted to see,’ Quay said. ‘Monday, we go after Franky’s drug dealer. If the gun came from him, he’ll talk.’ White shrugged. ‘It was a throw away, no serial number. We’ll never find the seller.’ Quay shook his head slowly and smiled briefly. ‘Someone sold it, someone knows, they’ll talk.’ ‘Ok, gov.’ White turned away and made for the door. ‘Don’t be late Monday,’ Quay called. ‘We need to keep the momentum going.’ ‘Right, gov,’ White said. Quay finished typing, printed a copy, signed it and placed it on the Chief’s desk where he’d find it on Monday. Back at his desk he took his phone from his pocket and typed into the SMS app, ‘Going to take a few days off. This case has remined me too much of my wife’s death. I’m having trouble handling it.’ He selected White’s number, chose delayed send and set the date and time for Monday at 7.30 am. The phone went into his desk which he locked.
Quay glanced around the office one last time then took the lift down to the ground floor. It dark and drizzling outside on the street. He turned right, then right again at the next street, and went down a few blocks. Kintsukuroi. He knew he’d remember the name. It was a poor choice as a metaphor for solving a crime but he’d never told Susie that. Sure, the bowl might be repaired and was possibly more beautiful, more valuable than before. What she hadn’t realised was that once the crime was solved the victim was still dead. His wife and unborn daughter were still dead. He made sure there were no familiar faces nearby then hailed a taxi. A big black one with an engine that sounded as if it was grinding up small stones saw him and sidled over to the footpath. ‘Where to, governor?’ the cabbie asked as Quay climbed in. Quay looked at him in the driver’s mirror. He wore a pork pie hat, had deep crevice’s around his eyes and folds of skin under his chin and eyes that said he remembered faces. ‘The airport,’ Quay replied. ‘Sure thing. No luggage?’ ‘Meeting a friend,’ Quay lied. His travel case was waiting in a locker. The rain came harder, hammering the roof of the cab. Cold seeped in through the driver’s window. Quay looked own into the rain, peering into the dark. He’d never be able to visit the cemetery with its single grave. The pain came back, it was there, always. ‘Domestic or international?’ ‘International.’
I gave myself to you. At least I tried. I think I did. Or maybe I never did. Those around me, those with whom I was frank, knew I saw no illusion of permanency. At the start I was consumed by you. You polluted my thoughts and conversations and dreams. This was my first time. Nothing in me doubts you were the same. Mutual attraction, requited affection. Novel and welcome I awaited every text, meme and phone call insatiably. Among the clouds of juvenile lust and desire I had not yet decided we were not destined for eternity. The passing of a few weeks, a month perhaps, I concluded we were serious. A single orbit of the sun serious. Only one. Following our year, I would sever our romantic ties and relegate us to friendship. That would be my power to hold over you. I envisioned myself as the destroyer. I was lulled into this notion not only by my own preconceptions but others, who would tell me that you liked me more than I you. But I cannot blame others for my naivety. They gave credence to my existing ideas. Ideas of breakups, love and friendship. You could no doubt read me better than I thought you could. When I drank I was loose lipped. And absent minded. Whatever filter I had disappeared. Maybe the sanctity of my inner self was violated not by your psychoanalysis but by my carelessness. These are answers I will never have. I do not even think I want them. I also failed to consider one key and ultimately deciding factor: you. Although I had control of myself, I had no power over you. Our commitment to openness and frankness reassured me that I could never be blindsided. If you ever considered ending things, you would talk to me first. But you didn’t. You pulled away, but still called and texted. You let me blow you not a few days before you dumped me. Frankly, I see that there is a part of me that not even I can have, let alone you. Everyone has this part. Foreign even to themselves. Was this what you wanted? We were built, however short lived, on honesty. And yet, honesty was our undoing. Our honesty deceived us. If I am being frank, I did not love you. I could have. Maybe. We will never know. There were no tears for you. I say this not to hurt you, but to be truthful. After all, that is all we asked of each other.
REPEAT OFFENDERS Kronosaurus Kronosaurus Queenslandicus These gargantuan marine reptiles fed mainly on large fish, giant squid, and sharks. They did not live in the open ocean, but in the inland Eromanga Sea in Southwest Queensland about 100 million years ago. They used their flipper-shaped limbs to ‘fly’ underwater at high speeds.
MUSIC out documenting how she felt towards the media at the time. Yet, she was still this American sweetheart just living a glamorous life whilst always keeping her roots close. Aw. That was until she released ‘Wrecking Ball’. What a shock that was! Suddenly hordes of people had an opinion on her – whether she was being artistic or she was being shameful. Whether she was breaking out or ruining her career. What stunned us all was her blatant disregard for anyone’s opinion. For someone so young, the industry, let alone her audience, were not prepared for her to absolutely crush the ideal of who she had portrayed for all those years. No one saw her gyrating on a car with money being thrown on her. Oh no, not our Miley.
SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING... by Sara Zarriello
In 2012 Miley Cyrus performed some of her first ‘Backyard Sessions’. The singer assembled her band together in her backyard to perform stripped back versions of her original songs and covers, like her infamous take on Godmother, Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’. It was the first time people really took notice of her pure raw talent, unhindered by a Disney persona or censorship. For a lot of people, it is only now that they’re getting into her music. Whether that be because she has officially torn her image away from that ‘Hannah Montana’ persona, or because her music has evolved so greatly from being purely teen and country pop to disco and pop rock. The one eighty turn may have shocked the masses for a while but there is no way that what Miley’s putting out today wasn’t worth it. I mean, have you heard ‘Midnight Sky’? The thing is Miley’s music has always been tied up in her public life. Disney moulded a teen popstar, therefore she created teen pop music. When Hannah Montana was coming to an end, songs like ‘Fly on the Wall’ came
Still her stripped back covers drew people in. She started a philanthropic foundation, the Happy Hippie Foundation which presented even more backyard sessions. Even though she had suddenly become controversial for being herself, her talent couldn’t be mistaken. Over the years, she’s cultivated a personality society wasn’t prepared for. One that is all her own. To break out wasn’t the problem, it was the solution for Miley. Revealing herself, just as herself, wasn’t supposed to be ground breaking. Neither were her music choices. Her turn to rock with her new releases this year shouldn’t have been crazy. Her new album titled ‘Plastic Hearts’ is scheduled to be released later this month. Collaborating on it with Stevie Nicks (the god, the master, the witchy queen of our dreams), Joan Jett (seriously, c’mon cherry bomb), Billy Idol (this is just getting ridiculous) and Dua Lipa (I’m freaking levitating)! We really should have seen this coming. Miley’s never been one to shy away from changing things up. From the foam hand to the mullet – she is the queen of creative evolution. Stepping up her most recent backyard sessions to include leafy greenery and twinkling Chanel outfits that would make Madonna shake at her knees (I completely stand by this statement). Despite this, her voice has stayed the same. She’s covered some of the greatest pop and rock hits ever; from Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ to The Cranberries ‘Zombie’ right up to Pearle Jam’s ‘Just Breathe’ and Hall & Oates ‘Maneater’. The woman has range. Miley has broken down what was once considered ‘good music’, blurring the lines between what’s acceptable and what’s not. Personality is important in music, it’s the soul of the voice that people get attached to. She’s proven that evolution is right and that the hate she got for doing it can turn into praise. It’s the unconventional that gets attention in the end, and Miley is one of the most unconventional artists ever. If she hasn’t got you yet just wait till the 27th November.
YOU’RE DEAD TO ME by Aylish Dowsett
What happens when you bring together a historian, a comedian and a charismatic host? Pure magic.
You’re Dead To Me is a BBC Radio 4 podcast that explores the wondrous, and often hilarious and disastrous events of our past. The podcast is designed for “people who don’t like history,” “those that do,” and those “who forgot to learn any at school.” I absolutely love history, so when my family suggested I have a listen, I was instantly hooked. Greg Jenner hosts the show and, whilst being hilarious, is also a public historian, author, broadcaster and historical consultant to Horrible Histories (a must watch). Greg tackles big historical topics with the help of an expert historian and a talented comedian, who soaks up all their wonderful knowledge whilst joking around a lot. Some big names include Tim Minchin, Richard Osman, Desiree Burch, Shappi Khorsandi and Sara Pascoe. History and laughs? What more could you want? I’ve honestly learnt so much from the podcast – and not just about British history, but history from all over the world! Some of my favourite episodes are ‘The Ancient Olympics,’ ‘The History of Chocolate,’ ‘The Victorian Christmas,’ ‘Harriet Tubman,’ ‘Boudica,’ ‘Josephine Baker’ and, surprisingly for me, ‘The History of Football.’ The sport’s history is really quite fascinating. Who knew that knife crime in football was such a problem? I sure didn’t. So why bring history and comedy together? Well, Greg suggests that comedy is the best way to communicate the past to the general public, particularly to those who found the subject boring at school. “The onus from the outset is to communicate to the listener the complexity, doubt, nuance and frustration of history, but to do so in a way that is inviting, inclusive, and makes the listener giggle,” he tells History Extra. “The thing about comedy, besides the obvious fact that it’s fun to laugh, is that it’s a form of creative expression which forms neural anchors that hook into the brain…jokes and songs are infinitely more memorable than straight dialogue.” Greg also says that comedy is reassuring as laughter feels like the opposite of hard work. “When I tell people that they’re going to learn loads of stuff, but while
having a great laugh, I can see the relief on their faces,” he says. “These people don’t hate learning new things, but they hated how they were taught before. Using jokes disarms them of their worries.”
You’re Dead To Me will get you laughing and learning about the past in an easy, fun, and informative format. For me, podcasts have always been a great way to learn new things, whilst also helping me to relax. You’re Dead To Me is my go-to podcast. History plus British accents? Win win (I’m a Brit so I can openly vouch for us). Whether you love or loathe history, I guarantee you’ll get a laugh, a giggle, or a snicker out of this podcast. So much has happened in our past, so why not have a listen? And hey, you might even end up learning something new. I know I did. Listen to You’re Dead To Me for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the BBC Sounds app.
EMILY IN PARIS by Gabby Edwards From the creator of hit TV Shows including Sex and the City, Beverly Hills, 90210 and Younger comes a fresh new Netflix original, Emily in Paris. Starring the iconic Lily Collins, the show appears to be the perfect remedy to all your quarantine blues, itching that travel bug within you with some harmless, entertaining fun. Instead, what I watched can only be described as a slow torture as you follow this entitled millennial effortless glide through every issue she encounters, as written by most likely, not a single person under forty. Still curious about what I’m talking about? Let’s delve a little deeper. In terms of plot, the premise is quite simple. We follow our main character Emily, a (supposedly) skilled American marketer shipped off to Paris to provide a new perspective to a revered French marketing firm. Filled with excitement at being able to travel and live abroad, she proceeds to learn not a single word of French nor bother to research anything about French culture. Instead, she manages to form a large social media following through sharing her travel journey via duck-faced selfies and unsolicited pictures of stranger’s children paired with punny hashtags that would have impressed any 2014 Facebook mum. In terms of complications, Emily’s main concern is social acceptance at work, as her new boss in particular refuses to trust her, for you know, knowing nothing about the culture or language. Each episode also sees her confronted with a new marketing challenge, as her firm is met with new clients or attempts to restore old ones. Not to mention, things get complicated when almost every single male in the show makes a move on her, making for some greatly uncomfortable romantic subplots.
When beginning this show and hearing initial reactions to it, it honestly appeared okay. Potentially a little cliche, but truly not anything to get someone riled up. And honestly, the show can be enjoyed that way throughout. If you decide to turn off your brain for a few hours, the show is fast-paced and dare I say it, engaging, allowing for what could be considered a fun watch. Though, why do we exist if not to over-analyse cringey, innocuous content? So let’s get into it. One of the main issues of the show is the title character herself, Emily. At the start, she appears to be just another average, relatable white millennial. She’s smart, good at her job and has a stable relationship. Okay, maybe not that relatable… but still, likeable enough. Even when she first arrives in Paris, as the ‘fish out of water’ she still has her charms about her. And sure, she was only called in at the last minute, we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that she doesn’t speak French, it’s fine. But that’s where everything goes wrong. Within the first few episodes, Emily receives a bit of a culture shock as she realises just how different life in Paris can be. She has to start work at 11, take the stairs to her apartment, and eat food prepared slightly differently to how she normally would. Not to mention her attitude in the workplace, where she’s immediately put-off by their work culture and sends everyone a document of the workplace values from her American job. Because according to Emily, the best way to gain respect from your workmates (when you refuse to speak their language), is to shove your own culture down their throat. All this entitlement and naivety make her extremely difficult to like or sympathise with as the show continues.
Obviously, her obliviousness could be excused if it was addressed, though she does little to rectify her rudeness or mistakes throughout the series. For some reason, despite no change in her attitude or behaviour, she somehow manages to win everyone over at the end of the day. Another issue I have with Emily, and the show at large, is her repeated success both within her marketing job and gaining an online following. Despite many of her campaign and marketing ideas (which she often thinks up in the moment) being adored by clients, they often appeared unfeasible or ineffective. Yet the show continues to affirm her skills, through each idea becoming instantly successful, forcing her firm and co-workers to appreciate her work. I may be a humble undergraduate marketing student, but let’s just say admitting to your commercial potentially being sexist wouldn’t give you the brand loyalty and sales boost you’re hoping for. Just when you think the writer’s grasp of digital marketing couldn’t get worse, you find out that over the course of the show Emily has been rapidly building an online audience. Her spur of the moment photographs and comments, whether they be of the rainy weather, other restaurant goers’ food or making fun of random bystanders, gain her twenty-thousand followers and influencer status amongst top brands. At this point I had to question: has anyone working on the show used Instagram in the last five years? While these posts might be fun for a friend to view, there’s no way using the hashtag #EverythingsComingUpRoses is going to earn you a spot at an exclusive influencer brunch. I’m sorry Emily, but three selfies and a boomerang of you eating a pastry ain’t going to cut it these days. There’s also the question of why Emily; a young and pretty woman working in digital marketing, only had 48 followers to start with, but that’s once again assuming that any of these writers have any idea how social media works. I hope by now we have all established that they indeed, do not. With the stylist for the show having worked on Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada, expectations for all the costumes, particularly Emily’s, were high. What resulted was a flurry of memes pointing out her incredibly basic yet somehow still bold and disjointed style. While I could just as easily make fun of her extensive bucket hat and scarf collection, I wanted to do some digging. Further research revealed these mismatched outfits were all intentional choices to demonstrate her attempt to fit in with local Paris fashion, though ultimately failing. So it’s nice to know at least one person on set was invested in visual storytelling… And of course, we can’t talk about this show without unpacking the romantic subplots. As mentioned, having almost every single male character flirt with Emily at
one point really did nothing to narrow down her romantic pursuits. In the first few episodes, she remains dedicated to her bland Chicago boyfriend, attempting long distance for who knows what reason when I couldn’t name a single personality trait this man had. After one failed and woefully outdated attempt at ‘cybersex’, they ultimately break-up leaving Emily sad for all of half an episode before she’s off on the hunt for a new man. This left us all questioning why this character had to exist in the first place, seeing as we never see or hear about him again. Enter Gabriel, her hot chef neighbour who always appears to help her when she’s in a pickle. Seemingly the perfect catch, she spends much of the show flirting and lusting over him, even when it’s revealed he’s in a committed relationship to her new Parisian friend, Camille. I could explain my confusion about the decision to have Emily and Camille accidentally kiss with multiple references to the possibility of Camille being into her, though let’s be real, this show is such a mess we might as well add queerbaiting to the list. Throughout the show there are a few other potential love interests. Firstly, there’s Antoine, owner of a luxury perfume brand, whose affair with Emily’s boss is well known amongst the firm. While nothing explicit ever happens between him and Emily, his consistent flirting left a bad impression that was worth mentioning. He might not have a lot going for him, but at least he was memorable for being a creep. There’s also Mathieu, a wealthy businessman and client, who really left no memorable impression on me and most likely only existed to get the audience increasingly invested in Gabriel & Emily. Hey, it might involve cheating but at least you aren’t falling asleep when watching them together. And perhaps the most concerning romantic interest of the bunch, Camille’s brother. Correction: Camille’s seventeen-year-old brother who Emily accidentally sleeps with after mistaking him for Camille’s older one. Sorry, let me reiterate that for you. SHE FUCKS A SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD BOY. And you’re telling me I just have to move past that?? LIKE THAT’S A SITUATION ANY PERSON CAN JUST RANDOMLY STUMBLE INTO??!?!? As you can tell, it was at this point that the show’s foray into romance broke me. So, am I forgetting anyone else? Probably. But look, you can only expect me to remember so many white guys with no personality before I reach a limit, and this show definitely did. And there we have it, the latest Netflix sensation! Described by French viewers as ‘painful to watch’, the show managed to be picked up for a second season. And while I’d probably be lying if I said I had no intention of watching further, you can absolutely bet I’ll have an entire bottle of ‘breakfast wine’ in hand while doing so.
Aries you can have either a mask or passive aggression, but not both. Let’s be honest, you should be wearing a mask right now.
Darling you need to chill and stop being such a busybody. You’re like Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell, playing roles not meant for you.
Live. Laugh. Love. That’s all. Try at least one of these Gemini and maybe for once your two-faced ass might pull through.
Astral projecting is a double-edged sword Cancer. An out of body experience might give you more than you bargained for, like seeing your bald patch from above.
Your linen sheets and obsession with Timothée Chalamet are no substitute for a real personality. Clean up on aisle beige.
There are many things to destroy, your mental health is not one of them. Spiralling can make you dizzy Virgo so focus on a spot on the wall to steady yourself.
This has been a rough year and you are in a fragile place. If the corner of your fitted sheet pops off again Libra, you might find yourself popping off too sis.
Being a narcissist is fun but sweetie now we have electric lights there’s no need to keep gaslighting people. Keep up.
There is an escape from the real world waiting for you. I can say it definitely is not dissociating while driving through a school zone.
You have been feeling powerless recently and that is normal. Try to focus on the things you have control over, like your bad posture.
Everyone has needs Aquarius. Getting your chiropractor to throw you around once a fortnight is not only good for your spine, it’s the best you can do if you’re single in 2020.
Alone in a desert and on a solitary journey, don’t forget to pack your Pawpaw ointment. Your ego can have a drying effect Pisces, better moisturise that shit.
by Harry Fraser