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Career’s week starts

Harmony week begins

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St Patrick’s day

Census date Close the Gap Day






Last enrolment Clean up Australia day


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Pesach/Passover begins

Holi (festival of colours) Palm Sunday Earth Hour




Do you have an upcoming event? Let us know and we’ll do our best to include it in our calendar. Email:













Views expressed by the authors are not those of the publisher.

EDITORS’ LETTERS Welcome all to another year of Grapeshot Magazine! For those of you that are new here, we are a magazine entirely written, edited, and illustrated by students. We voice the concerns of the disgruntled student populace, wax poetic on the mysterious ways of the Ibis, and much like Wes Anderson’s esoteric fictive journal The French Dispatch, we seek to “report on the subjects of world politics, the arts, high and low, and diverse stories of human interest.” Put simply we publish a variety of forms of writing including news pieces, interviews, memoir, creative nonfiction, opinion pieces, reviews, photo-essays, short stories, poems, illustrations, comic strips, and “leftist propaganda.” If it can be printed on paper it can go in Grapeshot. Stalk our socials or shoot us an email at to get involved! This year is Grapeshot’s 13th of publication and as such our theme is dedicated to all things lucky, unlucky, magical, and mysterious. Fortuna, otherwise known as Lady Luck, is the Roman goddess of chance. She is often depicted wearing a blindfold because fortune – the good or bad kind – is blind. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2021 is the year of the Metal Ox. If the year of your zodiac sign or ‘Ben Ming Nian’ is the current year then this is considered to be extremely unlucky. Wearing red underwear every single day of your zodiac year is believed to prevent bad fortune and protect oneself against evil spirits. Scribbling the number 13 onto shards of broken mirror fragments with your left hand while petting a black cat and spilling salt may not shift the course of your fate but existing in a world with billions of other humans, each with their own desires, opinions, and agendas, will definitely do the trick. So peruse through these pages and as Robert C. Wolcott puts it, “Never leave serendipity to chance.” Jodie, Editor-in-Chief

Fortuna, the Roman goddess of fortune and fate as well as the personification of luck itself is an apt cover star for the semester’s first issue of Grapeshot. Offering an insight into the future, Fortuna brings both good and bad luck reminding us of life’s uncertainties. Considering the past year we have all had, it’s interesting to consider the ‘controller of destinies.’ Is fate predetermined? Or can you overcome destiny through will power alone? This uncertainty of fortune is a concept we have explored throughout our first issue for the semester. From the many faces of Fortuna herself, the function of fate and destiny in witchcraft and even the role of luck during the pandemic. As 2021 starts off on uncertain footing, with many questions still unknown about how the year will play out, this uncertainty of fate and destiny gives us an interesting way to envision the future. As the first issue of the year we welcome back all our returning readers and new first years who may be grabbing a copy for the first time. Our amazing team and contributors worked incredibly hard throughout the break to bring you this incredibly beautiful issue filled with journalism, poetry, creative pieces, and graphic design. When putting together this issue of Grapeshot, I came across a quote by Terence, “Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat,” Fortune favours the bold. Whilst I am definitely not someone who describes themselves as bold, I think the idea of facing problems with determination and courage is probably a good way to approach the new year. If there’s any chance bravery brings good luck, then here’s to a year filled with boldness and courage. But enough with the introspectiveness, I hope this issue of Grapeshot will bring you fortune for the semester and maybe teach you a thing or two. Madi, Deputy Editor

WANT TO JOIN GRAPESHOT? HOW TO APPLY: Send your cover letter, resume, and an example of your writing or art to

POSITION OPENINGS: Editorial Assistant An Editorial Assistant writes articles, assists the Editors with proofreading and fact-checking, assists the Distribution Manager with distributing copies of the magazine, and works with the rest of the team to generate ideas and content for each issue. Joining the team as an Editorial Assistant is a great way to build your skills as a writer and editor and familiarise yourself with the production process of a magazine. Design Assistant Grapeshot is known for its unique and stunning designs! Design Assistants answer to the Creative Director and create designs for each issue. A knowledge of – or willingness to learn – Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop, is ideal. Please send through an example of your art if applying for this position!


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Aylist Dowsett, Elijah Ingram, Shinae Taylor

COVER ART Sam van Vliet

SECTION OPENERS Kathleen Notohamiprodjo

EDITORIAL REVIEW BOARD Neenah Gray, Marlene Khouzam, Amanda Mathews, Jay Muir



Kylie Ebert

Melroy Rodrigues

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.







The Sound of Music Lives On On the 5th of February, the world mourned the passing of Christopher Plummer, the handsome and charming award-winning actor who played the role of Captain von Trapp in the iconic film The Sound of Music. The Canadian actor heaved his last breath as the sun rose over his home in Connecticut. He passed away with his wife, Elaine Taylor, by his side. Plummer had amassed fans from all generations with his presence in the industry for more than 50 years. The famous actor began his career on stage and in radio in Canada in the 1940s and made his Broadway debut in 1954 in The Starcross Story. He has also performed in many major Shakespearean roles, including Hamlet, Cyrano, Iago, Othello, Prospero, Henry V, and a staggering King Lear at Lincoln Centre in 2004. The man with Canada’s highest civilian honor is also known to be the oldest actor to receive an Oscar in 2012. He won the supporting actor award for his role in Beginners as Hal Fields. Apart from leaving a lasting impression on numerous generations for his role as von Trapp opposite Julie Andrews, Plummer’s legacy lives on for his other notable appearances in various films such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Up, and more recently, Knives Out.


Wuhan Whistleblower

Harris Says Yes

A year since the world completely changed, thousands of people gather on social media to pay tribute to Dr. Li Wenliang on the first anniversary of his death on February 7th 2020. He passed away after contracting COVID-19 while treating patients in Wuhan.

On the 5th of February, US President Joe Biden’s drive to enact a 1.9 trillion USD coronavirus aid bill gained momentum as the US senate narrowly approved a budget blueprint allowing Democrats to push the legislation through Congress in the coming weeks with or without Republican support.

Dr. Li was an eye doctor at a hospital in Wuhan, which was the central Chinese city where the first case of the coronavirus was detected at the end of 2019. Dr. Li has been notable for his efforts to raise awareness about the contagious coronavirus and had tried to warn his fellow medics of a disease that looked like SARS. However, Dr. Li’s efforts were futile as he was threatened by the police to “stop making false comments” and was investigated for “spreading rumors.” His death prompted a rare wave of grief and public anger over the Chinese government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. With time, as the hospitals were filling up with no beds to spare, the government was accused of downplaying the severity of the virus and concealing the extent of its spread. In China, freedom of speech is very limited, and the government has promoted an official narrative hinged on its successful handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Dr. Li’s personal page on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, has become a rare space for users to express themselves about the trauma faced from the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of messages have been left in the comments section of his posts, all commemorating the man who had played a crucial role in the course of the action of the pandemic, if only the Chinese government had not dismissed him.

After approximately 15 hours of debating and backto-back votes on dozens of amendments, the Senate found itself in a tied deadlock over passage of the budget plan. Vice President Kamala Harris broke the tie, by saying ‘yes,’ which was the vote needed for the Democrats to win. After the passage of the bill, the Democrats cheered the progress on measures to address the pandemic, while the Republicans were opposed to the idea on the basis of excessive spending. Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders commented, “With the passage of this resolution we have the opportunity not only to address the pandemic, to address the economic collapse, to address the reality that millions of kids have seen their education disrupted… We have the opportunity to give hope to the American people and restore faith in our government to fight for them.” With over 450,000 COVID-related deaths recorded in the US and millions of lives which have been interrupted due to financial and housing instability, the call to action for a proper COVID plan has been needed for a year now. Amidst numerous other provisions, the Democrats aim to pass 1,400 direct payments, US$400 per week jobless benefit through September, US$350 billion in state, local, and tribal government relief, US$20 billion for a national COVID-19 vaccination program, US$50 billion for virus testing, US$170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions, and US$30 billion rent and utility assistance fund.


BY RAYNA BLAND Welcome to The Campus Lowdown! Grapeshot Magazine’s new section dedicated to all campus related news, whether it’s O-Week, awards, protests, society events, food specials, or all the Easter Eggs you need to find around campus! Whether this is your first year at Macquarie or your seventh, I give you the warmest of welcomes to Macquarie University’s campus! A campus full of fairy lights, wild ivy, COVID marshals, stressed students, interesting staff, and the occasional squad of ibis birds that loiter by Ubar. In our first spread, we are going to dive into all things O-Week related, tell you what’s new on campus, give you some MQ society insights, and tell you about the best spots to discover on the campus you are stuck in for the rest of your degree – unless there’s another lockdown!

CAMPUS NEWS O-Week is here! From Monday 15th to Friday 19th of February, there will be O-Week on campus! The event is going to be ‘COVID-safe’ meaning that you have to register before attending. O-Week will be full of welcoming events, workshops, and informative activities that can help you prepare for the year ahead and learn more about what you can do around campus! There will be five zones to explore: Faculty and Course Orientations, Interactive Learning Sessions, Uni Life Panels and Tours, Professional Development Workshops and Social Networking Events. Check your emails for a registration link, once registered you can create your own O-Week schedule just for you! If you do not want to or cannot travel into campus do not worry, all of that information will be available virtually. Grapeshot will have a stall running on Monday February 22nd from 9:30am to 12:30pm. Happy O-Week, may your start to semester one be prosperous!

Campus Cautionaries for Covid-19 Vice-Chancellor Bruce Dowton has announced that the university will continue funding their COVIDSafe ambassador program. This program employs a group of students to ensure COVIDSafe practices are being followed on campus. So look forward to trying to maintain that 1.5m distance as you chat with peers in the halls. Also make sure you have your Student ID with you so you can scan and enter into the library and classrooms. Of course, please do not be a grub and wash your hands properly. And beware! Remember to keep that spare mask in your backpack when catching public transport and do not come to campus if you are feeling unwell. But you do not need me to tell you that, we have been hearing these warnings for over a year now so I feel like we know what to expect. Stay safe everyone!

New Arts Precinct and Building Developments Check it out! As you walk down 25 Wally’s Walk you will have the fortune of discovering the new Arts Precinct! As you explore the area you will find three buildings, an atrium, lots of shaded seats, charging ports, and The Cult Eatery where they offer salmon sandwiches and 10% off to any Macquarie University Law Society (MULS) member! Definitely a nice place to be! The Central Courtyard which is located next to MUSE has opened! Here you can find green lawns and the uni bar, Ubar; a place for pizza, games and drinks with friends. The university is also still in the midst of developing a new Law School on campus with constructions to be completed in 2022.



Macquarie University Law Society

Macquarie University Ancient History ASSOCIATION

The Macquarie University Law Society is the society for students at Macquarie completing their law degree. This society was the winner of the Outstanding Student Group Award in 2020, congratulations! There are two upcoming events in the MULS calendar. There is International Women’s Day which is held online at 5:30pm on Monday, March 8th. There is also The First Year MULSing Race, which is on campus on Saturday, March 13th.

Test your luck at Macquarie University’s Ancient History stall and buy a raffle ticket to have the chance to win a prize! The Ancient History Association hosts lots of events throughout the year including upcoming picnics, Cork and Canvas workshops, movie nights, and TikTok Tuesdays. Find their social media to stay updated and attend all of their history related social events!

MULS members will also receive a 10% discount at The Cult Eatery in the Arts Precinct. Membership is $5.00. Students can sign up at

Dramac Society Odysseus…. Odysseus… come play with us… come play with us….

ACAPELLA GROUP AUDITIONS Come let your siren’s voice shine and audition for one of the many campus acapella groups! Auditions are on the first two days of Week One, February 22nd and 23rd. There will be a virtual option for those who cannot audition on campus. The auditions are for the Macquarie University Acappella Society (MUAS), Macabella’s (all-girls), Mac-appella (mixed group), and Harmonious (all-girl group that is social/competitive).

Theatre! A pastime as ancient as the Greeks and full of chance. Dramac is the university’s Drama Society. In late March they are producing A Midsummer Night’s Dream starring yours truly as Titania, the fairy queen and Theseus, the Queen of Athens. The show is directed by MQ student Laura Chudd and produced by Mel Applin. The Shakespearean play A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes place over the course of one long moon-filled night. Mischievous fairies use magic to conjure up quite the love triangle and make beautiful queens fall in love with donkey-faced tradesmen. I promise you it will be a whimsical show. Dramac is definitely one of our most active societies on campus. Follow their Instagram and Facebook to stay updated with all of their marvellous events.



JOIN THE ACT IO N Campus Cuts You might have heard about the university’s executive decision last year to introduce forced redundancies and cut out huge chunks of degrees. The forced redundancies or rather ‘sackings’ were done in order to save $25 million. What they save in cuts though, they lose in quality education and quality time staff can spend on students, considering the staff who remain will experience a higher workload. Macquarie University has stated that they will rest 9 Bachelor Degrees (16% of the total) and 20 Master Degrees (22% of the 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. The university has also announced that they need a further $38.3 million in savings which could lead to further staff and student devastation in 2022. On Tuesday, March 2nd, in Week 2 of this session, there will be a campaign meeting held by the Macquarie Students Against Uni Cuts group for staff and students to discuss the university’s actions and what to do next. Location and time to be announced. Like the Macquarie Students Against Uni Cuts Facebook Page to stay updated.

Climate Jobs and Justice Now! No Narrabri Project, No Gas-Fired Recovery! At 1pm on Saturday February 20th at Martin Place there will be a climate rally against the Morrison government deciding to lead Australia out of recession with a gas-led recovery. In their budget last year, the federal government announced that it would pump millions into expanding five new gas basins across Australia, locking in decades of emissions, and fuelling the climate crisis. One of these new gas basins is in NSW. Last year, the Berejiklian and Morrison governments approved the Narrabri Gas Project. This gives the green light for Santos to drill hundreds of coal seam gas wells in the Pilliga Forest, which is sacred to the Gomeroi people and is Australia’s largest inland forest. This project will destroy the forest’s ecosystem, pollute the Great Artesian Basin – a vital source of fresh water for countless communities – and displace more jobs than it creates. There will be two MQ contingents at the rally, the Macquarie University Womens’ Collective and the MQ Uni Students for Climate Justice. Find their Facebook pages to stay updated with these groups.


EXPLORE THE CAMPUS GROUNDS... Before you go I would love to tell you about these cute spots on campus! There are the beautiful water spots at Macquarie where you can find a moment of relaxation amidst classes and the chaos of assignments. There is the Macquarie Lake which is located just above The Chancellery just north of campus. The lake is home to several species of ducks, including the Australian wood duck and Pacific black duck. The campus’s Purple Swamphen also resides in the lake. The lake links up with the smaller and quieter pond which is located just next to Link Road and The Cult Eatery. If you go for a wander through 11 Wally’s Walk you will find hundreds of beautiful crystals. From Lazulite to Rose Quartz to Malachite. You can also see displays of early human species. A fascinating place full of mystery for sure! There is also a science garden, the Jim Rose Earth Sciences Garden. Located next to 11 Wally’s Walk you will find a courtyard full of plants and sculptures. A nice spot to sit and eat or walk through for a bit of peace! You can improve your knowledge by reading the infographics around the outskirts of the garden. Last but not least, legend has it that somewhere on the Macquarie Uni campus lies dark tunnels that lead straight into the Vice-Chancellor’s office… truth or myth? Perhaps one of our readers might have the fortune of finding out!

If this is your first time on the Macquarie Uni Campus and you have any questions, just find one of the MQ Mentors. They wear bright pink shirts! If you are reading this as a society member wanting to get some clout for your events, or perhaps you know someone that has won an award or is doing something cool around campus… let us know! Contact me at or to get your society or story in Grapeshot. Got any news? Tell us!



The shit-fire that was 2020 threw many aspects of our lives into turmoil. Our health, our economy, our ability to leave our houses and lest we forget, our horrific zoom seminars. One area that truly exemplified the unrivalled fuckery that was last year was politics. On both a national and global scale it seemed like the shit well and truly hit the fan. From ScoMo being shunned by firefighters during the January bushfire crisis, to Trump’s false claims of a stolen election. There was no event, large or small, that was exempt from the wild and weird powers of 2020. A new year has dawned upon us though, a vaccine has arrived, Biden is in the White House and ScoMo is… well… still being racist but has not as of yet made any truly spectacular gaffs. Things look like they’re on the up! But before we drank too much of the optimistic KoolAid, Grapeshot sat down with Dr. Jonathan Symons, Discipline Chair, Politics and International Relations at Macquarie School of Social Sciences. What impact has COVID-19 had on the political landscape both nationally and on an international level? Politics has been transformed – do you remember how badly the Morrison government mishandled Australia’s historic bushfires? Most of us have long forgotten. In Australia and New Zealand Covid-19 has boosted the electoral fortunes of incumbent governments. In fact, there’s evidence from many parts of the world that where governments are perceived to have handled the pandemic reasonably competently they have tended to gain increased support. By contrast, the perception that the Trump Administration mishandled the pandemic got to have played a significant role in his defeat – it’s very rare for a party to lose the Presidency after just one term. International inequality in access to vaccines is sure to be one of the biggest issues in 2021. While the international community negotiated an instrument, the COVAX facility, that was supposed to promote greater equity in the global vaccine roll-out, rich countries have mostly sidestepped it and are securing preferential vaccine access for their own populations.


This has created an opportunity for “Covid-19 Vaccine diplomacy.” In particular, China and India are competing with each other to supply vaccines to the global south. Two other key changes that might have long-term impacts are 1) the erosion of privacy and increased acceptance of state surveillance in the name of public health, 2) changing public attitudes to science. How did politics and our political engagement change throughout the course of 2020? Public opinion surveys suggest that public trust in government increased dramatically in Australia. State premiers stepped forward and developed successful strategies for managing the virus – and in the early days seemed to be dragging a reluctant Morrison government toward taking the pandemic seriously. Oppositions – at state and federal level – have struggled to cut through. What can we expect from the post-Trump era? Continuing competition between China and the United States, but a permanent reduction in the US’s international stature. Far-right white supremacists have lost their champion in the White House, but they’ll still be a political force within the Republican Party. For Australia, one of the key changes will be that our great power ally will expect us to develop a serious climate policy. Eventually we’ll need to move beyond just thinking about renewable energy, and developing strategies to eliminate emissions from other parts of the economy and even to capture and sequester carbon. Given the Democrats’ weak position in congress, the US’s own climate efforts will be much more modest than many hoped. We’re unlikely to see anything like the proposed “Green New Deal” implemented, for example. What do you think could move our society towards a more productive political discourse?

which means we have a bit more of a sense of a shared national reality, c) a more active union movement, which means we have better working conditions and levels of inequality that are not quite as extreme as in the US, d) a political system with fewer veto points, so governments can deliver on their policy promises more easily. Sources such as the documentary, The Social Dilemma, have shown that the rise of social media has had a significant impact on the polarisation of politics, do you anticipate that continuing unless there is significant intervention? This is not the first time society has been polarised politically. However, polarisation is a serious problem and I agree that social media encourages news echochambers, conspiracy theories and the like. However, we also sometimes make progress – particularly when grassroots activism works to resolve societal divisions rather than exacerbate them. If I think over the 20 years since I was at university, there have been some issues – like Marriage Equality and establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme – where progress has been extraordinary. I’m hopeful that the kitchen-table conversations sparked by the Climate Strike movement and the various groups mobilising around the Uluru Statement might achieve something similar in the next decade. Well there you have it folks, our hope for politics in 2021 is not entirely misplaced (Grapeshot does however recommend a healthy dose of cynicism and pessimism to combat the inevitable let down from Australian politicians). Remember to keep your echo chambers under control and take heart in the new possibilities of a post-Trump era. by Katelyn Free

It depends on what you think productive political discourse is. If you compare Australia to the United States, I think we’re lucky to have a) compulsory voting, which means our politicians have an incentive win over disengaged voters, b) a national broadcaster


FIGHT FOR FREEDOM In the last few years, Myanmar has come under the limelight due to the atrocities the ethnic minorities have faced under what is described as ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Fighting against the authoritarian government since the 1980s, Burmese residents still face corruption and injustice today.

Located in South East Asia and neighbored by Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, China, and India, Myanmar has been making headlines over the last few years. Myanmar, also known as Burma, gained independence from the British in 1948. It was ruled by the armed forces from 1962 until 2011, however it seems that Myanmar is losing its independence once again. With a population of about 54 million people, the country returned to civilian rule in 2011 due to the efforts of Aung San Suu Kyi. She became a renowned world icon in the 1990s for campaigning to restore democracy and had spent nearly 15 years in detention between 1989 and 2010 after organising rallies calling for democratic reform and free election. For her determination, Suu Kyi was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest in 1991. While applauded for her role in revolutionising the Burmese government, Suu Kyi came under scrutiny and the democratic icon’s international reputation has greatly suffered since 2017. This has been the result of Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya minority. Additionally, the government also considers them illegal immigrants and denies them citizenship. Torturing of the Rohingya Muslims has been taking place for decades and has forced hundreds and thousands to flee to the neighboring country of Bangladesh under risky and often deadly circumstances.


Suu Kyi has appeared before the International Court of Justice in 2019, where she had denied allegations that the military had committed genocide. In 2018, Amnesty International also stripped Suu Kyi of its highest honor, the Ambassador of Conscience Award. Despite the recent tarnish of Suu Kyi’s name, her years of sacrifice and effort to bring democracy to a militaryruled Myanmar cannot be forgotten. She still remains a hugely popular figure among the country’s Buddhist majority, therefore in 2015, after decades of protests and rallies, Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy (NLD) party won a supermajority in both houses of the assembly, paving the way for the country’s first nonmilitary president in 54 years. However, even though she had a landslide victory, the Myanmar constitution forbade her from becoming president because she has children who are foreign nationals. These are the same children, who had been deprived of their mother’s love and affection for decades, because of the numerous times that Suu Kyi has been put under house arrest. Since she was not allowed to be President, her official title was state counsellor. However, she was widely seen as the de facto leader, with Win Myint as President, who was a close aide. In 2020, the NLD party won once again in a major landslide, getting even more votes than in the 2015 elections. However, the still powerful military is now back in charge and has declared a year-long state of

emergency. Even though the election commission has said there is no evidence to support any claims of fraud, the opposition has demanded a rerun of the votes. The armed forces have backed the opposition’s claims of widespread fraud and a coup was staged as a new session of parliament was set to open. It is thought that Suu Kyi is under house arrest. There have been several charges that have been filed against her, including breaching import and export laws and possession of unlawful communication devices. Numerous other officials of the NLD party have also been detained. Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing is the leader of the coup and has long wielded significant political influence. He has been successful in maintaining the power of the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military, even as the country has transitioned towards democracy over the years. Hlaing has received international condemnation and sanctions for his alleged role in the military’s attacks on ethnic minorities, and the military has replaced ministers and deputies, including in finance, health, the interior, and foreign affairs. The military states that it will hold a “free and fair” election once the state of emergency is over.

the military’s actions by banging pots and honking car horns. Numerous hospital and medical center staff have walked out, and many others are wearing ribbons showing they oppose the coup. On February 5th, hundreds of teachers and students took to the streets of Yangon, where they displayed the three-finger salute – a sign that has been adopted by protestors in the region to show their opposition to the authoritarian rule. There has also been a near-total internet blackout imposed by the military to prevent protestors from using social media to share the message with the international community of the injustice they are currently facing. However, protests still continue from people of all ages and economic backgrounds as they call for the release of those detained by the army, including elected leader Suu Kyi. Now the question remains, will democracy win once again or is the military back in power for good this time in Myanmar? by Saliha Rehanaz

Amidst the coup, citizens have not been quiet as Suu Kyi has urged her supporters to “protest against the coup.” Each night since the coup, residents in the main cities, such as Yangon, have been showing their disapproval of


IN IT TO WIN IT: VACCINATION EDITION 2021 already has high expectations to meet. No one wants a year similar to the last and following promising developments in COVID-19 vaccination schemes, many people have become optimistic that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. Whilst this may seem futile as COVID cases increase every day, the promise of a vaccine rollout still provides many with the belief that things will go back to ‘normal.’ And for some countries it may. But as vaccination rollouts begin, it becomes clear that vaccinations are only a promising end in sight for the fortunate ones. For a country like Australia which has stayed fairly on top of the pandemic by keeping the virus contained to a point where restrictions have begun to ease, the implementation of a vaccination rollout has not been made under the same urgency as other countries. Following the approval of the Pfizer vaccine by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the Australian Government has released a National Rollout Strategy, aiming to have as many Australians vaccinated as possible throughout the year. Limited numbers of vaccines available for Australia have seen priority groups divided into five categories, in the aim to provide safe and effective vaccines to higher risk groups. These groups were categorised following advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and the World Health Organisation, and up to 1.4 million doses will be available from early 2021 to individuals included in phase 1a. Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout will be voluntary, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly stressed the importance that as many Australians as possible get vaccinated. However, with two doses per person it is becoming increasingly evident that the 10 million Pfizer vaccines Australia has bought will not be enough.


In response to the limited amount of Pfizer vaccines the Australian government has secured, the current national plan is to vaccinate first priority Australians in phase 1a of the rollout. The four following phases are dependent on the AstraZeneca vaccine, a slightly less effective drug that has the ability to be manufactured in Australia. To date, 53.8 million doses have already been bought. Australia’s current COVID-19 climate has allowed a slow and assessed rollout. For other countries, this is not the case. In the United Kingdom, almost 11.7 per cent of the population have already received their first dose of the shot. With almost 8 million people already vaccinated, Britain has enforced one of the fastest paces of vaccination alongside Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The swift rollout was a necessity for a country whose death toll has recently surpassed 100,000 and similar fast passed rollouts have been enforced in the United States, where an estimated 30.5 million shots have been administered whilst COVID-19 related deaths have reached 437,000. With more than 94.4 million doses administered across 62 countries, vaccination rollouts have gained momentum. But even at such an early stage, it is clear some countries are falling behind. As South Africa battles a new highly infectious mutation of the virus, questions have begun to be asked about the unequal rollout of vaccines. Whilst the UK plans to vaccinate all adults with the first dose by autumn of 2021, healthcare workers and the elderly have not even begun to receive vaccinations in South Africa. With a population of 58.5 million people, they presently have enough vaccines in order to vaccinate only 10 million. Zimbabwe still has no clear time frame on when they will receive vaccines, whilst other countries such as Mexico and Pakistan continuously battle to secure numbers.

The irregular pace of vaccine rollouts across countries is not a new issue. Throughout the ‘90s, HIV prevention saw antiretroviral treatment available only to those who could afford it, with thousands dying from AIDS in Zimbabwe and other African countries, as US mortality rates drastically dropped. It took over 6 years for the treatment to become available in Africa following its launch in America. But who decides which countries receive vaccines? And why do countries like Canada have enough vaccines to vaccinate their population almost 5 times over while other countries have none? Before vaccines were approved, numerous countries started purchasing them in advanced bulk orders. This advanced purchasing has seen an estimated 6.4 billion doses of potential vaccine already bought and whilst it does incentivise the development of products and funds trials, it allows those who can pay at the earliest stage of production first entitlement. This risk of buying vaccines that have not been properly tested is not a choice for many countries, posing a major financial risk. Whilst some countries are still waiting, others have bought multiple options. In an effort to redistribute some of the vaccines globally, the COVAX initiative has been developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Vaccine Alliance. The COVAX global vaccine plan aims to unite countries so they have more power to negotiate with drug companies and ensure an equal distribution of vaccines. 189 countries have signed up and 92 of them are lowincome or middle-income countries and will have their vaccines paid for by sponsored donors. Whilst the COVAX initiative is good in theory, there is a long way to go.

Whereas the UK has donated around half a billion dollars to the fund, countries such as Russia and America have not contributed at all. Whilst the initiative has secured deals for COVID-19 vaccines it will only cover doses for 20% of a country’s population and will only purchase vaccines already approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The global rollout of vaccines has also showcased the political nature of the negotiations. It has been revealed that different countries have been charged different prices for the same product. Israel, a country leading the way in vaccination rates paid a significantly higher price for vaccines to acquire early shipments. The South African government paid $5.25 for each dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine whilst the European Union paid $2.15. Countries that financially supported the development of vaccines obtained lower unit prices and brought to light the privilege needed to obtain a lifesaving prevention plan. The politicisation of vaccines has impacted countries agreements with manufacturers, and whilst the COVAX initiative is still developing, countries have relied on diplomatic relations. Pakistani universities have aided clinical trials of Chinese firms in an effort to secure a supply whilst India has secured more than 2 billion doses by providing manufacturing capabilities. Meanwhile countries have relied on these diplomatic relations to access vaccines outside the constraints of the COVAX initiatives, other countries such as China and Russia have used their position to strengthen diplomatic relations. China has offered financial support to Latin America and Africa to acquire vaccines, whilst Russia has agreed to deals with Argentina and Brazil in exchange for production and trials. In the meantime, it is clear 2021 has the opportunity to confront and challenge the pandemic, slowing its course and allowing improvement, it has become increasingly apparent the unequal opportunities available globally. The pandemic is global and only once everyone is vaccinated will the risk actually decrease. Wealthier nations hoarding vaccine supplies, politically driven negotiations, and bulk pre-orders have all revealed the prioritisation of vaccines and what it takes to be a fortunate country in the face of a pandemic. by Madi Scott


CITY OF STARS Featured in Macquarie University’s Newsletter The Lighthouse, here is a guide to all the beautiful astronomical wonders to look out for this year, explained by Ángel R. López-Sánchez, resident astronomer of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

As professional astronomers around the world will be observing meteor showers, visits from famous comets and two lunar events, a cool fact that perhaps you did not know is that many of the world’s largest telescopes operate using vital components designed and manufactured by Macquarie University’s Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO) division. However, you do not need fancy equipment to enjoy the beautiful night sky! Mark the dates and events in your calendar for 2021, because you do not want to miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity! 27th April 2021: Supermoon While sometimes called a super pink moon, super moons are not really pink. The name came about because US astronomers are known to use Native American names for all full moons, and a pink North American wildflower called Moss phlox (Phlox subulata) blooms in April. In April, we will be seeing the first of the two supermoons of 2021. A supermoon is a full moon – or a new moon – that nearly coincides with perigee, the nearest the moon comes to the Earth in its elliptical orbit (watch out for the werewolves!). This makes the moon look larger and brighter than usual when viewed from Earth. 7th May 2021: Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower To get the best view of this amazing meteor shower, you need to find an area away from city or street lights. Lying down on a sleeping bag or a blanket, you need to look up and take in as much of the sky as possible. After about 15-20 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will be able to see faint meteors. There will be plenty of time to catch the show, as it lasts till dawn. The Eta Aquarids meteor shower is one of the best of the Southern Hemisphere, with dozens of meteors per hour visible from a dark place. The meteor show is extremely fast, travelling at about 66 kilometres a second into the Earth atmosphere. Make a date out of this beautiful night and don’t miss out on a once-in-alifetime opportunity!


26th May 2021: Supermoon and Total Lunar Eclipse You will be witnessing the second supermoon this year, which is also sometimes called the super flower moon! While there are no flowers involved, it is related to the North American wildflowers blooming abundantly around this time. A much bigger astronomical event will obscure the view of the super flower moon, because starting from 6:47pm and peaking at 9:18pm, there will be a total lunar eclipse. This means the supermoon will also be a blood moon – the perfect night for all of you witches to seek revenge! 23rd – 24th June: Mars Crossing Mars will be crossing the Beehive Cluster in Cancer during these two nights. This can be viewed with binoculars or low-magnification telescopes. However, the Beehive can be seen with the naked eye and it looks like a little fluffy cloud! While looking at the Beehive, which is also known as M44, you can see stars that are nearly 600 light-years away! Apparently, there are about a thousand stars in the Beehive, some similar to the Sun. Many are red giants and white dwarfs, which are older than the rest of the stars in the cluster. by Saliha Rehanaz



NAMA-STAY SEXY Kind regards and many thanks, this is Harry Fraser, the Regulars Editor for the worldrenowned Grapeshot Magazine. It may be a new year, but old habits die hard which means that once again I will be undertaking a challenge. This issue, I have decided to take my therapist’s advice to stave off latent panic attacks. That’s right, I’ll be doing a 30-day yoga challenge. A close friend and Macquarie University alumni suggested I try Yoga with Adriene, or simply YWA, a very popular yoga teacher on YouTube. Full disclosure, I had been using Adriene’s videos before I started the 30-day challenge and as such, I wouldn’t classify myself as a total beginner; more of a novice. The challenge is a 30-day program called Breath, with Adriene posting a video every day for most of January with a common theme of, you guessed it, the breath. More on this later. The videos varied in length from 16 minutes to 48 minutes and a full calendar was available on Adriene’s website so I could plan accordingly and know what was coming up. Adriene would also send through daily emails to notify me of a new video upload. I don’t think she composed the emails personally, but they were very wholesome and heart-warming, nonetheless. I want to take a moment to acknowledge my virtual teacher, Adriene. Just like Claire from the now defunct Bon Appetit test kitchen, I would die for Adriene. What’s more, I would also die for her dog Benji. Don’t think that I am overreacting or exaggerating. Adriene is a warm, kind and charismatic person that seems to occupy the role of a friend rather than an instructor.


Her quirky humour, unprompted singing and sexual innuendoes are expressions of intimate vulnerability that we don’t often find online or even in person. You quickly feel that Adriene is relatable and accessible and this might explain her significant online following. Starting her YouTube channel in 2012, Adriene Mishler has cultivated over 9 million subscribers and fostered an accessible culture of mindfulness and inclusivity. Offering many of her videos and teaching free of charge, Adriene caters for all, no matter the state of their physical, mental or spiritual health. It is important to note that this is not a sponsored article despite my major fangirling over Yoga with Adriene. I genuinely enjoy and savour her work and it excites me to see that a new video has been dropped. Coming into the 30-day program, I had done various YWA videos in no particular order. I chose my own adventure as they say. As I mentioned before, the name of this program, or 30-day yoga journey as Adriene calls it, is Breath. Prior to this program, I had very much considered yoga as a somewhat one-dimensional practice that focussed on stretches and poses, like downward dog. The idea of a conscious breath and aligning my physical movement with my breath was unknown to me. It wasn’t until I started this specific program that I started to grapple with the integrity of the breath. I now also had a strict time schedule. I was to do at least one YWA video every day for 30 days. I considered this a good means of establishing a habit and getting yoga into my daily routine as opposed to just doing it when I felt like it.


Although I still have a few days to go, there are a few points and takeaways worth mentioning. Firstly, I have come to recognise the centrality of the breath and breathing more generally to the practice of yoga. Every lesson we would begin by drawing our attention to the breath. If you’re slightly confused by the statement, don’t worry, I was too. I very quickly learned that the physical side of yoga, such as the poses, were secondary to the breath, at least in this program. There could be practices that went for 20 minutes with mainly just breathing. But sure enough, over time and with repetition, the idea of checking in with my breath became familiar and comfortable for me. Words cannot accurately or justly convey what exactly this conscious attention to the breath is. But I’ll still try. Breathing is a reflex and thankfully automatic. You don’t often (if ever) have to actively breathe with intention. The hard work is done for us by our bodies. The only time that I have personally become aware of my breath is during anxious or panicked moments and that is truly an odd sensation, to be aware of one’s breath and the act of breathing. Some of Adriene’s guidance included expanding the belly with the inhale and deflating on the exhale. She would describe the way our body should feel while we breathe and this helped me become better acquainted with my breath. Whenever I feel stressed, panicked or just not right, the simple act of consciously breathing has provided me with so much relief. Part of the reason yoga focusses on the breath is the insight and power it offers. This is another facet of yoga practice: getting to know yourself better. Breathing is a primal human action; it embodies what it is to be human and to be alive. In one video, Adriene referenced the poem The Guesthouse by Rumi and for the first time in my life I felt an overwhelming sense of perspective.

a human experiencing life. In other words, I was an observer and my body, my thoughts and my emotions were not necessarily part of me but rather something at arm’s length. I cannot do justice to the sensation and scepticism is understandable. I am not describing some divine out of body experience here, but instead what I felt to be mindful. This is an enduring benefit of regular yoga practice, this inner peace and quieting of the mind and the heart. Another dynamic that I was very pleased to find in yoga was the holistic nature of YWA. In my experience some forms of physical exercise, particularly when the focus is on weight loss, good self-esteem and kindness are often overlooked. Results are driven by a need to change or improve your appearance. In a refreshing move, Adriene constantly reminds us to ‘find what feels good’ and maintains a culture of inclusivity, acceptance and self-love. It sounds cheesy but ultimately you go away from the practice not focussed on what you are not, but rather what you are and how much you can do. Of course, there are days when you are sore and there is a lot of sweating and grunting involved. But the journey is underpinned by a respect for your body and its power and this for me makes all the difference. And yes, I have become stronger and more flexible. I have noticed the planks are easier and I’ve even attempted some lifts. Strength can come in more than one form and they are all complimentary. A healthy mind is necessary for a healthy body and vice versa. I have developed a yoga habit I must say and it’s not going anywhere despite the completion of this challenge. As they say to end in YWA, “lift your thumbs to the third eye point, take second, namaste.” by Harry Fraser

What I took from the poem combined with the consciousness of my breath was the idea that I might be life experiencing a human rather than




The titular character of Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a feminist icon for the ‘90s. Created in 1962 in Archie Comics Archie’s Madhouse Issue #22, Sabrina was a half-witch character who was intended to be a trendier, sexier version of Samantha Stephens from Bewitched. Sabrina’s main foil was the fact that if she ever fell in love, she would lose her powers. Because it was the ‘60s – and because Sabrina was created by men, Sabrina was both independent thanks to her witchcraft and rebellious without ever challenging the patriarchal power structures of the period. By focusing on her daily issues as a high school student; making love potions and bewitching her classmates, the comic writers were able to avoid any serious discourse. The premise of Sabrina’s story was simple; like Samantha Stephens, she held more power than was normal for a woman at the time without ever overtly challenging the social and systemic sexism present in her world. From 1970-1974 Sabrina had her own comic series titled Sabrina the Teenage Witch and CBS aired an animated series along with this. Eventually in 1996, the ABC premiered Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the TV classic starring Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina. Throughout her many reincarnations there have been constants in Sabrina’s story. She has always been half witch with a witch father and human mother. She lives with her two aunts Hilda and Zelda. She has a cat named Salem who is actually a witch in cat form as a punishment for witchy crimes. She also has a boyfriend named Harvey Kinkle who is often portrayed as naive and unaware of Sabrina’s magical abilities.


All of this incredibly important background information brings us to the current and most talked about adaptation of Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina starring Kiernan Shipka. Based off of the 2014 comic of the same name, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina aired in 2018, produced by the CW and available for streaming on Netflix. The CW are the creators of several other notable shows aimed at young audiences such as The Vampire Diaries, Riverdale and Supernatural. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa who also created Riverdale which was based on the Archie Comics. This shouldn’t be surprising because both series take place in the same world in the comics. Sabrina lives in Greendale which is on one side of Sweetwater River while Archie and friends live on the other side in Riverdale. In the comics Betty and Veronica are briefly featured in Sabrina’s story as members of Riverdale’s coven. The characters in Riverdale are far darker and broodier than their comic counterparts and this seems to fit the trend of grittier and more disturbing television shows for young people. But this has also been criticised by fans of the comics who ask why all their favourite characters need to be made darker and why events need to be more violent and disturbing. Another more extreme example of this would be the new Netflix Winx Club adaptation which I will die mad about. This relationship means that Chilling Adventures of

POP CULTURE REWIND Sabrina, the younger of the two shows was always going to be a dramatic reboot and we should have expected much darker themes. Season one was good and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Season two was decent and I happily flew through it. But something happened during season three. The show’s writers forgot how to write. When Sabrina is faced with the revelation that she will play a key role in the apocalypse, she responds “Sorry, but I have school.” Even if Sabrina cared at all about school, which she obviously never does, this line is jarring in contrast to the very serious matter being discussed; the actual end of the world. It’s clearly meant to be a joke, but Sabrina isn’t comedic relief, so it lands weirdly and jolts the viewer out of the story. The tone in this show is very strange. Emotionally intense scenes either feature weirdly out of place jokes and comments or totally unrealistic responses. The world in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is in a constant state of apocalypse. Every season has some new existential threat; Satan, The Green Man, The Eldritch Terrors. Every series needs to have a plot and plots rely on complications and problems which need to be solved. However, when every episode in season four is just another big bad villain needing to be stopped, the end of the world stops feeling like a significant threat. It feels as though the Eldritch terrors were introduced because the showrunners realised that now that Satan was out of the picture, they needed a new bigger and evil figure which is hard to find seeing as Satan epitomises all that. This is almost exactly the same problem which Supernatural, the CW’s fandom favourite faced; right down to defeating Satan and desperately searching for a new threat to the universe.

Sabrina’s showrunners ultimately decided to just outsource HP Lovecraft’s stories with the new Eldritch terrors plotline and really tried my patience. It’s a good thing Lovecraft is long dead because he must be rolling in his grave right now. Each episode of season four is just a new Lovecraftian monster who threatens humanity. Despite the magnitude of this threat and the sheer power each creature carries, they are all easy enough to defeat in the space of an episode. Even the characters in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina acknowledge that the apocalypse has really happened too many times. It’s very meta and tongue in cheek of the writers. But my beef with this is that it feels lazy rather than clever. The writers and showrunners know they have messed up with the melodramatic large-scale conflicts taking place and instead of actually fixing the plot, they decided to just point it out to show how self-aware they are and continue on their merry way ruining everything. It’s an easy way to acknowledge your errors and pretend the problem has been solved. Sabrina the Teenage Witch followed Sabrina’s high school antics; going on a school excursion to Salem

or using her magic to rig a football game so the team her boyfriend is on wins. It was light-hearted with often silly plots that also attempted to teach lessons about jealousy, bullying and stereotypes. Sabrina would get herself into a bad situation and Hilda and Zelda would help her fix it, ultimately helping her grow as a character. This was a goofy but meaningful show however the sitcom style has inevitably fallen out of fashion. In the 1996 show the Spellman household is a family of women who get shit done. Hilda and Zelda were wise aunts working to pass down their knowledge to the next generation of witches. Sabrina the Teenage Witch has also been read as a queer narrative; Sabrina is a teenage girl with a big secret, she lives with her sympathetic same sex surrogate parents, to enter the magical “Other Realm” she has to go inside a closet. Salem is a sassy cat who reflects the stereotypical queercoded male characters such as Jafar from Aladdin and Scar from The Lion King. Rupaul is even featured in an episode as a hairdresser. Obviously, there is no concrete evidence witchcraft was intended as an allegory for queerness and Sabrina the Teenage Witch was also an imperfect show. There was no real queer representation apart from maybe Salem who is possibly bi-curious because he expressed his crush on Harvey Kinkle and the cast were all very white. This lack of diversity inevitably led to some problematic story lines and not all the shows episodes aged well.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina makes a much more heavy-handed effort to show how fundamentally feminist it is. To help her black friend Ros, Sabrina founded WICCA, the Women’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association and nothing really happens because of this in the plot. It just serves to show that Sabrina is a great white saviour. When Theo is bullied for being gender nonconforming, Sabrina steps in and saves the day. She is a model white ally. This also means that whenever her woke antics are foiled, Sabrina becomes the white victim. One of the many disappointing things about this reboot is that witchcraft and its persecution has a long and sordid history drenched with sexism, classism, and racism. But instead of putting any effort into exploring these aspects of witchcraft, the writers have shown a clear desperation to let you know how woke and intersectional they are. The result of this is that while it’s a clear effort to make Sabrina into a woke feminist icon, much of the time this comes off as forced and as clearly reactionary to the real world. Ultimately, Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a heartwarming and entertaining show to watch, whilst the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is an example that darker plot lines do not necessarily make a show better. by Eleanor Taylor







Breaking the teeth of a comb: not only is your hair too thicc, you now have misfortune coming your way.



Lending salt: not me with Satan at my dinner table.

an up e v a h : you s. ightingg funeral si s l w O n i com






d: r brea, a e t o ds t knife ur hanad with a mkay. o y g Usin y cut bre death, m onl it’s wise other

Twitch ing talkingleft eye: som shit ab e out yobody is u. CHILE




Dropping your wallet: as if you couldn’t get any more broke.

Cutti ng night your : it fin paren’s you wa gernails n ts to die foting your at r me.




Welcome to Witchcraft 101! I’m guessing if you’re reading this then you’re probably curious about witches, or perhaps they frighten you. But do not fear. I’m here to dispel your woes about witches without a spell in sight. I spoke to Alexandrian Witch *Aether about all things witchy and the bogus beliefs that follow him. What is a witch really? How would you define a witch? A witch is a collective term for a group of people who follow the ways of nature, like the moon and sun cycle, and the seasons. This is just superficially speaking of course. On a deeper level a witch is more spiritual, someone who is able to tap into the energies of nature – which can be represented by a deity. What type of witch are you? Are there other types of witches besides your own? So I’m an Alexandrian Witch, and yes there are other types of witches. Though ‘type’ is the wrong word to use. Tradition is better. Alexandrian is a tradition that was founded in the UK by Alex and Maxine Sanders in the 1960s. There’s also Gardnerian Witchcraft and Eclectic Witchcraft amongst many others. Each tradition is practised in a different method and there are also differences in belief. I also define myself as a Western Hermetic Witch, as I follow the Qabalah. But that’s a whole other story. How did you become a witch? Well there are two aspects to this really, there’s the formality of becoming a witch, like with initiation and then there’s this innate feeling, like a realisation or evolution in your beliefs that you come to have. The world is vast and beautiful and complicated. I started feeling a sense of wonder about the world when I was a teenager and began looking into Eastern traditions like Buddhism, whereas my friends



sought after other faiths. My wonder evolved from there and I soon turned to philosophy. After that, the rest is history. How do real witches compare to witches in the media, like cartoons? Are there any similarities? Well no, not really. The cartoon witch is just a caricature of a witch. It doesn’t bear any resemblance to the real thing, although we do use tools like cauldrons and wands, but not in the same way they’re portrayed. In the days of old, the cauldron would’ve been used to boil herbs. I’m not an Earth Witch so I don’t practise that, but I do have a wand – it represents fire and the creative energy of life. I can’t do spells with it like in Harry Potter and such films; that’s all make-believe. And speaking of Harry Potter, wizards don’t actually exist only witches. Your gender does not define which one you are. Magicians and Sorcerers do exist though. An Altruistic Magician works with the world’s energies to improve the world and better the environment. Whereas a Sorcerer will use the energies to better themselves and to control the environment and other people. In my view, cartoon witches come from the influence of Halloween. They’re created from the fear of the unknown. When people are frightened, they generate mechanisms of defence and create things that don’t really exist. Cursing and healing are very real things though; they say that a witch that can’t curse, can’t heal. I don’t get involved with either, but some witches do. What do witches really believe in?

What’s one thing you can tell us about witches that would surprise us? Well, I saw a meme the other day and – I don’t know how true it is in Australia, but it’s certainly true in the UK – that witchcraft is 10% visible and 90% invisible. Anyone could be a witch and you’d never know. Witches just go about their lives as all people do. Also, witches are Pagan but not all Pagans are witches. Remember that. Favourite thing about being a witch? Least favourite thing? Let’s start with my least favourite. It really annoys me when people present themselves as a serious witch but they aren’t, and they’re just using the craft to make money – like someone using a tarot deck and charging people for a reading. Those types of people are just missing the whole point and are robbing people. I also hate stupid witch names like ‘Steel Dragon Slayer’ or something to that degree. Witch names are given to you. You don’t choose them. And my favourite thing about being a witch? Everything. What’s the main message/takeaway you want people to remember (about witches)? Witchcraft is just like any other faith that’s out there. Witches aren’t evil and you shouldn’t discriminate against us. Don’t be scared of us, we’re just like you – but there are more people out there like me than you will ever realise. *Names have been changed.

The influence of nature fundamentally, but it’s much, much more than that. Witches believe in the connection to the past, present and future. They believe in reincarnation. They believe in the ability to change your environment in times of adversity – that even in the face of danger you’ll come through it and you’ll learn and move forwards.



ATTENTION ALL BUDDING INDIGENOUS WRITERS! If you have been looking for a safe place to unload political thoughts, talk about experiences or discuss identity, then look no further: this space is for you. Grapeshot is committed to supporting the voices of First Nations Peoples at Macquarie University and we are excited to introduce a dedicated Regulars spot for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to feature their works. This is a place for you to stand up and use your voice when it is so desperately needed. This space can be whatever you wish to make of it. It is here for you to shape; all it needs is you. It ensures First Nation voices are part of every issue of Grapeshot. We hope that with this platform, we can ensure the endurance of the vibrant culture that is our First Nations. Our first piece is written by Elijah Ingram, a Wiradjuri man who explores the inextricable bond between Indigenous people and their totems.



TOTEMS Totems occupy a special place among Indigenous people and are a recurring aspect of various Indigenous cultures. Although I have an understanding of totems and their meaning to Aboriginal people, I can only speak of what I was taught by my own parents and elders. Totems are our connection back to country, and as such are usually animals. A totem signifies a connection to a particular group of people and these groups are deemed protectors of their totem. It is the responsibility of the person to learn everything they can about their totem; from its breeding cycle, how long it takes for the young to mature, to what age they normally die at. People strive to become an expert in their totem and in doing so gain a deeper connection to country. There are some general rules that seem to be universal regarding totems, but again I only speak for what I know. A person is forbidden from eating their totem as it is seen as one of the things that connects you to country. People were usually given their totems at birth, although this has become difficult with the loss of knowledge regarding the ceremony and lore behind what totems are granted. Usually, a person will have more than one totem. I have met people with 5 or 6, but 3 seems to be the average. Usually, you take your nation totem which links you back to your nation and its land. You then take your family totem which connects you back to your family group and strengthens your kinship bonds. Then you are given a personal totem. This is yours and connects you with people outside of your family and even nation. For instance, a person might be given the Wedge-tail Eagle as their nation totem, the Sand goanna as their family totem and they may be given the crow as their personal totem. Each of these animals represents a different bond to country. Totems are sacred to Indigenous peoples and while I’ve spoken a little on what I know, it is important to remember that each people will have different interpretations of what a totem is and the lore surrounding them. by Elijah Ingram


MEET THE GRAPESHOT TEAM! Editor-in-Chief: Jodie Ramodien Lucky omen: Rain, it makes life look more atmospheric and it keeps plants happy. Unlucky omen: The word ‘die’ is embedded in both my first and last name, Jodie Ramodien. Favourite quote: “I began to realise how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. [My Uncle Oswald] taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.” — Roald Dahl Deputy Editor: Madison Scott Lucky omen: The evil eye – I’ll take as much protection from misfortune as possible. Unlucky omen: The thought of breaking a mirror terrifies me. Favourite quote: “With freedom, flowers, books, and the moon, who could not be perfectly happy?” — Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

Creative Director: Sam van Vliet Lucky omen: Waking up knowing you have nowhere you have to be. Unlucky omen: Milk powder in literally everything. Favourite quote: “No sound is dissonant which tells of life.” — Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Creative Director: Kathleen Notohamiprodjo Lucky omen: Booping my dog’s nose to bring me happiness. Unlucky omen: I like to think I’m a pretty positive person, but hearing a knife scrape on a glass plate has the potential to make me cry. Favourite quote: “Good morning starshine, the earth says hello!” — Saliha Rehanaz/Willy Wonka.

News Editor: Saliha Rehanaz Lucky omen: My mother’s prayers; that woman knows some form of magic for sure. Unlucky omen: Everything. It’s almost as if luck has a personal vendetta against me. Favourite quote: “You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks a light in you.” — Alexander Den Heijer


News Editor and Podcast Producer: Katelyn Free Lucky omen: Getting my eyeliner right the first time. Lord knows those two crucial minutes in the morning have the power to make or break my day. Unlucky omen: Seeing someone I’m friends with like Scott Morrison’s posts on LinkedIn. Favourite quote: “Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.” — Susan David

Campus News Editor: Rayna Bland Lucky omen: Seeing 1:11, or 11:11. As an ‘angel’ number it reminds me that I have the power to manifest my dreams and desires. Unlucky omen: Saying “good luck” to someone before a performance instead of “break a leg.” I do not know why and I am not even sure it means anything… I just believe it. Favourite quote: “Tomorrow never happens, it’s all the same fucking day man.” — Janis Joplin, Rock Legend

Regulars Editor and Podcast Producer: Harry Fraser Lucky omen: Eyelashes. Be sure to make a wish should you find one. Unlucky omen: When things appear to be going well for a while without something going wrong. The other shoe has to drop. Favourite quote: “The pursuit of love seemed to need the cultivation of indifference.” — Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty

Features/Creatives Editor and Design Assistant: Rhys Sage Lucky omen: Butterflies. When I was young I used to follow butterflies and let them lead me to odd places and things I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Unlucky omen: When flowers wilt and die during their highest time of the year. If the earth cannot support what should be thriving think of everything else that was already struggling to survive. Favourite quote: “Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music: – Do I wake or sleep?” — John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale Online Editor: Ky Stewart Lucky omen: Seeing a cockatoo or a possum – they are my totems. Unlucky omen: When someone tells me they don’t like Lana Del Rey. Favourite quote: “In a world myriad as ours, the gaze is a singular act: to look at something is to fill your whole life with it, if only briefly.” — Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous


Distribution Manager and Editorial Assistant: Eleanor Taylor Lucky omen: When I shuffle my playlist and the song I’m thinking about comes on. Unlucky omen: Bad things come in threes. When one thing goes wrong, more is sure to follow. Favourite quote: “She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.” — Kate Chopin, The Awakening

Editorial Assistant: Nikita Byrnes Lucky omen: Waking up and feeling rested (I very rarely experience this omen). Unlucky omen: Magpies. I seem to be the only person in my local area that gets swooped regularly. Favourite quote: “I think our very form is bound to change. / Dogs in a siege. Saurian relapses. Pismires. / Unless forgiveness finds its nerve and voice, / Unless the helmeted and bleeding tree / Can green and open buds like infants’ fists / And the fouled magma incubate / Bright nymphs… My people think money and talk weather.” — Seamus Heaney, Triptych (Part II, “Sibyl”).

Editorial Assistant: Tori Barendregt Lucky omen: Literally when anything good happens to me no matter how small (I tend to believe in myself more and feel hope for the future where I usually feel hopeless). Unlucky omen: Stubbing my toe early in the day. Favourite quote: “The greatest thing is to have someone who loves you and – and to love in return.” — Winston Graham, Ross Poldark

Editorial Assistant: Olivia Chan Lucky omen: Whenever the day is sunny, at a moderate temperature, and my coffee is made perfectly. Unlucky omen: Being late first thing in the morning whilst it’s raining. Favourite quote: “Twelve o’clock. / Along the reaches of the street / Held in a lunar synthesis, / Whispering lunar incantations / Dissolve the floors of memory / And all its clear relations, / Its divisions and precisions, / Every street lamp that I pass / Beats like a fatalistic drum, / And through the spaces of the dark / Midnight shakes the memory / As a madman shakes a dead geranium.” — T.S. Eliot, Rhapsody on a Windy Night

Editorial Assistant: Mykayla Castle Lucky omen: Numbers 7 and 8. Good vibes only. Unlucky omen: I’m no longer allowed to speak badly about cars because any time I do, they break. Favourite quote: “You— you alone— will have stars as no one else has them… In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night. You— only you— will have stars that can laugh!” — Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince






When we think about witches, images of pointed hats, brooms and black cats spring to mind. We don’t typically think of syringes, cigarettes or someone hunched over snorting white powder with their friends. Witches and drugs have been demonised for hundreds of years under the pretence that deviance ought to be punished. Have a societal problem that you can’t seem to fix? Are women becoming too powerful? Are immigrants causing you racial anxiety? Blame your worries on the weirdos and the drugs that they use. Squash their deviance and make them into evil monsters that must be punished: scapegoating at its finest. Abnormality has never sat well with normality and when normality is disrupted, the prosecutors come out with fire and pitchforks. Don’t fix your fears, fight them instead. Yes, this may be a bit of an exaggeration for drug punishment but witches unfortunately faced far grislier deaths for social fears. Inappropriate Witchy Business Witchcraft first became punishable by law in England under the ‘1542 Witchcraft Act’ established by King Henry the VIII. Witchcraft became a crime punishable by death and anyone who performed magical acts to harm someone, obtain money, or attack Christianity was condemned. This act was soon replaced however by the 1563 ‘Act Against Conjurations, Enchantments and Witchcrafts’ – a clear move that showed the fear of magic and witches was growing. Of course, women (and some men) were murdered for these false crimes long before these acts were even created. And to back up these wild allegations judges, magistrates and priests all used one book in particular: Malleus Maleficarum. Considered as the most famous book on witchcraft, Malleus Maleficarum of 1486 was used to condemn people of, well, anything they didn’t want women to do. As fear grew of women owning their own sexuality and identity they became known as “impure spirits” that were “devils deputed by god,” existing only for the “temptation of men and the punishment of the damned.” Sex without procreation was seen an “abomination,” and one of the most “foulest and beastliest acts” that a person could commit. Looks like I’m going to hell everyone. But it’s okay – I’ll have plenty of friends there.


From the beginning of the fifteenth century to the end of the seventeenth it is estimated that between 60,000 to millions of people were murdered as witches, and 80% of these deaths were women. Witchcraft was the “near-perfect method of social control” admits Manderson (2005), as it defined the deviant as “evil” and “invisible,” making condemnation swift and “indisputable.” If you know something is evil but can’t actually prove it then you may as well kill it just in case. That’s how logic works, right? So, how does this all fit with the demonisation of drugs? Well, Witches amongst many other things were herbalists, midwives and abortionists and according to Malleus Maleficarum, had “the exact knowledge of the virtue of herbs.” Drugs therefore, were quite literally “the instrument of the devil” and any association with them no matter how good, would result in your horrific torture or death. It is no wonder then, that drugs have been condemned as evil, just as witches have been. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds Drugs have been used for thousands of years for everything really. Any ailment, ache or pain and you’d be able to find something that would (hopefully) alleviate your woes; but if you used too much or you were slightly abnormal, then punishment would be coming your way. In the late nineteenth century it was common for Chinese immigrants to be found smoking opium in Europe, America and Australia. Opium dens in Victoria for instance became so abundant that racial fears against the Chinese grew. Chinese immigrants became exclusively associated with opium smoking even though there is photographic evidence that the drug appealed cross-culturally. Thus, the Chinese were labelled as “evil,” and the dens were plagued with “infamy and immortality” that seduced and “abandoned European women.” As a result, the 1868 Victorian Parliament Report announced that “exceptional legislation must be provided for [these] exceptional people” to save them “from ruining themselves and society around them.” Opium subsequently became illegal in 1905. And so the demonisation of drugs continued well into the 1970’s, where US President Richard Nixon announced his ‘War on Drugs,’ with Australia soon after declaring its ‘Tough on Drugs’ (1997), and The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime adopting ‘a drug free world: we can do it!’ (1998). ‘Killer-Weed’ became a ‘Drop-out Drug’ in the sixties as it was no longer predominantly used by so-called minorities and criminals but by Caucasian students who apparently lacked initiative and were rebellious. Yet every attempt made by the legal system to control drug use has failed. Make drugs illegal and people will just resort to the black market. Destroy drug markets and another market will just pop up in another country. So when all else fails, blame the drug and the drug user — for it is they who are the most deviant of all.


Abnormality and the Cure for Normal Witchcraft and drugs though seemingly different hold a connection of demonisation dating far back into our past. Witches become addicted to the devil in the same way that the drug user becomes addicted to their choice of evil. If there were truly witches around what harm could they have inflicted on normality? Most likely they would’ve kept to themselves and continued to use herbs and magic to help people - and maybe throw around a few curses or two. Instead of being demonised drug users could take their drugs without fear of persecution. After all, weed has been proven to reduce symptoms of multiple sclerosis, tobacco helps to calm shaky nerves and LSD makes you see some pretty cool stuff. Perhaps then, we should be looking at a cure for normality, for the definition of normal is dependent on the individual themselves. My normal is not the same as your normal and vice versa. Normality and abnormality should not be placed in different boxes. In fact, by labelling abnormality one creates the deviant and the social problem continues to grow. I rather like deviance, especially witches, as they love nature and magic just as I do. Afterall, life would be pretty boring if we all adopted the same normal ideals — and that would be truly terrifying. by Aylish Dowsett


MINING THE STARS Invented nearly 4,000 years ago, the ancient practice of astrology has come in and out of fashion at various points of time but now more than ever thanks to technological innovation astrology is a mainstream practice. Human civilization has always been confused and fascinated with the stars. In a time before watches, measuring the sky’s movements enabled people to create daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly cycles through which they could organise their tasks. A 17,000-year-old mammoth tusk from Ukraine appears to have had the lunar phase engraved in it as a calendar. The Lion Man of Hohlenstein-Stadel which is 40,000 years old has been interpreted as a depiction of the Leo Zodiac sign. These are examples of how astrology and astronomy which were originally viewed as the same thing, could be used for practical and artistic or religious purposes. Things really kicked off for astrology when the Sumerian people went through and named constellations and ascribed different properties to the planets that they were aware of. This was about 8,000 years ago but although the Sumerians had some thoughts about celestial bodies and wrote down omens, they didn’t have any real organised system for astrology. Therefore, we normally date meaningful divination as beginning in the Babylonian period when priests would use omens from the sky to determine the will of the gods. The gods also had their own planets to be associated with. After this the Greeks took astrology and ran with it, with Ptolemy giving us the names we use to this day for zodiac signs and planets. In the Middle ages people suddenly realised maths existed and this enabled them to calculate more accurate charts with planetary positions and angles. Unfortunately, the church gained more power and the Inquisition occurred with astrology becoming a criminal offence. During the Enlightenment period philosophers promoted scepticism and science to regain control of society from the Catholic church. Astrologers used pseudonyms now because the practice was seen as entertainment. Then in the 20th century there was a revival of mysticism and Carl Jung started using astrology in his research. From the ‘20s onwards, horoscopes were mass-produced in newspapers and magazines but generally weren’t taken seriously. Detached from its origins and simplified into 12 basic predictions for the entire population, astrology was a trivial hobby. The daily horoscope format we know and love today began in 1930 when the Sunday Express printed a birth horoscope for Princess Margaret. Today, astrology is generally viewed as a secular spiritual practice, an alternative to mainstream religions such as Christianity. According to The Atlantic in 2018 traffic to horoscope websites had increased 150% more than in 2017. Apps such as Co-Star have created ease in access for people interested in astrology. To access a treasure trove of astrological predictions all you need to do is input your date and time of birth. Apps and websites do the rest of the work from here and can generate endless natal charts and daily charts which are often split into certain areas such as: relationship, financial, emotional and more. Most people are aware of their zodiac or sun sign and may also know their moon and ascendant signs. Astrology can at times feel like a bit of a rabbit hole; you begin knowing you are a Gemini, then discover that your ascendant is Sagittarius and your moon is Virgo. This is a gateway into the rest of your planetary alignments. Further complicating things are phases such as Void of Course – you make weird unpredictable choices, and Mercury in Retrograde – the subject of infinite memes.


There are a multitude of reasons people develop an interest in astrology. According to a 1982 study by Graham Tyson, individuals experiencing intense stress will use astrology as a coping mechanism even though they would not normally be inclined to believe in it. In the 21st century we faced unprecedented challenges; a pandemic, late-stage capitalism, unaffordable costs of living, global warming and big tech to name just a few. Millennials are now the most stressed generation and honestly, that makes sense. In a world where young people are disenfranchised and feel a lack of control over their lives, astrology provides not only a distraction but a way to regain autonomy and make sense of our place in the universe. Astrologer Randon Rosenbohm says astrology is “for the girls and gays.” Although gender biology is a disputed area of science there has been a lot of research suggesting that women are more empathetic while men tend to be more analytical relying on hard science and data to make decisions. This is where the idea of women having some natural womanly intuition comes in. The locus of control is a psychological theory about how individuals perceive the control they have over their own lives. Having an external locus of control means that you believe there is some sort of greater system in control. Religion and the belief in an omniscient God are one example of how someone could have an external locus of control. Women have historically been more religious than men and are more likely to have an external locus of control. The reason behind this is often attributed to historical oppression. In a time when women were effectively owned by the men around them, faith provided them with security and a way to deal with the fact that they had no personal autonomy. Having an internal locus of control means that you believe you determine your own life and that you are not bound by fate. Men are more likely to have an internal locus of control and this could be attributed to the fact that in contrast to women, men have always had more power over their own lives. It is important to point out that gender psychology is not a concrete science and should be approached with scepticism, but it does reveal interesting trends for different people. Regardless of the psychological differences between men and women, it is clear that women are the consumer base for the self-help world. Astrology is overwhelmingly targeted towards women. Classic brief daily horoscopes have been found for a long time in magazines such as Elle and Cosmopolitan, two women’s lifestyle publications. Up until relatively recently, Huffington Post’’s horoscope column was found in the women’s voices section on their website. Astrology has broken into the mainstream but as a result of the long term targeting of women by astrology publications the entire practice is often viewed as something feminine. Do you hate [Insert any “girly” thing here] or are you just sexist and being dismissive of something because women enjoy it? Twilight, romance novels, chick flicks, skincare and makeup. These are all stereotypically feminine things associated with teenagers and young women. These are also all things which are often dismissed by men for being touchy-feely, and stupid. Astrologer Danny Larkin believes that straight men are taught from a young age to ‘man up’ and not be emotional, so an area like astrology which requires introspection into your emotions is often unattractive to them. In contrast, due to their history of marginalization women and queer people find greater comfort in astrology because it provides a sense of control and they are more inclined to reflect on their feelings.


Many astrologers consider Co-Star and other astrology apps to be inaccurate and accuse them of simplifying astrology. In June of 2020, Co-Star came under fire for memeing the black lives matter protests with an unbelievably insensitive text post about what each sign would be like protesting. For example, Virgo “Stocks up on masks to hand out.” One month later in an interview, co-founder and CEO Banu Guler revealed that Co-Star deliberately sends negative notifications to its users in order to build resilience and “troll” them. Users were predictably angry about this development and the idea that Co-Star employees were sabotaging their days for a laugh upset people who genuinely believed in the accuracy and reliability of Co-Star. According to their website, Co-Star runs on a “freemium model,” where all features are free apart from paid readings and some additional features. Co-Star also states that they do not sell data to third parties. At the same time however, Co-Star’s privacy policy states that data is shared with employees, third parties and other businesses. Interestingly, Co-star’s privacy policy is an exact copy of Wordpress’s with the only difference being the company name. Data privacy has steadily become more important to people since Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and for good reason. In a study by Francesco Bonchi, algorithmic bias privileges certain groups such as men over women in search results. One tangible result of this is that when women search for jobs online, lower-paying positions will be advertised to them. When apps collect data and then share this data with search engines there are unequal consequences for different people. Furthermore, astrology apps which enable compatibility charts and social features have access to not only your birth date, address, and name but also to your friends. Therefore, the lack of transparency about how your data is used by any app should be a cause for concern for its users. Horoscope apps are not the only culprits here but the amount of detailed information about your personality and life you give to them means that they can be used to mine an insane amount of personal data. Most horoscope apps offer personal services with tarot and psychic readings. If a user asks about their health it’s possible they could be unknowingly volunteering their medical information. One app Chaturanga promotes confidential readings where they encourage users to ask questions about their finances, careers, and relationships. The longer you use one of these services the more data they will accumulate on you. This is especially problematic for women who are more likely to be harassed and doxxed online and are also more likely to be victims of identity theft. People of colour are more likely to be subject to government surveillance. In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security is notorious for using social media to track the activities of activists especially in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement. Minorities use astrology apps the most and they are also the people who are the most at risk when it comes to data. The horoscope app market is worth 2.2 billion dollars. We need to remember that astrology apps such as Co-star are more than spiritual gurus in app form, they are first and foremost companies which exist to turn a profit. Given how much data we freely give these companies, I’d be surprised if they weren’t exploiting it.

by Eleanor Taylor



THE FACES OF FORTUNA Fortune and luck have always been things that people have wanted – whatever form of luck they so required. As such the Goddess Fortuna has been compartmentalised into many different aspects or faces of fortune. It’s rather interesting to see that these people so many years ago were simply asking for similar things that we are. It’s almost like they’re so close to us but so many things have changed. They’re just like you and me – they’ve felt what we’ve felt and know what it means to be human. I think that sometimes we forget that history was built from people’s bones and not just a story we tell.

Fortuna Annonaria brought the luck of the harvest. Everyone needs a nice meal and the harvest would determine the meals to come and the money that was needed to live. However, even in our contemporary society people still starve and hunger still plagues the masses even with our “superior” techniques. I guess access to food will always be the first necessity and the easiest thing for leaders to manipulate. If only Fortuna could feed us all with her cornucopia. Fortuna Belli the fortune of war. Conscripting the public and sending them off to fight has been the pastime of many civilisations. Sometimes war is a brutal necessity, but we still have this desire to maintain control through martial practices. If anything, the wars in modern life have become worse and worse – until we have had wars that were not really wars but more a threat of war. The subjugation of people, the erasure of someone’s existence. I think many people have hoped that Fortuna likes us more than the people we’re fighting.

Fortuna Redux brought one safely home. When the world is open and travel is allowed, people will walk free – they’ll explore and spread out, finding nooks and crannies that they wouldn’t and couldn’t find otherwise. However, eventually everyone has to come home, wherever that may be. They walk the miles or they take a ship or a plane. It’s the way your feet seem to just take you home. Fortuna favours the travellers and their return.


Fortuna Publica the fortune of the people. Individual people require luck as do the larger groups of bodies they make up. They require the luck that they won’t be killed by a Roman spear or an officers’ bullet when they walk down the street. They require the ability to feed their family, to hold a stable job, to be loved and to give love freely, to be who they are without scrutiny. Fortune for the people is hard because it is the accumulation of a thousand needs, of so many people and their own wants and deeds. Fortune for the people is fought for because Fortuna favours that everyone should be free. Fortuna Liberum protected children and brought them luck. Everyone wants to protect their children and this was no different in the past. Children are always going to be vulnerable and they are usually protected by the family, the state and apparently the gods. The children are the future. Maybe once it was because they carried on a house name or retained the family fortune, but it is also because they are our legacy. They are what will be when we are nothing but dust and memories. The way a newborn cries and the way they smile with eyes wide – even today we can see the magic in that. Honestly, it would be helpful if Fortuna decided to babysit once in a while. Fortuna Primigenia directed the fortune of a firstborn child at the moment of birth. Specifically, there’s always been a thing about firstborn children – something about them inheriting the family legacy, blah, blah, blah. In the past especially, newborn children rarely survived into adulthood and even today newborns are particularly vulnerable. But the first child is a marker – it is a change of what was into what will be. It is as Ovid so loved a metamorphosis of sorts. Fortuna knows that the firstborn child is a line that once crossed one can never return from.

by Rhys Sage


FAKE NEWS LANGUAGE, BIAS, AND AUSTRALIA’S PANDEMIC PRESS During the COVID-19 pandemic the news has become for many of us, a source of vital information. Every day we hear reports and updates on the situation – new cases, vaccine development and even disgraced “border jumpers” – to the extent that our daily actions are almost wholly decided by the media. Sadly, the pandemic has prompted many ‘ugly’ behaviours, including; racist attacks against Asian-Australians, mistrust of healthcare workers and the blaming of certain countries or people groups for the spread and origin of the virus. The social nature of the virus, specifically the fact that it spreads so easily and that no one is immune, can create a crippling sense of anxiety and stress as people struggle to balance personal relationships with the need to protect themselves against the virus. How people make those decisions, as well as their attitudes and behaviours, is undeniably reflective of the type of media they consume. With this in mind I decided to launch a small investigation into the way COVID-19 is portrayed by Australia’s most-read news websites: ABC News, Daily Mail Australia,, 7 News and The Guardian. Given my limited time and resources I decided to look at the six most recent “COVID-19” headlines from each source as of January 22nd, 2021. I then compiled a list of nouns, verbs and adjectives across the 30 headlines and made a note of how frequently each word came up. To be honest the results were not what I expected. There didn’t seem to be a significant difference between how each of the websites reported on and described recent events of the pandemic, at least not in the headline of the article. Overall, the headlines were pretty negative, particularly when it came to the kind of verbs and adjectives that were used. When it came to describing events there were three common words: “new,” “undetected,” and “Australian,” in the context of describing one or more people or things. The first two point to a real or imagined urgency associated with the virus and ultimately present the pandemic as something unpredictable and dynamic. The majority of adjectives had negative connotations and evoked a sense of deceit, isolation, and distrust of others. Some examples included the words “chaotic,” “closed,” and “conditional.” Likewise, the verbs used also had negative connotations as seen in “exposed,” “crushes,” “threaten,” “challenges,” and “bans.” There were also a few neutral words like “records,” “modify,” and “mentioned,” but overwhelmingly the language pointed to multiple deceptions and dubious actions on the behalf of individuals and governments. Interestingly, the headlines used a wide diversity of verbs, which is impressive on the part of the journalists. This is with the exception of the words “says,” and “spreading,” which were found four and two times respectively.


The choice of nouns is where it gets interesting and where a certain bias is revealed. Across 30 headlines there were more than 88 unique nouns. These included the names of countries, local areas, specific politicians and nouns relevant to the pandemic such as “mask” and “quarantine.” Certain countries, namely “China,” “USA,” and “UK,” appeared consistently. Importantly, the depiction of other states reflects a slanted coverage of international events as highlighted by an intense focus on three of the world’s wealthiest powers. What’s interesting is that these countries; the UK, the USA and China, each with many millions of citizens and a diversity of cultures are reduced to a single word – as if they’re some kind of monolithic body and not made up of diverse groups and cultures. In the UK for example, there are as many as 18 identified ethnic groups. Likewise, socioeconomic status is an important determinant of UK citizens’ lives and can be impacted by a person’s ethnicity and gender, thus adding further nuance. The UK’s Annual Population Survey for example, revealed a sobering economic disparity between males and females “in every ethnic group.” I hope I’m not the only one who finds that fact concerning. You might be wondering why I’m bothering to bring up these statistics – a fair question, but Australia also has a very diverse population with differing levels of wealth. It’s worth considering whether it is appropriate to lump all Australians together, particularly when you’re actually referring to the actions of specific institutions or parties. While article headlines have a limited number of characters and therefore need to be succinct and engaging, it is dangerously misleading to ascribe the actions of specific people such as a government, to the population of an entire country.


In 2020 there were disturbing reports of violence and threats against Asian-Australians in response to media reports and misinformation associating the virus with China and its citizens. Whilst this is partially a product of existing racism in Australia it’s absolutely imperative to consider how and why these threats sprung up so quickly against a group of Australians who were in no way linked or responsible for the outbreak in Wuhan. Of the four headlines that talked about China only two were neutral. The others were both negative and accused “China” of obscuring details of the virus at the beginning of the pandemic. Both the negative articles were from, make of that what you will. Media depictions that present China and Chinese people as the source of the virus have very serious and disturbing consequences. One Asian-Australian friend shared a handful of harrowing encounters in which she and her family were treated with visible disdain by other members of the public on the basis of their ethnicity. She has received disapproving looks in public and even witnessed racism in a university Facebook group where one member openly blamed the spread of the virus on Asian Australians. In another instance a white man noticeably avoided queuing behind her relative in the supermarket for no other reason than the fact that the relative was Asian. These experiences, which only represent a small percentage of anti-Asian incidents of racism are undeniably influenced by existing racism, as well as media outlets who depicted, and continue to depict, Chinese people as being responsible for the virus. With approximately 195 countries in the world it’s interesting that Australian headlines seem to centre around China and the US. Media outlets like to paint China as the bogeyman and Covid-denier when many states had similarly repressive actions from their government. Consider Brazil, which now has the second-most COVID-19 deaths in the world and the repeated and very public repression under Bolsonaro. The President’s actions are ignorant and disgraceful and yet Brazil is not often talked about in the recent Australian press. The examples of China and Brazil reveal a nasty truth about our media, specifically that it’s really not as independent as most Australians think. In fact, media representations of international politics are heavily biased and instead reflect Australia’s ‘best’ national interests and that’s a very serious concern. In 2020 Australia was ranked 26th in the World Press Freedom Index. In 2019 Australia was 21st. That’s a decrease of five ranks in one year. Reporters Without Borders attributes this low rank to an “oligarchic media model,” with “almost all” of private media belonging to either News Corp or Nine Entertainment. They provide the example of June 2019 when Federal police raided the house of a political reporter in Canberra as well as the Sydney ABC headquarters. It’s funny – I remember hearing about these incidents and not thinking much of it, but perhaps that’s the problem. As civilians we cannot afford to be apathetic to the tightening of press freedom.


Journalists risk jail and reputation damage to report on and uncover serious issues that impact the lives of people both in Australia and overseas. There is no shortage of journalists who are both courageous and dedicated to exposing inequality. In 2019 the ABC team began investigating allegations of war crimes committed by Australia’s SAS forces in Afghanistan. Journalists Mark Willacy, Dan Oakes and Sam Clark uncovered horrifying video footage of SAS soldiers killing unarmed civilians. This footage was among many eyewitness reports of brutality and murder committed by troops. Without their courage, dedication and hard work, Australian civilians would not be aware of the sickening crimes and it’s very possible that without the investigation the perpetrators would not be held accountable. Likewise, in 2016 a hard-working team of journalists, producers and researchers revealed the disturbing torture and abuse occurring in Northern Territory juvenile detention centres. Caro Meldrum-Hanna, Mary Fallon, and Elise Worthington worked non-stop for eight weeks to investigate the conditions of Don Dale Centre in the NT. Their story Australia’s Shame was broadcast on the 25th of July 2016. The report evoked enormous outrage and disgust from the Australian public. It revealed that young people in the centre, almost all of whom were Indigenous, had been tear-gassed and held in restraint devices. By interviewing some of the children – yes children, that had been abused they uncovered a horrifying institution, one in which Indigenous children were subjected to practices which were dangerous, traumatising, violent and unquestionably inhumane. Out of all the 88 nouns one was repeated more than any other – “fear”. Certainly many of us are fearful – scared of losing our jobs, our family and afraid of what lies on the other side of the pandemic – but who and what is responsible for this fear? Is it the actions of other states or their citizens, or perhaps the inability of our government to provide financial support to citizens? In September 2020 News Corp had a 27% hold of the online news market in Australia while Nine Entertainment followed close behind at 24.1%. The runners up were Seven West Media (12.4%), ABC (11.0%) and Daily Mail (9.8%). This means that the top five companies control a whopping 84.3% of the Australian news market. When you consider issues of bias or conflict of interest this statistic is horrifying. After my brief investigation I’m actually left with more questions than answers; how do we know if our news sites have a conflict of interest? How can we protect the integrity of our press and look after Australia’s journalists? And finally, what is the truth and how do we find it? by Shinae Taylor




THE BREATH OF WINTER The breath of winter – the only breath visible on naked air – slips from between warm lips, twirls in pirouettes, to the song of morning’s silence, on the invisible stage erected of loose air suspended above the snow-ploughed road in a slumbering town, evaporating to the applause of winking stars and before eyes still cloaked by sleep that are yet wide and more alive than the sun lumbering just below the horizon, watching her own palm stretch out, cupping the day’s first snowflakes sighed on the breath of winter.

by Tori S. Barendregt


PASPALUM I don’t understand. The fact that dreams are treated as if they are unimportant. Treated like trivial pieces of fantasy that are merely an entertainment show to pass the time between the closing of eyes and their inevitable opening. Which is fine. People are entitled to their opinions, or so I’m told. But just because something is a dream doesn’t mean it’s meaningless, maybe it’s meaningless now but it won’t be in the future. We’ve all had that teacher telling us never to make our creative writing stories dreams because it ‘dilutes’ the meaning of a piece – maybe the meaning of the piece is that it was a dream. So let me be clear, this is a dream. Or it was. Maybe it’s both real and a dream. I don’t remember when my eyes closed or when they opened, but it happened and I awoke in a state of dreaming. It’s like walking in a fog and watching the fog taking shapes and forms that arise from your thoughts – from your feelings. However, sometimes it’s so real, it feels like real touch, tastes like real air, sounds like real wind, smells like real roses. So who’s to say it isn’t real. You? Me? It felt like falling and falling and falling. It was falling. Grey-blue dream fog clinging to my hands, almost like I could grasp it – like I could hold it. Shapes took form, from fog to shadows to shapes and finally to wood – the wood of a ceiling. It was old and reminded me of roses, wooden grain shaped like rosy thorns and twisted vines, a soothing reminder that the Rose family owned this house. I wouldn’t find out until later but this house was the house my mother and her family stayed at right after they left my grandfather – the flames of the incinerator still singed into their memories. There was a girl, she was laying next to me looking at the rosy wooden ceiling. She looked just like my mother when she was a child – exactly the same as she had in the picture Nana kept on the mantelpiece. We were in a child’s room – Mother’s – the noises outside creeping in, the rubbing of wood, the sound of whispered grunting and of soft breathing. She stood up and started boarding up the windows, this echo of my mother, soundless nails being hammered into soundless wood. What an odd sight, seeing a young girl hammering nails into boards over windows, blocking out the world, blocking out the sounds. She turned and smiled at me, it was so soft and childish – the way a child’s face lights up when they find an old toy. She pointed to the door. Telling me to leave. Everything oddly soundless. I followed her demand, and left the house. I suppose I knew that I couldn’t refuse. I had a part to play in this scene and I would act it out. The door led to an ocean of paspalum that spewed out from the foot of the house and continued until it fell like a river off the hill. My mother would tell me in the days to come, that the hill would lead to the motorway and that the paspalum used to seem so grey in the night-time – just the way she liked it. Amongst the paspalum stood a man, the only part of this foggy night dream that stood out clear – cutting against the flowing ocean around him. I didn’t know this initially but supposedly there’s a reason we can’t understand language when we’re dreaming. They think it’s because the parts of your brain responsible for comprehension, like the Broca’s


and Wernicke’s area, are less active. Like sleep represses the need for comprehension – language is futile in such a state. This apparently makes reading, writing, and understanding speech difficult in a dreaming state. And I suppose that’s why this man’s voice was odd. It didn’t work like reality – didn’t feel real, more surreal and absurd. His voice came in jagged lines. Etching sharp edges into the fog. Disrupting the serene calm of that field. But he was beautiful. His hair was brown, and curled into soft waves and spirals around his face, framing his eyes. It’s always the eyes isn’t it? They were a dark brown, so deep and hard it reminded me of coal. At least that’s what I remember thinking. These two deep coal eyes sheltered in a tanned face – everything about this man was sharp. His eyes. His jaw. His lips. Even his clothing. Levi’s black denim jeans, worn from constant use and torn tastefully at the knees and a simple grey shirt covered in a leather jacket that hugged his body. I don’t know how I knew the jeans were Levi’s, but I’m pretty sure that they just made sense – at this point in history Levi’s jeans were the fashion. I looked at him and him at me – eyes trying to bore through my skull and into my head. He oddly reminded me of someone, a person I couldn’t quite name. His sharp eyes gave away a simple fact – he wanted something, and wanting is dangerous. He held his hand out for me, tanned skin against his black nail polish – I’ve always had a thing for men with nail polish. It was a dream so I thought, fuck it, I don’t mind dying in my mind or even if something else entirely happened. Maybe it was one of those dreams, the ones we try very hard not to talk about… So my dumb ass took his hand and let him lead me away to the crest of the hill, the paspalum swaying slightly in the dreamlike wind. We sat right there, where the paspalum fell down the steep hill – rippling waves gliding gently down the slope. Paspalum like hands reaching up, reaching for the sky, for the stars. It was calm for a moment, sitting on that hill of paspalum. My soundless muse whispered soft comfort or maybe it was his body – a sense of ease and a release of tension. Like everything sweet, it was bound to end. I rested my head upon the man’s shoulder, feeling weary – a tiredness that sunk into my bones and from there into my spirit. He felt so real, his hand calloused and rough under mine and his body shifted with the weight of breathing. There was a sharpness to his touch – one that I can’t quite explain. Like sadness. Like desire. Like a memory. He turned to me and suddenly all I could see was his eyes – his gaze so heavy. Heavy enough to pin me down. Heavy enough to drown in. He pushed me down, a force that I couldn’t withstand, that I couldn’t refuse. All I could do was gaze back into those eyes. Looking past the coal and the earth into the green that lingered beneath – his eyes reflected the moonlight.


They were the forest. They were smothering. They were everything. I was pressed down by the weight of his body – that all-encompassing weight that separates the earth from the sky. There’s a fear that comes with that sort of weight, but there’s also a thrill, an excitement. I wanted for nothing more. He kissed my lips. He kissed my neck. He left jagged lines across my skin. I felt excited. I felt desired. I felt scared. Rose. Paspalum. Knife. Afraid of him, but mostly of myself – of the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to stop. I knew deep down that I needed to stop him, to stop myself. I knew if I continued that he would consume me, that I would cease to exist. This man was a blade, a knife held to my throat cutting slightly into that tender flesh in a threat. He was so sharp he would tear me to pieces, then move on to the next person without any remorse. I was wood to a whittler's knife. He didn’t want me. This wasn’t real. This was as real as you or me. I didn’t want to be cut into a thousand pieces – my spirit refused to die. I struggled with all my might. All I could see were cutting coal eyes – no longer any hints of the forest beneath. There was no man. There was no paspalum. There was no rosewood. I was. I am. I will be. Nothing. But I was torn from my dreaming thoughts – by a snarl, a hiss. My black cat standing at my feet, forest green eyes meeting mine – a moment of clarity. by Rhys Sage





SOUL DYING THE DAY YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE Soul wasn’t a movie I intended to watch. Like many other stingy students I downloaded Disney+ solely for the free trial in order to rewatch Hamilton. My free access for 7 days ended before I remembered to cancel my subscription leaving me with a month more Disney+ than I initially wanted. In order to make the most of the $7.50 I’d spent I perused through Disney’s nostalgia-packed library of childhood classics and watched Inside Pixar, a documentary on the creators behind Pixar films, from writers to directors to graphic designers and character artists. Each episode takes us through their creative process with the first episode focusing on Kemp Powers, the co-writer and codirector of Soul. The premise of the movie as surmised by Powers is this: “Soul is the story of a man who has always felt like his life’s purpose was to be a musician. The main character in the film, Joe Gardner, is a middle-school band teacher who dreams of being a professional jazz musician, and on the day that he gets his big break, basically gets his dream, after decades and decades of work, he dies. But feeling cheated by the universe, Joe refuses to die. He’s willing to do anything to fight his way back to Earth, to get a second chance to live the life that he feels like he’s earned.” Hearing Kemp Powers talk about his movie, how it’s a dream project for him and is about a character who’s “a black man, who’s about my age, who’s from New York like me, who’s also a jazz musician.


And I love jazz music,” adds a layer of realism and authenticity to this movie. As a character Joe faces many of the same artistic struggles Kemp and other artists face. Years pass as he teaches the thing he loves rather than creating the music himself, his mother worries over the financial strain of unrelentingly pursuing his dream, and in many ways he is also beholden to chance, needing to know the right people and be in the right place at the right time. While in the limbo between life and death, Joe’s soul is transported to an ethereal plain of existence where new souls are born and old souls depart. In this plane of existence new souls must find their ‘spark,’ the one thing on Earth that completely inspires them, in order to get their “Earth pass,” and begin their lives. Joe’s spark is jazz. One interesting real-world tidbit found out by American psychologist and creative researcher Ellis Paul Torrance in 1958 is that “One of the most powerful wellsprings of creative energy, outstanding accomplishment, and self-fulfillment seems to be falling in love with something – your dream, your image of the future.” Torrance conducted a study whereby he asked children “what they were in love with” and “what they wanted to do when they grew up.” The results found 22 years later were that the children that fell in love with the image they had of themselves in the future were more likely to have greater creative achievements overall including over those with higher academic promise. That said, Soul, questions the true importance of fulfilling one’s creative dreams.

In Soul our other main character, a soul named 22, has been unable to find her spark for millenia, her name suggesting she is the 22nd soul to be born in the entirety of existence. This leaves us with two contrasting characters, one unable to find their passion and another who’s willing to cheat death for it. Joe is a career-driven man who has dedicated his life to his passion, it is his very reason for living, and yet through the character of 22 we see another way living, one that, as New Yorker critic A.O. Scott puts it, is “a mightily ambitious warning against taking ambition too seriously.”

For me this movie ascends to the Pixar hall of fame alongside Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and Toy Story, it is poignant, sincere, and joyous in its celebration of simply just existing. by Jodie Ramodien

Much like La La Land, this movie is an ode to Jazz. It functions on two levels, jaunty jazz in the heart of New York on the earthly plain as composed by Jon Batiste, and the luminous otherworldly score of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the metaphysical plain. The musicality of this movie is ingrained within the story and immersed me completely. Ironically enough, Daveed Diggs – Lafayettttee – also raps in this movie.




I am relatively new to the LDR train, but her 2019 album Norman Fucking Rockwell became my official soundtrack for 2020. Her sultry and smoky vocals paired nicely for a year that was filled with intense introspection fuelled by isolation. One of my close friends has adored Lana for some time and does her best to ensure that I’m acquainted with her most infamous and often controversial works since her career took off over the last decade. As such, I am aware that her aesthetic and her style is eccentric and by nature, narrows the scope of appeal. That being said, there is no denying the power and intense attraction to Del Rey’s work. Now firmly on the bandwagon, I eagerly awaited new music from an artist that became increasingly intertwined with the complexities of desire, longing, and sadness. I didn’t have to wait long. Lana released the title track of her upcoming album Chemtrails Over the Country Club and wow I was already obsessed with the name alone. Accompanied by a mesmerising music video, this hauntingly intriguing track links seemingly disparate images into a cohesive narrative. It describes an escape from the troubles of the world – of which I think we can agree, there are many – in an effort to spend time with loved ones. Chemtrails, if you are unfamiliar, is short for chemical trails and describes the conspiracy theory that the exhaust fumes of aeroplanes and other airborne devices leave chemicals in the air to achieve devious and nefarious ends.

Throughout the track, chemtrails are present above idyllic scenes at lush country clubs with sisters, friends, and lovers all splashing around in an azure pool. Del Rey’s lyrics offer rich and generous imagery shrouded in hypnotic melodies, gently enticing you in. As I have hinted at previously, Chemtrails Over the Country Club’s lyrics on their own or simply out of context are innocuous and devoid of narrative effect. “Washing my hair, doing the laundry” or “go to the market; the kids’ swimming pool” are absurd in this form, detached from their fellow lyrics. But put together, and from the lips of Del Rey, these words take on an ethereal quality that feeds a visceral experience. The music video is next level and an homage to classic Lana, an otherworldly depiction of fast cars, big houses and just straight up opulence. It is worth a watch even just to appreciate the interesting aesthetic with plenty of drama in just 5 minutes. If the single is anything to go by, this album is going to be one you won’t want to miss. by Harry Fraser




2021 is your year. Take a page from Reddit’s book and take down some hedge fund managers.

You were born in the year the original Mulan came out. You know she has the highest kill count of any Disney princess. Channel that energy this year.

I would tell you to drink lots of water and eat healthy Rabbit, but even the healthiest people die in the end.




When I tell you that you use humour to deflect serious trauma, all you’re hearing is that someone thinks you’re funny. Think about that.

The person you weren’t interested in will get into a relationship this year. You might want to prepare for that.

You could be experiencing some imposter syndrome this time of the year, but are you even good enough to have it?




Maybe if you nap and self-isolate all your problems will go away. Or not.

You’re the person from Year 10 science that interrupted me during my presentation on Marie Curie and told me it’s pronounced Mariah Carey.

Many people didn’t treat you right last year Rooster. It’s time to start only accepting apologies in cash.




All dogs must be leashed on campus. Put on your collar sis, they might enforce that rule this year xx.

Maybe if you spent less time practicing Alice’s baseball pitch from Twilight, you might get some Credits this year.

You think because you’re a Rat that you’ll get free tickets to Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical? Think again.

by Harry Fraser

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