LOT ’S WIFE — EDITION ONE —
distributed by students, just
Tip s & Tric k s for F i r s t Ye a r s
What the Flux?
Top 8 Sp a c e s: Cl u b s & S o c i e t i e s
Wo t ’s L i f e w i t h D o n a l d Tr u m p
H ow t o pl a n you r e x c h a n g e ( Don ’t )
L e t ’s t a l k a b o u t e d u c a t i o n
MSA Re st ruc t ure t h r e a t e n s l i f e o f st ud e n t un ion
O ffic e Be a re r Re p o r t s
M a l c o l m Tu r n b u l l : a leftie love affair
Lot’s Wife is entirely written, illustrated, edited and
If you would like to be involved, we are always always always looking for contributors and volunteers! Say hi! Email us at email@example.com, or come and hang out in our office: 1st Floor, Campus Centre, turn right at the MSA desk.
C U LT U R E
T h e b ig sc re e n s c i e n c e o f c l o n e s a n d d in osa urs
Be yon d 1 4 0
T h e ‘ S t a r Wa r s ’ e f f e c t : internet hype culture and T h e F o r c e Aw a k e n s
H ow fuc k in g c oo l i s c h e m i s t r y ?
U p a l l n ig h t : t h e s c i e n c e o f sl e e p de priva t io n
Race to the end of the world: Av e r t i n g a n t i - A s i a n s t e r e o t y p e s through Armageddon
T h e sk in n y on g l u t e n - f r e e d i e t s
Most anticipated albums of 2016
P uz z l e s: Sc ie n c e C r o s s w o r d
B l a c k s t a r : D a v i d B o w i e ’s last album
51 About the cover artist Ruby Kammoorra Ruby is an emerging artist based in the glamorous slums of Collingwood. Finally entering the final year of her BA/BVA double degree, Ruby has learnt to apply successful methods of procrastination to major life decisions. For more of Ruby’s work go to www.rubyjkamm.wix. com/rubykammoora
Un d y i n g : P a r a s o c i a l relationships and the nature of celebrity
C R E AT I V E
A de al wit h t h e d e v i l : a fe st iva l me moi r
P h ot o E ssay: Sub u r b a n D r e a m s
O l d Bon e s
Amidst Appl e s & T h y m e
J K Dre ss up
Lot’s Wife | 3
EDITORIAL ED ITORS
Tim ot h y N e w p o r t Ca rin a F l o r e a L is a He al y
D ES IG N
N a t a lie N g
SUB EDITORS STU DE NT
Tricia O n g Jerm a in e D o h Ra ja t L al
SO CIE T Y
M a t t h ew E d w ar d s I s h a n a S r i va s t a va - Kha n M a d d y Lu k e
SCI EN C E
K in t o B e h r K a t h y Z ha n g M ev a n i Am ar a s i n g he
L a ch la n L i e s fi e l d L a y la H o m e w o o d M elis s a F e r n d an d o
CREATIVE A m b er Dav i s A u d rey E l - O s t a S a ra h K a y
© Lot’s Wife 2016, Monash University Clayton, Victoria As you read this paper you are on Aboriginal land. We at Lot’s Wife recognise the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung peoples of the Kulin Nations as the historical and rightful owners and custodians of the lands and waters on which this newspaper is produced. The land was stolen and sovereignty was never ceded. Lot’s Wife condemns and will not publish any material that is racist, sexist, queerphobic, ableist or discriminatory in any nature. The views expressed herein are those of the attributed writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the MSA. All writing and artwork remains the property of the producers and must not be reproduced without their written consent.
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T I M O T H Y
N E W P O RT
If you’re reading this, congratulations! You made it past all the construction, renovation and “renewal” Monash is undertaking to a Lot’s Wife stand! You now hold in your hands your very own student magazine: full of fun, facts, and frankly a fuckton of words, all written by students just like yourself. Over 50 talented and attractive people have been hard at work over their summer break, mashing words together, putting brush to canvas, and staying up late staring at screens, all in the service of bringing you some amazing content to read on the toilet. Or the bus. Or in that lecture (yes I mean you). I really hope you’re having an awesome time at Monash, whether you’re a first, second or sixth year. The first month back is always a shitshow, but it’ll pick up. The university isn’t all bad, except for that one lecturer (not you, don’t worry), and even if they are, Lot’s Wife is here for you in your time of need. Like right now. You really needed something to read, right? Right? Of course I’m right, I’m always right. Except right now, because I’m on the left. Whoops.
C A R I N A
F L O R E A
It’s not everyday that someone gives you the chance to make a magazine, yet for some odd reason it landed in our not so trusty hands. And with great power, comes great responsibility, which is why we felt it in our best interest to create a pretty magazine that can keep you company on those long bus rides home or when there’s lousy smarch weather outside. Be sure to check out the tear-out poster/calendar and hang it above your bed or colour it in as you wish. But I’ve got to admit, making a magazine is hard work and we couldn’t of done it without the help of our newly made team of beautiful and amazing writers, illustrators and designers. Specifically, Natalie, our designer who had to put up with our terrible singing in the office for days on end, our sub-editors and illustrators who have worked so hard to help put this thing together, and just everyone who came in during the holidays to make this thing happen!
L I S A
H E A LY
Hey sxc chicas and papas. I promise you, I initially had something real good written up. I swear. Alas, like everything else that manages to exist in my world, I have left this to the night before the final copy is due and am struggling to fill the void that is currently my empty editorial space. So here I am. Look, I’m not going to sugar coat it: making a magazine is really fucking hard. It’s almost as hard as boiling an egg properly (all those ‘perfect egg in 2 minute’ recipes are kidding themselves) or sitting through an episode of Making a Murderer without wanting to scream at the TV every time an Avery says ‘yeah’. In reality, thanks to a whole lot of uber-brilliant people who chose to come to Clayton on their holidays – you know who you are - this pillar of salt (aka Edith) was able to remain upright and extra salty. Right now, I feel like I’m delivering an Oscar speech and the orchestra is ready to drown me out but before I go, please read Lot’s lots. I’m about 81% sure Sanders would approve and 19% sure Clinton would hate it. xo
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Tips & tricks for first years by Brian Shih & George Kopelis
illustration by Angus Marion
STU DE NT
icture this: you are about to stride into a new stage of life, a stage in which you have to learn new things, study independently, and write essays or reports that require perfect citing and referencing. This transition may be overwhelming, however, we’ve complied a list of the best tips and tricks that you can follow to bolster your confidence and performance so you can make the most of your first year at university! Get A Map Turning up late to your first tutorial because you couldn’t find the room is embarrassing – take it from us – so plan ahead and figure out where on campus your classes are. Download the Lost on Campus app or the Monash app to make sense of all the building numbers and addresses. If you’re still lost in the middle of endless corridors, ask someone who looks like they are walking purposefully for directions. Study On Campus Classes don’t take up a whole lot of time at university, so make good use of your spare time and do some work on campus. The Louis Matheson Library is the go-to study space at Clayton, but with the refurbishment works all year, some sections may be closed. If you want to do some serious study, check out the quiet upper floors of the Law Library. More interested in chatting with friends and not getting work done? The Hargrave- Andrew Library is perfect for that. Brian says: There are plenty of alternative study areas, like the informal open space lounges in the Menzies building or the secluded John Medley library in the Campus Centre.
to a whole range of discounted food and other goodies on and off campus. (20% off everything at Sir John’s Bar adds up after a semester). George says: Before buying your textbooks, have a look online on Monash Marketplace to see if anyone is selling your book second hand and at a much more affordable price. Make sure it’s the right edition though. Practice Your Signature You’ll be signing up to plenty of clubs during O Week, which is a great time to find groups that match your interests. MSA cards give you free membership to most clubs on campus. Don’t feel obligated to go to every event if you sign up and feel free to drop out of any group if you find them too boring/too rowdy/too time consuming. Brian says: I started uni in the middle of 2015, and with no major exhibitions for clubs and societies in July, I missed out on being properly introduced to a handful of clubs and societies. Take the time during O Week to find like-minded people outside of lectures and tutorials because it’s a great chance to do so. University is a place where you learn and create memories. Do not be afraid of making mistakes and always remember that you are not alone. There are plenty of resources at Monash to reach out to. Now, embrace all challenges and start exploring!
Actually Go To Lectures You’ll struggle to get a seat in week one. However, by the mid semester break, half the lecture theatre will be empty. Keep up your routine and attend your lectures. Turn them into a social occasion – get your friends and hang out on the campus lawns or grab lunch as a group and suddenly you’ll have a reason to show up every week. Extreme Couponing Make your dollar go as far as possible - take advantage of weekly free/dirt cheap breakfasts and barbecues organised by the MSA or other clubs and societies. Carpooling costs $75 per person for a year and is way cheaper than forking out $400 for a blue permit. Pick up an MSA Card for $20 and get access
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STU DE NT
T OP 8 SPA C ES: C LUBS & SOC I ETI ES
M U S L C C
P L N
Throughout the years, the Monash University Sri Lankan Cultural Club (MUSLCC) has played an intrinsic role in ensuring that a strong social culture is present throughout university life. As one of the largest clubs at Monash University and the largest sub-continental student organisation in Victoria, MUSLCC will no doubt exceed the standards and expectations in 2016! Events to look forward to in the coming year include a themed clubbing event, Amnesia, a brand new Monash Comedy Night, the traditional Hoppers & Kothu Night, the classic Rehab and Relapse After Exam Parties and many more!
The Progressive Law Network (PLN) is dedicated to encouraging law students, and other students passionate about social justice, and to utilise their degrees to effect positive social change. So come along and get involved in our events, which provide a forum for an exchange of views and opinions about new developments in alternative careers, environmental law, human rights law and other social justice-related issues, including guest speakers who are experts in their field! Focus areas for this year's presentations include prison abolition and radicalised policing, drug law reform, and the law around the world, with a focus on Australia including a discussion of First Nation people's status and rights.
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STU DE NT
L i n g S o c The Linguistics Society (affectionately known as LingSoc) is for anyone interested in the whos, whats, whys and what-the-hells of language. LingSoc runs regular meetings and trivia nights where you can get to know others who do give a damn about the Oxford comma, have a place to ask those difficult grammar questions, practice IPA or simply fan-girl over Kate Burridge. Find out more about LingSoc @ MonashLingSoc or on our Facebook page.
VG e n VGen (Vision Generation) is World Vision's Australia's youth movement, a community of young people aiming to influence government, business and society to do their fair share to end extreme poverty and social injustice. We are planning to run events such as movie nights to promote Fairtrade and ethical consumerism, events focused on Campaign for Australian Aid, and an event for the 40-Hour Famine.
E S A The Education Students' Association (ESA) promotes social interaction for the hundreds of education students at Monash University. The club also has a strong focus on building students' confidence to teach or go into the education workforce. We are hoping to boost our social sector of the club much more in 2016 and encourage people to get to know each other between the different year levels of education degrees.
Continued... Lotâ€™s Wife | 9
STU DE NT
M U M S Monash University Mining Society (MUMS) is a group with the aim to promote and gather interest around mining and its affiliated industries. Our main goal is to connect students with industry professionals and each other. The biggest event planned for 2016 is the inaugural mining camp.
M U I S
Monash University Islamic Society (MUIS) represents and supports the needs of Muslim students on campus. We organise a variety of social and spiritual events throughout the year to create an environment where we can foster new relations and assist each other. This year we will be running BBQs, iftars (meal for breaking the fast in the month of Ramadan), lectures by renowned speakers, sports events, halaqas (study circles) and much more!
If you’re still waiting for your Hogwarts letter to arrive, wishing that Hagrid will bust down your door to tell you “YER A WIZARD”, and craving that little bit of magic on campus, then the Monash Muggles is the club for you! From events like our annual Triwizard Yule Ball (co-hosted with Melbourne and La Trobe Universities) and Harry Potter trivia, to movie nights, game nights, and Quidditch, the Monash Muggles is the perfect club for anyone, regardless whether they’ve only seen the films, to the most dedicated (and tattooed) Harry Potter fan. For any inquiries, send us an owl at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us in our O-Week stall.
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AD V E RTOR I A L
SummerFest SUMMERFEST March 15 -23
M A R CH 15 - 23 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX STIMULATOR TUESDAY 15th of March 10-3 pm at Northern Plaza Do you have inspirations to become the next Mark Webber? Come down to the Northern Plaza between 10 and 3 on Tuesday to try your hand at the popular F1 simulator! It will sure get to your heart racing!
BEACH PARTY Tuesday 15th March 9pm- late at Menzies Lawn It’s back! Monash presents the hottest event ever that reaches the sand dunes of Clayton campus: Beach Party! With glow sticks, beach inflatables and DJs, the hottest party of the year kicks off at 9pm, and entry is strictly before 10pm! Grab yours at the MSA office today!
COLLEGE CLASH Wednesday 16th March, 5pm-late at Monash Sport Monash Sport is back again to host the highly successful College Clash! Cheer on your favourite as, On Campus Halls of Residence battle it out against students from the 6 Non Residential Colleges in a range of events and activities!
Thursday 17th March, 4pm-8pm at Northern Plaza
Fun is to be had for all ages when Monash University is transformed into a summer themed carnival featuring a range of games and activities! What’s on? •Rock climbing wall •Jumping castles •Market stalls •Food trucks •Face painting •Summer Classic movies
DIVE IN CINEMA
Friday 18th March, 9pm-12am at Monash Sport For the first time at Monash there will be a “Dive In” movie at the Doug Ellis swimming pool. Bring your bathers and friends, and enjoy a summer classic, as you float around. This event has limited numbers so check out Monash Sport’s website and register!
DINER EN COULEUR
Monday 22 March, 5pm to 9pm, Campus Green, Caulfield Campus
Tuesday 23 March, 4pm-1pm, Northern Plaza and Soundshell Wind up the end of Summerfest, with Sunsets as Monash University will be announcing a headliner and artists, very shortly! With a night filled with tunes, Melbourne’s finest food trucks and bars, this isn’t a night to be missed! Watch the SummerFest event page, for more information!
As SummerFest travels to Caulfield, dress up in your most “tres chic” colour block outfit, grab your friends and a picnic basket and come on down as we celebrate Diner En Couleur for Harmony Day! Keep your eyes peeled on the SummerFest event page, as reveal a headliner very shortly!
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STU DE NT
How to plan your exchange ( Donâ€™t ) by Layla Homewood
fter spending a full year precisely planning a six-month trip abroad through Europe before settling down in England for a semester of study, I can tell you one thing: it turns out that I planned absolutely nothing. It was all going to be perfect; I was going to be the first student in the history of students to have a hitch-free study abroad. I was going to sail through with sparse calls to my parents updating them on my perfect adventure. I was going to be laying stress free on the beach in Barcelona with no worries about my upcoming semester because it had all been expertly coordinated. But when it was the night before my flight and I realised I still had more things to do than I could count on all my fingers and toes, I started to think, "Maybe there are some things that just can't be planned".
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And you know what? After two months and several upset calls to my family who recited, "Don't worry about that, you'll be fine,â€? I realised that it's okay to not plan some things. In fact, it's more than okay. It's the flaws, and mistakes, and tiny details that you could never prepare for that makes everything worth the worry. I know now that my time abroad cannot be summed up in one grand sweep of flawless memories. I don't want to remember my six months as a long string of activities and attractions. I don't want to remember doing, I want to remember being. All those faults and mistakes and things that made me want to pull my hair out are what make every memory of being abroad special to me. So when I take a moment to think about my whole time away and remember all of the things that I have achieved, I don't care about having perfectly coordinated my bus schedule, or finding the highest rated gelato restaurant in Rome. Instead, I remember what the sky looked like as it cried thick sheets of snow, and I remember the cobbled streets lined with massive trees, shedding their flaming leaves. Instead of worrying about how to get from A to B, I want to remember the rush of running late to an amazing gig and the sheer thrill that pulsed through me when I realised I would make it. The things that aren't planned, that aren't accounted for, can stimulate the rawest feelings from places deep inside. I could never have expected that, on the first day it snowed in my town, I would neglect my upcoming exams and spend the evening utterly elated as I built snowmen with my flatmates. I never could have planned to skip my lectures on the rarely sunny days, and find my way over to nearby towns where I ended up reading books and drinking creamy hot chocolates. As it turns out, after all the planning and booking and organisation that went in to my sixmonth adventure, the things that I remember the most are the ones that I never planned on remembering. So, for anyone out there who's planning their own study abroad trip, here's my one word of advice: Don't.
(For more information on studying abroad, visit the Monash Travel Abroad Office, or check out http://www.monash.edu/ study-abroad)
OPI NI ON
by Stephen Encisco
ver the summer break - traditionally the time when universities do things that they don’t want you to notice - the Monash Student Association started making one of the most dramatic restructures it has ever seen. This restructure is expected to make redundant the most important staffing role within the organisation: the Finance Manager. This position provides expert analysis and advice in all financial matters. They ensure the financial accountability of elected representatives of the union. They try to prevent financial mismanagement. They sign all cheques. This role was always intended to be a thorn in the side of student politicians who have little financial literacy, but are in charge of multi-million dollar budgets. It is the only position expected to be made redundant. It is worth considering an unlikely, but not inconceivable scenario (it happened at Melbourne Uni in 2004): a right wing faction gets elected to a union and they decide to invest in property in order that the union may cash in on international students. But remember these are financially illiterate students, and the deal is a terrible one which would bankrupt the union. Everyone seems to know this, except the executive who thinks it’s a grand idea. This is what happens: all hell breaks loose, and the union gets liquidated. The MSA has attempted to circumvent corruption by having a highly competent Finance Manager, who is a member of CPA Australia, and is able to provide highly technical and professional financial advice. Remember as well, the position countersigns all cheques. There is no other staff member - whether that is Finance office staff, the Executive Officer, or the proposed General Services Manager role - who has
the financial knowledge or analytical skills to replace the current Finance Manager. Why would the current administration want to knife someone who has dedicated over twenty years to ensuring the MSA can be the best it can be? At best, it is a very strange situation, and it is little wonder that union membership among MSA staff has spiked in recent months. This has brought up bad memories for Wholefoods, who still remember the effects of imposed restructuring. By 2012, the GO! administration of the MSA had spent a number of years aggressively attacking Wholefoods - the home of their political rivals - to the point of near collapse. They hired incompetent managers who banned volunteers, banned the Wholefoods Collective that had managed the restaurant since 1977, and ran the restaurant to losses of nearly $100,000. Under these restructures, this could be happening again. Since the Finance Manager – with a long-term institutional memory, and respect for the Collective - began providing accurate analysis of Wholefoods’ finances, Wholefoods has been rebuilt into a financially and culturally strong community. Though rocky at times, the relationship with the MSA was rebuilding. This restructure is the kind of thing that students can quickly lose faith in student unions for. It is also the kind of thing that gives rightwing governments, with petty grudges against student unions, the excuse to bring in anti-student organisation legislation.
Lot’s Wife | 13
M S A
B E A R E R
R E PORTS
PRE SID EN T
Hello and welcome back to Monash! The Monash Student Association is here for you, and is made up of a bunch of passionate activists who campaign and fight for the welfare of students. We run heaps of events throughout semester, as well as advocate for students on a national level. There are a ton of different departments to get involved in, and we are always out and about talking to students about issues facing young people in today’s society, so please don’t be shy! Let us know what you’re interested in! I hope you are all enjoying O-week and are keen to settle in, and I think you’ll soon find that attending university is much more than going to a lecture or a lab – there is a vibrant and diverse campus culture to get involved in! email@example.com
TR E A S UR E R
M AT I L DA
Ahoy, Monash friends! Hope you’re all bubbly and excited to be here in 2016! As treasurer, it is my job to keep track of the MSA financials, to ensure money is being spent effectively, and to assist Office Bearers launch their campaigns and projects. I’m extremely excited to be involved in the running of new events and campaigns this year, talking to and engaging students in the MSA. Orientation Week is just around the corner, quickly followed by MSA Members Week, and we’re working hard to ensure they’ll be great, so y’all have plenty to look forward to from us! Please come to us if you’re having any issues whatsoever, make sure you join some clubs and societies during O-Week, and purchase an MSA card so that you can reap the benefits of supporting your student union. firstname.lastname@example.org
S E C R E TARY
D ON AH OO
Hello everyone and welcome to Monash in 2016! I’m Glenn, and I’m your secretary for this year. So far this year I’ve been busy helping our many and varied departments organise their plans for the year, so they get to run successful campaigns and enjoyable events. Along with this, I’ve been helping to organise orientation week to ensure everyone’s year starts off the best possible way! Make sure you come by, pick up a MSA Card for $20, join some clubs, pick up some free food, grab tickets to some of our events and find out what’s going on in the MSA this year. I’ve also been helping organise MSA Members Week in week 2, so look out for all of the great stuff we have planned that week for our members. If you want to find out anything more, just shoot me an email at email@example.com
ED U C AT I ON
( AC ADE MIC
Over the the summer break, we have been organising student representatives to sit on panels in the Academic Progress Committee (APC) hearings for each faculty. These students provide a student perspective and assist in making recommendations for learning and support services. This year, we are continuing to campaign for a university-wide opt-out policy for lecture recordings, which will coincide with the Equal Access campaign in conjunction with the Disabilities and Carers Department. If you are keen to become involved with Academic Affairs Department, applications for our Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) will be open until 18 March 2016. The AAC assists our department by developing and organising projects or campaigns around academic issues. If you have any issues with your course, teaching staff or assessment policies, feel free to contact either of us, or come by the Academic Affairs Office in the MSA for a chat. Jessica Stone: firstname.lastname@example.org, Daniel Ffrench-Mullen: daniel. email@example.com
E DU CATION
Hola monash peeps! This year Education Public Affairs will be run by us, the lovely Sumudu and Sulaiman. We are a department that is centred on fighting for issues and campaigns concerning current Monash students, and enacting a change via the force of student’s voices. So far we’ve been working hard on our Counter-Faculty Handbook, which is a rundown of units based by student reviews and their ratings. It’s an honest look into units from a student’s perspective, so look out for it in O-week. This year we’re excited to be starting a major campaign for a People of Colour Collective and a department within the MSA encouraging students of ethnic backgrounds to get involved, and to have a welcoming space to discuss their own experiences and issues. You can become a part of the team advocating for students issues by either coming into our office located in the MSA, or our stall at O-week, as well as by joining the Monash Education Action Group on Facebook and coming along to our meetings. We look forward to seeing you around campus. firstname.lastname@example.org
D IS AB IL I T I E S
C ARE RS
The beginning of this year has been both busy and uneventful – which, given there aren’t many students around, isn’t that much of a surprise. As the Disabilities and Carers department is so new, most of our energy has actually been towards getting the office sorted and as best as equipped as possible, and trying to come up with ideas and plans for the next year. Our main focus here in D&C will be building a collective and getting people to know that we actually exist – as chances are, this may even be the first time you’re reading anything about MSA’s Disability and Carer’s department. If it is, please do stay on the lookout for the events and campaigns we have planned for next year, as we’re hoping to build a solid foundation for our department, and start a culture that supports carers and people with disabilities as best we can! email@example.com
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B E A R E R
R E PORTS
QUE E R
WE L FAR E
So far the Monash Queer department have been running around getting everything organized for the start of semester. We have been starting to organize events while stocking up on (safe sex) supplies and provisions to get us through the year. To start the year off, we organized an MQD contingent to participate in the Pride March with, followed by a picnic in the park to hang out with some other university contingents. Currently we’re preparing for the start of semester one, kicking off the year with our regular events such as Queer Morning Tea (11am-1pm Tuesday) and Queer Beers (4pm-6pm Wednesday), as well as a very special Queer Trivia Night, that will be thrown at Wholefoods with the aim to start getting people involved in the department. O-week is a great time for us to meet all the new students who might for the first time be free to be involved in a queer community, so we’re very excited about the weeks to come. Any queer or questioning students can join our secret facebook page or receive our newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or messaging either the public facebook page: MSA Queer, or one of your two fabulous queer officers Amy Grimmer or Martinus Kraan.
Hey yo wazzup? We, Brendan and Tim, have been working terribly hard to organise events and resources for the exciting year to come. So far Brendan has been devising and setting up a new system for resourcing pre-loved textbooks for our Book Fair that will be held during Week 2 of the Semester - all very tech friendly for the modern age in which we live. Tim has been trying to bring preparations for Free Food Mondays together so we can all enjoy a lovely meal from Week 1. Furthermore, we have almost finished updating the Survival Guide for 2016 - a few new tips n trick thrown in there. Lastly we’re hoping to release a new and improved Student Cookery Bookery, filled with cheap and filling meals to tantalise your taste buds. We’re pumped up like a new basketball for the year ahead, hoping we can help make Monash memorable for the right reasons. email@example.com
AC T I V I T I ES
Monash University is known for its social calendar and we want to continue that reputation. This year the MSA Activities department is run by Katie and Ben, and we run the majority of your campus events and parties! In semester one alone, we are running a trivia night AND a Luna Park event during O-Week which an all ages event that allows you to go on unlimited rides! During semester, we are also running a boat cruise, an exciting new event and of course, After Exams Party (AXP). AXP is the biggest university event, with 2000 students having a massive party to celebrate no more exams! Jump on Facebook and join the MSA Activities page to receive updates and come by the office to say hi! firstname.lastname@example.org
E NV I RONMEN T
The Environment and Social Justice department (run by Tess and Kim) is your hub for activism and left-wing politics at Monash. We have spent the summer protesting the Liberal governments deportation of 267 refugees to the Nauru detention centre, supporting the firefighters protest for better safety conditions and wages, and rallying for action on climate change. Now that semester has started we hope to involve many more students in progressive activism! Come rally with us on the 27th February in Bendigo against the launch of a racist anti-Muslim political party called 'Fortitude'. We need to show these bigots and the rest of the world that there are more anti-racists than there are racists, and not let their attacks on refugees and Muslims go unchallenged. You can find us at our information stall in the orientation week festival, or Like "MSA Environment and Social Justice Collective" on Facebook. msa-enviro@ monash.edu
WOM E N’S
Well hello! I’m Mel! I have been shuffling about getting things ready for the new year, ensuring we have everything for the Women’s Room including sanitary products, safer-sex supplies and up-to-date resources. With semester 1 soon underway, the Women’s Department will be running events in the Women’s Room, including a “Meet the Department” event on Tuesday of Week 1 to welcome students, new and returning and morning teas on Tuesdays. Our Weekly Discussion groups will be continuing, every Wednesday 1-3pm, and plans are also being put in place to get to the Network of Women Students Australia (NOWSA) Conference in Sydney. O-week is a great time for women-identifying students to get involved in the department and meet a bunch of new people! If you wish to hear more from us, attend NOWSA, or get involved. You can email email@example.com or contact the Facebook page: MSA Women’s Department. As always, come on in to the Women’s Room on level 1 of the campus centre and say hi!
IN D IGENOUS
The MSA Indigenous department exists to support Indigenous students on campus by providing support for and raising awareness about Indigenous issues. We maintain open and continuous communication with students who are interested in being involved with MSA activities and events, as well as encouraging positive engagement in the Indigenous student lounge. This year’s office bearers - Samantha Hyde and Jayden Crozier - are committed to the enhancement of university life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through the creation and promotion of support networks. It is the intention of this year’s OBs to work closely with other departments so as to achieve common goals, to reach out to community leaders to collaborate and discuss the importance of Indigenous identity within Australia and to run some amazing social events – bringing together the student community. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Do one thing Contribute to the sustainability of your campus. Ride your bike, take the bus, or walk to campus Use a reusable coffee cup or water bottle Recycle your waste Eat vegetarian Switch off and save enegery It’s up to you. What one thing will you do?
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fun - healthy - convenient - sustainable - affordable - flexible
A new fleet of share bikes on the Clayton campus. Three membership options. Get around campus. Ride to the local shops. Meet up with friends. Or just ride for fun!
illustration by Julia Pillai
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What the Flux? L
ots of weird ads come up on my news feed. Sometimes, there are advertisements telling me that if I arrive without a visa I’ll never be able to settle in Australia, which is a shame. Other times, it’s sneaky ‘work for ASIO’ advertisements, which make me contemplate giving everything up to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a spy. Until, that is, I came to the shattering realisation that working for ASIO would probably lead me to stopping pesky people like me from settling in Australia. One time, an advertisement with a logo of little colourful triangles, with an ‘f’ in the middle popped up on my newsfeed. Another one, with the same logo, had a graphic of a hipster-y guy looking enlightened, and another one of a bunch of young people sitting down and looking at a sunset. From these visuals, these ads screamed tech start-up, or perhaps a travel organisation. However, the ‘f’ in the logo stands for Flux; a new Australian political party founded by Max Kaye and Nathan Spataro. The tech start-up feel doesn’t go away. Maybe I’m swayed slightly by Kaye’s background in IT, his citation of Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto as an influence for Flux, and his very particular analogies that he uses to answer my questions: describing Flux working “…like an app that runs in parliament. Normal apps let you do something with your phone you couldn’t do before; Flux lets us do things in parliament we couldn’t do before.” What makes this party interesting is that after contacting Kaye, asking many questions, and receiving very thorough responses, I cannot answer
by Julia Pillai
the standard questions that people usually ask about political parties. Questions like what their platform and ideology is, what are they aiming to specifically achieve, and what communities in particular are they appealing to, are irrelevant in the context of Flux. Some microparties that fit a niche audience, such as the Motoring Enthusiast Party, or a party with a specific platform, such as the Sex Party which have a platform based on libertarianism, sex worker rights and secularism. Flux, in the crudest of terms, has a populist platform. But compared to the Palmer United Party, a microparty that in 2013 many people were asking the same “what do they want to do?” questions, Flux has a distinctly usergenerated feel, rather than the charisma bolstered campaigning of PUP. While they are, in some senses, a populist microparty, Flux is a conventional entity in Australian politics, even if its methods are unorthodox. Flux’s platform relies on getting candidates elected into parliament, like any other party. However, when elected, members of parliament or senators do not act in an autonomous manner; every vote that they make would be decided by a vote of Flux members. With every bill brought to parliament there is a voting system within Flux including an initial vote, then an opportunity to swap votes and confer with other Flux members, then a final vote on how the senator or Member of Parliament should vote. This, in theory, flattens hierarchy within the party. However, there could be pitfalls. Members of Parliament and senators are, in theory, supposed
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to work for the seat they serve; what would happen if people in the electorate overwhelmingly disagree with the view that the Flux member must vote for? Where does the loyalty lie: to Flux or to the electorate? What if a Flux member in Parliament or in the Senate goes rogue? Can we really rely on members of parliament to be bridled in this way? Other surprising aspects of Flux include their allowance of its members being a member of another political party simultaneously. “We haven’t talked to any other parties about our multi-party policy,” Kaye explains, “it comes down to the AEC rules for registration. As long as someone hasn’t helped another party register recently, we’re happy to have their support I don’t really see it as anything different to, say, dual citizenship.” Flux is also incredibility ambitious, or at least speaks in an ambitious way about their aims. Terms like ‘upgrade democracy’ and ‘democracy reimagined’ have featured in their advertisements and their website. Kaye tells me that he and Spataro “...believe Flux has an incredible potential to help humanity. Not only is good democracy hard to implement, even the highly regarded democracies suffer from low approval ratings and constant dissatisfaction. We want to create a democracy that doesn’t suffer from the same diseases. Because of the potential for good Flux presents, it is a challenge we are unwilling to postpone.” So who exactly is joining Flux, and what issues are these early members beginning to bring up? “Most of our members are Gen X or older, so if anything this slightly confirms the myth that millennials and students are largely apathetic and disenfranchised,” Kaye explains. “This also lines up with my personal experience. We hope that Flux can offer them an outlet to help reinvigorate real political interaction instead of sideline activism. That said, there’s also a lot of emotion in student political groups, as if political motivations are really unevenly distributed. This leads to a dichotomy, which either promotes apathy, or almost extremism to the point of violence, neither of which are healthy in the long run. I really hope that means both groups are just looking for a way to express themselves, and so far haven’t found it.” The issues that are being brought up: “Some are disenfranchised Liberal National Party voters [that have expressed interest] in a National Disability Insurance Scheme, some are far left and express
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concerns about human rights and refugees, some are IT specialists and are dismayed at the quality of legislation around the internet and cryptography.” Kaye reiterates: “We really have had an incredibly diverse set of people respond. There is one thing they all have in common though: the current system isn’t good enough.” If there is anything that particularly surprises me about Flux, what really makes it interesting, is that it’s experimenting with new ideas, and it’s hopeful. Yes, it may not happen this election year, there’s no guarantee that these ideas will work in action. But it feels like a reaction to the last 6-7 years of turbulent Australian politics, where voters do not feel like they have power over who is running the country. Max Kaye says this volatility is a symptom of a larger problem. “Volatility in itself isn’t a problem in the same way as, say, CFCs and the ozone layer were a problem. Rather it is a problem in the same way that UV rays are: it’s harmful but simply making it go away isn’t how we can solve the problem. The problem of bad governance has never been solved before, and thus we need a solution that hasn’t been tried before: Flux is that solution.”
with Donald Trump Got a burning question that only random celebrities can provide an answer to? Wot’s Life has you covered. This month’s Agony Aunt took time out of his noble presidential campaign to help readers find their inner winner. “Yo Trumpinator, shit’s rough these days and you seem like a successful guy. What’s the best way to earn money?” - Looking for a Buck Oh, it’s so simple. You know, my dad, he used to tell me “no”. You know, “you can’t do this, you can’t do that”... My whole life really has been a no. It hasn’t been easy for me. It has NOT been easy for me. Okay? People told me my career wouldn’t work out. They told me a campaign wouldn’t work out. But look at me now. And all it took was a small loan of a million dollars from my father. Now, a million dollars isn’t much compared to what I’ve built. But, you know, ask your dad for a million dollars and see where it gets you. Because I guarantee you it is the key to success. “Mr. Trump, your wig-I mean hair always looks so unbelievably fabulous. How should I style my hair?” --I Too Am Not Balding Well, you know, as everybody knows, I do not wear a wig. Okay? I do not wear a wig. These people out there, you know, a tremendous amount of people,
they can’t accept the truth. They just can’t believe it. Look at my hair. My hair may not be perfect but it’s mine… You know, I’ve had some people, they call me and they say, “Donald, your hair is ridiculous.” I’m too busy making America great again, okay? I don’t have time for a good hairstyle. Next question. “Hey, I have been having some troubles with my boyfriend and I hope you could give me some advice. So we’ve been a sexually adventurous couple for a long time, we’ve used all the toys, we once had sex in my parents bed narrowly escaping them walking in on us, we’ve done it in a waterfall, we’ve tried all the kinky things, literally all of them. But the problem is it’s just been so dull recently, I mean I haven’t been able to really get there, if you know what I’m saying. I asked him if he’d be cool if we did some more extreme stuff, more fivesomes. He was a tad apprehensive, he thought my sexual ambitions were a bit too extreme, and he thought that my views of not inviting Mexicans and Muslims to our orgies was a bit insensitive, racist. He hasn’t been too pleased by my suggestions, I just want to make sex great again. I don’t know what to do with my boyfriend. Please help me out. “ -- Carl ...You’re both fired. Tweet your questions for our celebrity guests: @LotsWifeMag
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Let’s talk about education By Anna Zhang
In the realm of education, January means different things for different people.
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ccording to the Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA), January is that time of year when financial institutions begin bombarding parents with calls to save for their children’s future education costs. These estimated fees are often thousands of dollars more than what parents are reasonably expected to pay, often representing the “upper ranges” of independent schooling. Some education providers suggest that it can cost up to one million dollars to put an individual child through non-government schooling. However, the ISCA feel that these estimates are misleading, arguing that their “data shows that in 2014 the median Australian metropolitan Independent school fee was $5,887 per annum”, a more ‘reasonable’ estimate as to what parents should expect to pay per year for their children’s education. Regardless of whether you’re willing to pay the $5,887 or the million dollars, and regardless of your perspectives on public or private education, there is surely one thing that we can all agree on: education is important. Why? Because it is a proven vehicle to combating poverty and inequality. In fact, it is often argued that education is one of the most important investments that a country can make for its children and for its future. In relation to the 17 Global Goals, education is crucial to the success of each and every one of them. The Global Goals, otherwise known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), came into being in 2015 by the UN. Together, the goals make a “17-point plan to end poverty, halt climate change and fight injustice and inequality”. Signed by 193 governments, including our own, the Global Goals are part of the 15-year ‘2030 Agenda’ that succeeded the Millennium Development Goals. Although non-binding, there has been encouraging enthusiasm by different sectors in society – enthusiasm that has been described as ‘unprecedented’ in some regards. This enthusiasm is welcomed as the Global Goals are only words in a document at the end of the day, and cannot achieve themselves. Global Goal 4 (Quality Education) will most certainly need support, as education will play an important role in achieving the 17 goals. Global Goal 4 is all about ‘ensur[ing] inclusive and equitable quality education and promot[ing] lifelong learning opportunities for all’. Its importance to other the Global Goals can be highlighted through the following example. In relation to Global Goal 3 (Good Health &
Wellbeing), effective education will mean that more people are aware of preventable health risks, as well as ways to improve their health and wellbeing. In other words, better-educated people will be less vulnerable to health risks. Therefore education can help achieve good health and wellbeing. Aside from the importance of education in achieving the 17 Global Goals, we cannot argue that everyone should have access to quality education and the freedom to be able to pursue lifelong learning opportunities if they so choose. However, not everyone in the world enjoys this fundamental right of education, often because they are born into situations beyond their control. Situations such as being born into fragile and conflict-affected areas, or in families or countries that do not have the capacity to support a young person through schooling, impede that person’s right to an education. If you are able to read this, then you are fortunate to not be one of the 774 million adults in the world who are illiterate. This fact may mean that you won’t find yourself living in poverty, or if you do, you may have the ability to lift yourself out of poverty. With each year of schooling, you may find that your income increases. Your children may not experience malnutrition or be at risk to adverse health effects. You may have the capacity to adapt to new technologies and contribute to local or global innovation and infrastructure. In fact, your education may allow you to help create sustainable cities and communities, and be an advocate for not only the human species, but also for other fragile ecosystems. You may find yourself being a promoter of peace and justice, or simply participating in the democratic process by exercising your civil rights. Whilst enjoying some or all of these possibilities, you could also work in creating partnerships to achieve our Global Goals. Truly, let’s talk about education, because everyone deserves the possibility of living a life of empowerment. After all, universal education won’t achieve itself. And neither will the Global Goals.
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Flüchtlingskrise By Ben Neve Illustration by Ruby Kammoora
n Germany the so called ‘Flüchtlingskrise’ (refugee crisis) is well and truly still in full swing. For a while in Australia, our screens were filled every night with images of refugees on their way to Germany, walking the majority of the marathon journey from Lesbos, Greece to Munich. These kinds of pictures appear far less frequently nowadays, which might lead one to believe that things have calmed down; but they most certainly have not. Apart from the continuing mass influx of people, there came on New Year’s Eve the shocking news that 1016 women had allegedly been subjected to sexual advances or even sexual assault in Cologne at the hands of – by accounts – a large group of Arab/North African migrants. Many politicians latch on to such stories to demonstrate the danger of such
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a large intake of refugees and the strain it places on screening and application processes. Such events, as portrayed in the media do not bode well for the reputation of incoming refugees. To complicate matters even further the governing party in the German state of Bavaria, where most of the refugees arrive, is the Christian Social Union (CSU), a relatively conservative political group whose opinions on the issue fly right in the face of Angela Merkel’s hitherto ‘open door’ policy. For the past five weeks I have been staying in the German village of Kaufugen, which is close to a medium sized city called Kassel in the centre of Germany. I’ve seen what most definitely were recently arrived refugees, I’ve seen economic migrants, and I’ve had the chance to talk to many
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Germans about the issue. The opinions are as varied as they are numerous, but one aspect which did strike me was that most of the voices seem to become gradually more negative as time goes on. Every day in the local newspaper or in the SpiegelOnline news app, the coverage is relentless; a day hasn’t gone by yet where a report on refugees, their integration into German society, or the problems arising from their arrival wasn’t front page or inside cover. For the first time in a long time, many Germans are beginning to question their leader Angela Merkel, who until the refugee issue turned sour had seemed to be as strong as ever. Thus, as an Aussie who will live abroad for the next twelve months on exchange I thought it would be fitting to present an outsider’s perspective on a deeply German issue. The first important step in breaking down this complex topic into understandable chunks is to breakdown some of the stereotypes we might have of the Germans. There is no doubt that Germany, like so many other liberal western democracies, has developed a reputation as a welcoming nation for refugees. But aspects such as religion and population distribution don’t always occur to foreigners straight away, yet they are perhaps the most important. The majority of Germans still live in village communities, where religion plays a much more significant role in day to day life. Every 15 minutes the church bells ring to remind you of the time, an old but important tradition which becomes even more important on Sunday when almost all shops are closed. Moreover, the governing party of which Angela Merkel is the leader is called the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and many members of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) retain Judeo-Christian values like their centreright counterparts in the CDU. For the most part this has actually worked to the benefit of the refugees, as values such as tolerance and generosity have prevailed, but where it becomes less beneficial when some refugees don’t integrate into society as much as they could, or retain values incompatible with modern day Germans. Most Melbournians studying at Monash would generally have two stereotypes of the German people: either a Bavarian in Lederhosen drinking beer with Aussies at the Oktoberfest, or hipster in Doc Martens and leather jacket dancing to techno in a Berlin nightclub. The image of a church-going villager is not always in the forefront of our minds, but it is crucial to consider this given that these refugees hail from equally as strong religious
backgrounds, except that they are Muslim and not Christian. Over the past few weeks these stereotypes have dissolved before my own eyes to reveal a much more complicated religious and cultural landscape. It’s not as if Germany hasn’t experienced migration from Muslim countries before. Many Turkish people arrived here in the 50s and 60s as ‘guest workers’, but never left and now form the base of what is Germany’s Muslim community. But the wave of migrants seen last year and which continues to come is on a completely different scale. Moreover, as the Germans have never considered themselves as a country of immigrants like Australia, America or Canada, it is harder for many of them to grasp such a drastic demographic change in terms of people and religion. In Melbourne one is just as likely to hear Mandarin on the tram as English, but if you heard a woman in traditional Muslim hijab and dress talking to child in Arabic while walking in front of a 1000-year-old German church, it would be hard to ignore the vast cultural difference. And if there is one sentiment which all Germans echo, it’s that Angela Merkel reacted much too late to the crisis. For a while she was portrayed as the heroine for refugees coming to Europe, but once any country accepts 1.2 million asylum seekers in a calendar year, it becomes hard to keep up with the sheer scale of processing every application. While this occurs, most of the refugees are stuck waiting in limbo, and perhaps this is maybe why some turn to illegal and despicable activities as sexual assault. Xenophobia might be on the rise here, but I think that’s a result of Germans’ frustration with policy makers rather than an innate form of racism. In the end, I think Germany will catch up with processing the backlog of applications, toughen some rules to counter purely economic migration, and will slowly learn how to integrate such a vast number of refugees, but perhaps Merkel was naïve in maintaining an open door policy for so long. The consequences are felt above all by the German people, and the refugees trying to escape war and persecution, because both groups can’t get on with their lives while so many barriers to integration remain.
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Malcolm Turnbull: a leftie love affair By Ovindu Rajasinghe Art by Sian Mann
eptember 14, 2015: Malcolm Turnbull challenges Tony Abbott for the leadership of the Liberal Party, and in winning, finally fulfils his lifelong ambition of becoming Prime Minister. When the Whips read out the results of the ballot, a collective sigh of relief could be heard across the country as ‘Lord Tone’ was consigned to the ignominy of the backbenches. The leadership spill was no surprise. It had been a horror year for the government, up to its ears in scandal and incompetence, all following the disastrous 2014 budget. It was also no surprise that the Liberal Party’s stocks rose astronomically after Turnbull’s ascension. Two potatoes tied together loosely by a piece of string could have
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been sworn in as Prime Minister, and the Libs would have received a bounce in the polls. What was a surprise, was that a man presiding over an only slightly-less conservative government has remained so popular into 2016. I have spoken to committed Labor voters who are seriously considering voting for Turnbull’s Liberals; I know intense Greenies who have told me they might well preference the Libs above Labor this year. Whilst it is understandable that many in the moderate right love him, this is unclear: why are so many progressive voters so enamoured? Obviously, Malc’s popularity has at least a small part to do with the stark contrast with the previous occupant of The Lodge. On a superficial
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“Two potatoes tied together loosely by a piece of string could have been sworn in as Prime Minister” level, Turnbull is an infinitely more polished operator. The glamorous former journalist, lawyer, and businessman speaks with a supremely confident and measured tone, oozing intelligence and charisma. He doesn’t make stupid PR mistakes like winking after hearing about the plight of a grandmother forced to work for a phone sex hotline. He is able to articulate policy positions without the use of three word slogans, respecting the intelligence of the electorate. His public front is the antithesis of Abbott’s bumbling, awkward presentation. More importantly, he is a more consultative, less divisive leader. From the night of the spill, when the Prime Minister-designate fronted the media, his focus was markedly different. Rather than stirring up fear with divisive rhetoric about Australia’s perceived enemies, we heard that “...there has never been a more exciting time to be Australian.” Beyond his rhetoric, Turnbull has also proven to be a much more adept negotiator, open to compromise. This was demonstrated in the deal that Turnbull struck with the Greens to pass tax transparency legislation that had been bogged down by the Senate crossbench. But maybe it’s not just Turnbull’s charismatic and consultative front. Perhaps Turnbull has been able to steer his party towards more centrist positions. Perhaps the electorate is looking past personality politics and like what they see in Turnbull’s substantive policy views, which are clearly more progressive than Abbott’s. There are two factors to consider here. Firstly, Turnbull is the leader of a party with powerful conservative factions. Turnbull might hold progressive views on issues such as climate change, marriage equality, and the republic, but many of his party room and cabinet colleagues certainly do not. Since becoming Prime Minister, the dud Direct Action policy on climate change has been retained, the time-wasting plebiscite on marriage equality is scheduled to go ahead, and the stalled cuts to
education and health in the Senate have not been dropped. Perhaps Turnbull’s moderate allies will be able to purge the radical right from his party, or maybe he will continue to be beholden to the conservatives. Liberal factional intrigue is murky and difficult to understand, and there is no guarantee that Turnbull will come out on top. It is important to note that, when you vote for the Liberals, you are not just electing Turnbull, but also a party that has been hijacked by the likes of Cory Bernardi and Eric Abetz. Secondly, Turnbull is still a committed believer in free market libertarianism and his economic views might not sit well with many progressive voters. When Turnbull announced his first Cabinet, Small Business Minister Bruce Bilson was sacked. Bilson was a strong advocate of an ‘effects test’ which would strengthen competition law so as to prevent anti-competitive behaviour from big business, a reform which has been lauded by the Council of Small Business Australia. The new Minister, Kelly O’Dwyer, and Turnbull himself, are reportedly opposed to the effects test, and it has been put on the backburner. Turnbull is still very much beholden to the big end of town. Turnbull reportedly once stated that he wanted to be Prime Minister before the age of forty. When asked which party he wanted to represent, he famously replied that it didn’t matter. Turnbull is a man who has worked tirelessly over his incredible career, making valuable contributions to the law, media, business, and public life. He has come from a broken family to amass a fortune that has made him one of the richest men in Australia. I admire him, and I can see why so many Australians feel the same way. But the electorate must ask themselves whether a man so driven by ambition and hubris can be trusted to deliver on what he has stood for, or whether he will be held hostage by the rest of his party so he can cling to his job. Malcolm Turnbull is a welcome change from Tony Abbott. His appointment ended the lunacy of the previous administration, and might challenge the parties of the left to a genuine contest of ideas rather than a ‘Shorten vs Abbott’ slogan writing competition. If Turnbull’s Liberals genuinely represent your beliefs and values, then by all means vote for them. But don’t let the Tories sneak in the back door because you like the look of the salesman. The party is bigger than the leader, and the leader is not all that he seems.
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MSA Women’s ‘Meet the Department’ Queer Morning Tea
WEEK 4 Summerfest March for Refugees
Free Food Monday
Free Food Monday
International Women’s Day
“Snags against University Cuts” BBQ
Mexican Monday Summerfest Free Food Monday
Biomed industry night
MSA W Weekly
ESS beach party
The rise of racism forum
First year camps (SAS,MSS,BIO)
Protest for the rights of Timor Leste
MID SEMESTER BREAK Good Friday
MID SEMESTER BREAK ENDS
E M R TEA ! T U O
ver urn o by T ? y d oster alrea April eautiful p b for a a Hunt! ic Mon
ST N I A AG T S TE O R P
UTS C N O I T EDUCA
Illustration by Sigrid Lange
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The big screen science of clones and dinosaurs by Chris Allen
In 2015, the film and television industry renewed its love for cloning and genetic mod ification. This was best shown in the success of the dinosaur adventure, Jurassic World. But just how accurate are these blockbuster portrayals of science?
Jur as s ic Wo r ld How were the dinosaurs in the Jurassic film universe rescued from extinction? All the answers, it seems, are to be found in the first instalment of the franchise, Jurassic Park. A short welcome video on Jurassic Park informs the film’s protagonists that the genetic information required for cloning was discovered in prehistoric mosquitoes that had been preserved in tree sap. It just so happens that the mozzies fed upon sweet dinosaur blood, millions and millions of years ago. That sounds pretty exciting and plausible, but, unfortunately, it’s unlikely to happen in the real world. Attempts to find preserved, ancient DNA in insects has not been successful. First of all, the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which took away our dinosaurs, occurred sixty-six million years before present day. Good luck finding any bugs that old, still floating around in tree sap. Second, in studies of much more modern insects, the DNA fragments to be found are short in length. This was shown in 2013, when a preserved bee that could not have been older than sixty was sequenced. This study used next-generation genetic methods, such as the quick and accurate sequencing technique, Roche 454. Researchers could only express low confidence in their DNA matches with microfloral DNA and bee mitochondria DNA. The Jurassic insect method is highly unlikely. Why dream of a Jurassic World dinosaur,
when scientists haven’t even resurrected a Woolly Mammoth yet? The Mammoth only became extinct in the relatively recent Pleistocene epoch. An indirect cloning breakthrough occurred last year, when Current Biology published a conservation research study sequencing the Mammoth’s whole genome. While an explicable concern for the safety of elephant surrogate mothers will probably prevent further developments, cloning a Mammoth is far more achievable than a Tyrannosaurus rex. If you disregard everything I’ve just said about dinosaurs being an unrealistic goal, and pretend a plethora of dinosaur genomes are in human possession, would it be possible for scientists to engineer a genetic hybrid as whacked up as the film’s villainous Indominus rex? For the uninitiated, the Indominus is a smooshing together of the Tyrannosaurus rex genome with a few, choice species that include a Velociraptor species, a Tree frog, a cuttlefish and a pit viper. The film’s scientists mention ‘advances in gene splicing’ as the key to breeding hybrids. However, cutting up genes is not really a barrier to creating monster hybrids, thanks to all the natural cut sites in a genome. An expected barrier would be manipulating these distantly-related genomes into a transgenic organism that will survive development - this seems particularly challenging while there are no extant dinosaurs to guide experimentation. There is some good news on the hybrid modification front. Many experiments have been successful in taking a single or a few known genes interest from one species to another. Researchers have created transgenic organisms as strange as glowing, fluro-green kittens, and as ground-breaking as pigs with organs to be used in human organ transplants. Perhaps an Indominus rex isn’t that radical after all.
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O rphan B lac k
It’s All About Love
Human reproductive cloning has never been publicly completed. Yet in the world of Orphan Black, Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) learns that she is one of many clones created in 1984. That’s right, forget Dolly the sheep of 1993, and forget Idaho Gem, the famed racing mule of 2003; Orphan Black creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett suggest that the 80s was where the race to human cloning began and ended. Over the course of last year’s third season (massive spoiler alert), Sarah Manning discovers that along with the female clones she’s met, her family extends to a heap of brother clones (Ari Millen). Things get even more extreme when the show reveals that these male and female clones aren’t just siblings, their DNA is derived from the exact same person! According to the explanation offered in the show, an individual may absorb their twin in the womb, and thereby carry two independent cell lines. This individual would have cell nuclei that could bring forth both male and female clones. As it happens, Orphan Black’s logic is more than just possible: it’s proven science. Vanishing twin syndrome (VTS) is a scientifically documented phenomenon, whereby a twin appears to disappear from the uterus. This is often due to one twin being absorbed into the other. If the two merging cell lines were from identical twins, there would be no noticeable difference between the DNA in cells. But when non-identical twins are merged, the individual would carry two distinct cell lines. They would become what is termed a tetragametic chimera. If non-identical twins of different sexes were merged, the resulting individual could indeed produce male and female clones, exactly as it is suggested in Orphan Black’s third season. ‘
The most annoying depictions of cloning and genetic modification in film occur as what some might call ‘genetics lite’. This is when science is used merely as an aesthetic trick to distract the audience. In my mind, one of the worst offenders in this category is the 2003 romance drama, It’s All About Love. The film follows a champion ice skater (Claire Danes) as she slips into a long-winded conspiracy. Her family plans to murder her, and install an ice skating clone replica. Unlike in Orphan Black¸ the science of the cloning in It’s All About Love is incredibly thin. The audience is told that human clones can be created by playing around with the chemicals inside the human brain. This isn’t even close to being accurate. The reproductive cloning process involves Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), where a somatic cell (body cell) nucleus from a donor specimen is fused into a host egg cell (oocyte). The oocyte will reprogram the donated nucleus into a primitive, undifferentiated form, and henceforth the clone begins prenatal development like a regular embryo. There is no cheap shortcut for cloning. It’s All About Love gets even more silly. In an absurd scene, a television reporter announces that alongside human heart issues and inversed weather patterns around the globe, the laws of gravity have been messing up above Eastern Africa, causing hundreds of people to fly off into space. I don’t need to go into why all that makes no sense. To sit through all of It’s All About Love is not something I would recommend. The scientific references in the film were all tokenistic – perhaps they were thrown in last. If you think that your soft spot for Claire Danes or Joaquin Phoenix will improve the film, let me tell you, it sadly does not. I only wish that I could go back to spend that hour and a half of my life differently, perhaps by reading ‘Theoretical Astrophysics for Dummies’ or watching Jurassic Park.
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Beyond 140 by Emma Simpkin
f intelligence is, as Stephen Hawking suggests, the ability to adapt to change, there appears little evidence for it on Twitter. The social networking service was subject to severe criticism after rumours it may introduce 10, 000 character tweets by the end of this financial quarter. While computer scientists, social media consultants and economists curiously pondered the consequences of 10K tweets (internally referred to as the ‘Beyond 140’ project) a global majority of ‘Twitterati’ clung to their 140 character cages and howled. Hot debate over lengthening the character limit of a tweet might seem trivial, but illustrates a highly pervasive attitude surrounding language. Anti-10K sentiment highlights a belief in an inverse relationship between lengthiness of writing or speech and its overall substance. Simply put, the shorter our words are, and the fewer we use, the more effective and indefinably better our writing will be. When Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey announced the Beyond 140 project, he praised the limit for inspiring ‘creativity and brevity’. Dorsey declared Twitter wouldn’t lose its ultimate beauty: the ability to convey information in short bursts. Brevity may be attractive in today’s time-poor society, but belief restriction breeds skill was a mantra for writers long before Twitter. Style books, grammars, and financial constraints on space in journalism and publishing cemented the idea that succinctness was the ultimate expression of good writing. Literary icons such as Twain, Hemmingway and Orwell were known for views on downsizing language, and Greek philosopher Callimachus is attributed with saying ‘Big Book, Big Evil’ as early as 300BC. Yet does an increase in length really correlate with a decrease in value? Cognitively speaking, this thinking has an understandable basis. Linguistic and psychological research repeatedly finds longer sentences more difficult to parse. These lengthier sentences are more likely to involve complex grammatical structures because, generally, they possess more
clauses. Layers of clauses in complex sentences build a higher density of information that is harder for the human mind to process. Likewise, being overly talkative is pinpointed in psychological studies as potentially damaging to making positive first impressions. Through the lens of linguistics. many words for ‘wordiness’ have fallen from use. Verbosity, loquacity, effusiveness, garrulousness and prolixity may sound passingly familiar but are unlikely to appear in everyday conversation. Interestingly, these words are more likely to appear near negative adjectives than others describing concise language, when databases compiled from real-world usage are examined. Yet we regularly hear and read abstract and complicated sentences. Grammatical complexity exists outside of Proust and Austen, in everything from terms and conditions to parking signage. While some complex sentences are lengthy, many easily scoot under the 140-character count. Railing against removing character limits isn’t purely an issue of intelligibility, nor even a matter of stylistic choice. Effects of commercialization and globalization can’t be downplayed when we insist on turning up our noses at lengthiness. Our century’s demands are blamed for pushing timestarved individuals towards short snappy prose, in easy-to-digest formats. Shorter writing is viewed as economical, efficient and clearer: highly prized qualities in the modern age. While linguists, psychologists and Twitter ‘royalty’ have yet to conclude if there is a relationship between language length and substance, valid arguments exist in each camp of the 10K tweet debate. The character increase may make the microblogging platform more cohesive. It will certainly keep traffic on Twitter by erasing the need to link elsewhere. But it may ignore demands of Twitter’s user base, and risk angering those who equate brevity with creativity. (3365 characters.)
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“How fucking cool is chemistry?” b y G r a c e Wa n g a n d A n a g i Wickremasinghe Photography by G r a c e Wa n g
Working in chemistry isn’t just for squares. We spoke with musician and Magic: The Gathering player RICKI WILCOX about fashion, chemistry, and identifying with Hans Moleman.
So Ricki, what’s your job at Monash? I’m working with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year Chemistry crew. At the moment I’m just doing some casual work, but over the last few months I’ve demonstrated first year classes (I actually started a band with a few of my students!), I’ve designed and presented some chemical experiments with my best friend for some John Monash Science students that had come from all around the world, and have just been doing odd jobs that needed to be done around the chemistry department. What inspired you to pursue chemistry? It actually wasn’t until very late into high school that I realized I wanted to do chemistry, in fact in Year 10, when I was filling in my VCE forms, I didn’t even list chemistry! It wasn’t until Year 11 when I actually delved into chemistry in more depth that I fell in love with it. I play a card game called Magic: The Gathering, and I love this game because it’s a system. The game has rules and restrictions that each player has to follow in order to come out victorious, and chemistry is a lot like that. There are the physical laws that you
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need to follow, in order to transform your starting materials into your products. I really enjoy the idea of taking something and manipulating or changing it into something else (and hopefully something of use!). If I wasn’t doing chemistry right now, I really have no idea what else I would be doing! So what areas of chemistry are you especially interested in? I have always liked organic chemistry the most, because it just seems so magical. The idea of changing matter feels to me like something that shouldn’t be able to be done, and our ability to not only do this, but also understand it, fascinates me! I was actually at work today and saw my boss reading over what I think was some different ways you could use nucleophilic organolithium reagents. I had a quick look over the reaction schemes, and I just said to her: “How fucking cool is chemistry?” My Honours project is focusing on making small molecule mimics of peptides and proteins, which we’ve isolated from the venom of a particular marine cone snake. The reason we’re looking at this specific type of molecule is because it can bind to certain calcium channels and aid in the treatment of neuropathic pain. My job will be to design and refine the synthesis of molecules that we think are of particular importance and test their overall effectiveness as a drug. If all goes well and we make a molecule with a good IC50 value (basically, how effective the drug is), we are able to do a few more tests and have it enter the clinical testing phase, which hopefully ends up with our group getting some results published in scientific journals! We’ve noticed that you have a lovely head of hair. How did your hair get like that? [Laughs] When people ask me how I get my hair like I do, I tell them I just go “like this” and shake my head a little bit. Truth be told, there is a step that I fail to mention. It has to be teased first with a brush. I personally use the fabulous tangle teaser, if you don’t own one, I recommend picking one up. Once teased, it can be shaken around a little to make it as big as possible. But this is just our little secret, right?
We’re loving your outfit today! Could you tell us more about your style? Thank you! Honestly, what I’m wearing today was literally just what I picked up off my floor... I love patterns and colours, so I try to incorporate that into what I wear. I guess it’s hard for me to say I have a particular “style”, if I like something I’ll wear it. I like the idea of being comfortable in your own skin, so if an outfit makes me feel good, then I’ll wear it without caring what anyone’s going to say about it. What’s your favourite TV show? I have to say my all-time favourite TV show is The Simpsons. The show is ridiculous, and the fact that the story can fail to progress for 10-15 minutes, but every piece of dialogue is gold, shows that the writers are no doubt at the top of their class. Who’s your favourite character on the show? Hands-down Hans (Ralph Melish) Moleman. The show wouldn’t be the same without him. He is a character that I identify strongly with, and every scene he’s in is perfect. Would you like to describe the character of Hans? I’d probably describe Hans as a very unlucky elderly man, whose problems with alcohol have caused him to be confused about his age. Although the majority of the time, as viewers, we see Moleman’s many misfortunes, he still seems to power through and be able to look at life on the bright side, and that’s a lesson that I think is of great importance. Finally, could you give us your best chemistry joke? I don’t really have any jokes or puns, but rather an anecdote. I was hanging out with my mate Argon a few weeks ago and I heard this really funny chemistry joke earlier in the day. I told him, but he didn’t react...
Check our full interview with Ricki on lotswife.com.au
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Up all night: The science of sleep deprivation by Tracy Chen
ew year, new you. This year is still full of opportunity. Your hopes and dreams are yet to be dashed by cruel reality. Sleep deprivation will be a thing of the past. You’ll get your full eight hours a day, and you definitely won’t pull an all-nighter to finish that one assignment (and presentation, and written test, and don’t forget the lab in 12 hours). But let’s be nostalgic for a moment. Let’s reminisce about all those days, buried in the history of the person you are no longer, spent trying to function with little to no sleep. After the first night, there’s the hyperactivity; it’s the only thing keeping you upright other than caffeine. Maybe you’ve finished with a minute to spare and you’re high on life, or you’ve missed the deadline and you just don’t give a fuck. Either way, the world is your very funny oyster – you’re unstoppable. Armed with poor impulse control and less than stellar decision making skills, you’re all set to start the day. Who needs drugs when you have sleep deprivation? They say that you’re pretty much drunk when you’re sleep deprived anyway. Your short and long term memory are shot. The part of your brain that’s meant to think and make good decisions, the prefrontal cortex, isn’t exactly working. So you’re free of those restrictive inhibitions and your idea of how to react appropriately is becoming increasingly skewed. You laugh in the face of danger, you laugh at everything. There’s still a part of your brain telling you that you’re probably making a bad decision, but you’re too drunk off sleep deprivation to care.
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That is, until the artificial energy runs dry. You’re crashing. You’re tired, you’re hungry, you’re cold. The sleep deprivation is slowly turning you into a corpse (and maybe that’s preferable to this cursed, sleep deprived life). The thing is, your body temperature isn’t any lower than usual. It’s more like you’re less able to tolerate the cold. You lose heat more rapidly and your body just doesn’t know how to warm itself back up. You’re pretty sure you’re slowly dying; scientists are pretty sure it’s just because there’s less blood flow to the skin. But do you know what will probably help? Food. Because food always helps, right? If you eat enough carbs and fats, you’ll trick your body into thinking that it has enough sustenance to function without sleeping again. You eat until you’re bloated and still keep going after that. At this point, the repetitive action of bringing food to your mouth and chewing is comforting and you’re too tired to do anything else anyway. The hormones that control appetite and indicate fullness, ghrelin and leptin, keep telling you to eat while failing to give the signal to stop. Your brain and your stomach aren’t communicating. Your haywire sleeping patterns are having a bit of a domino effect. It’s an endless cycle. So maybe sleep deprivation is a bit addictive and your sleeps are more like naps these days. The hyperactive energy is wearing off, and the hyperactive energy is wearing off and the hyp— The days are long and it’s hard to focus. Time stretches out in front of you like an endless expanse and you’re pretty sure you’re never going to feel well rested again. Twelve torturous weeks, multiple breakdowns and countless tears later, it’s over. You can sleep. Your body can shut down - but it won’t. It’s like some sort of twisted withdrawal symptom where your circadian rhythm is so fucked that you can only sleep 2 hours at a time. It’s horrible. But it’s okay, It definitely won’t happen this year.
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The skinny on gluten-free diets By Anastasia Goutzoulas
Where cutting out fat was once consider ed the silver bullet for perfect health, a gluten-free diet is now seen as a cure-all. But what is gluten, really? And is it all that bad for you?
W H AT I S GLUTEN? Chemically speaking, gluten is a network of two protein types, glutenin and gliadin. In dry flours, these exist separately. Adding water makes these proteins form chemical links (disulphide bonds) with one another, and kneading or mixing forms even more bonds. These bonds make the resulting gluten network strong and elastic. Gluten can be found in foods containing wheat, barley and rye. This is a really broad category, and includes pasta, noodles, condiments, many prepackaged snacks, and beer. T O E AT OR N OT T O EAT? Coeliac disease? Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease that presents as a response to the gliadin protein in gluten in the small intestine of a sensitive person. That is, the body of a coeliac sufferer mounts an immune response to the presence of gliadin in the small intestine, in the same way that it would initiate an immune response to fight off an infection. It produces antibodies that attack the gliadin molecule, an otherwise harmless protein.
As a result, coeliacs suffer inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine. Coeliac disease can be diagnosed by a doctor after a blood test to check for antibodies known as tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTG-IgA), as well as a series of other tests for patients who may be at risk of returning a false positive on the tTG-IgA test (such as Type 1 diabetics and people with rheumatoid arthritis, both also autoimmune diseases). This is followed up by a biopsy to see if the lining of your small intestine is damaged. For coeliacs, gluten really is that bad, at any level. No cheat meals allowed here â€“ even trace
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amounts can be enough to bring on symptoms like nausea, vomiting, skin rashes, and mouth ulcers. Continuing to eat gluten-containing products can further inflame the small intestine, stopping it from absorbing nutrients from anything else you eat, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies like anaemia. Not a coeliac? If you don’t have coeliac disease, but bread makes you bloat, it may not be gluten at all. According to a study published in Gastroenterology in 2013, the true culprit may be FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols). These little guys are a group of simple carbs found in a number of foods, like wheat, milk, onions and garlic. FODMAPs can either ferment in your large intestine, making you bloat, or pull water into your bowels, which can make things move a little faster than you’d probably like. The researchers behind the paper studied 37 participants who displayed irritable bowel syndrome symptoms (constipation, gas and diarrhoea,) and believed gluten to be the cause of them. The subjects were placed on a low-FODMAP diet for 2 weeks, then placed on either a high-gluten, lowgluten or placebo (no gluten) diet for one week to give any possible symptoms a chance to develop. After the first two weeks, symptoms decreased for everyone involved. They then got worse for all participants in that final week, regardless of what diet they were on. While this study shows great results for a low-FODMAP diet, and takes the blame off gluten, it should be treated as nutrition ‘breakthroughs’ in general should - with a healthy dose of scepticism. Due to the small sample size and the fact that it can be difficult to control for every possible variable (like participants’ stress levels, or how much they exercise) it can be hard to establish any sort of causal relationship. So, gluten’s not all bad. But is it actually any good? Gluten in itself is almost pure protein, hence its occasional use as an imitation meat. However, it lacks the vitamins and minerals that meat, fish and legumes can provide. So, it’s pretty good if all you’re interested in is adding to your gains, but if you’re looking for meat substitutes for every day, it won’t give your body what it needs.
G LUTEN - FREE FOODS Foods that are naturally gluten-free include potatoes, rice, corn, fresh meats, fruits and vegetables. These may or may not be labelled gluten42 | Lot’s Wife
free on the supermarket shelf, but they naturally contain no gluten and are safe for a coeliac to eat. Supermarkets are now full of gluten-free versions of packaged foods, like instant noodles, pizzas and biscuits. It’s easy enough to believe that these are better for you than their gluten-containing alternatives, since they can be found in the health foods aisle of your supermarket, and their packaging is littered with tick motifs (so officially healthy!), pictures of leaves (so close to nature!) and phrases like ‘naturally good’ or ‘superfood’ (so utterly meaningless!). These health claims don’t amount to much, and unless you’re a coeliac or allergic to wheat, a product’s gluten-free labelling is no indication that it’s any good for you. A chocolate muffin is a chocolate muffin, whether it contains gluten or not. All in all, whether it’s being demonised or fiercely defended, gluten is even more overrated than The Great Gatsby. So, if you aren’t a coeliac sufferer, and you heed your grandmother’s advice about eating well (Eat more vegetables. Don’t put something in your mouth if you can’t pronounce it. Drink plenty of water. Sriracha can make anything taste good), then neither the presence nor absence of gluten in your diet will do you any real nutritional harm. By the time biology and chemistry have caught up with researching the food crazes we’re all about now, the foodie universe will have moved on from gluten anyway. We’ll probably all be losing our minds over the weight-loss benefits of a completely chemical-free diet by then.
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By Rajat Lal ANSWERS AT LOTSWIFE.COM.AU
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The ‘Star Wars’ Effect: Internet Hype Culture and The Force Awakens by Matthew Edwards
Illustration by Angus Marion
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owadays, the release of a trailer is an online event. Studios under pressure to post big opening weekend sales flood social media sites with trailers, teasers, and TV spots. It’s not enough to advertise: for modern franchises, such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, trailers have to link films together, hint at possible story elements, and provide material for speculation and debate for the hardcore fans. Trailers cause so much excitement that they actually end up being better than the movie they advertise. These trailers are not bad. It’s important to advertise a movie to get people excited and get them talking about it so that they’ll come see it. But this ‘hype culture’ that exists online can seriously harm movies: as hype builds, expectations rise to almost impossible levels. The Force Awakens was probably the most anticipated movie of the last 10 years. Fans had grown up on or with the trilogies, and many were left anxious after the poorly received prequel trilogy, which threatened to tear apart the fanbase that director George Lucas had created back in 1977 with the original Star Wars. The hype for Episode I upon its announcement was massive, and the film was praised for its use of CGI. But as the years went by, and people began to look at the films critically (Star Wars fans who haven’t seen Red Letter Media’s “Mr. Plinkett” reviews of the prequels should definitely do so), the hype faded away, and we were left with the consensus that the prequels are terrible. So when The Force Awakens was revealed, and J.J. Abrams was brought in to direct, people got excited once again. And now that it’s in theatres, reactions have been mixed. The common complaint has been that Episode VII feels too similar to Episode IV in regards to the concept, setting, and plot. This is true to an extent: some plot elements were unnecessary and brought the film down (Starkiller Base – did we really need a THIRD Death Star?). But these complaints are only minor. In spite of its flaws, The Force Awakens does so much right. Nearly every franchise in existence has a formula; Indiana Jones, James Bond, and many others. Every sequel within that franchise has a similar formula, with slight changes made to some elements to make it different from the movie that preceded it. The keyword is ‘similar’: all of these movies are pretty much the same thing. The original trilogy established a formula and it worked. When George Lucas attempted to deviate from this formula too much, we got the prequels. J.J. Abrams made the smart choice when making The Force Awakens to
stick to this formula while changing certain aspects to keep it fresh and exciting. There are inversions within The Force Awakens that make it new, without departing from the formula. One of the things that makes Star Wars great is its characters. The space battles are cool, sure, but Star Wars has always been about characters and the way they interact with each other. In Episode IV, you could see the friendship between Luke Skywalker and Han Solo grow; from their first encounter in the Mos Eisley cantina, right until the very end. Each movie built on the relationships between not just the protagonists, but with the villains as well. The Force Awakens gets this right, but does so in an interesting way: the main characters are essentially inverse versions of the characters from the original trilogy. Luke dreamed of leaving his home planet to go on grand adventures; Rey only wants to return home and has adventure thrust upon her. Darth Vader was a powerful, menacing tyrant who mastered the Force; Kylo Ren is an apprentice who has no control over his emotions. These familiar but altered elements make the film interesting while following the Star Wars formula. Saying the hype surrounding The Force Awakens was massive would be an understatement. This movie was being hailed as ‘the second coming’ by various sites. Fans went crazy with theories and arguments all across the Internet. With Abrams directing, people believed that Star Wars would be returned to its former glory. It’s not a perfect movie, but then again no movie is perfect. It was my favourite movie of 2015, and it was one of the first movies in recent years that I actually had fun watching. The Force Awakens had to live up to astronomical expectations, when all it had to do was be a good Star Wars movie. And it was a great Star Wars movie.
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Race to the end of the world: Averting anti-Asian stereotypes through Armageddon by Clarissa Kwee Illustration by Emily Dang
n praise of Netflix’s dramedy Master of None, Angry Asian Man blogrunner, Phil Yu emailed VICE, commenting, “It seems weird to praise a show for just showing contemporary Asian-American men as regular guys, but that’s what Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang have created, and it’s downright revolutionary.” By implication, no show before has pioneered the representation of Asians on TV like this one – portraying them as orthodox, cynical thirtysomethings meandering through upper middleclass life in the Big Apple. But Yu speaks the truth: the ethnic adjustment to a pedestrian formula has turned the ordinary into the extraordinary. There’s something wrong with that equation. Mainstream TV can be ground zero for stereotyping, especially when it comes to its
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Asian constituents. They can be reductionist, onedimensional, and naturalise a power imbalance based on race: patronising actual Asians who are nothing like their televised representatives. There are definite exceptions, but more often than not, realistic programs perpetuate stereotypes; it seems that shows about a world other than our own are doing it better. Historically, television has depended on having a chiefly white, Anglo-Saxon cast as a prerequisite for mainstream resonance and success. Usually, ethnic minorities settle for a single, ‘token’ character who bear the burden of representing their entire race. But universal catastrophe seems to act as the perfect locale to spotlight the growth of Asian characters beyond stereotyping. Apocalyptic television is not the panacea to all Asian stereotypes,
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but ultimately, when there’s earth-shaking and hellraising to deal with, there isn’t enough time to focus on the colour of somebody’s skin. Take Kevin Tran from Supernatural. Initially, Kevin is a diminutive fusion of Asian stereotypes; an obedient, neurotic cellist consumed with achieving a perfect SAT score and enrolling in Princeton University. Yet come season 8, ‘Advanced Placement’ has metamorphosed into a prophet of God, who becomes essential to saving the universe. Similarly, Monty Green from The 100 is the only main character who has never had a romantic interest, reinforcing the idea that leading Asians don’t get the girl or guy. Nevertheless, Green is a diplomatic, sarcastic and exceptionally clever character, traits that are eons more memorable than his love life. The best example of a character obliterating anti-Asian stereotyping is Glenn Rhee. Before The Walking Dead, no Asian-American would be identified as “the beating heart of a show” (Gina McIntyre, Hero Times) like Steven Yeun is, in his portrayal of the unassuming, pizza-delivering Michiganite. But six seasons into the apocalypse, Glenn is lauded as the “most beloved Asian American male in the U.S” (Ken Fong, Angry Asian Man), which is no small feat. In a perverse wasteland where a stolid drumbeat of gory deaths acts as its hallmark, Yeun’s character serves as an indispensable warrior on AMC’s juggernaut. What a polarising conundrum. The people who believe that Glenn’s life should be spared by the unsympathetic AMC argue that killing off such a wellrounded, integral part of the show also means losing a hero for underrepresented Asians everywhere. At the same time, Glenn’s treatment on the show occurs indiscriminately of his race, because Korean heritage is not significant to the urgency of survival. So by the same token, nobody on The Walking Dead is safe, and Asian or not, Glenn is no exception. If Glenn is truly dead, it would be a testament to the show’s habitual nihilism, and the loss one of the strongest ethnic-minority presences on mainstream TV. But in the event that AMC spares Glenn from an undead fate, this act could be misread as preserving diversity only for diversity’s sake. Regardless of Glenn’s elliptical future, it seems it takes Armageddon itself to transcend
racial politics. As borderline histrionic as it sounds, disasters strip humanity of their narrow-mindedness. Materialistic trifles are diminished in the face of death. When the earth is in ruins, the ‘stratification’ of ethnic hierarchies disintegrates, and stereotypes are forced to collapse on themselves. They don’t succumb to the prejudices of society, because there is no society. Of course, apocalyptic television is still privy to accusations of tokenism, where a colourful cast is warranted only to compel diversity. But we don’t celebrate these characters because they’re there, much like we shouldn’t celebrate diverse media just because it exists. What does warrant celebration is how the number of non-stereotypical, holistic and incidentally Asian characters is proliferating. So, let’s focus on the not-yet-apocalyptic 2016. Master of None has made a universally acclaimed breakthrough in the representation of Asian-Americans on TV. On the show, Ansari’s character Dev fails to book a role for a sitcom starring three protagonists because though having one Indian is ideal, “there can’t be more than one”. But intentionally, the show flips that tokenistic mentality on its head to demonstrate that modern TV can—and will—move past such out-dated paradigms. Dev and company, modern people of colour, talk marriage, parents, sex and many topics inbetween. A Netflix show about Asian men just being themselves is being hailed as ground-breaking; that should raise some eyebrows, but perhaps in esteem, not in discontent. Master of None is as cognisant about its role as a pioneer, as it is witty, fresh, and brutally honest. We’re entering an age where diverse media is becoming less of an obligation unto political correctness, and more a sign of genuine racial equilibrium and representation. Maybe we won’t need to wait until the end of the world to appreciate that television is finally catching up to reality.
They don’t succumb to the prejudices of society, because there is no society.
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M O S T A N T I C I PAT E D
by Melissa Fernando
2016 is already shaping up to be an eventful year in music. With Bowie’s departure to the stars, the music world has been left with shoes that can never be filled. But perhaps what was most telling was the immense sense of loss and heartache towards the news of Bowie’s death, demonstrating that music lovers still value experimentation, self-reinvention and originality. Several artists are still honouring these musical values, and here’s my list of top 10 most anticipated albums of the year.
MIA - Ma hta hdata h M.I.A’s album Matahdatah was due last year however the anticipation has crept into 2016, as fans eagerly await her fifth instalment. With no set release date, M.I.A has not divulged much information, but thankfully has released one single, ‘Borders’. M.I.A spent her formative years in 1970’s Sri Lanka when a bloody civil war between the country’s ethnic divisions was tearing apart the nation. It’s no surprise then that MIA’s songs have always been politically charged, and this album seems to be no different. ‘Borders’ speaks about the barriers between cultures and social groups, which can often lead to injustice and suffering.
Radioh ead - TBA It’s always hard to know what to expect from a Radiohead album. It was reported that the band began work on their 9th studio album in late 2014. Now more than a year later, we speculate an album coming out early 2016. The British rockers released a single ‘Spectre’, which was originally created for the latest James Bond movie but later went unused. The music has a dramatic orchestral flow, and the brooding overlay of instruments coupled with Thom Yorke’s tortured falsetto provides fans with a glimpse into the sort of music the new album would contain.
S IA - This is Acti ng Australian singer-songwriter Sia is set to release her 7th studio album on the 29th of January. This is Acting has an interesting premise as it contains several songs that Sia wrote for other artists, such as Adele, but were subsequently rejected. This is Acting could perhaps allude to the fact she had written these songs from the point of view of the person for which she was writing, in other words, she was putting on an act. Perhaps this album is an attempt to take a stab at those who rejected her musicality and to make these songs her own. Illustrations by Angus Marion
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AL B U M S O F 2 0 1 6 D ra ke - View s from th e 6 As a rapper who sings, Drake has always had a different sound, constantly readapting his style to redefine hip-hop. It was hinted to be released on the 6th of January, but he has kept his fans holding their breath, with no sign of the album as of late January. Drake said he wanted this album to be important, a statement. Judging from the reception of ‘Hotline Bling’, the single released from this upcoming album, and the barrage of Internet memes that followed, fans will be looking forward to other tracks of similar calibre. We can only hope a February release will be announced soon.
Fr ank Ocean - B oys D on ’t Cr y It’s safe to say Frank Ocean fans have been freaking out for a while. Could 2016 be the year this mysterious enigma comes out of hiding and graces our presence with a new album? The follow up to Grammy award winning album Channel Orange has been a long time coming. With little to no media presence, Ocean fans can only speculate. If Boys Don’t Cry comprises of even half the magic of Channel Orange, the wait will be well worth it. The timeline of events concerning BDC is frustrating to say the least. In 2013, Ocean confirmed he was working on this album. Then in April 2014, he stated it was nearly finished. He concluded that the album would be released in July 2015, nearly a year later. July 2015 came and went and now here we are in 2016, with no album, and no explanation either. Where that album at Frank? Does it even exist? Are you even still alive?
G orilla z - TBA The Gorillaz haven’t released anything since 2010’s Plastic Beach, so a new album is a long time coming for Gorillaz fans. The prolonged hiatus which included a falling out between Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett meant a new album looked unlikely. However much to the public’s surprise, the two have rekindled their relationship and started working on a new album in September last year. The Gorillaz sound has evolved since the bright optimistic tunes of Demon Days (2005), opting for a more cynical, dark sound in Plastic Beach (2010). 6 years on, the mind boggles over what this album will sound like and the prospective collaborations that could be involved. Matt Cor by - Tellu ric Over the years, Matt Corby has managed to break away from the shackles of being an ex-idol contestant and after significant hype, Corby’s first studio album is due to be released on the 11th of March. Telluric means ‘of the Earth,’ and Corby has said that the natural world, human impact, and interaction would be the theme of the whole album. This album will feature his two singles ‘Sooth Lady Wine’ and ‘Monday’, that have already been released and were highly received by fans.
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R E V I E W
David Bowie’s last album by Lachlan Liesfield
lackstar is an elegy, Bowie’s self-made epitaph to his own life that spends little time languishing in reflection, and instead creates a distinct and indeed exciting sound for this final album. It’s fitting that for Blackstar, Bowie, a man whose sound has continually evolved over the course of his career, continues his run all the way to here, providing a jazz inspired and occult infused set of tracks. While these influences are obvious, they’re subdued in the mix, as if we’re hearing much of the instrumentation through a fog. His aging voice holds a rasp and harshness, the instrumentation here reflecting this new gravel to his voice. Rather than trying to recapture those smooth tones of his younger albums, here tracks like ‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore’ and ‘Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)’ fully embrace these new tones, providing the most ‘rock’ tracks of Blackstar. Filled with violent hisses and discordant guitar and sax, they’re malevolent, heated pieces that capture some of that anger that Bowie has with his fate.
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But the influence of free jazz comes most clearly on Blackstar’s most well known tracks, ‘Lazarus’ and the titular ‘Blackstar’. ‘Blackstar’, the albums opening track, is a ten minute occult laden mixture of sounds with such a diversity of distinct aspects that each could be treated as its own song. In the tracks opening minutes, strings provide a canvas where Bowie’s effect leaden vocal work can create the imagery of death that permeates the track. Blackstar’s second half, while equally macabre, is lighter musically. A self-referential set of rhymes with a softer baseline and drums create a mystic feel, with Bowie moving to the light after Blackstar’s ‘black magic’ opening. The two halves complement each other; leaving a track that doesn’t overstay itself despite is runtime. ‘Lazarus’ is where Bowie gives us his final persona, and one that could prove to be his most enduring. It’s a gorgeous track, and the highlight of the album. It’s the quietest track on Blackstar, and the most affecting, with a sombre leading guitar that carries us through the song along with its straining, muted saxophone. ‘Lazarus’ is where Bowie most openly talks about his life and its end, and is the thematic heart of the album. Its lyrics are simple, but honest, and the instrumentation here is gorgeously layered in, creating the most coherent and concentrated atmosphere on the album. But in its finale (‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’), with its sweeping strings and wistful harmonica, we’re given Bowie’s last word. As much as Blackstar is about Bowie facing his death, ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’ is Bowie looking at his life, holding a reflective feeling that is matched only by its unexpected cheer, and changes the tone of the final minutes of the album with a song that’s upbeat and enjoyable. Blackstar is a fitting finale for an artist who has re-imagined and re-defined himself throughout his career. By continuing to do so even here, Bowie creates an album that is only better for it.
Illustration by Ceitidh Hopper
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Undying: Parasocial relationships and the nature of celebrity by Tracy Chen
lan Rickman. David Bowie. Maybe you’ve heard of them? René Angélil, Natalie Cole, Glenn Frey are a few more, though perhaps they’re less familiar to you. They are individuals who have been elevated to household name status for their achievements, successes or sheer shock value; they’re revered for their talents but nonetheless they’re virtual strangers to us. So why do we care when they die? The number of us who have had personal contact with celebrities are small, but many of us feel saddened by their deaths, even years after. We have developed a sort of intimacy without really knowing them, watching them in our living rooms and bedrooms, making us laugh and cry. You’ve undoubtedly felt that connection, that feeling of ‘I really like this person’. It’s a mimicry of a relationship, a parasocial relationship that’s totally one-sided, developed from repeated exposure to their celebrity persona. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, these media personalities have no idea of who you are. But you feel like you know and understand them. Through countless hours of watching interviews and trawling through social media, they become important to you. You become a fanatic, or less severely, a fan. These relationships can be used as support structures when none are available in real life. Celebrities are undoubtedly inspirational. They are living proof that the ordinary can become extraordinary, and that by overcoming struggles and hardships, perhaps we too can achieve fame and fortune. They embody a certain idea of greatness and they are immortalised. Yet even the illusion of
the celebrity becomes mortal when faced with death. We never thought that celebrities like Alan Rickman and David Bowie would die, so rare in their skills and accomplishments. We feel a profound loss, for despite their cultural legacy, they will never again be able to create something to inspire and impact our lives so viscerally. In an era where the sheer quantity and impermanence of the famous devalues them, and the title of celebrity is more like a revolving door, celebrities from days of old seem few and far between. Nonetheless, the past is often romanticised and seen through rose tinted lenses, especially posthumously. It is of course unkind to speak ill of the dead, but death has a tendency to wipe clean the slate and cleanse one of their wrongdoings. We want to remember those who have passed for their good qualities. With celebrity figures, whose achievements are so public and so widespread, it is unsurprising that despite scandals or indiscretions, people who we may have subjected to many caveats and criticisms are now once again at their greatest. They are only remembered at the pinnacle of their success.
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A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL A FESTIVAL MEMOIR by Sophie McNamara
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can’t win,” I said. “If I don’t drink today, I’ll feel like shit, but if I do drink today, I’ll make tomorrow’s hangover even worse”. “Of course you can’t win,” Nia lamented. “We’ve made a deal with the devil.” This small exchange between my friend and I in the 6am mosh-pit aftermath summarises the consensus amongst university students when they attend music festivals. The festival culture encourages three to five days of disregarding your body and its needs with excessive drinking, sleep deprivation and inevitable dehydration. I spent my New Years Eve at a music festival called Northern Bass. Numerous drum and bass artists and thousands of festival attendees congregated for the event in Mangawhai, a remote town in the northernmost region of New Zealand. Kiwi youth adopt a very similar attitude to drinking and partying to Australians, especially when the youth in question are university students celebrating three months of study freedom. The lineup was nothing impressive to reflect the extravagant price of tickets, but by the 31st of December all tickets had sold out and Mangawhai had doubled in population.
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“All I ate the first day was a banana, which I threw up. We tripped on acid for five days in a row.” People dealt with their nausea and headaches by continuing to drink as soon as they crawled out of bed. They dealt with their sleep deprivation by passing out in the afternoon or by snorting various substances up their noses in the early evening. They dealt with their dehydration and lack of proper appetite by simply accepting the fact that their health would need to be overlooked till the event was over. On the morning of 1st of January it poured with rain. In fact, about two hours after the clock struck midnight, it rained for about five days straight. At some point that day, we needed to pack up our stuff and carry it up a towering hill to the car. The longer we left it, the more difficult it was going to be to get out. We’d had an amazing New Years Eve, but when I woke up and realised our dismal fate, I wished I had woken up anywhere else. “I’m lying in a pool of water!” Nia yelled from her tent as the sun rose. Tears ran down various cheeks as we hauled our wet belongings up the steep, muddy hill to the car park. Heavy breathing, painful moaning and the occasional tactical vomit ensued. The car could barely move in the swampy ruins and most people simply left their tents at the campsite amongst the various wet remnants. When we eventually arrived back home, we looked like we had been dragged through a war zone. The precarious festival culture is not limited simply to Northern Bass as it is only New
Zealand’s second-most notorious music festival, while it sits in the shadow of the infamous fiveday Rhythm and Vines. Recalling her experience there, a friend of mine Shams says that she started drinking at 8am. “All I ate the first day was a banana, which I threw up. We tripped on acid for five days in a row,” she mentions. “I accidentally did two tabs on the first night because I thought I had spat one out, but later I realized it was in my mouth the whole time and I was too fucked up to realize that initially. So I ended up doing two and having an insane trip.” After destroying ourselves to such an extent, it begs the question, why do we opt for this rather than having a normal, one-night party in the safety of our hometown? Going to a music festival can be like leaving reality behind for several days. The clock stops and all responsibilities are put on hold. Most people simply let their phone die as contact with the outside world fades away rapidly. The culture that surrounds it is intriguing and captivating. Moreover, going to a New Years festival in a country like New Zealand or Australia has almost become a rite of passage for students. My festival experience taught me some important things: 1. Hangovers only hurt when you refrain from drinking the following day. 2. Attending a music festival for more than three days means you’ll inevitably destroy your body. The best thing to do is to not think about it and just embrace the experience. 3. We made it out alive, and that’s an achievement itself. Surviving Northern Bass together brought us significantly closer. Despite my sore legs, my sunburnt face, my damaged liver and my empty wallet, I’m glad I went and gave it go. I’m glad I did it because if I didn’t, I would be spending the rest of my university years living with a deep curiosity and unsatisfied intrigue into what this disturbingly appealing deal with the devil actually involves.
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by Shannon Ly
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E S S AY
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P OE TRY
Old Bones by Ed Jessop
She was his Delilah: his blue-eyed blonde haired beauty. She’d only recently moved in with him, and while she had taken to waking Him up with kisses, He was busy making a habit of softly singing Queen’s Delilah to her as she fell asleep. Often, He would cup her head in both hands and pour Himself into the pools of her eyes. He would whisper – seemingly to Himself – how He loved her. He went to work each weekday and would often be reminded of her by the golden hairs which managed to cling to the folds of His shirt. He thought of her: His archaeologist beauty,
and what findings she would surprise Him with when he came home. Perhaps it would be another old Pokémon card, a chipped red monopoly hotel, or a stuffed toy He’d loved as a kid but had long since forgotten.
She would listen quietly as usual, wonder bright within her eyes. She loved that each new item she brought Him would illicit a different response: a smile, a story. She eagerly dug deeper. Mid-August, her latest discovery had been a luminescent rib – too thick to be avian, yet too fragile for anything of agriculture. This time she watched as the landscape of His face grew cloudy shaded by shadows of concealed storms. this time there was no smile
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and He didn’t even let her keep it for fear of her pearly white teeth. she scoured the garden more often
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she resurfaced and other such
s m a t t e r i n g s of fallen freckles whispers of old .
by september steadily
her collection had doubled increasing with every
birds could have nested in
thefirstfriday of that same month he arrived home
bristled toothbrush discarded jewellery box and a new pair of tiny socks so small that baby
early from work
walking up the garden path he st umbled on the bro ken earth confused He looked around Him noticing for the first time how the yard had been the once trimmed carpet of lawn was now
when He finally opened the front door
she stood in front of Him peering at Him He could barely see
a pockmarked planet streaked red and sore by the emptying sun
He was greeted as always by delilah with proud eyes her behind
the walled plethora of antiquities
she had p iled at His feet
there were no headheldIloveyous
Instead the golf-torn turf was filled in : crevices were covered with golden hair, a broken houseshaped kennel, and the dirt was watered flat with pools of deep blue .
he fell asleep singing the lyrics of Queen â€“ seemingly to himself.
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F I C TI ON
Amidst Apples and Thyme by Katherine Mitula
midst apples and thyme, I look into the past and I remember. I remember happier times, times that made me laugh and dance and smile with joy. I remember the times of grief, of fear, of pain, which fill my heart with darkness. Times that truly made me understand what it is to feel alive. I kneel at the foot of the grave, and let my mind be consumed. There was once a boy. A man, he must be, now. A man with his life ahead of him and a future of all he could dream of. He was sickly, weak. His father came to me for help, for I was the foremost healer in the big city. I could have refused, for even then, I was not as young as I once was, and my back ached fiercely, as if it was reminding me of my old age. I had retired from practicing three years before; I had no obligation to respond to any pleas for medical assistance anymore. But the desperation in the man’s eyes convinced me, and I agreed to help him. Now the boy is a renowned architect with a sweetheart he loves more than life itself.
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How strange it is that our actions and choice can have such an impact on the world. If not for my healing of him, he would never have survived to adulthood to realise his calling and follow his dreams. The world would be lacking half the memorable buildings which now litter the earth, proud and unyielding, a symbol of international unity. I sit on the ground and dream of flying. I have never flown before, and I don’t think I ever will. Flight is for those of the future; I belong with the past, and the horse-carriages and steam-boats which carried us from one destination to the next. It was by boat that I was brought to the land in which I dwell now, the land which I choose to call home. If I had been carried by the air it would have taken mere hours; as it was, it took months. Months of tedium and endless ocean, my mind enduring only with the knowledge of the end of the journey, the bright land to which I sailed with its promise of safety and a new beginning. Beside me stood my husband, my dear husband who endured so much in the motherland and chose to be by my side as I undertook this final, life-altering journey into the unknown. I left my homeland behind me knowing that I would never see my parents or sisters or brothers again in this lifetime. I have no regrets, for there I have lived peacefully and happily with my husband and my children, who I value with my life. From the occasional letter, I knew that my parents and siblings yet lived, and that was enough for me. I had my own life to lead, and though they would always be in my heart I could not let myself crumble with fear or worry for them, not when I must be strong for my children. Now, my husband is dead, taken from me by the ravages of consumption. I sit by his grave, and ponder. Was it his fate, to end this way? Was it what God meant for him? I do not think I’ll ever know. All I know is that there is a hole in my heart that was not there before, and if it weren’t for my children I would feel well and truly alone. I sit by my husband’s grave, and dream that he is there beside me, smiling at me and holding out his hand. I reach out and take it, and feel the life-giving warmth of it. Together we stand, and walk, away from the apples and the scent of thyme which still lingers in my nostrils, and away from the tombstone of death. I close my eyes as the brilliant light tenderly envelops me, and smile.
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JK Dress-up by Jemma Cakebread
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