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The student magazine of Victoria University, Wellington

volume

74

issue

09

may

09

2011

salient.org.nz


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Salient Vol. 74

contents The Regular Bits Editorial 3 Ngāi Tauira 6

er! n Twitt We’re o agazine! tm @salien

News 7 LOL News 12 The Week That Wasn’t

13

Overheard @ Vic

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Notices 43 Letters 44 Puzzles 46 Comics 47 Faces to Deface 48

The Features What is Death, and What is Life, Anyway?

16

Why You Need to Learn About Science

18

Why Vision is the Bomb-Diggity

20

Psychology: A Science

22

Real-Life Mad Scientists

24

The Laws of Attraction

26

What it’s Like to be an Engineering Student at Vic

27

How Science Can Help The Average Alex

28

Something in the Water...

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The Columns VUWSA President 4 VUWSA Exec 5 Politics with Paul

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Local Politics: Kate Follows Celia

15

Animal of the Week

31

Student Health Services

32

Laying Down The Law

33

I Am Offended Because...

34

Peas & Queues

34

Ask Constance 35

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e thi Revie s w Golde s of Prince week! n Lo Qu Book, Scr ss Chelsea e Hay e ’s (We A am 4 and S Lil’ re Wh omo Barne a t We A y re)! New Z Chunn ask ealand s—wh a M usic M t does Flo W onth d ilson o? Orche aims her Sp stra o otligh f Sphe t at res!

Beer Will Be Beer

42

Lovin' From The Oven

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The Arts Film 36 Theatre 37 Books 38 Games 39 Music 40 VIsual Arts 41


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Issue 9 Science

The Team

Editors: Uther Dean and Elle Hunt editor@salient.org.nz

News Editor: Hannah Warren news@salient.org.nz Chief Reporter: Natalie Powlesland natalie@salient.org.nz Feature Writer: Selina Powell selina@salient.org.nz Feature Writer: Zoe Reid zoe@salient.org.nz Chief Sub-Editor: Carlo Salizzo carlo@salient.org.nz

editorial

Designer: Dan Hutchinson designer@salient.org.nz

Online Editor: James Hurndell james@salient.org.nz Arts Editors: Louise Burston and Blair Everson arts@salient.org.nz

Contributors

Hayley Adams, Sally Anderson, Grace Binnie, Stella Blake-Kelly, Seamus Brady, Zoe Brass, Michael Boyes, Dave the Beer Guy, David Burr, Claire Cheng, Barney Chunn, Jackson Coe, Paul Comrie-Thompson, Constance Cravings, Martin Doyle, Judah Finnigan, Sonia Fyson, Ally Garrett, Jason Govenlock, William David Guzzo, Ryan Hammond, Bridie Hood, Ashleigh Hume, Connie Hutchinson, Russ Kale, Robyn Kenealey, Tania Jacob, Ryan Johnson, Sarita Lewis, Vera Lingonis, Barbara Lyndsell, Renee Lyons, Sean Manning, Raquel Marty, Callum McDougal, Gabrielle Mentjox, Sam Northcott, Angharad O’Flynn, Kate Pike, Adam Poulopoulos, Meredith Price, Tom Reed, Conrad Reyners, Chris Salter, Fairooz Samy, Geraint Scott, The Science Society, Auntie Sharon, Amy Shepherd, Bruno Shirley, Romany TaskerPoland, Vince Timmo, Lance Tollenaar, Mark Turner, Varun Venkatesh, Ian Walsh, Edward Warren, Weka and Kiwi of the Kahui Manu, Flobots Wilson, Angus Winter, Nicola Wood and Ben Wylie-van Eerd.

Contributor of the week:

The Science Society, in particular William David Guzzo. In Uther’s words, “We should give mad props to those peops. They’re sweet as.” Honorable mentions must go to Morgan Ashworth and Angus Winter.

About Us

Salient is produced by independent student journalists, employed by, but editorially independent from, the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA). Salient is a member of, syndicated and supported by the Aotearoa Student Press Association (ASPA). It is printed by APN Print of Tauranga. Opinions expressed are not necessarily representative of those of ASPA, VUWSA, Printcorp or Novartis, makers of Habitrol nicotine gum, lozenges and patches, but we of Salient are proud of our beliefs and take full responsibility for them.

Contact

VUWSA Student Media Centre Level 3, Student Union Building Victoria University PO Box 600, Wellington Phone: 04 463 6766 Email: editor@salient.org.nz

Advertising

Contact: Howard Pauling Phone: 04 463 6982 Email: sales@vuwsa.org.nz

Other

Subscriptions: Too lazy to walk to uni to pick up a copy of your favourite mag? We can post them out to you for a nominal fee. $40 for Vic student, $55 for everyone else. Please send an email containing your contact details with ‘subscription’ in the subject line to editor@salient.org.nz This issue is dedicated to Keith Ng, without whom, Salient wouldn’t exist. Ever.

Science nt with a ta r o p Im t. n ta or Science is imp Neil Gaiman capital ‘I’. us, e big, pretentio questions as w on the wrong

Elle & Uther

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Columns

Salient Vol. 74

PREZ COL

no.10.o.

president@vuwsa.org.nz vuwsa.org.nz facebook.com/vuwsa

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Seamus Brady

Over the last few days, you might have seen the Wellington Public Transport Tertiary Student Price Petition circulating around Facebook. Long title aside, its message is simple: it’s time to implement fair fares for students. Public transport for students has long been an important issue for VUWSA. Last year, we submitted to the Greater Wellington Regional Council on the document that will ultimately guide the provision of public transport services across the Wellington region. We help students with classes on multiple campuses with free bus tickets and we have lobbied hard to ensure that the service survives in the face of Snapper, despite some initial reluctance from Go Wellington. The crux of our submission was that tertiary students should have access to concession fares. Based on research we conducted we argued that as a group, we clearly met the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s criteria for fare assistance. Students are people who are ‘transport disadvantaged’, based on our age, average level of incomes, access to vehicles, and distance from education. I agree it’s not helpful to demand “student fares full stop”, but it isn’t our responsibility to provide the Regional Council with a solution. That’s what we elect them to do. Our responsibility is to always highlight why the cost of public transport is such an issue for students, and how it will benefit the city. Many cities, including those with far more complex transport networks than the Wellington region, have concession fares for tertiary students. This is something the Regional Council should aspire to emulate. Palmerston North has free public transport for students, while those in Auckland enjoy a 40% discount. That’s phenomenal; we should best it or at least try to match it. Sadly, the Regional Council don’t seem willing to find that solution. They’ve effectively given up, claiming that there is “no political will” to act. Imagine the “political will” they’d suddenly find if there were planning on scrapping children’s fares, or those for the elderly. Or even if they were standing on a crowded Number 18 as it speeds its way up Salamanca Road on its way to early morning classes. Students are less likely to reside with their parents and to have access to a vehicle; they are also the most likely

to heavily rely on public transport to access education or employment. Combine this with the fact that the student demographic is incredibly socially mobile and you can see the glaring problem. What makes this an easy issue for the Regional Council to ignore is that they don’t see it as issue. Unlike fares for school kids and the elderly, there is no alliance of soccer mums and dads or Grey Power calling for change and consistently voting in local body elections. Imagine the outrage (and electoral backlash) if they got rid those concession fares! VUWSA and the University will continue to fight to get the Regional Council to see sense on this issue. We’ll keep you posted with developments with the Regional Council, but in the mean time, give them a piece of your mind, either through the Facebook page or by email. If you want to read our submission, you can find it on our website and our Facebook page, or flick me an email. See you, Seamus Brady


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Issue 9 Science

Vice Prez (Education)

Queer Officer

Bridie Hood

Tom Reed

Oh science—definitely one of the more exciting subjects I took at high school. Fire, sheep hearts, that really graphic documentary that shows close-up a baby escaping from its mothers womb—what’s not to love? My favourite memory involves my fourth-form science teacher Mrs Hepburn almost setting the classroom on fire when she decided to show us what happens when magnesium and water mixed. Mrs Hepburn cut the piece of magnesium (at least, I’m pretty sure it was magnesium) a little bit too big, so when it came into contact with the water, a giant flame spurted up and the roof caught on fire a little bit. Panic ensued for several seconds, but luckily, the fire did not catch and the roof was just a little singed. Fair to say, Mrs Hepburn was a bit too nervous to perform any more experiments inside the class room. While I have several more humorous anecdotes I could share about Mrs Hepburn with you all, I should probably move onto matters of slightly more substance.

With Don Brash as the newly appointed ACT Party leader, the not-unreasonable goal of social equality may have just become a bit less attainable for New Zealand’s LGBT citizens. Don Brash voted against civil unions in 2004 and supported the Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill in 2005. There are furthermore talks of John Banks running for the Epsom Electorate under the ACT Party banner. Banks is undoubtedly a bigot—as an elected representative of National, he voted against the Homosexual Law Reform Act in 1986 and against the Human Rights Act of 1993. For a party that in its own words holds itself up as liberal, this is more than a little disappointing. Not only does this mean that there is less political representation for the issues of queer-minded Kiwis, but voters now face an ultimatum between economic preference and civil rights. Without a viable socially liberal alternative for people who support right wing economics, voting just became a much more limited experience. Those for whom gay rights are a priority may have to think twice about voting for an economically conservative party. There is a strong need for the youth wing of the ACT party to strongly voice its concerns about the social conservatism that seems to be taking over the party. With the National Party having never taken causes of equality for queer voters seriously, many people are left in a situation where they are forced to chose between their beliefs regarding the economy or their civil rights! On a less political note (well sort of... everything I say is political), UniQ has recently elected their new executive. UniQ is a social/support group for all queer students at Vic and their friends. They have numerous social gatherings and even put on really cool parties throughout the year. So if you are not on their email list, make sure to contact them at uniqvictoria@gmail.com Finally, a big thank you to all the organisers and volunteers who helped make Pink Shirt Day at Vic Uni a massive success. For those who missed it, Pink Shirt Day is a day where people wear pink to show their support against bulling. We had a team of volunteers who spent part of the day getting people to sign letters to John Key which stated that more needed to be done in schools to prevent the bulling of queer students. We had over 1650 students sign the letter, so well done!

VUW Policy Reviews Victoria currently has several policies up for review and of particular importance is the ‘Student Workload policy’. This is the policy that deals with issues around student (and staff ) workload at the University and sets up guidelines and rules regarding determination of workload, assessment, extensions and the monitoring of workloads. As always, VUWSA is keen to hear what students’ thoughts are about policy issues such as these, so if this is something that interests you, give me an email and we can discuss it further. Or else hopefully your Class Rep will be putting a link up on Blackboard for you to fill out.

Campus Angels Campus Angels has started up again for 2011. This is a service provided to students by students. If you are leaving the campus late at night and feel uncomfortable walking around in the dark by yourself, one of our Campus Angles can help you. They operate at Kelburn, Pipitea and Te Aro Campuses. Check out the VUWSA website for more information. This is my last column for this trimester, so good luck to you for the rest of Trimester 1! Hopefully I’ll see a lot of you at Stress Free Study Week Breakfasts! And as always, if you have any questions feel free to give me an email. <3 Bridie evp@vuwsa.org.nz

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y tip: ’s stud Bridie tion rastina w proc g science e n a Need ? Watchin Tube is d metho ents on You I have experimfantastic. As g this totally ut by writin o found column!

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Tom Reed queer.officer@vuwsa.org.nz

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Salient Vol. 74

NgÄ i Tauira

We are fated to be scrutinised by Western science which strives to apply labels to the phenomenon that is indigenous knowledge

Maori & Science Weka and Kiwi of the Kahui Manu

Maori and science have a systemic history that is linked by virtue of our ancestorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; knowledge. This knowledge of the various roles that the elements play to create the world around us has been passed down from generation to generation. From understanding the movement of the tides through to celestial navigation, the application of traditional medicine through to understanding the link between the physical and the spiritual, our people and their traditional houses of learning were very apt at deconstructing the world around

The Met Shop Science weather and unusual gifts

OPEN 7 DAYS

We sell test tubes, petri dishes, magnets, optics

Student discount for science instruments 5 Swan Lane, Cuba ST

them and explaining the connection. Yet we are constantly researched, our values constantly questioned, and our knowledge seem invalid until proven under Western theory. Often such construction is made to the detriment of the holistic virtues of the Maori knowledge. Science has become a dominant global knowledge system and has often been accused of intolerance towards other persuasions. If a conclusion cannot be supported by empirical evidence, if practice is not evidence based, or if there is an inability to replicate results, then validity is in doubt. Method is all-important and objective measurement is the final arbiter. Systems of knowledge that do not subscribe to scientific principles are afforded lesser status and, if given any recognition at all, run the risk of being rationalised according to scientific principles. (Semali & Kincheloe, 1999) The above quote highlights the somewhat indifference that was afforded to indigenous knowledge by those of the more mainstream thought. Yet as indigenous people having been empowered by the knowledge of our customs and traditions, we are fated to be scrutinised by Western science which strives to apply labels to the phenomenon that is indigenous knowledge. This has often led to so-called discoveries that whilst much hyped in journals, and commercially exploited, to many indigenous people it has been a standard practice for many thousands of years. Take the example of rongoa, the use of native fauna and flora to suppress and cure ailments. Such use of basic oil strains are a natural and well-developed process for Maori. To others, it is a wonder drug hyper-manufactured by some drug company that bring you the knowledge for the betterment of you, mostly in the form of a pill or a bottle. The holistic connection to the source of the treatment is lost in translation. The fact that nature provided the remedy is ignored once you have the cure.

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Issue 9 Science

the news

Undergrads Under Review NATALIE POWLESLAND

Undergraduate degrees at Victoria University are set to be put under the microscope as the university embarks on an unprecedented review of its programmes. The review is intended to improve the entire undergraduate experience at Victoria by creating a strategic vision and direction. Over the next two years, faculties and schools will review all Victoria undergraduate degrees in terms of a series of key issues. The process will include significant student involvement. “The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) has openly said she wants student consultation,” said VUWSA Education Organiser Fiona Beals. “Students can have a say and see the benefits while they are still at university.” It is hoped the review will create an undergraduate curriculum which improves student education and experience and enhances the reputation of Victoria. “This is an exciting time. It is our chance to transform undergraduate degrees,” said Beals. The review will include consideration of a number of issues which have arisen in overseas university reviews. One idea is the broadening of general education requirements within degrees. This would require students to take courses outside of their chosen major and increase the diversity of their degree. A key motivation for the review is the increasingly difficult funding environment universities are forced to work in.

Financing of tertiary education has been in the spotlight in recent years due to funding caps and decreased government funding. Government funding per student in New Zealand has continuously fallen over the last two decades. In 2007 universities received $230m less per year in government funding than they would have under the funding levels of the 1990s. The funding context will change again in 2013 when the government’s performance-based funding is introduced. This will see university funding based partially on student performance. The plan for implementing the findings of the review will begin this December.

It is hoped the review will create an undergraduate curriculum which improves student education and experience and enhances the reputation of Victoria The Issues Undergraduate degrees will be reviewed against a series of key issues: • Maintaining focused high-quality degrees • Integrating research into learning to develop student research skills; • Creating a balance within degrees between specialist disciplines and general education; • Encouraging deeper learning through assessment; • Promoting broad education through internships, exchanges and volunteer work.

salient.org.nz


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Salient Vol. 74

Staff Hidey-Hole Not So Private Hannah Warren The official opening of Milk & Honey, the new on-campus staff and grad club, was held last month, with all staff and post-graduate students invited. The brainchild of San Francisco Bathhouse owner Tim Ward, the new bar and restaurant sits opposite vicbooks underneath the Rankine Brown Library, and is restricted to staff and post-graduate students. It replaces the previous staff club, Premise, which was found on the third floor of the library. At the opening event, Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh spoke about the history of the staff club, his own memories of Premise, and his hopes that Milk and Honey would play just as important a role in the lives of academics, staff and post-graduates in the future. President of the Staff Club and Management Information Analyst Kevin Duggan also spoke, praising the finished result of the bar. Students have raised concerns about the opening of Milk & Honey. Several undergraduate students have expressed annoyance that a new bar, to which they are denied access, has been established in such a central part of campus. “It’s pretty lame, being an undergrad and knowing straight away that you’re already kept out... I hope it doesn’t recieve any support from VUWSA or anything that my money goes to,” wrote Ben Deeble on Facebook. Fellow undergrad Richard Gordon agreed that it was unfair. “It’s not like we have an undergrad-only bar or bookstore. Why should there be a cafe discriminating on what level university student you are? Seems a bit stink.” Post-graduates are equally concerned about the location, worrying that, since it is in such a central part of campus, it will be impossible to keep undergraduates out. “I’ve been in there a few times and haven’t seen too many obvious undergraduates in there, but I think, especially with the lame little sign, now that they know it exists it’s going to get harder to keep it just for us,” said an Honours student. Campus Services Director Jenny Bentley points out that a staff club is not a new concept. “There has been a staff cafe and bar on Kelburn campus since 1965... There is a wide range of food options on campus for students and the Hunter Lounge offers a fantastic bar and music venue.” Milk & Honey is currently open from 7am for breakfast and lunch, while an evening meal is on offer from Wednesday to Friday. In the near future, Milk & Honey hopes to open on the weekend for brunch and to be available as a function venue. Louis’, a fast-food kiosk and convenience store next door to Milk & Honey, will be opening its doors soon and will be available to all students and staff.


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Issue 9 Science

HE’S MAKING A LIST... Stella Blake-Kelly

Students achieving academic excellence at Victoria University will soon get formal recognition. The Heads of Faculty in each school are set to make lists of their outstanding students. The Dean’s List, to be published annually, will acknowledge student’s achievement and success in undergraduate degree programmes. It will also be recorded in the awards section of academic transcripts. To be eligible for the list, students must obtain a grade point average (GPA) of at least 7.5 across a minimum of 100 points. This must be done during the period beginning trimester three the previous year and ending at the conclusion of trimester two to qualify for that year’s list.

The policy has been welcomed by VUWSA President Seamus Brady. “As soon as Victoria began to discuss having a Dean’s List, VUWSA representatives spoke in support

The policy has been welcomed by VUWSA President Seamus Brady. “As soon as Victoria began to discuss having a Dean’s List, VUWSA representatives spoke in support. It’s a great initiative and now undergraduates who achieve well will be officially recognised.”

Concerns have been raised about the process, as Deans have the discretion to exclude students from the list despite meeting the criteria. However Victoria University Senior Academic Policy Advisor Jenny Christie said “this only applies in certain cases, such as for students found guilty of academic misconduct.” Seamus has called for accountability around the decision, as the university is not required to give a reason for exclusion. “We do understand that this will be a rare occurrence, but if it does happen, we want the student affected to be able to ask why without having to make a formal appeal. The University has acknowledged this need and has asked Deans to note the need for some form of record keeping.” The Dean’s List will apply to all faculties, with the exception of the New Zealand School of Music. As the list occurs annually, most students will have at least three opportunities during their undergraduate study to be included.

Vic ‘rings’ up legal fees Angharad O’Flynn Last month Victoria University reached a settlement with ex-Victoria student Brittany Bell. She has been allowed to graduate with First Class Honours in a Bachelor of Design Degree after a three-year battle against the institution over allegations of plagiarism in 2008 which saw her before a disciplinary committee. The University’s Disciplinary Appeals Committee believed Bell should have failed her final design paper, which would force her to spend another semester at university, as a result of the allegations. She appealed the ruling, stating that she attached the required referencing to the back of her final assignment so therefore did not plagiarise other people’s work. The Committee stayed their decision and in 2010 Bell took Victoria University to court. Justice Denis Clifford decided in her favour for reconsideration after ruling that the University’s Disciplinary Appeal Committee failed to give reasons for finding the plagiarism intentional, failed to take into account the referencing Bell included on her assignment and failed to let Bell respond to the allegations of intentional plagiarism. During this time, Bell went back to Victoria University to study before accepting a job with Weta Digital. Victoria University had no comment on the cost of the court case or whether any changes would be made to the grievance process, only saying that “the parties have settled and Ms Bell has completed the requirements for the Bachelor of Design degree, with First Class Honours.”

Victoria Wins At Science Hannah Warren Victoria University is one of the top 200 universities in the world for health science, according to the QS World University Rankings. QS is an international network which ranks universities based on their subject. Five other New Zealand universities were included on the list, which comprised universities from 11 countries. Victoria was ranked between 101 and 150 for psychology and between 151 and 200 for biological sciences. Auckland University was the top New Zealand university, ranking 27th in psychology and 39th in biological sciences and medicine. Harvard University was ranked top in the world for health science. salient.org.nz


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Salient Vol. 74

Medal Winners Gold • Ultimate Frisbee • Woman’s Basketball • Table Tennis Doubles • Debating • Team Epee (Fencing) • Individual Epee (Fencing) – William Bishop (also our Commonwealth games fencer)

VIC MAKES WAVES AT UNI GAMES

Silver • Team Foil (Fencing) • Karate Kumite – Edward Marshall • Individual Epee (Fencing) – William Braddell

Bronze • Netball • Cross Country – Thomas Banda

Adam Poulopoulos

Last week the 2011 ‘Super City Uni Games’ were held in Auckland in the 109th instalment of New Zealand’s premier University sporting event. It was a host city one-two with Auckland University winning the coveted shield and AUT claiming second. Victoria secured third spot, and the green and yellow army provided many sporting highlights for the University. Vic took an early lead in the shield race with victory in debating, winning the event for a staggering 13th consecutive year. Other gold medals were accrued by a dominant women’s basketball team, the table tennis doubles team, the fencers, who returned with medals in four different events, and the ultimate team, who triumphed over Canterbury in an epic final played in atrocious conditions. VUWSA president Seamus Brady was understandably delighted with Vic’s performance. “On behalf of VUWSA I want to give a huge thanks to all of the participants, the administrators and to our Team Manager, Melissa Barnard who held things together.” He said. By all accounts, the games were not as ruckus as those of 2009, the last time we won the shield—but it is safe to say Vic athletes went hard on and off the field. The men’s’ basketball team hazed their newbies by making them do undie runs, while several athletes turned up to one morning of the games shirtless. The team is also rumoured to have incited a whopping 42 noise complaints on one night of the games.

Cheap fares for students or bust! Ben Hague A Facebook petition is demanding half price fares for Wellington tertiary students using public transport. “Most uni/polytech students are poor ‘cause they have no time to get a job around study”, says the administrator of the page, Simon Hulse. Wellington is one of the few cities with a large student population that doesn’t offer any concessions. Auckland students get up to 40% off the adult fare, and people studying in Palmerston North get free bus rides. “Things like this are great and will prove Regional Council wrong when they say there is no political will…to create more equitable fares for tertiary students,” says VUWSA President Seamus Brady. So far the page has over 3000 ‘Likes’. Hulse plans to bring the total number of ‘Likes’ to the council on 1 July. “Everyone who likes the page will be counted like a signature on a normal paper petition,” Hulse claims. Some have criticised the use of Facebook as a platform for a serious campaign. “I believe you [the Facebook petition] are the victim of a paradox,” said student Tam Irvine. “You cannot start a petition on facebook and then claim to be serious about your cause.” Students qualify as being ‘transport disadvantaged’ according to VUWSA. They “should be considered with a fare schedule that recognises their dependence on public transport, their unique financial and living situations and their frequent use.”


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Issue 9 Science

WIKILEAKS NATALIE POWLESLAND

Issues surrounding New Zealand’s recent Copyright (Infringing and File Sharing) Act have become murkier since it was revealed the United States lobbied the government to enact it. The controversial whistle-blowing site, Wikileaks, released cables which passed between the U.S and New Zealand on the issue. A United States cable from February 2008, when the Labour-led Government was passing its equivalent of the current Act, suggests such lobbying.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat... Angharad O’Flynn Over Easter weekend the New Zealand University Rowing Championships were held at Lake Karapiro. The sixty-strong Victoria University Rowing Club gained second place overall for the first time in four years. Otago University were the overall winners and Waikato University took the presitgious Hebberly Shield. Noteable results included James Hunter and Luke Watts’ first place in the Men’s Intermediate double-scull and second in the Men's Champ double; Geo Rodie’s third in the Women's Champ single; Luke Watts’ second in the Men's Champ single; and the Intermediate women’s photo finish for the four person coxed quad race. Other achievements were the adddition of Luke Watts and Jamie Hunter to the New Zealand University mens lightweight crew and Geo Rodie to the women's crew. They are the first VURC members to be selected in four years. Team member Paul Ranier was enthusiastic about the weekend’s results.

The cable states the U.S “presented the list of noted shortfalls in the draft legislation to Minister Tizard (Consumer Affairs), Minister Goff (Trade) and to officials within the Ministry of Economic Development.”

"The weekend was a great success for Vic Rowing. It's a great feeling to be back in the number two spot behind Otago. Given their professional setup, the results are all thanks to our volunteer coaches and executive. I think we can also be very proud of our NZ Uni Trans Tasman athletes.”

The government later decided to scrap the requirement for Internet Service Providers to cut users’ internet access after three An April 2005 infringements due to public cable reveals the opposition. A cable from U.S. willingness April 2009 shows the U.S was anxious to bring the to pay over provisions back proposing NZ$500,000 to talks with government fund a recording officials and offers to help drafting new provisions. industry

He extended thanks to the team's volunteer coaches Tim Wilson, Greg Bryce, Sarah Clare, Paul Moreno, Michelle Munro and the Victoria University Rowing Club executive.

enforcement initiative.

The U.S offered to “possibly help with drafting and as a public diplomacy tool to dispel public misperceptions about proper role of IPR [intellectual property rights] protection,” the cable states. U.S influence dates even further back. An April 2005 cable reveals the U.S. willingness to pay over NZ$500,000 to fund a recording industry enforcement initiative. This funding was to include four salaried positions, legal costs for investigation and prosecution, and training programs. The project was backed by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society. The Copyright Act was passed by Parliament under urgency last month. It aims to prevent internet file sharing and protect intellectual property rights.

Campus Angels: Full Throttle Ian Walsh The Angels are back! As Wellington becomes colder, darker and generally more miserable, the VUWSA Campus Angels have returned to provide a bright, safe light for our potentially perilous journeys home. The Campus Angels provide a free service that sees trained students walk other students to their home, the nearest bus stop or safety point. Although many students say they have never used them and don’t even know where to find them, the students who use them have only praise for the service. “I used Campus Angels a number of times last year, mostly around the mid-year exam period when I was studying in the library until it closed and, it being winter, it was dark and nobody would be around if I walked home. “Without Campus Angels, I would never have stayed at uni to study after dark. Even though Kelburn’s a relatively nice area, as a young woman I don’t feel safe walking home alone at night, so it was good to have someone who could walk with me... I definitely think that Campus Angels is a worthwhile service offered by VUWSA,” student Morgan Ashworth said. The Angels are available to accompany students for a maximum 30 minute return journey during the following hours: Kelburn: Central Library, Level 2 Monday – Thursday 7.30pm – 10.30pm Pipitea: Law School Library, Monday – Thursday, 7.30pm – 10.30pm Te Aro: Foyer, Tuesday – Thursday 8.00pm – 11.00pm

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Salient Vol. 74

Student Job Search Found!

It was on Mount Street the whole time... Ian Walsh Looking for a job in these hard economic times has just become easier with the relocation of Student Job Search (SJS) back onto the Kelburn campus. With an aim “to make students hot property”, SJS is a free employment service with “29 years of experience at bringing employers and students together”. Their new location is in the old Student Accommodation office on Level Two of the Student Union Building. The part-owned VUSWA organisation no longer requires the copious space of their old office on 15 Mount Street. VUWSA President Seamus Brady praised the move. “For many students, having a job is essential in order to study, and in ensuring they have better employment opportunities when they graduate... I’m extremely pleased that they will once again be back in the Student Union Building providing Victoria students with this vital service”. The new office will be fully operational on Monday 16th May.

KEEP IT 18 NICOLA WOOD Politicians from across the spectrum have pledged their support for a student petition against raising the alcohol purchase age. The MPs joined students from the Keep It 18 campaign to launch a nationwide petition at Parliament last Tuesday. Nikki Kaye (National), Trevor Mallard (Labour), Gareth Hughes (Green) and Heather Roy (ACT) will present the signatures gathered to their colleagues in Parliament. “If someone can be elected to Parliament, get married, or join the army, they they should be able to buy a bottle of wine,” says Kaye, who has indicated she will move an amendment to the government's Alcohol Reform Bill to keep the age at 18. The Bill currently recommends a split purchase age of 18 for bars and clubs but 20 for supermarkets and liquor stores. Other MPs are likely to move amendments to raise both ages to 20. Former Education Minister Trevor Mallard feels youth are being unfairly targeted while real issues are not being addressed. “To say 18 year olds aren't allowed alcohol because some business people don't fulfil their obligations and check ages is, in my opinion, a cop-out” he says. Keep It 18 activist Peter McCaffrey says the group—made up of representatives from the youth wings of ACT, the Greens, Labour and National—is optimistic about the response they will receive given almost 18,000 people have joined their Facebook page so far. The petition is online: keepit18.org.nz /petition. Students can also show their support on Facebook: facebook.com/keepit18.

Edward Warren

The Strange Scent of Springtime In Dongyang, China, there is this really gross thing where they get prepubescent boys to piss into containers at their primary schools. The urine is then used to boil eggs according to a traditional recipe which are then sold for the equivalent of approximately 40 NZ cents. Many people in the town consider this a disgusting tradition, but some residents still see the springtime treat of urinesoaked eggs to represent “the joyous smell of spring”.

Former Stripper Tries To Ruin Pole-Dancing For Everyone The small, religious town of Spring, Texas, has recently received a new course at the local community centre: Crystal Deans’ Christian Women-Only Pole-Dancing Classes. The ex-stripper turned to the Lord after a rough patch in her life who told her that her purpose was to offer pole-dancing classes exclusively to Christian women, where they would all remain fully clothed and dance to Christian music only.

No Babies if you put it in the bum London charity, Marie Stopes International, is staunchly pro-choice and their key focus is promoting women’s right to choose abortion. Back in January however, an attempt at being fun and silly sparked some seriously negative criticism. The organisation, with local band The Midnight Beast, made a song and a music video suggesting that anal sex should be the contraceptive of choice for ladies. “One up the bum, and it’s no harm done/ One up the bum, and you won’t be a mum” are just two of many playful lines from the song.

Thief Bows to Bao In a Revenge of the Nerds-style victory back in March, Massachusetts student Mark Bao had his laptop stolen, but was quick to use his online backup service to access the hard drive of his laptop while the thief was using it. He discovered a video loaded onto the hard drive of a man, the presumed thief, dancing to a pop song. The video was then loaded onto YouTube along with an explanation of who he was, and after reaching 700,000 views the still-unidentified thief returned the laptop with an apology note, pleading with Mark to remove the video from YouTube.


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Issue 9 Science

c

y

Bla Bla Bla

Abuse From Middle-Aged Woman Yields Positive Result Jetstar “didn’t realize anyone was upset” Edward Warren Following a 12-hour delay in flights between Auckland and Wellington last week, during which Jetstar staff were pelted with abuse from angry customers, the budget airline have promised to “fix problems when they arise”, according to representative Cheryl Pimpernel. The delay began with a minor engine malfunction, which took five minutes in total to fix, but the great length of the whole delay was based on what Pimpernel describes as “just sort of mucking about” and “playing silly buggers”. “Yeah, you see, whenever there’s a delay we’re generally a bit relieved. It gives us a bit of a break where we can relax, but it’s never occurred to us that the delay actually might be causing the passengers a bit of upset. “Wednesday was the first time that a passenger has actually pointed out to me that in fact she had somewhere to be and would have preferred a slightly faster resolution. And, boy, did she tell me!” laughs Pimpernel. “Her raised voice and aggressive attitude really helped us sort out the situation.” The woman responsible for making Jetstar change their ways, 36-year-old business owner Shelley Kirby, was enraged that she would miss a lunch-date with her business partner in Auckland and verbally attacked Pimpernel calling her a “dumb whore” and claimed that “[she didn’t] think Jetstar was even trying to find a solution”. Kirby’s groundbreaking suggestion—that Jetstar should “just fix the problem”—has led to increased efficiency and a much higher level of customer satisfaction for Jetstar. Prior to these events, Pimpernel was oblivious to the fact that passengers do actually mind sitting around in an airport for hours, waiting to see if a plane would ever leave for their destination. Pimpernel contacted her superiors who immediately rectified the situation, thanked Kirby for her constructive criticism and vowed never to just piss about while they could just fix the plane. Since the events unfolded, Kirby has started a highly successful consulting agency, Common Sense, which offers business solutions for situations where businesses might not be acting as efficiently as possible. Kirby recommended that if her local ASB branch put more staff on throughout the day, lines would move faster and people’s banking wouldn’t take as long. Test results for Kirby’s theory remain inconclusive.

Email snippets of life at Vic to overheard@salient.org.nz, or find Overheard @ Vic on Facebook

the week that wasn’t

POLS 209 Lecturer: “Did anybody have any constructive criticism about the essay?” Student: “I found the essay question a bit vague.” Lecturer: “What question?” Student: “Exactly.” Zoe Brass First-year on the overbridge: “We must be above reproach!” Vera Lingonis Overheard on the fifth floor of the library: Student 1: “He just gave you his sex face.” Student 2: “I really hope that wasn’t your sex face.” Barbara Lyndsell Overheard on Level 1 of the Railway Wing: Student 1: “I got an A- in FCOM.” Student 2: “Who cares, everyone got an A- in FCOM.” Claire Cheng Overheard in Cotton: “Pondy has very fatherly feet— they’re not intimidating.” Connie Hutchinson PHIL 104 Lecturer on utilitarian ethics: “So, if you’re thinking about an action, and it would make you happy, but it would make 15 sheep very unhappy... then don’t do that. That’s not right.” Bruno Shirley PHIL 106 Lecturer: “I hardly ever get women jumping on me, let alone two at a time.” Grace Binnie GERM 217 Tutor: “So, he says he is going to...” Student: “...kill his goldfish and... bury it in the backyard?” Tutor: “Yes. He’s a rapper, so he’s violent. Let’s just go with it.” Vince Timmo Overheard on the fifth floor of the library: “Mar—is that the singular version of Mars?” Barbara Lyndsell Written in a MARK 202 textbook: “In summary, Freud definitely had issues.” Ashleigh Hume Art History Lecturer: “You know, I found out a while ago that the place down the road was a brothel, so I was asking everyone, ‘Did you know it was a brothel?’, to which everyone replied exasperatedly, ‘Oh yes, everyone knows that was a brothel’. Well, I didn’t.” Raquel Marty salient.org.nz


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Salient Vol. 74

Left. Right. Left. Right. Paul Comrie-Thomson, that is Last Wednesday evening, as I was writing this, Hone Harawira and Don Brash were having it out on TVNZ’s Close Up. While the ‘debate’ itself was largely incomprehensible, it was an interesting culmination of a week that has electrified the political landscape. Moreover, Harawira’s dismissal of the Maori Party as simply a “translation service” for National was one of the best one-liners to come out of the independent’s mouth, and alone made an otherwise painful confrontation bearable. It once again highlights Harawira’s dissatisfaction with the Maori Party’s performance in coalition with National. Certainly, Harawira’s new Mana Party will no doubt provide significant competition for the Maori vote. This will be the case whether Harawira runs candidates against the Maori Party or not. To be sure, outside of Te Tai Tokerau, the Mana Party is likely to be solely reliant on the party vote anyway. While a swing in the party vote will hurt the Maori Party, the real ‘victims’ are Labour and the Greens, who both rely on the party vote significantly more. With the Mana Party shaping up to be only partially “Treaty-based”, its radical-leftist agenda manifested in the involvement of Matt McCarten will no doubt pilfer valuable votes from Labour. However, Mana will probably affect the Greens the most, following that party’s move toward the centre, as exemplified by the absence of anyone with a background in worker or trade union issues at the top of their draft list. At the other end of the political spectrum, it looks as though ACT might finally be rejuvenated into a functioning party, with a consolidated caucus under the leadership of Don Brash. As ACT grows to be a perceptibly effective player, the party will no doubt look to effect some real influence over National. National haven’t put New Zealand through the huge economic reforms many on the right would like to see. Sure, Finance Minister Bill English adjusted the tax system to be consistent with a centre-right approach, but key Labour achievements such as KiwiSaver, Working For Families, and the interestfree student loan scheme have remained in place. Of course, the upcoming Budget will undoubtedly tinker with at least two of those three, but largely this National Government seems to be following the

kind of consolidation strategy that has characterised so many National administrations over the years. While National tends to prefer these kinds of incremental changes in the economy, Brash is a firm advocate of furthering the neoliberal agenda thrust upon New Zealand in the mid-1980s. Let’s face it, considering that (once again) Roger Douglas is leaving politics at the election, Brash truly is a perfect replacement: a septuagenarian throwback heralding an ideology that has long suffered from intellectual bankruptcy. What is most important here is that while a rejuvenated ACT will likely siphon off those voters who might have given National an absolute majority in November, a National-led Government is going to be able to get away with significantly more in the long-term in coalition with ACT. Brash isn’t Hide. He will make waves in government, primarily pushing the agenda outlined in the reports from his 2025 Task Force, as well as his strong belief in ‘One Law For All’. In terms of economic policy, Brash’s extremist position will allow Key, and, more importantly, the National front bench, to advance those unpopular policies that pander to the right, like asset sales, while dodging the repercussions by deflecting any criticism to coalition obligations with the ACT Party. No doubt, it’s these kinds of games that put many voters off MMP. Many voters find disturbing the extreme nature of these radical parties and the perceived influence they wield. However, this is what a democracy is all about, and the existence of strong ideologically driven parties on the left and the right should be celebrated. It provides voters with real choice and will no doubt boost voter turnout on Election Day. While Labour is languishing in the doldrums, and National is treating victory as a given, the existence of these parties on the extremes give voters some real choice. Because MMP affords these parties representation, dissatisfaction with centrist paths is indicated throughout the political term.

While a swing in the party vote will hurt the Maori Party, the real ‘victims’ are Labour and the Greens

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Columns

Issue 9 Science

Fudge the Budget Kate Pike

Wellington City Council’s Draft 2011/12 Annual Plan is out now! I know everyone’s super stoked and already read it all, like, three times over. It’s Celia’s first Annual Plan, so it’s quite understandable that you’re excited about it. But don’t worry if everyone around you can’t stop talking about it, when you haven’t even glanced at it yet. This column will give you a starting point to join the conversation. The Annual Plan outlines what WCC are doing and how it’s being paid for. Money collected comes mostly from rates. Further revenue is collected from user charges, property lease income, dividends, grants and government subsidies. Spending is split into operational and capital. Operational spending is planned at $366m. Apparently the economy’s still a bit shit, so ‘efficiencies’ are being adopted. Efficiencies make me think budget cuts, and my left-wing instinct comes out and I automatically think “no!”. $6m has been cut. All the operational cuts consist of just shaving bits off really. Examples include more efficient lawn mowing ($10k), reducing the grant to Wellington Sculpture Trust ($15k), and pest control monitoring reductions ($14k). Savings are also made by deferring a few projects, such as expanding the Biodiversity Action Plan ($14k), cutting down hazardous trees ($100k), and demolishing the jetty at Evans Bay ($100k). The cut that annoys me the most is the decreasing of Central Library weeknight opening hours from an 8.30pm to a 7pm close. This saves a measly $57,000 per year. To me, the library is a haven, and to cut its funding is a sin. It’s a fundamental part of the city, even until 8.30pm on a weekday. User charges have been increased for a whole bunch of services. Going against my natural reaction, I’m largely in support of this. For one, it means that if

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you use the service, you pay for it. This is good for me because I don’t use the services that are facing charge increases—swimming pools, recreation centres, building consents and inspections, among others. Despite these cuts to operational spending, capital expenditure is at $152m ($8m more than planned)—which is a little bit hypocritical, looking at the cuts they’re making elsewhere. What are they spending money on, you ask? Water infrastructure, housing developments (funded by central government mind), transport upgrades... the usual. Wellington City Councillor Iona Pannett acquired an extra 65 per cent for the Heritage Grants fund, bringing annual spending to $329k—which is a fair bit. All so rich people who own heritage homes can keep them looking good. $650,000 is being spent on a feasibility study for a new deep water pool at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre. I dislike feasibility studies in general—surely a company would give you a quote for free? So what am I going to do about the council cutting funding to the Library? I’m going to make a submission, because it’s only a draft plan at the moment. Submissions are open until this Thursday, 12 May. Productive procrastination FTW.

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Salient Vol. 74

What is death, & what is life, anyway? Zoe Reid

Life and death seem relatively clear cut initially. TV and movies tell us that the moment someone dies, the most authoritative person in the room knows. It all seems definite at the hospital, where death occurs when the machine makes the long beep noise. Could the beep machine be wrong? Sacrilege! Let’s start with life, then. We usually know when something is alive. It’s easy enough to know that my dog is still alive—I just prod her. It’s easy enough to know that the fly is still alive—it’s buzzing upside down on the flyswat. It’s easy enough to know when bacteria is still alive—it’s still flagella-ing its way across the petri dish. The Oxford English Dictionary seems to agree that life is: The condition that distinguishes animals, plants, and other organisms from inorganic or inanimate matter, characterized by continuous metabolic activity and the capacity for functions such as growth, development, reproduction, adaptation to the environment, and response to stimulation; (also) the activities and phenomena by which this is manifested. That is, any vital organs, whether they are simple tiny bacterial ribosomes or hearty elephant stomachs, work—or at least respond to stimulation. In addition to having functioning vital organs, living things actively use their organs: they consume nutrients, reproduce sexually, and respond to their environment. Consider someone like American woman Terri Schiavo, who was considered to be in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) many years before her feeding tube was removed, which in a legal sense ended her life. While in PVS, Terri could sustain her heartbeat and blood pressure unassisted, had impaired vision and could slightly move her limbs.

m with Even bacteriu k of ea no brain to sp city and a have the cap ation v apparent moti to function There were claims that her treatment progressed until she was able to say “yes”, “no”, and “stop that”, although for years afterwards, all reports indicated she would never improve from her serious brain damage. She even seemed to be able to communicate and respond to her environment. Terri’s body was able to fully function except chew and swallow, hence the feeding tube. There was, however, little to no chance Terri would ever recover to the point of conscious use of her body to feed, defecate, or even significantly move. Was Terri alive? Per this definition, no. She could function on a basic level, but had no capacity to do so. Even bacteria with no brain to speak of have the capacity and apparent motivation to function, in terms of moving towards food sources, acting in symbiotic relationships, etc. Are bacteria alive in the same sense a human is? Well, bacteria can die in the same sense as a human. How about a tree, or algae? Like humans and animals, plants grow; are able to maintain a food supply by growth or minor movement; reproduce; and respond and adapt to their environment. Plantlife can also be considered dead based on when it stops growing and maintaining its cells. Magnifying this back to animal and human life, if ‘thinking’ beings are considered dead once they cease being able to maintain their cells, people with brain damage, or otherwise unable to care for their life or death needs, are just as alive as an uprooted tree left on concrete.


Feature

Issue 9 Science

Currently, scientists are working on technology that would enable our brain function to fully recover from up to ten minutes without blood flow or oxygen

Alive—just no t for long, with out help. Is m capacity a need ental less requirem ent for life? Is uprooted tree our still alive if w e have to activ it maintain al ely help l of its vital fu nctions, all th Many say yes. e time? Steven Hawki ng, for one, w much take ex ould very ception to the implication th years ago. at he died It’s also worth noting that th e ‘right to life’ community vi ews when life begins and en the most optim ds in istic of ways. Right to Life N Zealand seem ew ingly even op poses abortifac Abortifacients ients. are any ‘contra ceptive’ device which stops a zygote—that is, a female’s eg has successful g which ly accepted sp erm and is grow and maintaini ing ng cells—from implanting its in a woman’s elf uterine wall, so the zygote live to become will not a baby. (In arou nd 50 per cent pregnancies, of the zygote will not absorb into wall regardle the cell ss; an abortifac ient will simpl this.) Technica y ensure lly, if an abor tifacient kills human being, a living then any preg nancy that mis even an unno carries— ticed one at a few days old— the death of a involves human being. The definition case would be in this that the zygote is alive as its ce are growing an lls d dividing, bu t the nourishm requires to co ent it ntinue living is not provided an adult would , much as die without fo od, water and Per this definiti shelter. on, a human un able to provid e for

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itself in the most rudimentary of ways is considered alive, so this view usually goes hand in hand with opposition to euthanasia. Doctors are consistently making breakthroughs to prolong life in humans, or to ensure our bodies recover from previously irrecoverable trauma. Currently, scientists are working on technology that would enable our brain function to fully recover from up to ten minutes without blood flow or oxygen, a feat which in part has led to many differing definitions of death. Death even comes under a number of different guises now: clinical death and legal death, with the most extreme now informationtheoretic death. Clinical death is when the body has no breath, heartbeat, or any external proof of life. Legal death may differ from country to country, but generally relates to the point at which a professional decides that an individual is deceased, and thus does not require further medical care. However, both of these definitions may not relate to irretrievable death. Many people can recover from their heart and breathing ceasing, depending on circumstances, and legal death is a legal term as opposed to a medical one. Information-theoretic death, however, is when there is no chance of a cognitive being ever being able to resume cognition, that is, any time after which the entire brain has either started to physically disintegrate or is otherwise destroyed. So, if my brain is stored in a vat for 50 years, after which cognition is resumed a la the Futurama cartoon, I have never undergone information-theoretic death. Really, what is dead and what is alive comes down to perspective with a hefty chunk of context weighted upon it. Cognition and consciousness will always be problematic, as while we can monitor brain activity, and compare it to brain activity of a thinking/moving person, this gives us only limited insight into how the brain functions. Any view of life and death relative to our ability to function is always problematic, as applying our views to other species, or in light of miraculous recoveries, often seems hypocritical. It does seem that attempting to make life and death black and white only leads to a fight to paint over the grey.

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Really, what is dead and wha t is alive comes d ow to perspective n with a hefty chunk of cont ex weighted upo t n it salient.org.nz


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Salient Vol. 74

Why You Need to Learn about Science Ben Wylie-Van Eerd

More and more often these days I am hearing people say that they are unsatisfied with their education, that it hasn’t prepared them for their lives as adults. Maybe it’s because of the introduction of NCEA. Maybe it’s because a degree is no longer a job ticket. Maybe it’s because the lag between teaching and professional practice in most fields continues to grow and grow. There’s no doubt that there are many reasons to be dissatisfied with the school system as it currently stands, and it’s difficult to decide what is the best thing to be done to change it. Mostly this is because there are big disagreements about the purpose of education. There are a number of different views, and how the system might be changed depends heavily on which of the views you agree with. The fact that technologies and ways of life are changing more rapidly than ever before in history is also a big contributor—even if you devise and implement the ‘perfect’ education system, it’ll start showing cracks in a matter of just a few years. With all this turmoil in the education system, one might reasonably ask if science education is delivering value for money. After all, who besides scientists really needs science education? Well, the answer is You do. Whoever you are, whatever your interests and occupations, You need to learn about science. And so do all of your friends, your children, and the rest of your family. Let me explain what I mean by that. I’m not insisting that you learn Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetic fields or the intricacies of the theory of evolution. I’m not asking you to learn how to be a rocket scientist, or a synthetic chemist. But you are a citizen, an active member of society in a world in which more and more often, we need to turn to science to help us make decisions. Decisions such as: Should we take action against climate change? If so, what is the best way to do that? How can our country position itself in markets in order to do well? What is the best way to reduce crime in our country? These are tough questions, and we can’t just choose a path and hope for the best. You have a democratic right to vote, and to make your voice heard on these big issues facing society. And with that right comes a responsibility to exercise it carefully.

Science cannot tell us what we desire, or the outcomes that we want to achieve from any decision making process. But science is the only thing which can inform us about what the results of our actions might be in complex situations. It used to be easy enough. If you wanted to build a national rail network, you could tell more or less what the implications would be without exhaustive study. But now we ask more complicated questions and we ask them in more complicated environments. We are strongly connected to economies and societies all around the globe. When the government flaps its wings, one cannot guess where the storm will end up. Do you know what the result of increasing tax on building depreciation will be? Or what the effect of tidal electricity generators in Kaipara harbour will be? I don’t. And I’m willing to bet you don’t either. Study and modelling are needed to tell us what the results of our actions are likely be, and only then can we make an informed decision as a country about whether or not it is worth it to go ahead. This raises an interesting question. I don’t know much about environmental modelling. If a marine biologist tells me that the ecological impact of tidal electricity generators is expected to be minimal, do I believe him/her? Trust can take someone only so far in matters which could affect huge numbers of people. Do I have any way of independently checking the biologist’s facts? Well, it turns out that I do have a way of checking, and it’s not even that difficult to do—if you have the relevant experience. Research, in order to be accepted as credible, is always published in peer-reviewed journals. You can access those journals, and they should completely describe the experimental methods, resulting data, assumptions made, and conclusions drawn*. Using all these factors, you can make up your own mind about whether or not the conclusions are reasonable, and if there are other unanswered questions that

Science is the only thing which can inform us about what the results of our actions might be in complex situations


Feature

Issue 9 Science

So why bother putting in all that effort? And yet in a truly healthy democracy this is what voters would do. Consider now though what the picture would be if changes were made to the education system, and the population have all learned in high school the scientific literacy that I describe above. The job of fact checking what politicians say will change from a huge amount of work to which non-specialists don’t have a road map into maybe half an hour’s work with a clear way forward. Now that the task has become so much easier and much less time consuming, it is probably worth a voter’s time to carry out that analysis. Moreover, once one person has done this and posted their analysis on the internet with links to references—behaviour which general science education will encourage—it will make the task even easier for others following along after. Before too long, people will start demanding of politicians that they provide citations themselves on contested issues, again simplifying the process for voters. I’m not alone in the thought that science education needs to change in New Zealand. Several documents have been recently published which support this view. Authored by the Prime Minister’s science advisor, the Royal Society of New Zealand and the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, they suggest that science for non-professionals should be an integral part of curriculum in the future**. Perhaps I’m being fanciful in this vision, but I don’t think that it is unreasonable to achieve a population who can use more scientific tools in their lives, and I do think that the democracy in this country would be greatly strengthened as a result. And finally, I must add a disclaimer. I have not carried out research on what the results of changing the education system in the way I have suggested are likely to be. The documents** to which I have referred are a good place to start in terms of checking my facts, but they certainly don’t constitute an exhaustive study***. I must encourage you to research further before you form a strong opinion on the education of all New Zealanders in the language of science.

*** this is not to say that the documents are not good studies, but their topics are different to mine. The result of their study is the topic of this article.

** reference: pmcsa.org.nz/science-education/

are important. However, to do this requires a amount of liter certain acy in scientifi c method and thinking. It is in critical this literacy th at I am talkin This is the scie g about. nce I’m saying that You need and your child to learn, ren will need to learn in orde participate in r to fully the democracy we live in. And literacy, curren this tly, is not taug ht until univer Winston Chur sity level. chill once fam ously said that Democracy is the worst form of governmen for all those ot t except hers that have been tried. Pe of the greatest rhaps one weaknesses th at has been re in democracy cognised is that it makes decisions base desires of the d on the ensemble of th e voting popu population w lation—a ho for the mos t part does no the situations t understand it is making ch oices about. N this, but indivi ot only duals do not ha ve a lot of mot to find out mor ivation e about conten tious issues. I one vote in ab only have out three mill ion. If I go to th researching is e effort of sues to make a more inform will probably ed vote, that not change th e outcome of th e election.

*If they don’t do these things, then that’s your first signal that something might not be kosher.

Individuals do not have a lot of motivation to find out more about contentious issues

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Salient Vol. 74

Why vision is the

bomb-di gg i t y, & how others see Amy Shepherd

Most of us will have done those tests for colourblindness, where there’s a number made of dots surrounded by other dots, and occasionally, you can’t see a number, and you freak out. (And it just turns out to be a control...) But have you ever wondered how they work? It’s very easy to take our sight for granted. Yes, you might whinge when sitting too far back in a lecture, or when the font in a book is stupidly small, but even imperfect vision is an amazing thing. Colours, words, faces—everything around you can be categorised and understood within an incredibly short amount of time.

Achromatism and colour blindness Colour plays a huge part in our perception of the world, and this is how it works. The middle chunk of your eye has cells, called ‘cones’, that are specialised to detect colours. The colour we see is reflected wavelengths of light, and humans can perceive waves between 400nm (red) and 700nm (violent). When you see a banana, that banana is absorbing the entire visible spectrum except yellow, and so you see it as yellow. (If you don’t get that, no worries. It’s an aside.) Some people are born with a rare form of colourblindness, called achromatopsia, where no colour is perceived at all, and everything looks like a black-and-white photograph. According to my fairly old and probably out-of-date textbook, its relative occurrence is about 1:40,000. When congenital, this is most often due to a malfunction in the cones, but acquired achromatopsia tends to be a result of damage to the region of the brain that recognises colour. In this case, your memory of colour is also obliterated. People who are born with it are also highly sensitive to light and are unable to focus normally, and therefore cannot see fine detail. The colourblindness we are most used to is not this extreme, though—in fact, people can be colourblind for most of their lives without realising

People can be r colourblind fo es v most of their li g it in without realis it. This is caused by the loss of one of the three types of cones. Incidentally, men are much more likely to be colourblind, because the X chromosome carries most of the genes for cones, and men are XY while women are XX. The Y chromosome in men is basically a short, crap version of the X, so they have fewer genes. That way, men only have one copy of the gene for cones, whereas women have two. Guts, yo.


Red-green colourblindness is the most common variety; about 8 per cent of men have it, but only 0.03 per cent of women. A cool theory about how colourblindness came to be common has arisen from the study of marmosets (and who wouldn’t want to study marmosets. They’re so tiny and cuddly, and probably vicious). About two-thirds of marmosets are missing one type of cone, and they stand guard while the others, with three cones and full colour vision, gather food. The idea is that the monkeys with three cones can tell the difference between berries, fruit, etc., the monkeys with two cones are more sensitive to movement, and therefore less likely to be fooled by camouflaged predators.

Other ways of seeing Bees are one up on humans, though. They can see UV light as a colour, which completely changes their view of the world, and especially flowers. Here’s an approximation of how bees might see a yellow flower.

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Red-green colourblindness is the most common variety; about 8 per cent of men have it, but only 0.03 per cent of women It’s a bit off, as bees can’t see red (which is lowest wavelen the gth we can se e). Obviously, can know exac no-one tly what it look s like until som invents a way eone of enabling hu mans to see U That seems un V light. necessary thou gh. Synesthesi cool but weird a is a disorder that essentially blen or more senses ds two . It happens w hen two norm separate area ally s of the brain activate simul The most com taneously. mon is that nu mbers and lett the alphabet ar ers of e perceived as colours—for in three is ruby re stance, d and the letter ‘D’ is the skynight blue, or atsomething. O ther instances include the associatio Synesthesia n of sound with colour, of ordered sequen ces with person is a cool but alities, and individual words with ta weird disorde ste. Th e cl os es r t most of us w ill get to this that essentiall sensation is throug h illusions. De y what yo spite ur brain know blends two or s, those two lin totally don’t lo es ok the same le more senses ngth, or the leaning tower of Pisa on the left doesn’t look as leanin g as the exact on the right. It’ same picture s odd that your brain compens for this. It real ates ly shows that the world we the world that see isn’t is necessarily there, which is awesome. Wha kind of t you see, or sm ell, or hear, m be same as th ay not e person stan ding next you this explains (Perhaps some people’s horrendous ta music. Or so yo ste in u’d like to hope .) All in all, visi on is pretty aw esome. The fa we can see an ct that amazing spec trum of colour that that some s, and people see nu mbers as colo whatnot, is an urs and incredible feat of engineerin next time you g. The can’t read the board in a lect think how muc ure, just h more confus ing it would lo could see UV ok if you light—and th en enjoy the fu the mostly read zziness of able lecture sl ides!

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Salient Vol. 74

Psychology: a Science Chris Salter

When you see the word ‘psychology’, what comes to mind? Common answers include ‘beards’, ‘Dr. Phil’, ‘sex’ and ‘why people do stuff ’. It’s easy to see why people say this—notable psychologists (Wundt, James and Freud especially) possess some of the finest facial hair in the academic sphere. Dr. Phil has probably done more to popularise misconceptions about psychology than any other individual, and will be discussed later, once you’ve stopped paying attention. If you’re looking for love/lust through the rather unconventional route of science, psychology is probably your best bet (unless you’re a chemist with little regard for the law and moral decency). Psychology, at it’s simplest, is the systematic and scientific study of the human mind. You’re now equipped to pass your first year PSYC papers. If you happen to be a psychology student, this situation will probably sound familiar. You’re stepping out of Maclaurin 103, when you see an intimidating trio striding down the Cotton corridor: the chemist, her white garb singed and stained with the arcane raegents of her craft, crimson hair tied back into a sensible ponytail and safety goggles rakishly askew; the physicist, 6 foot 5 and emanating a barely perceptible blue glow, his bag full of whirring calculators slowly quantifying the universe; and the biologist, resplendent in a leopardprint lab coat, with rustling, curiously alive brown hair that cannot be described as anything other than ‘mousey’. They step towards you, and with much laughter and flailing of hands they address you, unified in scorn. “Oh, what have we here? A psychologist? How quaint. You are aware that it’s not a real science, right?”. Persecutory fantasies aside, psychology gets a fair deal of flak from science folk. Some of it is deserved—It’s true that objectively explaining human behaviour is difficult when that soggy lump of supercomputer known as the brain never really reveals the full extent of what it’s doing. It’s true that some psychological disciplines find it difficult to be strictly empirical (which isn’t to say they don’t try). More vulnerable to bias than other scientific schools, psychology still observes the same rigorous scientific process. It’s possible to label it an ‘applied’ science, compared to the ‘pure sciences’ of physics, chemistry and biology, but that’s mostly a point of academic snobbery.

Oh, what have we here? A psychologist? How quaint. Y ou are aware tha t it’s not a real science, right? One way to think of how psychology fits into the scientific family is as the red-headed stepchild of biology: youthful, slightly detached and vaguely resented—a newcomer into an established group, even a slightly intrusive presence. Born (in its modern, scientific form) in 1879 and raised by Wilhelm Wundt, psychology has developed in much the same way as any other child, passing through a number of phases on its way to maturity and learning important lessons from each. The stubborn methodicalness of behaviourism and the moody, introspective hypochondria of Freudian theory, though philosophically opposed, both contributed to psychology as it exists today. It has also

One way to think of how psychology fits into the scientific family is as the red-headed stepchild of biology


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Issue 9 Science

Sigmund Freud

Psychology is the sexiest (or sex-fixated, at least) scientific discipline… No other subject will have you well-informed and jaded quite as fast as psychology will academia. other areas of om fr l ia er at m drawn ychology has r metaphor, ps ou ue in nt co To e) some pretty ical perspectiv (from a biolog around seedy nds. It hangs ie fr le ab ut ep disr rking in ‘logic’ philosophy, lu g in rk pa libraries with a d in s. It was spotte en brand hoodie ciology, and se so ith w s nd ha g in ith ld w ho ol t, lo ting po occasions shoo red on numerous furious—it’s si is y og ol Bi e. nc ie sc of r or te el compu as a Bach can be studied a subject that b coats! la r ea w n’t even Arts. They do at you’ve e on. Odds ar th But let’s move physique, hy ug do s il, with hi ks of cash. heard of Dr. Ph ac st humongous d an l aw pular dr e telltal ead for the po itable figureh su a is il ly Ph us . Dr emendo ovement, a tr le to psychology m arly impossib ne s it’ at th d en tr l r (o tia e en or influ y bookst . Walk into an re u’ yo d an be unaware of ), m oman’s bedroo ’ middle-aged w elf of ‘self-help sh on up f el sh e se to to d g un in bo promis ’ tomes, each and ‘New Age E BETTER. TH R FO FE R LI CHANGE YOU ific aspects nt ie t the less sc These represen reading this , and if you’re of psychology m view of the have a fairly di ly is ab ob pr u yo Pop psychology they contain. ly ss le nt le re , ‘proven facts’ ed mmercialis co as d se ri t te charac ed—it’s no overly simplifi optimistic and concepts lt cu ffi di t r se, bu bad science pe ible chunks st to easily dige in ed ic al sl y hl roug is a commerci umption. This ’s gy lo ho yc for mass cons ps p a function of po necessity, and Wilhelm Wundt

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wide appeal, rather than any kind of systematic maliciousness or misguidedness on the part of the high-profile authors. Many contain solid amounts of sound psychological guidance, bulked out with psychobabble. An attempt to bring these self-help ideas into the fold has taken root as the positive psychology movement, a conscious and sustained attempt “to make normal life more fulfilling”, without sacrificing the scientific method. This may startle you, but psychology is the sexiest (or sex-fixated, at least) scientific discipline. Contain your outrage, biologists! No other subject will have you well-informed and jaded quite as fast as psychology will. One of the most common reasons students give for studying it is “to learn about how people think”, which is quite obviously code for “to learn how attractive people of the gender I’m interested in think about me, and how to influence this”. Unsurprisingly, a colossal amount of research into interpersonal attraction has been undertaken, the vast majority of it as dry and methodical as anything else. If you’ve ever wanted to know why Scarlett Johnansson is so profoundly fascinating, or why neonatal features (such as big eyes, small nose and chin) are so attractive in females (Cunningham, 1986), you could do far worse than psychology. Speaking of worse, psychology can also boast some of the least ethical (and most morbidly interesting) big-name experiments around. Marvel at unnerving discoveries such as the terrifying strength of obedience demonstrated by the 1974 Milgram study, in which participants were encouraged to apparently electrocute a man to death. Gasp at the infamous 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, which shows that people are liable to take their perceived roles far, far too seriously. But it’s not all psychobabble, bedroom eyes and inhumanity—psychology can be found wherever people are, and has developed an application in almost every aspect of human life, from warfare to medicine. Recent advances in technology have influenced the direction of psychological research towards neuroscience, which may lead in time to a partial re-absorption of psychology by biology. These exciting developments will allow unprecedented insight into how the brain influences behaviour. Sadly, this is where our familial metaphor breaks down, becoming some kind of bizarre reverse-Oedipal scenario. It was fun while it lasted. As a final note I’d just like to give a heartfelt apology to the Victoria University School of Psychology for insulting their craft with this clumsily ham-fisted article (to which my criticisms of popular psychology apply in their entirety) and strongly suggest you drop in to have a chat with them sometime. They’re lovely, interesting and friendly people. They don’t let on that they’re silently judging you at all.

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Salient Vol. 74

Real Life

mad Scientists Uther Dean

Too often do we think that the mad scientist lives only in the realm of fiction. Salient co-editor Uther Dean looks at the real-life science crazies. Tesla invented the Tesla coil, which basically boils down to being a sphere that generates large terrifying arcs of electricity

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) invented a bunch of interesting and useful stuff (and was good friends with Mark Twain). Most notably he played a large part in the development of the alternating current system of delivering electricity, which thrust him into a war with Thomas Edison, inventor of the competing direct current. This war ended with the murder of an elephant, which was how scientists settled disagreements back in the 1880s. Tesla invented the Tesla coil, which basically boils down to being a sphere that generates large terrifying arcs of electricity. He carefully measured the size and weight of every meal he consumed, even fastidiously counting how many times he chewed each mouthful. He had an incredibly addictive or completest personality: he avoided reading books for pleasure because he would then have to read every other book by that author immediately. He avoided the company of women, fearing he would become addicted to one, which would detract from his science. He also tried to make a death ray and has been played by David Bowie in a film.

34) was a dini (1762-18 Giovanni Al ics was not ysics, but phys professor of ph was for n io ss His real pa his true love. e travelled dead things. H electrocuting to a freak ed hat amount Europe with w of science. e m na e ly in th show, ostensib he would ’s edification, For the public corpses and al an and anim hang up hum y, he ran —that is to sa galvanise them h them, ug ectricity thro shitloads of el and smoke. t, or st twitch, di making them n to the e a presentatio In 1803, he mad ndon Lo in of Surgeons Royal College se of rp co e th d eteere two where he pupp ith ed criminal w a recently hang . ucting rods massive cond

Harry Harlow (1905-1981) was an American psychologist who spent a lot of his career researching ideas of love, intimacy and familial connection. Which seems all well and good until you discover that almost all of his experiments seemed to revolve around torturing rhesus monkeys until they had total mental collapses. It started with his experiments in maternal care. He removed baby monkeys from their mothers and had them choose between a mother surrogate made of wire and one made of fabric. Then he’d frighten them, abandon them, or take them to unknown places. When they had their cloth mothers with them, they would cling to them. When they didn’t, they would run “from object to object, apparently searching for the cloth mother, as they cried and screamed”. Which sounds pretty harrowing, but not nearly as bad as what Harlow called his ‘Pit of Despair,’ a total isolation chamber allowing them to be fed without any contact with other living beings or natural light. There, he’d place baby monkeys for up to two years to enable him to study the effects of isolation on people. That it drove them totally insane goes without saying; Harlow came to the conclusion that, paraphrased, worked out to “Well, maybs people need to be touched by other things to not totally lose their shit”. Other devices used by Harlow included the ‘Rape Rack’ and Iron Maidens.


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Issue 9 Science

Vladimir Dem ikhov (19161998). Basically, anyt hing that need s to be said about this man ’s work is expr essed in the following excerpt from The Daily Mail, a report er from which attended a presentation by Demikov: “B linking unhappily in the daylight as Demikhov paraded it on its lead, this un fortunate beast had been created by graf ting the head and uppe r body of a sm all puppy on the head an d body of a fu lly-grown mastiff, to form one grotesque creature with two head s. The visitors watched in horror and fascination as both of the beast’s mou ths lapped gree dily at a bowl of milk pr offered by De mikhov’s assistants.”

This unfortunate beast had been created by grafting the head and upper body of a small puppy on the head and body of a fullygrown mastiff

d He recorde the vaginal of s contraction s r ballet dance ed itt and transm ce a them into sp

Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov (1870-1932) was a Soviet biologist and really, really wanted to make a human-ape hybrid super soldier. He first floated the idea in 1910 but only found support to actually explore the idea in 1924. He started by artificially inseminating female chimpanzees with human sperm—which every source on these experiments emphatically states was neither his nor his son’s. The female chimps, however, did not become pregnant. He then moved on to attempting his hybridisation the other way round with ape sperm being placed in human females. Only a lack of post-pubescent male apes stopped this becoming a reality before a general political shakeup in 1930 put an end to his disturbing madness. He was arrested soon after.

Joe Davis (1953) is a research affiliate at MIT in biology. If ever there was a man who could have the title ‘Mad Art Science Bastard’ applied to him, it’s this guy. He has invented the Audio Microscope, which allows you to hear livings cells. He has tested to see how E. Coli responds to Jazz. He has put a map of the Milky Way into the ear of a mouse. He recorded the vaginal contractions of ballet dancers and transmitted them into space. But, best of all, he uses his homemade steel peg leg to open bottles of beer.

José Manuel Rodriguez Delgado (1915), a professor of physiology at Yale University, has been experimenting for years with something that can only be described as Remote Control Mind Control. A lot of his work focused on his ‘stimoceiver’, a radio device that can, due to implanted electrodes in the subject’s heads, control their emotions and behavior. He has stopped bulls mid-charge with this as well as training a chimpanzee to associate pain with cognitive thought and, thusly, think as little as possible. And, yes, he has been experimenting on humans too. He has made people experience “pleasant sensations, elation, deep, thoughtful concentration, odd feelings, super relaxation, colored visions, and other responses”, which makes it seem rather pleasant. But, actually, all those emotions are coming from fucking electrodes in your fucking skull. He has been quoted as saying that “brain transmitters can remain in a person’s head for life”. So, uh, how do we know they’re not in there now? A conspiracy theory based on Delgado’s research must surely be forthcoming. salient.org.nz


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Salient Vol. 74

The Laws of Attraction

Varun Venkatesh

As students, attraction is probably one of the biggest focuses of our minds. Does he like me? Does she find me attractive? How does she find him even remotely attractive? Scientific research goes some way towards answering such questions. The first and most well-known theory is Darwin’s theory of sexual selection. This suggests that individuals compete with members of their own sex for the reproductive resources of the opposite sex. This was further broken down into two types of selection: intrasexual and intersexual. Intrasexual, or ‘male-male competition’, is where the prospective mate competes with other prospective mates for access to the opposite sex—for example, when animals lock horns with each other. Intersexual selection is where a prospective mate displays traits that are deemed by the opposite sex as preferential in order to win a mate; Darwin termed this ‘female’s choice’. A good example of this is the peacock’s impressive plumage. The scientific field of attraction has evolved during recent times, with more studies being done on the very specific aspects of attraction in humans.

e idea of an put forward th ve ha ts the is nt ie umference of Multiple sc ratio’—the circ st ai w ve oha -t s ip ie ‘h ud ideal e hips. St d to that of th to-waist waist compare s, a lower hipre ltu cu y an m in more , r at fa shown th l waist) is ps and a smal hi e tio id ra w st o, ai (s -w ratio 7 hip-to ales, with a 0. . attractive to m um as being optim ch has also generally seen ientific resear Sc . gh ou th l, al er women ef pr That’s not en ady know: m re al e w cause gs in in proven th clearer sk , be er breasts and ale m m fir a , er er ef rg la pr with male! Females fe ile r rt te fe a ea dicates a gr they signify ysique, as it in ph a r ri la to cu ic us V m with a rried out by ide! A study ca rated that ability to prov xson demonst Di y ab rn Ba n ts! ow ’s ch University ir on their es en with less ha m e field er th ef in pr g in en wom gist specialis lo po ro th ing an re Dixson, an some inte st has published n, ue tio iq ac ys tr at ph d of human compare his studies, he of e e on al m In . fe d lts resu male an tractiveness in States with sexual at th the United bo in s tie si er iv un that om ed fr ow s studie research sh and. Dixson’s st ratio al ai Ze -w to ew N pd hi an while a low active, tr at more is considered ed ri va tio ra the optimum ith New w y, tr un co for each preferring a Zealand men ratio. er slightly high compared so al on Dixs ith penis length w with some attractiveness, lts. The surprising resu size was rated le smallest peni e than the as less attractiv te sizes, but ia three intermed In ost desirable. nsidered the m co t er no rk as da w t at the larges termined th Dixson even de ore another study, found to be m as w n gmentatio . la and medium pi eo ar light-coloured this attractive than ng “What does ki in th ly ab ests that gg su You’re prob y another stud l, el W ”. es to e? m mean for r when it com n’t even matte es several do ce ith w an d ar te appe When presen n. tio ac tr at man, a woman the rules of by a different n or w fferent ch ea , T-shirts with a very di orn by a man w e baby on a e e th us ed ca pick aps be to hers—perh stems is sy e un m immune system im g in nts with differ petent. made by pare d immunocom an ng ro st be to y el ly all about al lik re e it or is m e questions: th gs be ever is th All of t personality arance? Doesn’ pe ies ap ud al St . ic es ys do ph our yes, actually it l, el W r ? ou is m th such as hu factor into rtain qualities e. ce tiv at ac th tr n at ow as have sh perceived udies to provide are st ty e ili es ab th , an er d ev an w id and done, ho to rank When all is sa ry hard for us ve s It’ . ns tio ita , and lim es r ur ei th fig have cartoon ess of varying tive, ac tr at e ar the attractiven es atur e individual fe fferent while all thes a completely di be n ca it er th ge rfect. to t pe ’s pu n ne -o whe ent, and no er ff di ’s ne yo ie discover s as story. Ever ly making new nt ta ns co rtant is e Scienc , but it’s impo traction works la eo ar on to just how at search that all the re little to remember th means very ng le le ni pe or n tio ta en pigm t ‘The One’. when you mee

Studies have shown that certain qualities such as humour and an ability to provide are perceived as attractive

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Issue 9 Science

What it’s like to be an

‘Pondy’, a first-year computer science lecturer, wears shorts everyday, regardless of the weather, but no shoes

engineering student @ Vic

While others are trying to bullshit their way through an essay, a small number of Victoria University students are tirelessly working through a series of mind-numbing, number-crunching assignments; learning to speak in binary, and valiantly trying to fix a seemingly useless computer programme. Unlike comparable courses offered at Auckland and Canterbury universities, engineering is still in its infancy at Vic. The four-year programme was only started a few years ago, and these days it’s possible to major in Software Engineering, Network Engineering, and Electronic and Computer System Engineering (ECEN). Which probably sounds like gobbledegook, but it’s really good once you have an understanding of what you’re actually learning. Plus, engineers earn truckloads of money. And we’re aren’t complaining about truckloads of money. If you’re doing software engineering, the computer labs will inevitably become your second home, and coding will evolve into mindless procrastination on Facebook. At least we don’t have to line up for a computer at the library—or pay for printing. About half of the stuff we do is quite practical, so we generally work with mates to finish stuff off. In our first year, labs were three hours long, and one of our projects involved making a motorised car that we raced against other groups’. As for the not-so-practical stuff? Engineering students cram

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School of Engineering and Computer Science, ecs.victoria.ac.nz Victoria Engineering Club, vec.org.nz Intelligence, The New Enemy—a game made by a second-year SWEN student, kongregate.com/games/PsyQor/intelligence-the-new-enemy-full-version

Ever wondered what engineering— one of the newest degrees Victoria has on offer—is all about? Who belongs to this secret society of computer lovers, and why don’t we see them around campus at all? What are they up to? Trying to destroy the world? Trying to make the next Facebook? Engineering students Tania Jacob and Lance Tollenaar take a break from the computers to tell it like it is.

s an for maths test own to study kn afford en t be n’ e ca e’v y too—w u seriousl e exam. And yo th re fo be ur ho es. ays to miss lectur esome—one pl are pretty aw s er in class, ur k ct or le w e Th le we go over hi w na va er, ir N science lectur Gorillaz and ear computer -y st , er fir a th ’, ea dy w and ‘Pon less of the eryday, regard ev ts or sh rs wea tures. but no shoes. primitive crea actually quite e ts ar en s er ev ne om gi En ing to rand sucked into go free ly of si th ea or e w ar s e ck W d bu ve five hundre ering where they ha y non-engine an m d ha e e’v w ow who re kn su u I’m yo a. pizz nd of stuff— ki is th r fo us students join cal you are. are stereotypi ering students g in ap fr d an Not all engine ising, y sports, social their e av le geeks. We enjo to gh er foolish enou boy/ if anyone is ev of us even have tended. Some at computer un riously. girlfriends. Se e end of four zy habits, at th e door with a Despite our la walk out of th lly fu ork pe ho ll mes, a lot of w years, we’ ering to our na ne et gi ‘g En to of y ad or Bachel iends—re d some good fr experience, an st’. amongst the be

More information

Tania Jacob & Lance Tollenaar

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Salient Vol. 74

How Science Can Help

The Average Alex:

Five Things We’ve Learned as Science Majors

The Science Society

Do you remember that guy back in your high school science class who used to ask questions every five minutes? Yeah, you know the guy I’m talking about—the guy who used to ask “Why are we learning this, miss?” You might even agree with him. Well, I’mma let you finish, but science is one of the most practical courses of all time! That’s right—among all the boring lecturers, massive textbooks and neverending labs, there’s wisdom that can benefit even the average Alex.

So, in no particular order, here are our top five things we’ve learned as science majors:

1.

Why chopping raw onion makes you cry, whereas chopping cooked onion does not. The greatest obstacle between a hungry student and dinner: chopping an onion. Not only does it create a horrible burning sensation in your eyes, but the subsequent tears make the whole world think you’re an emotional wreck. Of course, you could always wear a pair of sunglasses (Kirkcaldie and Stains’ kitchen department even stock specialist ‘onion goggles’), but we wouldn’t recommend it. Science provides an answer. When you cut an onion, you break cells, releasing their contents. Sulfenic acids in the cell are now able to mix with enzymes to make a volitile sulfur compound which mixes with the tears in your eyes to make sulfuric acid. If you were paying attention in Level 2 Chemistry, you’d know that sulfuric acid can burn like hell.

Consequently, the best way to stop onion burning your eyes is to freeze it or cut it over a flame. This will cause the enzymes in the cell to lose their function, as enzymes don’t usually function at extreme temperatures, meaning that the sulfuric acid won’t form. Another trick is to use a very sharp knife, as it causes fewer cells to burst.

2.

You get drunk faster in an unfamiliar environment. This one comes from the Psychology department. Being in an unfamiliar environment affects your brain, therefore lowering your tolerance to drugs. This has been known to cause heroin overdoses. A drug addict builds up an extreme level of tolerance to heroin over time, but a major study found that a number of heroin overdoses were from a similar or lower amount to their tolerance level. So, what gives? The biggest similarity between all these cases was that the heroin was taken at a place different to their usual drug-taking spot. The result? A lowered tolerance level, and thus an overdose.

3.

The same applies to any drug, including alcohol.

How to turn lead into gold, but still be poor. Alchemy is the process of trying to turn elements of the periodic table (e.g. oxygen, calcium, lead, gold, etc.) into other elements by adding or removing protons. Protons, if you weren’t listening in Year 10 and 11 Science, are mini-particles that reside in atoms, which make up all matter—even the page you are currently holding. In the past, alchemists attempted to find a compound that could add or eliminate protons to turn substances into gold. They nicknamed this substance ‘the Philosopher’s Stone’, which would also give eternal life. Yes, the real world can be a bit like Harry Potter. However, unlike in Harry Potter, no one was able to find the philosopher’s stone.


Fortunately, Ph ysics came to the rescue. Usi modern phys ng ics techniques , scientists wer convert one el e able to ement into an other by way Transmutatio of ‘Nuclear n’. This means that you, dear can create gold reader, at home! All yo u need to do is : 1. Steal a part icle accelerato r or a nuclear Easy enough, reactor. right? 2. Fire it up 3. Don’t die, or cause Armaged don 4. Chuck in an element such as lead 5. See what ha ppens 6. Presto—yo u have gold! Unfortunately , you’d only ge t out the amou particles that nt of gold you put in, whi ch wouldn’t be at all. Furtherm much ore, the cost of running a part accelerator or icle a nuclear reac tor is huge. Th cost of turnin us, the g lead into gold would totally the costs of ge outweigh tting the equi pment to do it, you’d actually and be left poorer than before. In noted Victoria fact, University ph ysics scholar described the F Barber idea as “compl etely retarded ”. If movies wer e actually ba sed on real sc creeped out. ience, we’d be Take Finding N emo. Touching movie. Disney Made some of classic. you readers cr y. Yet, if you kn real science be ew the hind the mov ie, it would m sick. ake you You see, clow n fish show se quential herm ditism. A sequ aphroential hermap hrodite is an or with both mal ganism e and female se x organs that different times mature at —thus an anim al can be born change into a male and female, and vi ce versa. Therefore, th is means that if real science applied to Find were ing Nemo, whe n Nemo’s fam killed, his dad ily was would have ch anged into a fe then mated w male, ith Nemo. Horrifying st uff. There’s even a Facebook grou p entitled ‘I Cr My Professor ied When Told Me That Nemo Was A Se Hermaphrodite quential ’. If the fundam entalist conser found this out, vatives Finding Nemo would probab banned. So, sh ly be h. The final thin g we learned as science maj important trut ors is an h. One that ha s served us th of our science e whole degrees. One that our profes used to furthe sors have r their distingu ished careers. could change One that your life:

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Victoria University physics scholar F Barber described the idea as “completely retarded”

5.

It’s really easy to make it seem like you know what you’re doing if you use complex words. This one is us science majors’ secret weapon. Have you ever asked a science student a question and heard them answer back in another language? Yeah, chances are that they actually didn’t know the right answer; they were just bluffing. It’s a chief tactic of science professors: ask a question that they don’t have any idea about, and bingo, they’ll start using big words. People assume it’s too complex for them to understand and move on.

4.

Science has even used this to pull a few pranks. The best example of this was the ‘Dihydrogen Monoxide’ hoax, where mass campaigns were held to ‘educate’ the public about the ‘negative’ effects DHMO had on humans. This lead to widespread fear and calls for DHMO to be banned. That is, until people realised that DHMO was actually water. If you want to find out more about these topics, or get involved with the Science Society, email vuwsciencesociety@gmail.com!

Scientists: 1, General Public: 0 Another psychology experiment proved what is now known as the ‘Dr. Fox effect’. Actor Michael Fox (no relation to Michael J Fox) pretended to be a ‘Dr Myron L. Fox’ and delivered a lecture to various professional experts and professionals, including medical scientists and psychologists. The lecture was impressively titled ‘Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education’, but it had no real substance. He used lots of big words, and everyone bought it: the ‘experts’ praised his excellent research, even though even Mr Fox didn’t know what Game Theory was. So, next time one of your science major friends is rambling on and using big words, just tell them to tell you straight. That’ll shut ’em up. So, that’s it: the top five things we’ve learned as Science majors. Just remember, there are million of other cool scientific facts out there; all you need to do is harness the power of Google. Oh, and avoid people who use large words unnecessarily. They probably don’t know what they are on about.

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Feature

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Salient Vol. 74

Something in the water... Geraint Scott

When you turn on the tap, are you aware of what’s coming out? Sure, it’s water, but is it really just two hydrogen atoms bound to a single oxygen atom? Salient writer Geraint Scott attended a public lecture exploring one side of the debate surrounding the addition of fluoride to New Zealand’s water supplies. Recently, Professor Paul Connett delivered a number of public lectures about the presence of fluoride in our tap water and how it is adversely affecting us. Dr Connett is the director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) in New Zealand, and the Executive Director of its parent body, the American Environmental Health Studies Project (AEHSP). In New Zealand, councils choose whether or not to fluoridate their water supply, meaning that a few have decided against it. However, the Wellington City Council fluoridates the region’s water, and Dr Connett is concerned that Wellington City Council has not clicked on to the dangers of fluoride. So why do some researchers consider fluoride to be dangerous? Well, Dr Connett says, it has been proven to be an enzyme inhibitor. In particular, it attacks the bones, which can weaken them. It is also attracted to certain areas of the brain, restricting activity there. Although dentists and doctors have claimed for years that fluoride is essential for teeth, Dr Connett says this is false. Fluoride does not prevent tooth decay: studies have shown that the dental health of children who ingested fluoride is just as good as that of children who didn’t. Dr Connett’s argument is built upon the statement that, much like arsenic, fluoride is toxic to our bodies and is not required for any of our bodily processes. When it does make its way, in tiny amounts, into our bloodstream, our body does what it can to dispense of it. In New Zealand, fluoridated water has 200 times the negligible amount of fluoride that’s found naturally in breast milk, which is designed to contain everything that a baby needs to survive and grow. If fluoride is essential for the healthy development

of teeth, why are greater am ounts of it not in breast milk present ? Dr Connett ar gues that natu excluded fluor re has ide because it is unnecessar The source of y. the fluoride la ter added to ou supply is scar r water y enough in its elf, says Dr Co collected from nnett. It is massive wet sc rubbers that ar as part of the e used creation of fert iliser. This pa form of fluorid rticular e does not occu r naturally an considered to d is o toxic to dum p, either on la sea. If it’s too nd or at toxic for land and sea, why being forced to are we drink it? There’s no doct or insight into no agency esta fluoridation po blished to mon licy, itor the side ef fluoridation, fects of and no contro ls on how muc receives. A co h a person nstant stream of fluoride is en our water, an tering d the more yo u drink, the m you’re ingestin ore fluoride g. No other ‘m edicine’ in the is administere world d in such an in discriminate it’s bound to ha manner, ve adverse effe cts. Some peop unable to show le are er in fluoridat ed water beca skin is too sens use their itive to it. While Dr Conn ett concedes th have had proat some studie fluoridation re s sults, he says to involve very they tend weak evidence , which is not su to randomisat ion. For exam bject ple, in many st researchers ch udies, ose which citie s would be co rather than ra mpared— ndomly select ing two cities. Conversely, th ere are numer ous examples of comprehen sive anti-fluor ide research. example, rese For arch from the Facultad de M Universidad Au edicina, tónoma de Sa n Luis Potosí, Potosí, Méxic San Luis o by D RochaAmador, M E Carrizales, R Navarro, L Morales and J Calderon indi fluoride is mor cates that e effective than arsenic at dras reducing IQ le tically vels. Links to a wealth of st found on FAN udies can be ’s website, fann z.org.nz.

On the same we bsite, Dr Conn ett lists seven fluoridation. basic objectio These are: ns to •“New science proves there is no benefit fro • Fluoridation m swallowing creates more fluoride health problem s than it is alleg • Fluoridated water is parti ed to fix. cularly harmfu l to infants • Most countri es in the world do not fluorida • Fluoride impa te their water cts negatively on the environ • Fluoride used ment in fluoridatio n is contamin including lead ated with heav y metals • Fluoridation is enforced me dication with out your cons ent.”

Whether or no t one agrees w ith Dr Connet argument, it se t’s ems obvious th at the fluoridat of Wellington ion ’s water needs to be discusse frequently an d more d more openly . It’s likely that ratepayers won most ’t be aware of the arguments for or against, either and for this re ason, public le such as the on ctures es given by Dr Connett are be by giving one neficial: answer he will at least encour people to ask age the question.

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Column

Issue 9 Science

Like Anim a the Wee l of ko Faceboo n k!

31

The Grey Wolf David Burr

l Fact Anima nts can Elepha to 11 and p store u litres of l a h a f lk in ate mi chocol trunks their

As a general rule, I say any animal that’s become a symbol for ironic hipster fashion loses any and all respect points. However, there’s an exception to every rule, and that is this week’s ‘Animal’. After all, the grey wolf, even when presented on a sweatshirt howling at the moon, is a total badass. Wolves have such impeccable hearing that they are able to register falling leaves in autumn. Because of this, they’re almost impossible to sneak up on—they’re even alert when sleeping. In fact, the Siberian tiger is one of the few animals awesome enough to attack and kill a grey wolf. Grey wolves are social predators, although single wolves have been known to take down prey such as moose and bison unaided. When working as a team, wolves sometimes employ ambush tactics, where one wolf directs an entire herd towards where the rest of the pack are lying in wait. Wolves display such mastery over their prey

that they are not impressed when other predators are foolish enough to enter their hunting grounds. Wolves commonly defend their territory from coyotes and foxes, and have even been known to kill bears! Many cultures have recognised grey wolves as being badass by depicting them as gods in folklore. Personally, if I had to choose to worship any animal god, the grey wolf would totally be my first choice.

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Salient Vol. 74

Exercise Meredith Price It is very important to make time in your week for exercise and what better way to do this than to take a break from your studies and pop over to the Recreation Centre at lunchtime to try some of the fantastic Group Exercise classes? Group Exercise is a highly motivating and fun way to work out and the Recreation Centre has a great range of 12pm and 1pm lunchtime classes on offer from Pilates and Yoga through to Mega Danz and Step. These 50 minute classes cater for all fitness levels and abilities and it doesn’t matter if you are experienced or a complete beginner as the staff at the Recreation Centre are always welcoming and friendly and can help get you started straight away. Exercise has so many proven positive benefits, it lifts your mood and concentration, helps you sleep, and also improves body image, lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and strengthens your immune system to name just a few. So why not get involved? The Group Exercise instructing team at the Recreation Centre is one of the best in Wellington and the memberships are such amazing value for money.

A 12 month Group Exercise Student membership is only $85 and this allows you to attend as many Group Exercise classes per week as you wish. It really is an opportunity not to be missed while studying at Vic. The Recreation Centre is extremely lucky to have Arlene Thomas Hewitt on board their instructing team teaching three lunchtime Group Exercise classes per week. Arlene is a former Aerobics Champion and won the New Zealand title eleven times in a row and also won the title as world champion in 1997! Arlene is currently a Master Trainer for Radical Fitness and has been teaching, coaching and choreographing classes for 20 years. Arlene teaches Tuesday 12pm X55 and 1pm Oxigeno and Thursday 1pm Mega Danz and all of her classes are very highly recommended. • X55 is an athletic, high energy workout for those who want to focus on improving their fitness, achieve weight loss, and increase muscle tone in their body. The music is fantastic and definitely helps you push through the squats and lunges. • Oxigeno combines the best of Yoga, Pilates and Ballet and is the perfect class to attend to de-stress, stretch, and relax. The music is beautiful and the stretching sequences really help to calm the mind. • Mega Danz is a fun- filled dance class combining many different styles of dance from Latin through to Hip Hip. You’ll be having such a great time dancing that working out will no longer feel like a chore.

As well as these fantastic Group Exercise classes the Recreation Centre provides all kinds of other Sport and Fitness related activities for everyone.

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For more information on Group Exercise and our other services check out the website: rec-centre@vuw.ac.nz or contact: meredith.price@vuw.ac.nz

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Columns

Issue 9 Science

33

“It takes a bit from this box, & a bit from that box...” Conrad Reyners Last month, members of New Zealand’s Parliament demonstrated the dangers of inter-generational politics gone wrong. Under Parliamentary urgency (the abuse of which is a topic that deserves a column all to itself ) the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill was passed. The Act adds new provisions into the Copyright Act—the main piece of legislation regulating copyright and intellectual property in New Zealand. The Act allows copyright owners to enforce their rights more effectively against internet downloaders. Those of you who have lived (or are living) in a University hall of residence, or have looked over the shoulder of someone streaming “Never Say Never” on University computers, will know that students are partial to a little bit of ‘try before you buy’. So this new law is concerning, especially for our new-age techno-citizen generation, who Tweet and Tumblr our first-world problems incessantly around the globe. But there seems to be a little hysteria in the air, whipped up at least in part by politicians who see the Act as an opportunity to point-score. Perhaps it’s time to clear the air and take students through the new law and its effects, step by step. The legislation gives new enforcement powers for copyright holders. In particularly, the rules relating to infringement notices have been tidied up, and new processes regarding the Copyright Tribunal have been added. Section 122B allows copyright holders to force Internet Service Providers to issue three kinds of infringement notices: a detection notice (noting that you’ve been illegally infringing copyright); a warning notice (a notice telling you to stop); and an enforcement notice (a notice telling you that the copyright holder is pretty pissed off and is exercising enforcement of their rights). Once these notices have all been issued, the copyright holder may then apply to the Copyright Tribunal for a damages order for a maximum of $15,000, or to the District Court for the suspension of your Internet account. It is that second option which is most contentious. Access to the net is a pretty big deal, and termination is a big call for any court to make. The procedure for suspension is outlined in Section 122O. A copyright holder can apply to have an account holder’s Internet connection cut off for a maximum of six months if the District Court is satisfied that: at least one enforcement notice has been issued to you (and that its issuing complies with the process outlined in the Act); that the account holder has, through file sharing, infringed the copyright of the person seeking the order; and finally, that suspension of the account would be justified, when balanced against the circumstances and the seriousness of the infringing. This process is pretty rigorous, and clearly outlines significant hurdles that need to be cleared before the Motion Picture Association of America can kick you off the net. And if you’ve just finished downloading American Pie 7 in the Murphy Cybercommons, you can breathe an additional sigh of relief: Section 122PA of the Act stops copyright holders from

even using suspension orders until a date is set by an Order in Council. What this means is effectively the power to ask for the termination of Internet accounts has been ‘frozen’ until the Government decides to ‘unlock’ it. However, it is not Parliament that gets to make that decision. An Order in Council is made by Cabinet and the Governor General, and will not get debated or voted on by the House of Representatives. But even with these restrictions, the legislation has attracted significant criticism. The first concern is that the law is unworkable. The process outlined is complicated, and may not give copyright holders the opportunity to exercise their rights. Applications to tribunals are time consuming and expensive. As a consequence, only large corporates are going to be able to utilise the law’s powers effectively. This is bad news for small start-ups and emergent developers—particularly Kiwi Access to the ones—who may not be able to rely Internet is not on the Act to protect their ideas. considered a Secondly, the Act is focused on human right in the account holder, rather than New Zealand, the downloader of illegal material. but it has been This poses problems for large institutions such as Universities recognised as and even for flats where there such in Finland, are a large number of users and to lesser under one account. The Act also extent in France places a strong procedural onus on Internet Service Providers to provide information about their users when copyright holders request this information. This power is something ISP customers are going to be furious about, and ISPs are begrudgingly going to have to put in place systems for managing these requests properly. Access to the Internet is not considered a human right in New Zealand, but it has been recognised as such in Finland, and to lesser extent in France. However, the bill may breach your right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, found in section 25(c) of the Bill of Rights. Section 122MA states that infringement notices are conclusive evidence of copyright breaches. This is only a presumption, and users can bring evidence to the contrary, but prima facie it is in breach of the presumption of innocence. Additionally, what standard of proof is required to rebut the presumption is unclear. This is important, as a higher burden will make it more difficult for users seeking to defend themselves before the Tribunal. Behind these concerns and the Acts new powers is a deeper issue. It’s the question about how New Zealanders want to treat the regulation of intellectual property and the corporatisation of ideas. That debate is complicated and vexing. But it’s one that we as a polity will need to have if we are ever going to see legislation that is both democratic in a new world of megabytes and access, and responsive to the tension between economic realities and creativity.

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Columns

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Salient Vol. 74

Eff You Nature!

Feeling - - -

I hate nature. I hate getting a little bit of sand in my shoe. I hate scrubbing potatoes. I hate it when it rains on my fringe. I hate getting saltwater up my nose. I hate hiking. I hate trekking. I hate tramping. I hate camping.

Some days it’s hard to feel good about yourself. It’s pretty normal to have those days where you just feel a bit stink and you think if someone says something nice to you, you might cry and hug them. The trouble is when you start feeling like that every day—uh-oh, it’s low self-esteem. You know what low self-esteem leads to? Lower self-esteem. It’s a cruel downward spiral. People can smell it on you, and no-one wants to be around it. Before you know it you’re alone with your own shitty thoughts and Facebook’s cruel workings. I don’t want any of you lovely young people to get to that point. So here are some tips on how to feel good about yourselves.

Ally Garrett

I hate people who go on ‘walks’ because what’s the point when you just end up where you started? I hate people who love David Attenborough because I’m pretty sure all those animals are just elaborate, remote-controlled puppets. I hate people who enjoy “the scenery” because it’s just rocks and water and if I wanted to look at that I could just put my pump bottle on top of some gravel. Eff you nature! Stick it up your damp, smelly bottom! I don’t just hate nature. I think I’m actually offended by nature. Every time I look out the window, I end up being irrationally offended by gender inequality. Why is it that male animals look so better than female animals? Look, I realise this is no female genital mutilation. I know that the gender animal beauty gap pales in comparison to the gender pay gap. I can’t even tell whether this column is as satirical as intended because when I think about those poor brown lady peacocks I genuinely do feel a little bit upset. It’s not really fair, is it? It’s not like the brown lady peacocks can head down to the tail

Why is it that male animals look so better than female animals? feather shop in the way I go to Amcal for a pair of false eyelashes. They wouldn’t even be able to open the adhesive with their talons. And why do boy lions get manes? Why do boy ducks get those shiny green feathers? Why do boy peacock spiders get little whirly legs and an iridescent funny flip up thing on their backs? It’s even more upsetting when you ask Mr. Google. He has all sorts of depressingly Darwinian explanations about dude animals needing to impress their lady friends so they can bone them and about how the lady birds are brown so they can hide away in their nest with their babies and not get eaten by passing foxes. So far, so Revolutionary Road. So very Revolutionary Road that I worry that anti-feminist nutters might start using the poor brown lady peacocks as justification for the fact that women are paid considerably less than men are. Mother Nature, you cold-hearted bitch. You’re letting the side down! I know. I’m anthropomorphising. I need to take a few deep breaths and remind myself that humans and animals have different kinds of brains. Lady peacocks might not even mind the whole brown thing. They probably don’t want a feminist revolution. It’s fine. I don’t even spend very much time outdoors anyway! Out of sight, out of mind! All I know is that the next time somebody asks me to feed the ducks with them I’ll need some kind of soothing mantra. I think it’ll be ‘Praying Mantis, Praying Mantis, Praying Mantis’.

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Auntie Sharon

• Keep a little notebook full of the

nice stuff that people say to you, to read when you’re not feeling so sure about yourself.

• Learn something new—it might

not be an instant boost, depending on what you’re learning, but that sense of accomplishment when you’ve finally mastered Spanish/ knitting/krumpin’/trampolining is worth it.

• Surround yourself with people

who are nice, say nice things to you, and treat you like the special little flower you are. The ones that say “You’re so pretty/fit” while sneering at you like they hate you, or anyone that makes you doubt yourself, are not worth keeping around.

• Find a friend who knows

something about fashion, particularly about flattering different body shapes, and take


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Issue 9 Science

constance cravings

- - -Good them shopping with you. Buy stuff that fits and flatters. Say no to ‘aspirational’ purchases.

• Stop comparing yourself to your

friends. Looks, achievements, social connections—none of it matters. You are who you are, everyone moves at their own pace and has their own stuff that they both rule and suck at. It’s all relative. Someone out there is definitely jealous of you.

• Take a break from Facebook. For the most part, it’s people doing their best to represent their best-looking, most spontaneous and happy selves. It seems like everyone else is having a better time than you, I know. It’s not true. Stay off Crackbook for two weeks and you’ll get a more balanced perception of who is and isn’t having the time of their life.

• When you catch yourself

listening to some of the negative stuff that nasty bitch in your head says to you, stick up for yourself and tell her to fuck off. No-one else knows the depths of your self-loathing, so only you can really answer to it and advocate for yourself.

• Don’t take yourself too seriously. We all make an arse of ourselves sometimes, and often all you can do is laugh. Not in a mean way, but like when someone you really love falls over.

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Not sure what’s going on? Need help, caller? Auntie Sharon wants to hear from you: auntiesharon@salient.org.nz

Got a sex question? Want to ask anonymously and see it in Salient? Go to askconstance.com for your hard-earned 15 minutes of faceless, pantsless fame. Sup, My bf and I have been fucking for ooh, 11 months or so now. Together ‘exclusively and romantically’ for the last 5ish. The sex is just wonderful, the perfect combination of kinky and lovin’. My problem is, I’m totally curious about other men [and women]. I feel like I’ve come to sexual maturity, or some crap, and wanna explore! Naturally, he’ll let me take on another chick if he’s there... but I don’t want him screwing someone else. Is this selfish to want this for me, but not allow him to do it? Shit son, whadduidooo? Peace. Hey hey, Welcome to the monogamy question that has stumped... pretty much every sexually liberated person. It is, unfortunately, selfish to want to fuck others but not allow your boyfriend to do the same. So, you’re faced with the “do I want to fuck others badly enough for me to a) get over him doing the same, even though it makes me uncomfortable or b) break up with him and metaphorically go sew my seeds?”  Firstly, the whole threesome thing is problematic for a few reasons. It’s dismissive of your boyfriend to be okay with you fucking another girl, because he’s assuming that Other Girl is not a threat to him, which she very well could be. I hate that whole “it’s okay if it’s with another chick” shit, because (although sometimes it can be meaningless fun) it reduces woman-on-woman love to nothing which could ever replace or threaten heterosexual sex. Which is laughably untrue. It’s also positioning the threesome as eyecandy for himself, which is an added benefit, but not the main reason to enter into a sexual encounter. Bringing a third party into an otherwise monogamous relationship (even for just one ‘purely sexual’ encounter) requires really clear boundaries, lots of communication,

and everyone being on exactly the same page. Because you’ve realised (kudos) that him fucking someone else makes you uncomfortable, I don’t think you should go down the route of watching him do it. Especially given his potentially naive feelings about what a threesome could mean for you. What you then have to decide is do you want to have other experiences so much, that you are willing to deal with your aversion to him doing the same? You need to be really honest with yourself on this, and consider all possible outcomes. Ask yourself if you think your relationship could survive a change back to non-exclusivity. If your answer is yes to both of these questions, then you need to consider how polyamory would work for you both. However, if you feel that, ultimately, the polyamourous set-up isn’t right for you, you need to decide whether you want to stay monogamous and, if so, whether you are ready to accept and live without acting on your desires to sleep with other people. I use those words deliberately, because I don’t think that anyone really has absolutely no desire ever to sleep with anyone else on the face of the earth. Those of us in monogamous relationships have to accept and make peace with those feelings, and decide if our current set up is worth enough to us to not act on them. There is this quote that I can’t find now (of course, the one time Google fails me) but it effectively says that (monogamous) love isn’t about loving someone so much you never have the desire to be with anyone else; it’s about loving someone so much that in the face of those desires, you still say “no”. Maybe saying “no” says more about love then never having to. If you decide that you would rather have more sexual experiences over staying with your current partner, then more power to you. It is far better that you’re honest with yourself and him, than feeling guilty, trapped, and end up becoming unfaithful. Have a think about what your priorities are, what the pros and cons of all options are, and I think you’ll find there’s a clear preference somewhere in there. But be prepared for it to not be as clean cut as you’d like, because even in preferences there’s compromise: If you go polyamorous you’re going to have to compromise on your dislike of him fucking others, if you stay monogamous you’re going to have to compromise on your desire to explore, and if you leave him your going to have to compromise on having a boyfriend. What compromise can you live with the most?

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Salient Vol. 74

Film

Freakonomics

Rabbit Hole

Ryan Johnson

Judah Finnigan

Based on the bestselling book of the same name, Freakonomics is a look at “the hidden side of everything”. The book is comprised of economic articles written by economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen Dubner who apply economic theory to diverse social topics. These topics include cheating by sumo wrestlers, how a child’s name affects its life and the impact of abortion on crime. The overarching ideas are that “incentives matter” and that conventional wisdom should be questioned. Perhaps this is why Freakonomics: The Movie was produced in such an unconventional way. Separate directors were hired for separate segments while interviews of the two writers provide the focal point. The highlight throughout is the presentation, which keeps the often dry subject matter from boring the audience. The two authors, who are the only constant of the film, have effortless chemistry on screen together. The section on child names is the most light-hearted, providing a humorous look at naming trends and how your name affects your life. There’re a lot of laughs throughout this section, and cringes at the awful names parents have bestowed upon their unfortunate children. The section “It’s (not always) a wonderful life” argues controversially that the 1971 legalisation of abortion had a profound impact on crime rates in the 1990s. This is the stand out section, clever graphical imagery together with a succinct argument make it hard not to agree with Levitt’s thesis. However, not all sections are of the same quality, the section on sumo corruption in particular is long-winded and weakened by poor subtitles. Freakonomics mostly captures what made the book such a runaway success: thought-provoking ideas that everyone can relate to and understand. Even though Freakonomics is an enjoyable watch, the question that must be asked is; what is the point? In essence, this is a Cliffnotes version of the book with a few bells and whistles tacked on. If you’ve already read the book, the film is mostly superfluous as there is very little new information. If you haven’t read the book but are intrigued by the concept, then you should just read the book instead. Conventional wisdom tells us that non-fiction books are difficult to adapt to the big screen and Freakonomics reinforces that notion.

I think it’s safe to say no-one will go into any film about a couple grieving the loss of their child expecting a barrel of laughs—which is the first thing one will assume about Rabbit Hole. It is a hefty topic, which is why director John Cameron Mitchell and screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire should be lauded for the tender balance they maintain. It never goes for all-out schmaltz, nor does it tip too far into a gloomy desolation from which it cannot recover, nor will it arrive at misplaced, overwrought climaxes with Oscar-hungry hands out. It’s a gentle affair whose emotional peaks swell with a natural, human rhythm; while there are plenty of breakdowns and heated moments, they never indicate any sort of manipulative intention. Mitchell isn’t trying to force us to feel a certain way, which in turn gives his characters greater resonance, because they actually behave like real people. There are tears, there are laughs (who would have thought a film about parental loss would gain its biggest chuckles over a stoned Aaron Eckhart losing the plot at someone else’s sob story?), but it all never feels anything less than human or honest. Healing is a day-by-day process and the quiet sense of hope Rabbit Hole conjures is done so in a way that favours truth over surface-level satisfaction. Both Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart—our grieving leads—have never been better. Never have I witnessed Kidman with such wrenching naturalism and tumultuous soul, nor Eckhart so convincingly conflicted: warm, aching, explosive. Both actors have to chart great emotional terrain here and both do so seamlessly, and with elegance to spare. As do the rest of its cast; special mention must go to newcomer Miles Teller, quietly bruised and deftly authentic in a role so frequently leveled to caricature. As with a lot of cinema, films dealing with this nature of subject matter tend to back themselves into a corner, where they feel they have to jump themselves out through expected hoops; the big emotional resolutions and realizations that a ‘weepie’ demands. Mitchell avoids these trappings altogether; it’ll make you feel without ever feeling like it’s trying to. And credit that to the compassionate, honest spirit at its centre—a product of its pace, pitch and performance.

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The Arts

Issue 9 Science

Theatre

Boy with tape on his face Michael Boyes

For a solo show whose premise is encompassed within the very name, I was curious as to what exactly there would be to write about. The Boy With Tape On His Face is quite literally an hour long intensive of a boy with a thick band of black tape sealing his lips shut; and to my delight, comedy has never been more potent. From the moment Sam Wills entered stage (tape on mouth, bag on side), titters of laughter sprinkled the chic bar at the San Francisco Bathhouse, and titters soon became chortles and the chortles became cheers. What passed was a whimsical hour where the audience is taken through a series of eccentric scenarios featuring puppetry, mime, song, dance— underscored by the continuous bumblings of the piano accordion, Jackson 5, Lion King and much, much, more. I could barely laugh for gasping admiration as strips of duct tape blossomed into a rose, and an ice cream container delivered ‘What A Wonderful World’. The evening holds a sense of glorified street performance, witty and comedic, but the intimacy of the stage allows for moments of exceptional beauty (cue ‘Father and Son’ featuring a Cabbage Patch Kid doll, mouth taped and all). Audience interaction is a key feature, as in most solo comedy, but rarely have I ever seen an audience so desirous to actively participate. Wills shares his stage just as much with the slew of participants as he has on stage himself, and despite the sometimes ridiculous nature of his commands (a woman reenacts a toy lion and consequently jumps through a hoop; three gentlemen become the dancing chorus to Wills’ crooning shoes), all are performed without question. To say The Boy With Tape On His Face is brilliant simply isn’t enough. Sam Wills presents his audience with incredible comedic generosity, in many ways it becomes as much your show as his. Bravo.

y With The Bo is Face H n O Tape Wills By Sam y at 2–7 Ma isco c n San Fra use o h h Bat

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37

Grown Up

Gabrielle Me

ntjox Brad Zimmer man is 24-yea rs-old, has a m is engaged to assive mortgag be married. Bu e, and t is he Grown comedian had Up? Naaah. Th the audience is talented at Club Ivy ac with his anec hing with laug dotal, self-depr hter ecating humou of adulthood an r. He explored d responsibilit ideas y, and managed about racism, to squeeze in domestic viol gags ence, ‘child en physical attrac thusiasts’, sex, tion, Porirua, love, and parents, w uncontrollabl hich had me la y. Needless to ughing say, he was by obscene. no means afra id to be He ingeniousl y whittled dow n most of New problems to bo Zealand’s drin urbon aka dom king estic violence effortless ease in a bottle. W , he segued fr ith om domestic viol back again, w ence to semen ithout his audi , and ence losing tr He has a real ack. gift for rapid changes in tone hilarious to de and pace, goin ad serious in the same sent g from of his quick sw ence. The stun itches into the ted nature serious made keep on track it somewhat di and stop the gi fficult to ggling. This is taste, but rath not a dig at hi er, it proves hi s st yle or s co mic abilities. Brad Zimmer man, with his wit and shinin comedian not g charisma, is to be missed in a the 2011 New Comedy Festiv Zealand Intern al. ational

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Grown Up By Brad Zim merman 3-7 May at Club Ivy

In other comedy news: Our apologies to comedian Danny Bhoy, whom Salient arts co-editor Louise Burston accused of being Irish in the last issue. He is, as a helpful commentator on the Salient website pointed out, actually Scottish.

L Ross Jackson DENTAL SURGEON

Level 4 Baldwins Centre 342 Lambton Quay Wellington Phone/fax: 499-1769 Email: lrjackson@xtra.co.nz salient.org.nz


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Salient Vol. 74

Books

Science fiction:

SCIENCEY AWESOMENESS

the underrated genre

Sean Mannin

Fairooz Samy It’s almost impossible to write about science fiction without including the word fanboy, such are the connotations associated with the genre. But science fiction novels have been bastions of popular culture and important milestones in the literary world. So forget about Star Trek fan fiction and pick up one of these classics...

5 Top

Science fiction Books

The Time Machine by H G Wells Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Coming to a novelty bookstore near you... With lines like “This time I won’t let the doctor pull down my underwear. No way will this man feel my balls again and measure my penis with a yardstick”, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were quoting from a poorly-written sexual harassment handbook. This, luckily fictitious, excerpt is from the newly released Misconception, a ‘fertility thriller’ authored by noted fertility specialist and Yale graduate Dr Avner Hershlag. The plot is understandably baffling. Cloning is an issue, as is a fertility-challenged first lady, a scientist with a “micropenis and two microtesticles”, and a rape victim with a fear of her boyfriend’s dick. Though self-financed (publishers were strangely unwilling to take the chance), the book may become a moderate hit, creating a niche market for both crimegenre enthusiasts and reproductive fetishists. Interestingly, Dr Hershlag is actress Natalie Portman’s father, leaving internet bloggers and Salient staffers to wonder about the extent to which her real-life pregnancy inspired the novel’s content.

...

a quote from

nce emic, and scie , writer, acad ” -fi ci “s Isaac Asimov e fin y: “We can de fiction visionar confused, by ial sometimes er at , as trashy m e fiction. Thus le, with scienc illa Meets dz Go ignorant peop le hi w ience fiction, Star Trek is sc fi.” isc Mothra is

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g

Some of you o ut be wondering there may (a wouldn’t you) nd why w influential scie hat the most n been over the ce book has last few years . So, “what is

the most influ ential book of awesomeness sciencey to come out of late?” I hear yo Well, there ar u ask… e actually two: A Short History Everything (200 of Nearly 5) by Bill Brys on and Grand (2010) by Step Design hen Hawking and Leonard M Since it is the lodinow. newer of the tw o, I’ll start with Design. Grand This book, to put it bluntly, should be bori about physics, ng—it’s and although physics is gene interesting, bo rally oks about it ge nerally aren’t. Hawking and Luckily, Mlodinow have had practice w ith this and has writt Grand Design no equations atenalalbook containing (huzzah!). Grand Design examines examines the history of scie ntific knowledg the history e regardin iverse from th of scientific Ionian Grgeethkse un e to Co icus, knowledge all the way up to relapetivrnity and quantum mec hanics. It also regarding the ex plains M-theor y, which is an universe extension to st ring theory an d is quite compl it’s pretty good icated. All in al —a little cond l, escending, bu people writin t as the g it are so muc h smarter than felt justified. I am, it So now to Bill Bryson’s book . Although scientifically less intense, it is much broade than just disc r: rather ussing physic s (which it do well), it also co es quite vers geology, biology, palaeo and chemistr ntology y. Bryson give s a fresh perspe of someone w ctive ho was—up un til the writing book—quite ig of the norant of all th ese things. It pleasantly am is also using and cont ains a lot of sm fun-sized fact all, s about the pe ople who mad science we kn e the ow today, like Newton and Ru Some of these therford. facts are very strange and ju bit amazing— st a little such as Newto n shoving need eyes and the pa les in his laeontologist who refused to clothes. wear Critically both books were ve ry well receiv with Bryson w ed, inning Aventis , Descartes, an Johnson prizes d Samuel despite his oc casional mista biology portio kes in the n of the book. Grand Design generally posi received tive feedback overall, but I Bryson’s A Sh recommend ort History of Nearly Everyt really is just m hing. It ore fun to read .

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The Arts

Issue 9 Science

Games

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ANOMALOUS MATERIALS: Shedding Some Light on

Videogame Development Angus Winter

As with any other collaborative artistic work, the creation of a videogame is a defined process. Being a relatively new medium, the internal workings of its industry aren’t really investigated by any media beyond niche videogame journalism. As a result of this, you could ask almost anybody—even the majority of gamers—“how is a videogame made?” and be met with a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders. This is unfortunate, as the field is an incredibly interesting example of 21st Century artistry. The steps taken to turn an idea or inspiration into a piece of enjoyable (let alone playable) software are reflective of the innovations of a young, yet prosperous industry. The production of a piece of electronic entertainment is essentially divided into two distinct parties: the developer and the publisher. The former is the creative force behind the product, akin to, say, the production team that works on a film. The latter is entirely responsible for the commercial side of things. Basically, they pay for the whole affair, and manage things like marketing and distribution. Keeping up with the film analogy, a publisher is similar to something like a film producer/distributor—think Fox or Universal. For this week’s article, I’ll stick to exploring videogame development rather than publishing. Donnie and I have agreed to run a series of these articles, as we’d like to discuss the inner workings of the videogame industry in detail, rather than simply gloss over its basic outlines. Your standard videogame development team is comprised of a whole host of people, all of whom have a specific contribution to the final product. Again, these staff can be divided into two major categories— either designers or programmers. Designers deal with what can be called the macro level of a videogame, or, everything you as the player perceive in your experience. Individual aspects of the sights and sounds within a game world are handled by specific staff. The creation of a simple in-game character is exemplary of this collaborative process. First of all, a concept artist will design a character. From there, a 3D modeller and a texture artist work to create its virtual-

world representation by use of computer software. Finally, an animator and sound designer actualise how the character moves and sounds, bringing it to life in-game. More importantly, lead game designers are responsible for conceptualising and working to manifest gameplay ideas and mechanics, or more simply put, the rules and structure that necessitate a game, rather than just a virtual environment. For instance, somebody at some point in time decided that Mario should eat mushrooms and grow two times in size, making it easier to jump on psychedelic monsters. Go figure. At the same time, videogame programmers are working at the micro level of a videogame. This is where it all gets very interesting, and where both your and my own comprehension begins to fade away. In order for every facet of the aforementioned macro level e b to o ri a For M of a videogame to actually operate r and be perceptible, it must be coded able to appea in u by a programmer. If a videogame is o y before essentially a virtual world, then it’s code e b world 1-1, to is analogous to it’s laws of physics and reality. For Mario to be able to appear able to move r o t, before you in world 1-1, to be able to h g ri r o left move left or right, or to jump, it must st u m it , to jump be written in mathematical code. When Mario and the mushroom come into be written in l a contact, a programmer has scripted its c ti mathema apparent consumption and your resulting code growth in size. You get the picture. This method of utilising cutting edge technology to combine complex mathematical language with digital artistry, all to form playable art, is truly a creative marvel of our generation. These people are working their day jobs and literally crafting virtual worlds that can tell us a story, evoke our adrenaline, or puzzle and confound us. Isn’t that wonderful? What’s more, the videogame development industry is notable amongst other artistic mediums in that many of its major development studios are free from corporate meddling. Blizzard and Valve, massively successful for their respective Warcraft and Half-Life franchises, are notorious for their “we’ll release it when it’s done, not when it’s financially viable” approach to game development. It really is refreshing to see the cashcows in a creative field retain total legitimacy post commercial success. However, as with all multi-billiondollar industries, all is not well. Next week, Donnie gets into the business of it all...

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Salient Vol. 74

Music

Spotlight on...

Orchestra of Spheres Flo Wilson You know those bands and artists you get really, truly excited to see? The kind of band/excitement where you start flapping your arms manically, and actually take off your woolly socks to go out on a night when it’s pissing down and you’d much rather sit in bed watching 17 Again? Sure, you may be sick of town and are happy devoting the rest of your days as a student to Zac Efron features, but seriously, if you’ve missed out on seeing Wellington band Orchestra of Spheres live, you are missing out on an integral local experience. These guys invoke arm flapping, jive, boogie… basically any of those dance moves you can only do around your family because they’re obligated to love you, no matter how much you flap around like a mad chook... Read more online!

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Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues Mark Turner

Wow, this record sounds amazing. It features fully live instrumentation with complex four- or five-part vocal harmonies. So, Everything you’ve come to expect from Fleet Foxes. It’s dark-sounding folk music, taking influence from bands like Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Simon & Garfunkel, but Fleet Foxes make it less cheesy and darker. Kind of like Grizzly Bear’s appropriation of Beach Boys-style harmonies, Fleet Foxes is a new, darker, more modern-sounding take on a ’60s and ’70s thing. Let me warn all you young whippersnappers out there, Helplessness Blues can get a little adult contemporary. Just because it’s kind of retro doesn’t mean it’s a Strokes record, kids. I could imagine Fleet Foxes playing Michael Fowler to a seated crowd of middle-aged people eating cheese and drinking wine. But that’s part of the beauty of Fleet Foxes— they have wide appeal, and it’s no mystery why. They are exceptional performers with excellent

taste. This isn’t all that common. The number of times I go and see a band play down at Mighty Mighty and they sing out of tune and sound bad... Well, it’s too many times. Thank god for the Fleet Foxes, I say! But not just because of their fantastic vocal performance and arrangements—the songs are great. Lyrically, the album seems to have themes of growing up and feeling a bit useless. These themes are a little lost on this early 20s reviewer. But, even though the vocals are very forward in the mix, the record can be enjoyed without even delving into the lyrical side of it. This is in part due to its rich and complex instrumentation. In ‘Lorelai’, I can hear a couple of acoustic guitars, mandolin, glockenspiel, electric guitar, tambourine, drum kit, bass guitar, at least four voices, and various woodwind orchestral instruments. This makes for a huge sound—there’s a very Pet Sounds feel to the record, with strange sounds being mixed in with the more traditional, pop orchestra instrumentation (for example, the big footstomping on ‘Lorelai’). There are also lots of much more low key moments on the record. ‘Someone You’d Admire’ starts off with a single acoustic guitar and voice, expanding with a second guitar and a second voice. These more stripped back songs sound like they’re being played in a giant, empty auditorium. This underscores the record’s instrumental theme: a sound of loneliness, longing, and some dudes having crazy good voices. After a couple of listens, I feel that the album has an overall sound to it, but that the songs don’t necessarily stand out individually. Perhaps I just don’t have my head in the Crosby, Stills & Nash zone enough, but many of the songs use similar, close, dark sound harmonies with soft, folky instrumentation. This results in Fleet Foxes having a very certain, well-defined overall sound, but it also means there aren’t any sweet standout pop singles on the record. An album full of album cuts is great when the music sounds this good, so go and listen to it. I just want to hear these guys play a more straight-up pop song.

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The Arts

Issue 9 Science

ts

This week in music:

r Visual A

Wellington

• Beastwars will release an album soon... • ...Wellington’s Force Fields have released one too. Pay as you like on Bandcamp.

• On Friday 13 May at Happy, US band YellowFever are playing with locals St Rupertsberg and Glass Vaults. • On Saturday 14 May, Princess Chelsea releases her debut album Lil’ Gold at Mighty Mighty with the Eversons and Pikachunes. It’s a poptastic weekend! • New Yorker Darwin Deez plays Bodega on Tuesday 17 May.

Online this week: What Does New Zealand Music Month Do? Barney Chunn There is no denying NZ Music Month has had positive effects on the exposure of New Zealand music. The stated goal of NZMM is to “help you get to great gigs, make new musical discoveries, and get excited about your faves from the past,” and “spreading the word about key releases and live shows, official NZ Music Month events and working with brands and sponsors to integrate as much relevant activity into May as possible.” Translated, this sounds like, ‘We established a brand to push a goal, unfortunately we reached that goal and now have a marketable brand with nothing focused to market. Shit’...

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Princess Chelsea, Lil’ Golden Book Sonia Fyson I imagine this album won’t win over anyone who can’t stomach a good dose of cute in their diet, but for those who have the digestive system to take it, there’s something worth listening for. Chelsea’s distinctive sound is a kind of sinister circus, relying mainly on keyboards and the tinkly glockenspiels. Not that the princess would ever care, but the extended make-believe could verge on gimmicky...

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Cit y Galler

Andrew Ross, I Last Saw You There

• Despite 2011’s intention to feature every single possible natural disaster in some kind of scary showcase, there is some good news. Lyttleton’s Wunderbar has reopened!

• MarineVille are also getting in on the album game! Their one is called Fowl Swoop and you can buy it on vinyl. Exciting!

41

y presents

Hirschfeld Galle ry 16 April to 15 May 2011 Sally Ander

son

What I like ab out the mediu m of photography is its accessib ility. Photography can offer a different view o it transports u f the world as s and spaces th to locations at otherwise see we would not .

Andrew Ro ss takes us on such a journe exhibition I La y in his st Saw You Th ere. Ross is a ph who takes the otographer time to stop, co nsider and ca world around pture the him. It is the w ay that Ross qu our attention ietly brings to the overlook ed, which offe into an unseen rs us a peek world that is so special. After moving to Wellington in the 1980s, Ro began getting to know the ci ss ty on foot. Th the pedestrian e view of can clearly be seen in his wor takes time to st k as he op and captur e various land interiors. Som scapes and e of these inte rior works ar albums. They e like family capture the w ay people inha surroundings bit their and pass thro ugh daily life. image ‘The Sw I found the eedon’s Front room, 41 Hollo Mitcheltown, way Road, 15/10/2007’ fa scinating. This view of a fam panoramic ily front home captures how completely do the walls are minated with family photog works are a dr raphs. These eam for the cu rious, as we ge behind closed t to see -doors, into ho w people live. This collection also features ph has captured otographs that while tramping Ross around New Ze on recent trip aland and s to England, America and works there is Europe. In thes a sense of the e movement of captures hum time. Ross an presence an d th the environm e way people inhabit ent. For exam ple, in ‘Colma Francisco 1/10 Cemetery, San /2006’, graves tones spread ou as they signify t for miles, those who have passed. Howev tramping seri er, in the es it is the age of the land in that can be se New Zealand en. Any struct ur es that featur as huts or shac e here, such ks, are tempo rary. This exhibitio n is only on fo r a short time get in quick. Tr so be sure to y to get to the gallery during time. This way an off-peak you can be tran sported to thes places in the qu e unseen iet, unobtrusiv e way that Ro the world. ss captures

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Columns

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Salient Vol. 74

will be

Beer & Whi s ky – Proud Parents

Dave the Beer Guy

Beer and whisky have always had an affinity, being made of the same base ingredient, mashed and fermented—only whisky is distilled, and beer has hops. When the most imperial of IPAs won’t cut it, many beer drinkers turn to whisky. However, a new Yeastie Boys release looks to fill that niche with beer. Yeastie Boys’ Creative Director Stu McKinlay has long been a Scotch whisky fan and so, one day last year, he created an experimental test batch using Peated Distilling Malt (PDM), usually used in whisky from the Isle of Islay (pronounced “eye-lah”). This wouldn’t be such an extreme undertaking if Stu had followed normal brewing sense, which is to only use PDM as a maximum of 5% of your total malt (the smoky Scotch ale stonecutter has only around 1%). Stu used 100%. What should have been so smoky that it was one note and undrinkable, was surpisingly complex and tasty. I was lucky enough to taste the second test batch, with 95% PDM and 5% caramel malt. Oddly, reducing the percentage of smoked malt made the beer less drinkable, with the caramalt adding too much richness. The lesson was learned, and two metric tonnes of PDM was ordered from Scotland. There wasn’t enough in New Zealand to make even one batch. Here we are months later, and the child of beer and whisky, Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude (7%), is on the shelves. My first sip was like licking an ash tray, but after a few more, my palate had time to adjust to the intense smoke, and the more subtle elements of the beer emerged. I was less blinded by the smoke, and more intrigued. The ash tray smoke turned into smoky bacon, and invited another sip. US Willamette hops provide a faint citrus flavour, which works well with some malty sweetness. Almost all of Rex Attitude was bottled and these will be available at all good beer outlets in Wellington from here on out, making for Yeastie Boys’ third year-round offering. A select few outlets will be brave enough to put Rex on tap—confirmed so far are Regional Wines & Spirits, Malthouse, Bruhaus and Hashigo Zake.

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If you have any questions about this week’s beers or any comments, please contact me at davethebeerguy@gmail. com or Tweet at me @davethebeerguy

French Onion Soup Hayley Adams

That dreaded winter chill is on its way and a super tasty soup is the cheapest—and yummiest—way to keep warm this winter. I swear nothing beats a hot bowl of soup and some buttery toast when it’s raining and miserable outside. I had the joy of meeting my flatmate’s 14-year-old brother Robert, who came to stay in our student flat with is a couple of weeks ago. Much to my surprise, the little legend came equipped to cook us all a feast (with a bit of help from Jamie Oliver!). Better still, it was something which I had never cooked before myself, nor even tasted, so it was all very exciting. In about an hour, he had us all sat down with a delicious bowl of his very own French onion soup with crusty, gruyère-covered baguette.

Robbie’s French Onion Soup • 1 kg of green onions, peeled and roughly chopped • A handful of fresh thyme • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped • 1 bay leaf • Olive oil • A good knob of butter • 1.3 litres of beef or vege stock • Salt n pepper to taste • 1 baguette • Gruyere cheese (or any other sort you might have in the fridge) Fry off your onion, thyme, garlic and bay leaf in the butter and oil, you want them to soften and become translucent but not to brown too much. Pop the lid on and remember to stir occasionally, this should take about 15-20 minutes. Then take the lid off the onions, turn up the heat a bit and brown the onions a little (this will caramelise them and make them extra tasty). Now add the stock and simmer with the lid off for 20minutes, the stock will reduce down a little. Ladle your soup into bowls, tear up your baguette and stick a big chunk on top of the soup in the bowl. Sprinkle liberally with cheese and melt under the grill in your oven. This way the bread soaks up a bit of liquid, which I found super tasty, but if you can’t entertain the idea of soggy bread, simply lay your baguette on an over tray, top with cheese and grill.

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Issue 9 Science

Notices Salient provides a free notice service for all Victoria University of Wellington students, VUWSAaffiliated clubs and not-for-profit organisations. Notices should be received by 5pm Tuesday the week before publication. Notices should be fewer than 100 words. Forprofit organisations will be charged $10 per notice. Send notices to editor@salient.org.nz, with ‘Notice’ in the subject line.

UniQ Meeting UniQ’s a social/support group for queer students and their friends. We are having our first proper general meeting on the 12th of May at 6pm, in the Memorial Theatre Foyer of the Student Union Building (opposite the VUWSA reception). If you’re keen, come along and make some friends and talk to awesome people/take part. Otherwise, email us on uniqvictoria@gmail.com, or ‘like’ us on Facebook: facebook.com/ uniqvic

Food Fair Student clubs and students are invited to prepare and sell international food at the Flavours World Food Fairs. Good cash income. Starting small, low risk, is fine. Call Martin 3841998 or see flavours.org.nz

Women’s Group IGM The Women’s Group IGM is this week! Most positions including President are open, so come along Wednesday from 2-3pm in the Women’s Room (above VUWSA). Pizza and refreshments provided. Open to all self-identified women.

Global Poverty Project Scavenger Hunt Saturday 14 May—World Fair Trade Day 12pm-4pm, Civic Square Join the Global Poverty Project team as they get together with other organisations in celebrating World Fair Trade Day, by participating in the great ‘Show Off Your Swap’ Scavenger Hunt. Adventure around the city to complete Fairtrade-themed challenges. Be in to win great prizes and learn more about Fairtrade. The grand prize is a year’s supply of ‘All Good’ Bananas from CommonSense Organics. RSVP at globalpovertyproject.com/events Click on Scavenger Hunt $5 per person, $20 for a team (pay on the day).

Wednesday Communion at Anglican Chaplaincy Centre your busy week with prayer and a mid-week communion. A quiet service based on the Anglican Prayer Book is held every Wednesday, in the Chapel at 8 Kelburn Pde, 12:10 to 12:45. All are welcome.

Need a language tutor? Interested in learning a foreign language or brushing up on your skills? With an experienced team of language tutors we can help. We currently have tutors in Italian and French (and Spanish if there is demand) who are able to fit around your schedule. Hourly rate with groups discounts. Contact us today at languagetut@ gmail.com

Careers and jobs Recruitment for 2011/12 Internships and 2012 Graduate Jobs has started! And closing SOON! Full details on CareerHub: careerhub. victoria.ac.nz Internships and Graduate Applications Closing in May and June: 16/5 – Curtis McLean 22/5 – GHD 25/5 – Contact Energy 26/5 – ANZ 27/5 – Tonkin Taylor 31/5 – PKF Martin Jarvie; Halliburton – Australasia; NZ Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) 1/6 – Transpower 2/6 – Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust 7/6 - IBM 12/6 – Walt Disney World 13/6 – Frucor; Prudential 17/6 – Intergen Employer Presentations – check details/book on CareerHub: 12/5 – Curtis McLean, 4.30pm Careers Expos – check details CareerHub: 19/5 – Campus Careers Expo, 11am – 2pm 20/5 – ICT Careers Expo, 12pm – 2pm 11/8 – Science Careers Expo, 11am – 12pm Vic Careers: 463-5393, careers-service@ vuw.ac.nz, 14 Kelburn Parade

Film Society: The perfect way to spend a Thursday night Do you want to watch a chance to watch a vast range of weekly movies with fellow students? Do you want to eat homemade popcorn while doing so? Do you want to pay dirt cheap prices for it? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’ then come along to Film Society. 6.30pm, Thursday nights Memorial Theatre in the Student Union Building This week, pay only $15 for a year’s worth of films or $2 for a single non-membership screening and watch Francois Truffaut’s classy sci-fi film Fahrenheit 451.

Film screening—If These Walls Could Talk Three generations of women’s experiences with abortion. This is the first film in an abortion rights film festival. Come along to learn about struggles to get access to abortion, and women’s experiences of reproduction around the world. Thursday 12 May, 5.30pm SUB 219 - FREE

Organised by Action for Abortion Rights, actionforabortionrights@gmail. com

MSI Postgraduate Internships In 2011 the Ministry of Science and Innovation (MSI) will fund 50 innovative New Zealand businesses to employ a postgraduate intern for six months. The programme is open to businesses of all sizes that have a focus on research and development, and to all science, technology or engineering postgraduate students. The programme aims to give New Zealand’s future innovators a head start through experience in a commercial research environment. Applications are due in MSI Portal by 12pm on 31 May 2011. For more information, go to msi.govt.nz/ business/postgradinternships

VIC OE—Vic Student Exchange Programme Why not study overseas as part of your degree? Earn Vic credit, get Studylink & grants, explore the world!

their isolated coastal town, 10-year-old twins, Kimi and Melody are forced apart. Kimi must find the strength to let go of what he loves the most. Venue: VZ003

New Zealand National Disaster Management Seminar Want to know more about response and recovery to natural disaster? Want to have a chance to explore the government response to a natural disaster from officials? Then AIESEC Victoria invites you to attend a free speaker event about organisational Crisis Management. Time and Venue: Friday 13th May at 5.30pm-7pm at Memorial Theatre, Student Union Building. Speakers from Wellington Emergency Management Office (WEMO) and MFAT will address this issue relating to different stages of an emergency. Come along and join us! A question-and-answer session will be held at the Hunter Lounge.

Weekly seminars on Wednesdays during term time, Level 2, Easterfield Building, 12.55pm - 1.05pm

A crusade against dihydrogen monoxide

Email: exchangestudents@vuw.ac.nz

We’re holding a rally at the Wellington Port to make our voices heard on the issue of dihydrogen monoxide use in industry and transport (especially in shipping). This is part of a nationwide series of protests organised by the Coalition Against the Use of Toxic Oxides. There will be speeches outlining the risks of DHMO and options for better practice. The protest will probably be held on the Waterloo Quay entrance, though this will be confirmed at our meeting on Tuesday at one o’clock. We’ll be gathering in the clubs’ space in the Student Union building (adjacent to VUWSA) to plan and get some idea of numbers. Free snacks, because we know you’ll need enticing. DHMO is sometimes called hydroxyl acid, and is the major component of acid rain. It accelerates corrosion of metals and can cause severe burns. Do we want this dangerous chemical to be proliferated any further? Come and add your voice to the cacophony, 1pm @ the Student Union Building. Want to do a little reading? Check out dhmo.org/ msdsdhmo.html

Website: victoria.ac.nz /exchange Visit us: Level 2, Easterfield Building Drop-in hours: Mon & Tues 9-12, Wed-Fri 10-12 Deadline for Trimester 1, 2012 exchange applications closes July 16th (June 30th for University of California)

Student Craft Design Awards 2011 On behalf of the Friends of the Dowse, we are calling for entries for this year’s 2011 Student Craft Design Awards, designed to encourage creativity and excellence in contemporary craft/ design across all media. Tertiary students/recent graduates from an arts, craft or design programme are invited to submit a project completed in 2010 or 2011. First prize: $3,000. This year entry to the awards is only via online entry through the Dowse Website. Students can visit dowse.org. nz /scda to find the link to enter online, and they will also be able to view examples of previous years’ winners.

Free Admission to World Film Showcase! Screening held at the Language Learning Centre, on the big screen in VZ003. Be early as seats are limited. Foreign films screened with English subtitles. Date: Wednesday 11 May, Time: 5pm Chief and 545 sand in my toes (NZ various), run time: 90min A collection of 5 short films, united by the theme of Samoan people. Chief Semu Fatutoa drives a taxi cab in Honolulu. Once he was a Samoa Chieftain, but tragedy compelled him to cover his tattoos and flee from home. Also showing: This Film is a Dog, The Beach, The Road Back, and O Tamaiti. Venue: VZ003 Date: Thursday 12 May, Time: 5pm The Strength of Water (NZ 2009), run time: 83min When a mysterious stranger arrives in

Hope to see you all there, Jean Dubois On Behalf of the Coalition Against the Use of Toxic Oxides

Computer and Laptop Repair and Service Need Computer Help? I can Fix/Repair/ Service/Network/Backup/Install or Upgrade your Laptop or PC. I can help with Wireless/Broadband/Training and anything computer related. I’m located at top of the Cable Car near the Met Office building or I can pickup and drop off work at Vic and am very affordable at $70/hour. Check me out at compguy.co.nz or email me on info@ compguy.co.nz or call /txt Franz on 499 0098/021 067 3750.

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Letters Post-grads read Salient? Dear Sail-lient In the week 8 letters, someone appeared to be pissed at the staff and postgrad bar for not letting undergrads in. There has always been such a bar, and staff an postgrads need and deserve a place away from drunken 18-24-year olds (mostly), where they can drink a coffee, eat a sandwich, or sup on alcohol-y things. What should be the grumble, it that the bar has moved from a great position above the library, with a panoramic view of the city to a noisy corner with no view. John – Postgrad/tutor Dear disgruntled undergraduates Here are a couple of things you should know before you complain about Milk and Honey 1) There has always been a “ postgrad and staff only” cafe on campus, you are only concerned now because you can see it. 2) The reason there is a separate cafe is that in order to teach, staff require coffee and time AWAY from students.  3) Milk and Honey sucks: the coffee is crap, the service is pretty terrible and the menu isn’t really worth time away from the thesis. 4) It’s only one cafe. Go to Vicbooks for coffee, it’s much better than Milk and Honey. In fact you will probably see most staff and postgrads in there rather than in Milk and Honey. If you do see Milk and Honey full of staff however, think about just how many staff and postgrads there actually are at Kelburn Campus. Go to Wishbone or Hot Wok for healthy(ish) food. Go to Hunter Lounge. You have the option to even go downtown for food. We, however, have to grade your essays, teach your classes and write Masters/ PhD theses/publish articles at the same time. All so we can earn enough money to only just afford the pretentious food at Milk and Honey. Yours Sincerely The Postgrad who can hear every word you say in the Cotton Level 2 office corridor   

Cleaning up Brady’s ACT Dearest Salient, Bcc. The President Breamus Shady provides an interesting and informative column which is nice to read although I miss Hax Mardy’s collages. I appreciate that he is

attempting to be both reassuring and political humorous when he writes (May 2nd, 2011) that “this trimester will be over faster than Rodney Hide’s leadership.” We should note that Rodney Hide became leader of the ACT party in 2004. Thus Mr. Shady should be proven correct, 5 weeks is a considerably shorter period of time than 7 years. However the cheap shot at ACT is a real shit one because 7 years is actually a long time, longer than both Don Key and fill-in Phil have been leaders. Incidentally he was also leader of ACT before the Maori Party was even formed. Awkward.. Yours in finance, Broctor Dash.

We ain’t trollin’! Dearest Trollient Why do you troll my facebook newsfeed when I am trying to procrastinate from my philosophy essay at 6.38am on a monday morning? posting the entire contents of that weeks issue via notes is admirable and shows dedication and commitment to the facebook community but please do not do it all at once as it is detrimental to my facebook experience.  hugs and kisses,  billy goat gruff p.s you should bring back letter of the week prizes.

Blast from the past Hey Salient love that your fb keeps spamming me to write a letter , so wish granted To all Vic Students and friends miss you guys , Its been too long!!! Apparently the Hunter Lounge is all fancy now things that make me want to come back and visit. Lets have Coffee and you can all tell me about your looming essays, tests and general stress.  I’m all ears , just remember theirs light at the end of the tunnel besides you’ve just come back from holidays chill you got this!! :) To my China Field Trip Buddies: Can’t wait to catch up with you guys on the 16th I’ve marked the date, we’ll get ruckus as  To VBC 88.3 FM: Teresa Play some Radiohead!! To VUWSA: Bridie Hood 4 Prez !! jks Seamus your way cooler than that max guy, Mel and Melissa I miss your antics Work Hard, Party harder Alan Young Vic Alumni


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Issue 9 Science

[insert altered Martin Luther King quote here]

Hello sweetie

Dear Salient, (and all the sexy people that read it)

Are you a boy? If you are, you can help plait my hair and cook me dinner with a Tefal wok. We can go to protests together and name our kids after Star Wars characters. If you’re a girl we can still be facebook friends. We can start a 312 friends club. Either way it will be awesome.

Am I the only one who seems to think the the constant jubilation over Osama bin Laden’s death is over the top? Sure he organised one of the worst atrocities in recent history but shouldn’t now be a time of reflection of his crimes rather than a celebration of his death? I mean it seems inappropriate to celebrate anyones death. If it was considered appropriate, surely we would see Obama and other world leaders guffawing and spurting streamers everywhere from their proverbial cocks? Also, I hope there’s awareness going out about the Wellington Public Transport Tertiary Student Price Petition (its a shitty anagram) as it’s important obviously to us all here. As usual discussion is always good.  Oh, and double also, Have your readers seen the new Doctor Who episodes yet? (The third episode will have aired in the UK when this is published) Where are my fellow Whovians!!? I wanna know what they think of the new series!!! This shit is just blowing my mind!! Much Love. Rup

Sturgeon’s Law. That’s why. Dear Salient: Two things. Firstly, VUSWA services. They need to be better advertised. Most people at the uni don’t know about the kitchenettes, and a surprising number of other services. Might get less complaints that way. Secondly, have you considered a short fiction section? I’m sure that there’s a grand quantity of solid work each week that people would be proud to have printed. Given one of your more popular printed comics is practically just dialog (cough, Vampire, cough) it wouldn’t go so far astray. (Co-incidentally, complaining about comics waits yet for another letter.) Yours somewhat respectfully, but not entirely; Mister Gency

Dear Skippy,

Regards girl who wore a tinfoil hat to geography PS. Do you like Doctor Who? It’s kind of a dealbreaker if you don’t.

You know more than 5000 people read this, right? Avast, Ye Salty Dog! IwillbequickbecauseIneedtogetsome moresleepandIhaveafewassignments fromovertheholidaysthatI’veneglected... I was going to write the whole letter like that, but I’m feeling far too merciful. I’ve taken on so many projects lately, but my life doesn’t feel like I’ve been juggling more stuff. Isn’t that weird? I really need to have some kind of schedule for getting things done that I can stick to though. It would be so great to finish things and have time-frames designated for doing specific work. Each new week seems to rearrange the level of urgency of everything though, so I don’t really know what to do about it. I’m scatterbrained enough without actually having lots of different things I need to think about. I’m still stewing the idea of starting some kind of writingworkshop club. I probably don’t have time to, but I have so many ideas. ...

According to our research, Ally’s our most popular columnist Dear Salient, So I've noticed that there's no Queer Column this year. I understand if you're short on space or whatever, but perhaps it wouldn't be completely unreasonable to get rid of Ally Garett's abortion of a column? Seriously, it's pretty awful. Chur, Trippin' on Fishballs

Basho would be proud Hello Haikulient There has been a distinct lack of haikus in your pages this year. I wish to remedy this with the following adaptation of Inception, in haiku: Navigating dreams Beware of the subconscious: Cobb has some baggage  That is all. Stay cool,

Salient welcomes, encourages and thrives on public debate—be it serious or otherwise—through the letters pages. Write about what inspires you, enrages you, makes you laugh, makes you cry. Send us feedback, send us abuse. Anything. Letters must be received before 5pm Tuesday, for publication the following week. Letters must be no more than 250 words. Pseudonyms are fine, but all letters must include your real name, address and telephone number. These will not be printed. Please note that letters will not be corrected for spelling or grammar. The Editors reserve the right to edit, abridge or decline any letters without explanation. Letters can be sent to letters@ salient.org.nz, posted to Salient, c/- Victoria University, PO Box 600, Wellington or dropped into the Salient office on the third floor of the Student Union Building.

I-can’t-think-of-a-pseudonym-inhaiku-form-but-this-should-suffice

Our resident boat expert is all at sea Dearest darling Sail-ient, This is an open letter to all those who own boathouses on Oriental Parade: Yo sexc boathouse guiy Ur place is so sweeeeet I fear I may die (of rotten teeth)

m to ~

Send ‘e

.nz nt.org @salie letters t c/ Salien y iversit n U ia Victor x 600 PO Bo n o

gt Wellin

Ur in a boathouse, motherfucker, I won’t ever forget

Aren’t you getting bored of me yet? [Editors’ note: A little...]

It’s the wackest freaking place, just that hut and ur pritty much set (for life)

Oh, if anyone found a small metal snake, about 6cm long, with roman numerals carved on it’s back, on thursday the 28th; I would GREATLY appreciate it back. I made it by hand, with tools and materials I no longer have any access to. :( Send me an email; culturevore@ gmail.com

Why u so rich? Can I has some muneee?

@Hipster: I have one of the egg-shaped coupons that you can trade at the VUWSA office for an easter egg. You can have it if you want. They probably don’t have any eggs left, but I’m sure you could get a law student to threaten them with the legal repercussions of breaking a contract written on an easter egg if they don’t go out and buy you one.

Salient Letters Policy 2011

Where dost thou live, sweet hunneee (bee)? Just a slice of ur pastel painted boathouse Would make mai life. But seriously, anyone know how much those adorable boathouses cost? Sleep with t

~YY does love~ do this to me~? [Abridged]

salient.org.nz


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Salient Vol. 74

Pangram The top 26 blank squares and the bottom 26 blank squares each contain the 26 letters of the alphabet, in a scrambled order. T

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ABRUPT ACAPULCO ACHED ACTRESS CABLE TV COBWEBS COMPADRES COURT JESTER CRAYON DISTURB DWARVES ERSATZ FANJET GERBIL GLOW GO STEADY IQ TEST

JACUZZI JOKES LOKI LOOT NEWSPAPER PAY RAISE PECAN PIXEL POETRY QUARK RAGTIME ROCKET FUEL SNOOZE SQUEEGEE TO DIE FOR VORTEX WISHBONES

DOWN: 1. To make (9) 2. To repair (4) 3. To irritate (5) 4. To counterfeit (5) 5. To stay (4) 6. Tedious (9) 8. District (6) 10. Magnificent (6) 12. To occur (6) 16. An illustration (7) 17. Odd (7) 19. All of a class (5) 20. Suffering (5) 23. Snowstorm (8) 24. Armada (8) 26. To compel (6) 27. A fraction (7) 29. The stage (7) 31. Appalling (5) 32. Unwarranted (5) 34. Open wide (5) 35. To dismiss (5)

ACROSS: 3. Corroboration (5) 7. Concur (5) 9. Passageway (5) 11. Upper atmosphere (5) 13. Stiff (5) 14. To narrow (5) 15. To baffle (7) 18. To add on (5) 21. Banned (5) 22. A sour condiment (7) 25. To steal (7) 27. Plume (5) 28. Poltergeist (5) 30. Exhaustion (7) 33. Prepared (5) 35. A dance (5) 36. A wicked person (5) 37. To bequeath (5) 38. Furniture (5) 39. Sizeable (5)

39

CRYPTIC DOWN: 1. Concoct the material you digested (9) 2. Fix the males before the start of day (4) 3. Annoy penthouse evening (5) 4. Mostly cannot remember to build (5) 5. Hold on for the sound of kilograms (4) 6. Boring to dress by some eye (9) 8. Rig one area (6) 10. Terrific burp South-East! (6) 12. Most happy English can take place (6) 16. An instance of the former is plenty (7) 17. Weird street variety (7) 19. Each electron is extremely (5) 20. No homosexual torture! (5) 23. Be like a gecko storm (8) 24. Flow till a squadron (8) 26. Force the leg biography (6) 27. Cut up a district of five and twenty (7) 29. Rate the playhouse (7) 31. Off and full to be terrible (5) 32. Naked you is unnecessary (5) 34. Gape like yonder sleep is needed (5) 35. A bag set around cheeky kittens (5)

answers

Puzzles

CRYPTIC ACROSS: 3. Evidence of urine on the roof (5) 7. Eager to assent (5) 9. The corridor is in ale (5) 11. Get her to the heavens! (5) 13. Dig international relations firm (5) 14. Representative at back to get thinner (5) 15. Confuse the solarplex perspective (7) 18. Attach a Warrior Princess (5) 21. A footwear is forbidden! (5) 22. The balsamic rage of French wine (7) 25. Thieve some purple tendercloth (7) 27. Feather like krill (5) 28. Gee, the host is spirited! (5) 30. Fatty and guessing tiredness (7) 33. All set to dare why (5) 35. The sauce of a Scottish girl (5) 36. A devil fee end (5) 37. To give the final hurts (5) 38. To preside over sea beard (5) 39. Hefty is regal (5)

ACROSS: 3. AGILE 8. BARREN 9. MENACE 10. DOUGH 11. BULLETIN 13. THANKFUL 17. CONTROL 20. FANCY 21. CHARM 22. ORCHARD 23. EPOCH 25. ERECT 26. NERVOUS 29. BASSINET 31. ASSASSIN 32. PETTY 33. POLITE 34. ODDITY 35. ADORN

DOWN: 1. FAVOUR 2. TENDENCY 4. GROAN 5. LIGHT 6. PEDANTIC 7. ACCRUE 12. IGNORANCE 14. HILARIOUS 15. OFTEN 16. SNOOP 18. LABEL 19. SMITE 24. HESITATE 25. ESCAPADE 27. JARGON 28. PIRATE 30. TREND 31. AFTER


Issue 9 Science

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Comics

salient.org.nz


Faces to Deface

the scientist edition Sarlo Calizzo & Han Dutch

09: Science  

This is our issue about science.

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