E I L NT A S 1938
E I L N A T S 1938
monday 15th july 2013 VOL 76 ISSUE 13
THE FIFTH ESTATE Editors: Stella Blake-Kelly & Molly McCarthy email@example.com Designer: Laura Burns firstname.lastname@example.org News Editor: Chris McIntyre email@example.com Chief Reporter: Phillipa Webb News Interns: Sophie Boot & Alex Lewin Arts Editor: Philip McSweeney firstname.lastname@example.org
E I L N A T S 1938
An Organ of Student Opinion Since 1938
Film Editor: Chloe Davies Books Editor: Alexandra Hollis Visual Arts Editor: Simon Gennard Music Editor: Elise Munden Theatre Editor: Gabrielle Beran Games Editor: Patrick Lindsay Feature Writers: Henry Cooke & Patrick Hunn Chief Sub-editor & Uploader: Nick Fargher Distribution Specialist: Jonathan Hobman Contributors Bacchus, Seymour Butts, Caitlin Craigie, Nick Cross, Simon Dennis, Matthew Ellison, Penny Gault, Freddie Hayek, Hector and Janet, Ashleigh Hume, Emma Hurley, Mike Jagusch, Russ Kale, Eve Kennedy, Jess Legg, Josh Lynex, Rory McCourt, Duncan McLachlan, Tim Manktelow, Carla Marks, Gus Mitchell, Ngāi Tauira, Cam Price, Carlo Salizzo, Rick Zwaan Contributor of the Week: Penny Gault Advertising Contact: Ali Allen Phone: 04 463 6982 Email: email@example.com Contact Level 2, Student Union Building Victoria University P.O. Box 600. Wellington Phone: 04 463 6766 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: salient.org.nz Twitter: @salientmagazine Facebook: facebook.com/salientmagazine 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 Aoteroa Student Press Association (ASPA). Salient is funded by Victoria Univeristy of Wellington students, through the Student Services Levy. It is printed by APN Print of Hastings. Opinions expressed are not necessarily representative of ASPA, VUWSA, APN Print, The Pakeha Party, Duncan Garner, but we of Salient are proud of our beliefs and take full responsibility for them. 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 Students. $55 for everyone else. Please send and email containing your contact details with ‘subscription’ in the subject line to email@example.com This issue is dedicated to: mainstream media, you make us look better
We need to yell for better news. Journalists need to create the market for the real stories. We are better than cat stories. Let the conversation continue. Bias Beware, Page 22
CONTENTS Weekly Content: 4.
6. News 14. Politics 16.
Topless! 22. bias beware 26. silent killer 30. a civil discussion 32. babe of the day 34. more than the idiot box, please 35.
From front to back: Molly and Stella, Designer Laura, Arts
let's talk about
Editor Phillip, Sub-editor Nick, News Editor Chris
Media is changing. It’s no longer just limited to the newspapers we don’t buy, or the television news we don’t watch. We consume media differently to the older generation. For many of us, we are the media. We tweet, we status, we share information at a pace and in a way that the timing is on our terms—we’re used to being in control of how, and what, we’re consuming. We want on-demand. We want to create our own playlists. But most importantly, we don’t want to pay for it. Based on an average scroll of Stuff.co.nz’s homepage, you’d have to be mad to pay for this shit, right? Entire ‘news’ stories based on the results of reality TV shows like XFactor and Masterchef; celebrity fluff pieces syndicated from US news sites consistently topping the Most Popular categories; hell, earlier this year the website just ran with a picture of a naked woman running down a beach for its lead image. We don’t even need to tell you: Stuff.co.nz’s a bit shit. In New Zealand, it can be hard to know where to go to find the ‘real’ news. We’re a small nation, which means the size and range of our media outlets is limited. NZ Herald, The Dominion Post; there’s lots of big fish in a small pond. There are very few voices speaking, but when they do, it’s very loud. Personalities like Patrick Gower makes it seem pretty easy for one person to make all the difference, ending political careers like notches in a bed post—although David Shearer’s playing hard to get. Is this what our Fourth Estate has been reduced to?
Sure, we all fist-pumped a little when that dickhead Aaron Gilmore finally left the building, but if we’re expecting our media to act as a check on government, this simply isn’t good enough. Acting as a watchdog means more than simply chasing the next sensationalist headline and collecting resignations like gold stars. But the news is changing. More than ever before, we’re the ones making the news, and that doesn’t just mean what we’re tweeting, posting, and sharing. With each guilty click on the latest update on baby Kimye, or Beyonce’s World Tour, we seal our own fate. In the modern news environment, our demand determines the type of news that we will read in tomorrow’s newspapers, on tomorrow’s homepages. Sure, in an ideal world we’d want the likes of Gower and Garner to be producing hard-hitting, investigative, analytical pieces. But if media outlets can attract a larger audience, and pay their bills by making Gilmore cry, then that’s the kind of journalism they will continue to produce.
5 minutes with...
38. weekly rant 39. mad science bent 40.
Things That Go
Bump in the Night
Fixing Your Life
Are written Off)
Arts: 44. film 45. theatre 46. music 47. books 49. visual arts what's on
The next generation of news will come, eventually. If you want to see change, you have to make it happen— come along to the Salient]Office Open Day on Tuesday, 12-2pm. Even if it’s just to tell us that you want more pictures of cats.
Etc: 50. Puzzles 52. Letters 54. Notices
MOLLY & STELLA
your students' association
THE McCOURT REPORT VUWSA President Rory McCourt
Kia ora and welcome back to Vic! If you’re returning, I hope you’ve had a really relaxing break, managed to get out of cold-horrible Windy Wellington, and received the grades you were hoping for! While we’re on grades, I want to explain to you briefly some of the changes being discussed to our grading system. Changes that you can most definitely have a say on. You see, Vic is odd in that we’re one of very few unis (us and the mighty Waikato) who haven’t got a C- grade, and have an A+ starting at 85 points. While Auckland and Otago Uni kids are getting an A+ at 90, ours are doing so at 85 and 86. This creates a problem in that the outside world sees a Vic A+ as not as good as other unis’, even if we only give out as many A+‘s as they do, proportionately. Well, I suspect that is the case. However, as it stands, I can see how top students seeking scholarships can feel they’re not getting a fair go; and how much simpler it could be if grades were standardised across all New Zealand institutions. The other major change being discussed is the introduction of a Ctype grade (or Restricted Pass). Up until now, there’s been no way of dealing with students who fulfil the course requirements to pass, but shouldn’t progress their study in that field (or should have another go at the course and get the knowledge or skills down pat). Restricted Passes (RPs) would be given out at the discretion of the school you’re in (e.g. History, Philosophy and Political Science; Engineering; Government), but couldn’t use it to fulfil prerequisites for other courses (although there is discussion that even then Schools might have the say on that one). This would mean a student could pass CHEM114 with an RP and not have it mark against their loan eligibility, but they wouldn’t get to use it for the CHEM201 prereqs. The A+ thing would mean that initially it could be harder to get good marks in your course. In theory, the University requires marking to be qualitative (generally). This means a marker should look at your essay and say, “Yeah, this looks like a B+”. In reality, those grades can get lost in the world of points. Maths, Physics and Law kids will be familiar with this. If you get 99% in the tests that make up the course, you’ll probably get an A+. It’s the subjectivity of essay-marking that may cause problems for smart cookies if this new system comes in.
It gets hard, at least for a while, because University staff are human, and we’re expecting them to make changes in points awarded without changes in quality. Change takes time, and we could have students without their fair share of A+ grades in the short-term. The marker will have to lift points on essays that he or she thinks are pretty excellent from what might be their standard 87 or 88 to something like 92. Scaling in the first couple of years might be the best way to ensure fairness. Many of these very valid points have come from the feedback of over 350 students in the last two weeks though our online survey. Our Faculty Delegates, Vice-President (Academic) Sonya, and myself, have been putting the case this last week and the different aspects that the University community ought to consider in making any change. I also want to thank our Class Reps who pushed the survey, and I really look forward to attending your celebration in a couple of weeks. Our ClassRep system is acknowledged as the best in the country, with over 700 reps doing a great job of making Vic more responsive to what you want and need as learners. If you’ve been thinking about becoming a Class Rep, this trimester is definitely the time to join a well-supported team. It’s an opportunity that looks great on your CV, but, most importantly, there are chances for both you and the course to improve and grow. Becoming a Class Rep could be your first step into a leadership role, or perhaps just a good way to learn some new skills and perspectives. I encourage you to raise that hand, it’s not that scary! Finally, I just wanted to note the hard work of VUWSA Exec members Mica Moore and Rick Zwaan in getting RE-OWEEK 2013 sorted for you. Have you bought a ticket to our House Party this Friday at Hope Bros? Come to our barbecue stalls, or visit our reception between 9 and 5. It’s going to be massive! Even I will be there (although I can’t promise I will put my back ‘into it’). Oh, also make sure you check out our free barbecues during the week for some delicious kai! It’s going to be a really busy trimester. For everyone, but especially for my hard-working Exec and staff. We’ve been ambitious this year, there’s no doubt about that. I know I’m certainly proud of what we’ve achieved so far. But too much work can swallow your positivity and perspective all in one go. It’s important to know when to step back and understand that that one event, rejection, argument or concession is not going to be the end of the world. Instead, we can make the most of every day. Being away from this place has reminded me just how lucky I am to have this job, how lucky we all are at VUWSA. And to have every day to make a difference for you with our kickarse team? That’s pretty cool. You’re pretty cool, Vic.
Acting VicePresident (Welfare) By Rick Zwaan Welcome back! Somehow we’ve made it through half the year and VUWSA has put together a mid-winter festival for Re O-Week to celebrate. We’ll be running a barbecue all week, so come and grab a sausage, or enter to win tickets to Shapeshifter or other freebies. To soften the transition back into another tri of study, we’re finishing off the week with a house party down at Hope Bros on Friday night where a $10 ticket (available from the Kelburn reception or the barbecues) will get you a fun night of DJs, food, games, and a free drink. While lectures, labs, assignments, and tests are terrifically fun, there’s more to uni life than class. Clubs are a great way to meet new people, get more involved in the wider university community, and provide opportunities to gain experience that may be useful in the fabled ‘real world.’ Right now is the perfect time to sign up to the plethora of clubs and groups we have at Vic. Some of my personal favourites are the Science Society (liquid-nitrogen ice-cream is pretty cool), the Sailing Club (why live in a windy city if you don’t have fun with it?), the Tramping Club (we life in a beautiful country and it’d be a shame not to explore it), Generation Zero (addressing climate change is crucial), and the Film Club (popcorn and films for free – what else could you want?).
Kia koutou te tini ngerongero kua whai wā ki te hoki atu ki te kainga, kia whakatā a Hinengaro, kia wareware a Māhara, kia panaia a Mokemoke, nau mai hoki mai. Otirā, ngā mihi māhana ki a koutou katoa mō te tau hou me te aranga mai o Matariki. Welcome back to Trimester Two. Hopefully everyone has had a good holiday and is ready to get back into some hardcore study. Since holidaying, important events such as Matariki, the Māori New Year, and Te Wiki o te Reo have occurred, events that are very important to us. Matariki is a time for the celebration of a New Year, new beginnings, and commemoration for those who have passed. Ko te wiki o te reo he wā nui whakaharahara mō tātou a Ngāi Māori, ki te whakanui i tō tātou reo rangatira. Nō reira kōrerohia te reo i te ao i te pō, kia kore a Hau Wareware i riro ai. On another note, I would like to remind everyone that Ngāi Tauira is holding an interest meeting for Te Huinga Tauira on July 18 at 5 pm at our Ngāi Tauira offices, which are located at 42 Kelburn Pde. If you are interested in attending Te Huinga Tauira, please attend this meeting. Ngā mihi, Stacey.
Another way to make the most of the trimester is to put yourself forward to be a Class Rep, which I’ve found to be a great way to get more out of your courses. It allows you to get to know your classmates and the lecturer, helping make the course better for everyone. VUWSA’s Education Team not only provides fantastic training and support but also keeps you up to date with lots of university-related things, like proposed course changes. Finally, local-body elections are happening later this year, which gives us a chance to ensure we have councillors who care about students and will address our needs. If you haven’t received a letter with an orange man on it, then it means you’re either not enrolled or forgot to change your address. Either way it’s now really easy to enrol or update your details online at elections.org.nz. Good luck for the trimester, Rick Zwaan. P.S. If you were wondering where Simon Tapp’s gone, he found Greener pastures over the break and the Executive have appointed me to be Acting Vice-President (Welfare) in his stead.
want to white for us? contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
STUDENT POLITICS: HOLIDAY UPDATE (!) Stella Blake-Kelly
UNIVERSITY MORE DEMOCRATIC THAN VUWSA, FOR ONCE University Council has finally decided to hold a by-election to bring a second student on to Council, solving Student Forum’s failure to bring a Chair to the table. The Council statute allows for two students to sit on the University’s governing body, but one has been empty for 2013 due to the collapse of the Student Forum earlier this year. Meanwhile, in the Student Union Building, VUWSA is likely to decide against holding a by-election for the annual mid-winter Executive member shedding. This year’s drop-out rate stands at one, lower than previous years, with Vice-President (Welfare) Simon Tapp resigning from his position during the holidays to take up Greener pastures. Tapp’s career in student politics began with scandal when he was taken into police custody outside the Big Kumara during postelection celebrations late last year. Tapp was arrested after trying to intervene as an officer questioned unsuccessful Presidential candidate Jackson Freeman. Rick Zwaan was co-opted into the Vice-President position at a meeting of the VUWSA Executive, but it remains unclear as to whether a by-election will be held. While President Rory McCourt was overseas, the Executive and Acting-President, Vice-President (Academic) Sonya Clark, voted against holding a by-election due to timing and the financial cost of running one.
Since his return, McCourt has indicated the formal decision was not concrete. “I've spoken to some of the Executive and there is a feeling that further discussion ought to take place. I can understand that,” he said. “The Executive has had some initial discussions, and I expect those to conclude at the Exec meeting this week to finalise things. Whatever process we settle on, we have to make sure it fits in with what will be a busy trimester with University Council and VUWSA General Elections for 2014.” McCourt will be standing in the University Council by-election for the seat that has been empty for 2013 due to the demise of the Student Forum. Provisions allowed for the Council to coopt a student to ensure there are still two students on Council, but due to several bridges being burned following VUWSA’s withdrawal from the Forum, McCourt was not offered the same invite that his predecessor Bridie Hood received last year. The Executive endorsed McCourt’s candidacy at a meeting last week. The only student on University Council, Student Representative David Alsop, was glad of the Council’s decision. "It's great to see that a solution has been found, and I look forward to being joined by another student on Council in the near future." The Forum was an initiative by Management to restructure the student voice at Victoria, in an attempt to adapt to the new legislative environment post-VSM. Last month, NZUSA released a legal opinion which countered the assumptions implied in documents presented to University Council. Salient will have further details on this in future.
STUDENT WORKING PARTY: ONE OF THREE PRESENT The University will be going out to consultation on student representation as part of its review of the Student Forum next week. Following the well-intentioned, but ultimately clusterfuck of a Student Forum, Management appears to have taken a hands-off approach, leaving the student groups to sort it out amongst themselves. This is a complete turn-around on the process that gave birth to the Forum, which saw VUWSA explain why it wouldn’t work multiple times, but Management never addressing their concerns. The Student Working Party was charged with addressing the concerns amongst student groups of how Management had re-structured the student voice following VSM, and given the opportunity to come up with possible solutions. Salient was fortunate enough to be granted front row seats to what has turned into round after round of VUWSA vs. the PGSA. The two groups, weighing in at 14,800 and ~100 students respectfully, have certainly had the most to say, and the most to lose, from whatever eventuates. Head to salient.org.nz for full coverage of the showdown.
ine onl ly on
CHECK OUT salient.org.nz for more content
MAKING THE GRADE New grade scheme has plusses and minuses Gus Mitchell
complete the course on the margin of passing or failing. Restricted Passes will only be awarded to those taking 100- and 200-level courses, and will be conducted on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the course coordinator. An RP mark would be expected to correspond to a 'high D' grade, with the mark range of 47-49 per cent, and like a typical D grade, cannot be used as a prerequisite.
The proposed changes will take effect from 2014 if they are agreed upon by the Academic Board and University Council. Grades from before 2014 will not be retroactively changed in accordance with the new system, so an A grade achieved in 2013 will remain an A grade in 2014, despite a 2014 A grade being a different mark to a 2013 A grade.
“The provision for a Restricted Pass would be exercised carefully and on a limited basis,” said Thirkell.
“It is too soon to provide detail on the impact any changes to grading will have, as decisions have not yet been made,” Thirkell told Salient.
“The intention is not to make it any harder for students to achieve a particular grade but to harmonise Victoria’s grading system with that of other universities.”
“However, it would provide staff and students with flexibility in situations where a student has demonstrated knowledge of the course content but not at a level sufficient to advance to a higher level.”
VUWSA is currently conducting an online survey to gauge student opinion on the proposed changes. VUWSA President Rory McCourt said consultation had shown students were split over the changes.
The first amendment will introduce a new C- grade as the lowest-possible grade for a pass. This would be in the mark range of 50-54 per cent, replacing the current C grade. Subsequently, all mark ranges will be pushed up by 5 per cent, with A+ corresponding to a mark of 90-100 per cent instead of the current 85-100 per cent. This will affect grading at all levels of study, including postgraduate.
Other New Zealand universities currently have restricted, or conceded passes.
“There are positives and draw backs in the proposal, and different impacts for different kinds of students,” McCourt said.
A current proposal to change Victoria’s grading system could make it harder to get high grades, but easier to pass some courses. The University’s proposed pair of amendments would bring Victoria’s grades up to the level of the rest of New Zealand's tertiary institutions, and provide extra consideration to those on the borderline of a pass or fail grade. Assistant ViceChancellor (Academic) Professor Peter Thirkell told Salient the changes would align Victoria with international best practise.
The second amendment would see the inclusion of a 'Restricted Pass' (RP) grade for those who
Percentage Mark 90-100
The numerical mark for an A+ at Auckland, AUT, Canterbury, Lincoln and Otago is at 90-100 per cent. Under the current system, if a student from Victoria and a student from Otago both took the same 100-mark test in their subject and scored 85 each, the Victoria student would be awarded an A+ while the Otago student would only be given an A.
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Over 360 students have responded to VUWSA’s survey. You can take the VUWSA survey and have your say through the VUWSA Facebook page.
“Many students are concerned that getting A+'s might be harder under the proposal, although scaling during a transition period might allay that. Others think the move to harmonise with other universities is a good one to protect the value of a Vic A+. We'll continue participating in the debate and inform students as it progresses.”
D or Restricted Pass D
Study break put to good use Salient still yet to reach 3000 likes (hint) Sophie Boot
A recent slew of Facebook pages associating themselves with Victoria University have attracted thousands of fans, but not without controversy. Pages such as ‘VUW Babe of the Day’, ‘VUW Minga of the Day’, ‘VUW Leaked Snapchats’, and ‘VUW Jew of the Day’ have all sprung up over the past month, with ‘VUW Babe of the Day’ proving most popular, garnering around 5000 likes before stagnating in popularity after exams finished and holidays began. However, some of the pages have been criticised as being exploitative and objectifying. VUWSA Equity Officer Matt Ellison was unimpressed by the pages, saying they were “not in the best interest of students or society”. ‘VUW Minga of the Day’ and ‘VUW Jew of the Day’ have been removed. “The [Babe of the Day] pages have near universally been objectifying women without their consent, attempting (and failing) to legitimise their actions by putting up the occasional photo of a man (significantly more clothed). I would suggest the excellent ‘NZ Misogynist of the Day’ page as an alternative,” said Ellison. New Zealand Union of Students’ Association Women’s Rights Officer Arena Williams called ‘Babe of the Day’ pages a "tribute to gender expectations of beauty".
"Users clearly view the women and men differently even if the page pretends to present them similarly. The comments on the women are generally about looks, dress sense, etc. The comments about the men are about their virility and other skills," said Williams. Such pages have sprung up nationwide with their administrators, and many of the featured ‘babes’, having defended the pages. Bruce Bayliss, creator of ‘Dunners Babe of the Day’, has said that the page was "purely to raise awareness of the overflowing babe population in Dunedin'', while an administrator for the Auckland page, Andre Kong, said that he was running the page “for a good cause”. The administrator of the Victoria page did not respond to Salient’s questions. The University of Auckland page has been removed, and the administrators declined Salient’s request for comment by saying that they had “learnt [their] lesson not to affiliate with media/news” after being interviewed on TV3. Bayliss declined to answer Salient’s questions, stating “all our answers are already out there”. None of the ‘babes’ contacted by Salient for comment chose to respond. It was widely noted that the rise of the ‘Babe of the Day’ pages coincided with study break prior to mid-year exams. The last ‘Victoria Babe of the Day’ was posted on June 23.
WIN FOR WOMEN’S GROUP
Cancelled competition puts ‘Miss’ in ‘misogynist’ Chris McIntyre
A University beauty pageant has been cancelled following pressure from campus groups who claimed the event was misogynist. The ‘Miss Campus’ beauty pageant had come under strong criticism from the Victoria Women’s Group and VUWSA. The VUWSA Executive unanimously passed a motion against the competition, which read “That VUWSA does not support the Miss Campus competition, because it is not in line with VUWSA’s goals of well-being for all students”. The event was originally planned for July 18 in The Hunter Lounge, but was moved to Hope Bros after The Hunter Lounge withdrew support after talking to VUWSA. The Hope Bros event, planned for July 20, has since been cancelled. VUWSA Equity Officer Matthew Ellison was pleased with the event’s cancellation. “In my opinion, the way the event was framed was objectifying and very unfeminist.” Event organiser David Rektorys felt “terrified” at opposing groups “threatening and sabotaging” his competition.
$10 entry for students with student ID every Tuesday night.
CARTER OBSERVATORY www.carterobservatory.org 8
“Miss Campus is not ‘objectifying’ women because they volunteer in our contest—we can’t and would never dream of forcing anyone into anything. “The main idea behind Miss Campus is quite the opposite—to show that girls at university have both beauty and brains. So we are basically fighting on the feminists’ side against myths and bias,” said Rektorys. “We had prepared a variation for guys called "Mr. Campus", which was going to even out the event, but will not have the chance to implement it. The reason behind cancelling is the hostility from certain individuals.” While Rektorys runs the Business and Investment Club, the Miss Campus competition was not run through the club. >>> salient.org.nz
Rosemary Barrington 1947–2013 Emma Hurley
Rosemary Barrington, a champion of student representation at Victoria University, passed away on June 24. Barrington had a strong social conscience, and believed firmly in the value of community participation, engagement and representation. These beliefs were reflected in the public roles that Barrington held over her lifetime, and in the valuable contributions she made to the University. Barrington dedicated a significant amount of time and energy to developing the partnership between Victoria’s students and the University, and was a current member of Victoria’s University Council, after being elected by alumni in the Court of Convocation Election. She was awarded the Hunter Fellowship, one of the highest recognitions for alumni, for her “exceptional service to the University”, said Chancellor Ian McKinnon. “She was energetic, capable, and showed real commitment to Victoria over many years, from her days as a student to sitting on Council.
disadvantaged students at Victoria, despite strict import and price controls. She became Women’s Vice-President in 1968. As Women’s Vice-President, she instigated the discussions for a student crèche, now an integral part of Victoria’s student-support services. “Ms Barrington will be dearly missed by all, especially by students, for whom she worked so hard to ensure a quality education and experience during their studies at Victoria,” said VUWSA President Rory McCourt. “Ms Barrington recognised the power and importance of partnership between Victoria’s students and the University, and it was her vision which ensured the voices of students have been, and continue to be, heard at the discussion table in their own right.” Aside from her involvement with Victoria University, Barrington made an impressive career for herself as an academic and public
servant. She was a research fellow at Victoria’s Institute of Criminology and held key publicservice roles in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as General Manager of Culture and Recreation at Wellington City Council, as the Chief Executive of Horowhenua District Council, and as the Director of the Government Research Unit. “Rosemary made an extraordinary contribution to the public roles she held and had so much more to contribute… our thoughts are with her family,” said Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan. Barrington’s funeral was held at Old St Paul’s in Thorndon on July 1. In lieu of flowers, the family asked for memorial contributions to be made in the form of donations to the New Horizons for Women Trust. Barrington is survived by her partner, Blair Badcock, her six children, and her grandchildren.
“Rosemary was involved in every aspect of the University from student politics, to research and, latterly, setting policy and helping to guide Victoria into the future through her role on the Council. She was well known to many in the University community and will be deeply missed.” University Council Student Representative David Alsop said Barrington was insightful, and someone who provided good advice to him and other student representatives. "The length of service Rosemary gave to Victoria University and her accomplishments over the years are a record of her dedication to making Victoria a better place for all. “Her death is a deep loss to our community." Barrington was a foundational member of the 1968 joint committee on student representation, served as a University Councillor in 1999, and was University Chancellor from 2002 until 2004. She also served as VUWSA’s International Affairs Officer in 1967, implementing a bulk importation of rice that fed hungry and salient.org.nz <<<
Baha’i-nd Bars Participant in VUW competition locked up in Iran Jess Legg
An Iranian student is being held prisoner after participating in a Victoria-University-affiliated competition.
Mr Samandari received the UNESCO Supreme Commitment Award in absentia in Parliament last month.
Aziz Samandari has been charged by the Iranian Government with, among other things, ‘communicating with foreigners’ after his participation in the Global Enterprise Experience (GEE) in 2010. The GEE challenges teams to devise a business concept proposal that meets one of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.
“The Supreme Commitment Award is to recognise the exceptional sacrifice he is making to pursue higher education and global communication,” GEE founder and Wellington resident Deb Gilbertson said.
Samandari was arrested last year and sentenced to five years in Tehran’s Raja’i Shahr prison after a trial which lasted ten minutes. Media have reported he is facing severe malnutrition, and is held with two or three other people in a cell measuring two by three metres.
“The Global Enterprise Experience competition means a lot to students worldwide and for some participation can even be risky. “In Aziz'u'llah’s case he has been imprisoned for the very things that we are celebrating in this contest—getting an education and working in partnership across cultures.”
The laws under which Samandari is imprisoned apply only to those of Baha’i faith. Members of this religion are not recognised under Iranian law and face systematic persecution, including a ban on attending public universities. In 1992, Samandari’s father was executed under these same laws. "We recognise [members of the Baha’i faith] as humans but do not recognise their beliefs as they are 100 per cent anti-Islam. It is just like how Singapore does not recognise gays," the Iranian Embassy’s public-relations officer has been quoted as saying. Victoria University did not comment directly on Samandari’s imprisonment.
Pay more, get less New Zealand’s qualifications less subsided, less valuable than other countries Chris McIntyre
Getting a degree in New Zealand doesn’t get you ahead as much as you may think, as figures show New Zealanders who gain a university degree benefit less than their international counterparts. The ‘Education at a Glance’ report, released by the OECD in June, shows New Zealand graduates can expect to earn far less than graduates from other developed countries. New Zealanders with a tertiary education earn, on average, 18 per cent more than secondaryeducated workers—less than half the OECD average of 57 per cent. The figures were used by critics to slam the Government’s current approach to education. Critics used the report to rebut Minister of Tertiary Education Steven Joyce’s claims that providing students with knowledge, skills and qualifications means “better jobs and higher wages”. “Tertiary students are rightly proud of the education they achieve, but what these figures
reveal is a system consisting of a captive market in which students pay and borrow more, but eventually get less,” said NZUSA President Pete Hodkinson. NZUSA recommended increasing spending on tertiary education, abolishing fees, and reversing recent cuts to student support. New Zealand ranks 20th of the 33 OECD countries on per-capita tertiary-education expenditure, and 19th out of 30 for spending per student. New Zealand spends NZ$13,174 per student, 23 per cent below the OECD average of $17,106. The US, UK, and Australia all spend above the OECD average. Green MP Holly Walker criticised Steven Joyce’s rationale behind current tertiaryeducation policy, saying the report showed it wasn’t working. “Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce has been justifying his cuts to student allowances and loans by arguing that you earn more if you study, so you can afford to pay your own way.
Except, the figures from the OECD fly in the face of his arguments. “Steven Joyce needs to value students and graduates, not punish them. I hope that these findings are a wake-up call for the Minister,” said Walker. Tertiary Education Union national president Lesley Francey described the report as a “direct rebuke” for Steven Joyce. “It tells him that his actions are putting the world-class education he lauds at risk.” Despite the low premium provided by a New Zealand tertiary education, the report shows New Zealand’s population is more highly qualified than other OECD countries’, ranking in the top ten for tertiary-education completion. 39 per cent of New Zealanders aged between 25 and 64, and 46 per cent of 25- to 34-yearolds hold a university degree; this is above the OECD averages of 32 and 39 per cent, respectively.
Fair Go Gone? Fears for fares as Council ignores students Mike Jagusch
The Greater Wellington Regional Council’s latest draft proposal shows they are not yet onboard with fairer fares for tertiary students, with no tertiary concessions planned in the short- or longterm future. The draft proposal, released last month, covers bus, rail and ferry fare structures. It has been criticised by VUWSA as doing “nothing to help tertiary students” with travel costs, and described as a “spectacular failure of vision”. “[The] decision goes no way to show that we are a community that values the talent that tertiary students bring to our region,” said VUWSA Vice-President Welfare Rick Zwaan. “It doesn’t make sense that school students, who often live at home with the financial support of their parents, will receive more support under the changes while tertiary students are ignored.” Zwaan leads the VUWSA-run Get on Board for Fairer Fares for Tertiary Students campaign. As previously reported by [ITALICS: Salient], the campaign proposes a student concession card that Zwaan has said will contribute to “equitability of student life, cultural and economic vibrancy, a sustainable, low-carbon future and retaining tertiary talent in Wellington.”
VUWSA spent $15,000 on the campaign, which is thought to have the support of five of 13 councillors. Zwaan told Salient this was a good use of students’ money. “Fairer Fares has been a great success with our students … because this campaign shows how effective VUWSA can be at getting the average student’s issues out there in the community and talking about something that affects us all,” said Zwaan. “The campaign didn't cost much in the scheme of things.” Zwaan does not believe this is the end for the campaign, stating tertiary concessions can still be a reality outside of the Council’s draft proposal. He encourages students to vote for councillors who are in support of tertiary discounts. According to Chair of the Council’s Economic Wellbeing Committee Peter Glensor, who leads the public-transport committee, discounted fares for all tertiary students regardless of their economic circumstances is unfair. “It’s unrealistic. There are some who are living at home with Mum and Dad and driving the beamer. This avoids us having to choose winners
and losers when making decisions about fare concessions.” Council staff said that offering a 25-per-cent discount to tertiary students would grow total patronage by 0.5 per cent while costing $1.5 million in lost revenue. Discounting all off-peak travel by 25 per cent would cost would cost the council $4.5 million, but would grow total patronage by eight times as much as a tertiary discount. The drafted fare structure aims to make public transport across the region more affordable, accessible and user-friendly. The proposal would implement a 50-per-cent discount for all travellers under the age of 19 and a 25-per-cent discount for all off-peak travel within the next two to three years. Other proposed changes include a weekend family pass, a universal smart-card system, a cap on fares that sees passengers stop paying after a certain amount of trips, and the creation of a fare structure used by both bus and rail. Peter Glensor has said “the structure is based on a set of very sound principles to help us meet our desired goals that include: increased public patronage, affordable public transport, and a simpler, fairer, and more consistent system.”
Just the ticket Student finds sole redeeming feature of the Hutt Simon Dennis
The Hutt City Council issued thousands of parking tickets unlawfully, a Victoria University Master’s student has discovered.
“What it means is that none of the signs and none of the tickets are lawful, and they’ll have to refund the tickets,” he said.
Al O’Connor, a legal researcher and Master’s student, came across the issue after he was issued a parking ticket for a time-restricted zone and did some research of his own.
Hutt City Council Chief Executive Tony Stallinger said he was worried about the “administrative nightmare” that had been uncovered.
Land Transport regulations state that a bylaw must be passed in order to bring into effect time-restricted penalties for parking tickets. O’Connor said that coupon parking, resident parking, no-stopping areas and parking meters were covered by the existing bylaws, but not time-restricted areas.
“It’s going to be a major inconvenience,” he said. The problem is believed to be backdated to at least 2007, and O’Connor is urging people to come forward to receive a refund on fines they had already paid. Hutt City Councillor Margaret Cousins sent a note saying that O’Connor was correct and that the Council had similar issues in the past.
“It looks like he’s right, and we may have a problem,” said Cousins. Student Steff Dewhurst is one beneficiary who will be arguing a ticket she was issued last month during the major storms. Council parking manager Barry Rippon refused her request to have the ticket cancelled, and Miss Dewhurst was surprised when she was informed that the issuing was unlawful. The Hutt City Council is the the only council in the greater Wellington area to have insufficient bylaws regarding time-restricted parking areas; other councils’ bylaws cover the issuing of all tickets.
eye on exec
iPredict is a prediction market run by Victoria University that has hundreds of stocks on economic, political and social outcomes. The following predictions are supplied by iPredict and may have changed since Salient went to print. To try your luck go to ipredict.co.nz.
VUWSA Opts to Co-Opt as Tapp Taps Out Monday 10 June As Victoria ended its first trimester of the year, [ITALICS: Salient] was proven right on one count but wrong on another; Vice-President (Welfare) Simon Tapp was indeed the first Exec member to resign, which meant that VUWSA had not in fact made it through a half-year without any resignations. Tapp, offered a job with the Green Party, had jumped at the chance to leave VUWSA once and for all, proving—just as everybody had expected—that real politics > student politics. This meant that leading business for this meeting of the Executive was how to fill Simon’s role in the interim. Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer Rick Zwaan, who has already put in significant overtime this year for the Fairer Fares campaign, was the only member of the Exec to throw his hat into the ring for the vacant position. “[He is] incredibly able and incredibly willing... the only willing, really,” said one Exec member in support of co-opting Zwaan. Without many other options left to them, the Exec voted unanimously (Zwaan abstaining) to co-opt. After a brief burst of applause, Tapp was quick to dampen Zwaan’s spirits: “It’s hell, it’s absolute hell!” When quizzed by Salient as to the likelihood of a by-election for both roles, the Exec said that it was ‘likely, but undecided’. The Exec have since revised this position to ‘unlikely, but undecided’. In the mean time, the rest of the already overworked Executive will simply absorb the work of the now vacant Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer role.
Next up on the agenda was a request from the Samoan Students’ Association (VUSSA) for VUWSA to provide financial support to assist in hosting an upcoming conference. Specifically, “further sponsorship” to assist with costs associated with hiring the VUWSA van. This put VUWSA in a somewhat tight position, as they were stuck between a rock (a promise to the Pasifika Students’ Council that they would assist them where PSC lost funds following withdrawal from the Student Forum) and a hard place (VUWSA’s huge—I cannot stress this enough, huge—deficit). The Exec discussed several options and outcomes: that the University was likely to give them money anyway; that they could hire the van pro bono; that giving VUSSA any financial assistance at all would set a dangerous precedent; that maybe the Exec should just allocate some of the $2000 that they set aside in a Rep Group fund at the start of the year. In the end it was decided that $500 from the Rep Group fund was the most appropriate solution. Other rep groups, you’ve been warned: there’s only $1500 left in the honey pot. Vice-President (Engagement) Mica Moore took the Exec through her plans for Re-Orientation Week, and her piece de resistance: a ‘House Party’ at Hope Bros, the idea being that first years can get a taste of the greener pastures that is flat life six months before they leave the comfort of their halls.
Fare concessions for Wellington tertiary students to be announced in 2013
David Shearer to depart as Leader of the Labour Party in 2013
There will be a National Prime Minister after the 2014 General Election
Judith Collins to be next National Party leader
“We’re going to be doing drinking games, but ones that don’t mess with the alcohol policy.” As the Exec tossed around ideas of what such games could entail: “non-skulling”, “alcohol and food”, “one drink... or something”, Salient knew one thing to be true: anything’s better than a pyjama party.
Lianne Dalziel to be elected Mayor of Christchurch
78% >>> salient.org.nz
UNIVERSITY RATTLED Sources speak on the record Chris McIntyre
Victoria University may not break records, but will now be able to make records after announcing the purchase of a recording company last week. New Zealand music recording label Rattle will be added to the University’s publishing arm alongside Victoria University Press (VUP). Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Neil Quigley refused to say how much the purchase cost the University, but did say that it was small enough that it wouldn’t appear in financial reports to the University Council. “Ultimately, bringing Rattle into Victoria University and aligning it with VUP will bring benefits to New Zealand artists and our country’s creative industries, by providing a stronger resource to capture and publish the endeavours of our top musicians,” said Quigley. Rattle will not have commercial objectives, and may be subsidised, as is VUP. Some works will seek to make profit, while others are produced for their inherent value and the costs absorbed by the University.
LOL NEWS CHROFLIS MCLOLNTYRE
Like the VUP, Rattle will publish content for groups external to the University, and will have independence from the University to be able to publish what they choose. The acquisition will mean the University has the capability to record in-house, but Rattle will continue to uphold the same standard with what they choose to publish, and University material would have to meet this standard. A second brand under Rattle may be used to distribute students’ work. VUP Publisher Fergus Barrowman believes Rattle offers the University “new digital opportunities”, and will build on the strengths of VUP. “It’s a very exciting partnership. As publishing continues to move towards increased online activity, adding recorded music to our cap marks a natural progression in our development.” The Hub will host three lunchtime jazz concerts to celebrate the acquisition, featuring musicians from Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music. The concerts are on Wednesday 17, Thursday 18 and Friday 19 July at 12pm. An extended interview with Barrowman is available on page 48.
can see the photo here and judge for yourself whether it’s him or not, but even if it’s not, the question remains: who does Tony Blair have a framed topless photo of ?
FULL OF SECRETS Three good life-guidelines to follow are don’t smuggle things into prison, don’t mess around with loaded guns, and don’t put things where they don’t belong. Christie Harris managed to break all three of these this week. Apparently fond of a good bang, she was found to have a loaded gun up her vagina. The Oklahoma woman was attempting to smuggle the weapon into jail, along with another surprise: two bags of meth, concealed in her anus, proving the crack epidemic is still not over.
BLAIRING IT ALL? Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had an embarrassing moment last week, as he appeared on television in front of a framed photo which appeared to be of himself, topless. This is the latest in Blair’s history of judgment errors, after invading Iraq and converting to Catholicism. You salient.org.nz <<<
stay classy, world Boston-bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to all 30 charges, proving wishful thinking is still alive and well.
Egypt have ousted their President, as the military threatens to intervene in the fledgling democracy. While the revolution brought brief hope of stability to citizens, this is one pyramid scheme which hasn’t been successful.
Francesco Schettino, captain of the stricken Costa Concordia, is in court again this week. Schettino booked into a hotel while survivors were still clinging onto the ship, and is about to be booked in to 20 years in jail.
Andy Murray won Wimbledon, becoming the first Brit to win the title since 1936, unless you count women (Virginia Wade won in 1977) or doubles (Jonathan Marray won last year).
A group of people holding political beliefs have run into opposition, after a group with different beliefs disagreed with them. The best belief will be decided by way of popularity contest some time in the future.
headlines that weren't IGNORANCE APPARENTLY NOT BLISS This week in ignorant idiots: The Pakeha Party. David Ruck and his merry band of 55,000 (and counting) Facebook supporters are sick of Māori living the good life—they want the same things Māori get. It's unclear at this stage whether they refer to the higher levels of unemployment, suicide rates, imprisonment rates, or any of the other measures of socioeconomic deprivation. Ruck has admitted he doesn’t have a great grasp on Māori history, and judging by his political views, criminal convictions, and “I have Māori friends” excuse, he doesn’t seem to have much of a grasp on anything at all.
Pakeha Party take stand against race-based politics by forming race-based political party First-year Law student barely legal Woolly rumours Garner attention, leave Shearer sheepish Darfur refugees eagerly await news of royal baby Man prints own money: “It’s pretty mint”
left The March of Progress
P O L I
By Carla Marks As you've been on holiday, hitting refresh on myVic, eating your parents’ food and doing bugger all else, the gears of the political machine have ground on. For our political friends, it has been a winter of discontent with rolling, retracting, reversing and resigning galore. Here’s what you missed: Peter Dunne had an even worse winter than those who sat the LAWS121 exam. In one week he found himself embroiled in a leaking scandal and found his party had been leaking members so rapidly that it was no longer a party. Dunne wasn't the only parliamentary Peter to pity this winter, with Pita Sharples also falling on his sword. After a predictably poor performance in the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election by the Māori Party, and after months of leadership speculation, Pita stood down as co-leader. He can't have been expected to fall victim to the poor result, but his leadership had somewhat pita’d out, and it seems that he saw it as convenient timing to let Te Ururoa and Tariana take the bow of the waka. Across the Tasman, the Australian Labor Party went full circle when Kevin Rudd rolled Julia Gillard and was reinstated as Prime Minister. While Gillard-backers and political sceptics criticised the proximity of the challenge to the election, it seems that Rudd is gaining momentum, with it now looking like a Labor victory is at least within the realms of possibility. No word yet on whether Gillard intends to distribute the ALP Burn Book through the halls of Canberra, but we live in hope. The winter break also saw a very significant reversal in policy by the Government on the Auckland Rail Link, which it had rubbished as too expensive for years. Labour and the Greens, who have campaigned on building the link for several years, managed to leak the story early, which forced Key to announce it two days prior to the planned event. The announcement came around the same time that the Government signed a dirty deal which allows Skycity to operate more pokies in exchange for their construction of a convention centre. Meanwhile, a media frenzy ensued following the announcement that Labour was considering a “man-ban” policy when selecting candidates. This, combined with the popularity of the Pakeha Party on Facebook, brought out the uglier side of New Zealand public opinion, and once again reminded us that people can be real, real dumb. Being of a charitable nature, I like to think that these people would come to the liberal light after five minutes of actually thinking about the topic, but Colin Craig exists, so what’re you gonna do? Perhaps most importantly though, Kimye spawned. Welcome, North West; we expect great things.
judgements from the fourth estate
Misogyny: Debate around Labour’s ‘man ban’ policy, that would see areas decide to only have women selected for certain seats as part of a quota, generally ignored any issues of gender inequality in New Zealand. Following the critical response the leaked proposal received from the male-dominated sphere of bloggers and media personalities, Labour leader David Shearer announced he didn’t support the policy. It’s not yet clear whether the presence of 14 per cent of his spine was to draw attention to the current 14 per cent pay gap between men and women in New Zealand.
The Fourth Estate: It all started with a tweet. “Good source. Coup on in Labour. Letter of no confidence being circulated. It's over for Shearer. Watch for his resignation,” tweeted political commentator Duncan Garner last Tuesday night. By dawn, it was clear; regardless of whether or not there was a letter, David Shearer had survived the night, leadership intact.
Racism: A political movement borne out of social media hit the headlines last week, placing racism firmly in mainstream media’s spotlight. Apparently 56,037 likes on Facebook is what it takes to earn prime time coverage in every media outlet in the land these days. While the rest of us hope that this will all go away as quickly as it started, Stuff.co.nz’s commenters are celebrating finally finding themselves in the stories, rather than underneath them.
“Today's media approach: make up rumours, get them denied, report the denials. Sad day for journalistic standards. Bad for democracy,” tweeted Labour MP Chris Hipkins. Despite the fact that Garner—renowned for his somewhat show pony approach to political coverage—was the only member of the fourth estate foolish enough to still rely on snail mail, when one journo goes down—it would seem—they all do.
Labour MPs and hacks alike took to Twitter, painting the feeds red with their vitriol against Garner, and while they were at it, the rest of the Fourth Estate, too.
T I C S
right Meanwhile, over the MidSpillmester Break… By Freddie Hayek Politics was pretty eventful over the mid-trimester break, as if to spite Salient. Here in New Zealand, political leaders were rolled like there was a fever for it.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Pita Sharples has chucked in the Māori Party co-leadership. Leadership rumblings in a party of three
“Protecting animals is ingrained in my soul.” - ACT MP John Banks redeems himself while speaking in support of a ban on animal testing under the Psychoactive Substances Bill. He was the sole MP to vote against.
TWEETS AND TWATS @TrevorMallard Bugger just sent out spending details to whole complex on a reply to all thingy @JudithCollinsMP @pharmacopaeia @ImperatorFish I see Erin that your profile says you are "big on food and drink". Both in excess are harmful as is gambling. @KimDotcom A little magic: Take your age, Subtract 3, Then add 14, Subtract 4, Subtract 10, Then add 3, That's your age, Applause!
Best caption wins a free coffee at:
MPs were clearly too much for him. Te Ururoa Flavell will become the male co-leader. Both Sharples and Tariana Turia, the founding MPs of the Māori Party, will retire at the next election in 2014. Given the drive of both Mana and Labour to recapture the Māori seats, Flavell may be the only Māori Party MP left after the next election. Peter Dunne found himself no longer the leader of United Future, due to the fact that United Future no longer technically exists. In New Zealand, a party must have 500 members to exist. An audit by the Electoral Commission revealed that this was no longer the case for United Future. Dunne was clearly too busy coming up with new taxes to keep an eye on party membership. As if to add insult to injury, he lost his ministerial warrant because he refused to divulge the content of emails to Fairfax journalist, Andrea Vance. A sad time for bow ties. It would be remiss of me not to mention the ongoing rumbles in the New Zealand Labour Party. With the passing of the great Parekura Horomia, his seat of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti lay vacant. It was rumoured that if Labour lost the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election to Mana or the Māori Party, Shearer would be rolled. Luckily for him, Labour won handsomely, with the added bonus of the Greens being pushed into fourth place. That did not halt nonstop rumours and whispers of a coup in the works. A policy of reserving selections for winnable electorate seats for women, came to light due to the work of right-wing blogger, Whale Oil. His hashtag #manban proved devastating, though it gave license to some pretty awful misogyny on Twitter which this author does not endorse. Shearer refused to speak to the media about the GCSB bill, if they intended to raise the #manban, an appalling failure of leadership. Duncan Garner and O’Paddy O’Gower claimed last week that they had seen a letter circulating the Labour caucus demanding Shearer step down, but could not produce a copy. This is a textbook COUP 101 game plan, exhaust the prey until they can’t fight back anymore, and then roll them. Do not be surprised if in the weeks to come more leaks are released to the media, and more MPs brief anonymously to journalists. Someone has a concrete plan to wreck Shearer’s leadership.
Email email@example.com to submit your caption!
Shearer’s days are numbered. Tick tock.
CAMPUS DIGEST RE-OW EEK CALENDAR Monday 15 July
Tuesday 16 July
Wednesday 17 July
Thursday 18 July
Friday 19 July
Mid-Winter Feast BBQ @ Karori (Quad) 11:00am2:00pm
Mid-Winter Feast BBQ @ Kelburn (Quad) 11:00am2:00pm
Mid-Winter Feast BBQ @ Pipitea (Bunny Street) 11:00am-2:00pm
Mid-Winter Feast BBQ @ Te Aro (Front Lawn) 11:00am2:00pm
Mid-Winter Feast BBQ @ Kelburn (Quad) 11:00am2:00pm
SALIENT OPEN OFFICE DAY: Lvl 2 S.U.B., 12-2pm
Mid-Winter Feast BBQ @ Kelburn (Quad) 11:00am2:00pm
Mid-Winter Feast BBQ @ Kelburn (Quad) 11:00am2:00pm
House Party @ Hope Bros 8pm on-wards (Tickets $10, from Mid-Winter Feast BBQ's and the Kelburn Reception)
Jazz Concert (feat. Reuben Bradley) 12:10pm - 1pm, The Hub
Jazz Concert (feat. Dave Lisik) 12:10pm 1pm, The Hub
Jazz Concert (feat. The Ridger Fox Quintet) 12:10pm 1pm, The Hub
ALL WEEK: Shift Shapes for Shapeshifter for more info visit VUWSA.org.nz
get amongst "the best" Overheard @ Vic Tori Bright Overheard @ everywhere I go - "I'm going to study SO much harder next trimester" Aidan Gibson Overheard @ vic - Entering an exam "no calculators", tries to contact lecturers, get response about quarter of the way through, "no calculators" by this stage they're clearly needed. Half way through the exam "our bad - use calculators" -.Barbara MacKenzie This one made me worry greatly:
"Oh the morning after pill is a scam, just take four of the contraceptive pill and you're fine. It's just about overloading your system with..." (was out of earshot by this point)
Thanks for the A- bro :)
OMG VUW Confessions
#569 I act poor but secretly my mum pays for everything.
#547 In our flat, we're a bit short on firewood. So when it gets real cold, we generally head down to Uni and grab like 100 Salients to burn. Sorry to let you guys down if you thought your readership had increased... #578 I had an exam a couple of weeks ago that I wasn't prepared for at all. Luckily for me, my older brother (who could pass as my twin) had taken the paper last year. So I gave him $20 and half a box of woodstocks to take it for me.
#575 Nothing better than a dirty old wank in the law school honours room!
# 556 the obvious sexual tension between two of the young Te Puni kitchen staff. miaow miaow it's getting pretty tense.... Sexual seduction. # roudy. #537 I should have been studying for an exam I have tomorrow but I used this weekend instead to be blazed 24/7 and watch sabrina the teenage witch episodes on youtube.
COUNCIL ELECTION 2013— CALL FOR NOMINATIONS GOING UP Jokes about Mount St – HILLarious. The profits of VicBooks – Receiving the majority of students' course related costs. You can pass without course materials, right? The New Zealand International Film Festival – can’t wait to become informed, cultured and entertained!
GOING DOWN Literally everyone talking about Warhol: Immortal at Te Papa. The relationship between you and your parents - a week back home was enough exposure to last until Christmas. That passion for knitting you rekindled over the holidays.
ELECTION OF ONE CO-OPTED MEMBER OF THE UNIVERSITY COUNCIL BY THE STUDENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY An election is to be held to select a person who is or has been a student at Victoria University to be co-opted onto Council for four months to 31 December 2013. The successful candidate will be co-opted by Council at the beginning of its 26 August meeting. Given the need for the successful candidate to be coopted at the beginning of the 26 August Council meeting and the short-term nature of the position, this election will not strictly adhere to all aspects of the Council Election Statute. Nominations, which must have the consent of the nominee, close with the Returning Officer at 5.00 pm on Wednesday, 24 July 2013. All students are eligible to make nominations and to vote in the election. For election purposes, a student is any person currently enrolled in a personal course of study at Victoria University or a person who is studying at the University under an exchange agreement with another institution.
NOMINATION FORMS Copies of the nomination form and the information sheet to be completed by the candidates are available from Reception in the Hunter Atrium, or on the University’s website at www.victoria.ac.nz/council/elections.htm or by telephoning (04) 463 5196.
CLOSING OF THE STUDENT ROLL 10. RateMyStudent
9. Porn with a ‘Like’ Button
th ou gh
lizz de o - @lou
Rejected Social-Media Concepts
8. Instagram: Braille 7. LinkedIn for Sexual Partners 6. Illuminati Facebook 5. Xbox Live Babe of the Day 4. RapGenius for Stuff Comments 3. Snapchat Hashtags 2. Twitter for Dogs 1. Google+
The student roll will close at 5.00 pm on Wednesday, 24 July 2013.
DATE OF ELECTION If the number of nominations exceeds the number of vacancies, an election will be held on Wednesday, 7 August 2013, with the polls closing at 5.00 pm. Candidates will be elected by the single transferable vote method. Voting will be by internet only. Voting details will be emailed to students at their preferred email address on Wednesday, 31 July 2013. Caroline Ward Secretary to Council and Returning Officer Victoria University of Wellington PO Box 600 Wellington 17
FEATURES • ϟ
! s s e l p o T n a i h s Kim Karda
Newspapers probably won’t exist in
By Henry Cooke
fifteen years. Salient might not even be a magazine. It’s far too late to stop the internet’s reworking of the news industry, but there’s plenty of time to whine about how it’s ruining ‘proper journalism’. But is it?
ϟ • FEATURES
I like to think I know what’s going on in the world. The Pakeha Party is far too popular. Everyone’s still trying to decide whether Morsi’s forced retirement was a coup or not. I’m vaguely mad at Kevin Rudd. The IRD are trying to crack down on my ASOS purchases, but Maurice Williamson doesn’t think it will work. Jay-Z is rapping at some gallery for six hours. Thirteen years into the new millennium, it’s hard not to feel like you know what’s up. News isn’t confined to the paper or the radio or 6 pm any more. My phone vibrates whenever The New York Times decides something is important enough to push out. My Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr feeds can blow up at a moment’s notice. My frequent, somewhat subconscious scrolls of Stuff.co.nz* keep me vaguely aware of a whole litany of events. We call it the ‘Information Age’ for a reason, right? It’s easier than ever to access all the news you could ever want, kept constantly updated by a far wider variety of sources. You don’t have to settle for whatever rag your area publishes; and if you do they are updating constantly throughout the day. A revolution has struck the news industry, and it’s resulting in more news than ever. Yet I can’t name a single general in the Egyptian military, or even the guy who runs The Pakeha Party. I don’t know the date of the next Australian election, or why Maurice Williamson thinks taxing imports would be so hard. I don’t even know which gallery Jay is at. I could fake my way through a conversation about any of these topics, sure, but that’s probably not what some sweaty, harassed Egyptian correspondent had in mind when she put fingers to keyboard. Would I have known all this if I read the paper instead? Revolutions aren’t always a great idea. We’ve ramped up how much entertainment we fit into the news, and we seem to forget about events as fast as we can read about them. On top
of this, the demand for experienced journalists is constantly shrinking, with once-great newspapers shutting down every other month. The internet has provided us all with near-constant entertainment, it’s created new economies, it’s broken down geographic boundaries, but has it ruined the news? An infinite amount of events happen every day, all connected yet completely separate. A miniscule number of these events are deemed ‘news’. This process used to require a temporal gap: a period of time between the event happening and the news of the event being published. This gap—made necessary by the complexities of printing and distributing a newspaper or producing a broadcast news programme—gave everyone time to take a breath and form these disparate facts into some kind of whole. Then, if you wanted to really get to grips with what was going on, and knew that 45 minutes of television would barely skim the surface, you picked up a newspaper. A newspaper. WHAT’S CHANGED? The death of print media hasn’t exactly gone on in secret. Every week there’s a new piece on the fading profitability of newspapers, on journalists being made redundant, on our generation’s move towards online news consumption. It really is “our generation” too. A recent Ypulse study confirmed that ‘millennials’ gain their news predominantly from social media and news websites, with 30 per cent seeing news websites as their primary news source, compared to only 18 per cent for TV and 4 per cent for newspapers. Our parents are still reading the paper and watching the 6-pm news every night, but we aren’t. The way we read the news has changed immensely, but the actual news hasn’t. For all the hullabaloo about citizen journalism, political
elites are still the ones making headlines, and we are still reading content produced by professional journalists who work for, in New Zealand, Fairfax or APN, two huge companies that have been printing newspapers for years. Analysis is a different story, but all the bloggers need news stories to bounce off. What matters, surprisingly, isn’t the actual reporting—it’s how that reporting is presented and consumed. In the immortally simplistic words of Marshall McLuhan: “the medium is the message”. The format changes are as wide-sweeping as they are dramatic. A paper comes out daily; a news website is updated by the minute. A newspaper is a finite amount of pages; a website is only limited by bandwidth. All of these changes contribute to one thing: convenience. It’s much easier to read the news, and it’s much easier to publish the news. THE 24-SECOND NEWS CYCLE Convenience is a double-edged sword. We know how fast news can be now, so we expect it. While 67 per cent of respondents to the Ypulse study claimed they would rather be the last to know information if it was always accurate, 72 per cent of respondents would rather inform their friends about an event than be informed by a friend—and 33 per cent admitted they would rather always be first than always be right. For some, the only thing more important than being up to date is appearing up to date. It might be a dedicated minority, but the moment a newsworthy event happens, complaints about its lack of coverage start flooding in. Competition between rival sites is also a factor here: the first site to get a decent shareable story will gain a lion’s share of the early traffic. Facebook and Twitter have conditioned us into thinking real-time is the norm, and we’ve come to expect it, furiously refreshing a news homepage the moment we hear tell of a large event. Now, arguably, this is a much more realistic
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representation of real-life events. Things don’t happen in neatly packaged news narratives, with social and political contexts at the ready. But real-time reporting is inherently less considered, with much more room for incorrect information to spread. We hear about fake Twitter rumours all the time, but what about the real time information on actual news websites? I asked Stuff.co.nz Digital Communites Manager Janine Fenwick, who runs social media for the site, how she handles the tension between being up to date and being accurate. “We'd always rather be right, than be first,” she says. “Usually it results in a lot of shouting across the newsroom between various editors saying, ‘Do we have it confirmed?’ while I'm shouting, ‘Can I tweet this yet?’” She acknowledges that news outlets love to be first, but that this may have more to do with petty rivalry than actually serving their readers. “Finding the balance can be tough when people demand to know what's happening pretty much in real time, but verification and confirmation always take precedent.” They may take precedent, but they don’t always work. When US congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in 2011, NPR, one of the most trusted names in US news, reported that she had died, which turned out to be completely wrong. Since NPR are so trusted, however, news sources the world over followed their lead. NPR, to their credit, apologised profusely. “I felt supremely confident in the two sources I had,” writes NPR reporter Mark Moran, “but unfortunately those sources were relying on other sources, almost like a game of telephone tag.” You can find smaller, less dramatic mistakes in real-time reporting all over the news landscape. Even if the facts are all true, are short bursts of
The knowledge of Pita Sharples resignation means very little to someone who doesn’t know who Pita Sharples is. We aren’t looking forwards or backwards any more, only around. facts really the best way to become informed about the world around us? It may represent the real world more, yes, but perhaps a sense of narrative, of contextual information surrounding an event, is just as useful as knowing the fact itself. The knowledge of Pita Sharples’ resignation means very little to someone who doesn’t know who Pita Sharples is. Author Douglas Rushkoff calls this crushing of the narrative “present shock”. Supposedly, we aren’t looking forwards or backwards any more, only around. “Our culture becomes an entropic, static hum of everybody trying to capture the slipping moment,” he writes, “narrativity and goals are surrendered to a skewed notion of the real and the immediate.” It’s certainly easier to be shallowly up to date with the most ‘real and immediate’ events than it once was. Front-page news no longer requires any effort to obtain – most of us check some type of social network many times every day, and absorb news without even clicking a link. Facebook is a leisure activity, but since it updates in a way that other leisure activities can’t, the news finds you there. People always talk about “remembering where they were” and “how they heard” when huge news events happened—9/11, JFK’s assassination—but I have no idea where I was or how I heard about the second Christchurch earthquake. I’m not sure if it was a story on Facebook or a Tweet or a quick scan of Stuff; it just happened, and I knew about it within minutes. This news osmosis seems to result in us knowing about more things faster than we used to, but are we using this privilege correctly? Briefly absorbing a headline 15 hours earlier than you usually would doesn’t make you more informed, it just makes you informed faster. Furthermore, reading a headline briefly
while engaged with something else; say, four chat windows and a half-written essay; doesn’t exactly lend itself to in-depth knowledge. Of course, that isn’t necessarily the intended effect. News outlets don’t get money from you reading their Facebook feeds; they want you to click through and read the story on their sites. I asked Fenwick—the one responsible for pushing many of these stories out to social-networking sites and framing them there—whether she intended for a Facebook post to tell a news story itself, or simply interest people enough to click the link. “Obviously, we always want to drive people to our website, but I think we also have to be realistic about the fact that some people will never leave the network,” she states, realising that “social networks are communities on their own.” When she posts, she is “trying to cover all those bases—enough information to summarise the story but posted in a way that both encourages debate and click-throughs.” MO CLICKS MO PROBLEMS Clicks are the altar that online news necessarily worships. The more people clicking each of your stories, the more you can charge for the ads that run alongside it, the more money your company makes. This changes things. A lot. A newspaper doesn’t need to sell each story by itself – you buy the whole newspaper or none of it. Sure, front-page stories and teasers are a factor in getting you to buy the package, but you’re buying the whole thing. On the internet, each story can earn itself clicks; the article itself becomes a fully atomised product. It’s no longer just newspapers competing with each other – each individual story is competing with every other story out there, both on its own website and throughout the internet itself, particularly Twitter and Facebook. Now, there are two arguments one could make about this change. In one, the quality of each individual article is increased due to its newly
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competitive nature – it has to stand for itself rather than rest on the brand of the paper carrying it. In the other, articles become more and more ‘clickbaity’ – willfully trying to trick users into clicking them with salacious photos or viral-style headlines. In reality, it’s a mixture of both, but mostly the latter. Clickbaity doesn’t always mean bad. There’s nothing inherently wrong with presenting a story in the most interesting way possible, and tabloids have been working it for years; it’s just much more pronounced online. Every news-ish website in the world has started experimenting with funner headlines: things like Slate’s “John McCain and Rand Paul Say It's a Coup in Egypt, But Only One of Them Wants to Cut Foreign Aid. Guess Who!” This headline is full of detail and very specific, with a tongue-in-cheek question – libertarian Rand Paul is obviously the one who wants to cut aid. In a newspaper, a story on the same event would have to have a much more boring and concise headline, something like “McCain, Paul decry ‘coup’ in Egypt”. Then, there’s the more annoyingly clickbaity: the “You’ll Never Guess Why...”, or “Crazy New Bin Laden Details Revealed!”, or the stories that mention hot words like “Obama” or “iPhone” for no good reason. The problem with clickbait—there’s always a problem—is how much power it gives the majority. The editor of the ‘80s had some vague maxims like “sex sells” or “if it bleeds, it leads” instilled, but nothing like the kind of real-time data they would have today. Now, they can see just how many more clicks the linkbaity story on Kim Kardashian received than the hardhitting piece on electoral finance. When these two articles were part of the same paper, an editor could guess that more would read the Kardashian story, yes, but was still somewhat shielded from knowing just how popular their trashier stories were. Obviously, this audience aren’t all slack-jawed yokels – they’re everyone,
the only thing more important than being up to date is appearing up to date. but that’s the problem. Everyone clicks on the linkbait—it’s what we call the ‘lowest common denominator’. Smaller minorities click on all the other, separate, news stories, which are probably the reason they are there in the first place, but that won’t show up as much on the stats. Just look at the “most popular” section of any news site. Sadly, some stories will never make good clickbait, and that doesn’t make them less worthy as ‘news’, but it does make them a lot less valuable to a cash-strapped news organisation. And oh boy, are they poor. TEAR DOWN THIS PAYWALL I’m going to let you in on a secret. Online display ads—the ones down the side of every commercial news website in existence—they don’t sell all that well. With a newspaper, you could guarantee that your audience was rich enough to buy a paper, and lived within a fairly limited area. Web advertising makes no such promises. To make real money with them, you need a huge amount of clicks. Our generation is especially adept at ignoring them. The other thing our generation is good at, of course, is copyright infringement. We really don’t like paying for things online – especially news, where there are hundreds of free alternatives to any website that charges. But a journalist gotta eat. The harsh, cruel world of web media seems to present fledgling news organisations with two options. Either you charge for your content with a ‘paywall’, invoking the anger of many of your audience now accustomed to getting your news for free and locking out the more impoverished, or you do everything you can to get as many
some stories will never make good clickbait, and that doesn’t make them less worthy as ‘news’, but it does make them a lot less valuable to a cashstrapped news organisation. salient.org.nz <<<
clicks as you can, hoping not to lose your journalistic integrity in the process. The New York Times is currently experimenting with the first, while The Huffington Post has been working the latter for years. The Huffington Post’s website is covered with jarring ads and headlines like “WATCH: Spitzer Tears Up On Live TV” and “Fugitive Captured After Taunting Police On Twitter”. It’s free, however, and does provide a whole lot of pretty decent news coverage, if you make it through all the tacky linkbait. Over on the other side of the spectrum, The New York Times has a ‘paywall’, a limit of ten free articles one can read a month before being required to subscribe. When you reach your limit, you can still visit the site and scan the homepage, you just can’t open any stories. As a news icon, The New York Times has remained relatively serious and high-minded throughout the rise of the web, still writing headlines like “Egypt’s Interim Leaders Lay Out Plan for Fast Transition”. Their whole site exudes elegance, with subtle advertising for high-end jewellery fitting the mood perfectly. On the other hand, they now lock-out a significant portion of the world who can’t afford the 20 or so bucks it costs a month to get past the paywall, and they are explicitly encouraging us to read the headlines but not the stories. Our generation is already vexing economists by just plain not buying cars, will we vex them by never paying for the news too? STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM The news isn’t going anywhere. Humans are naturally nosy. We are always going to be all up in whatever our neighbours are doing, whether it’s Rick putting in a new fence or Kim trying to build some nukes. Whether the internet has ruined or recharged news is yet to be determined. News will never die – but it will change. We are the ones living through this change. However our generation decides to read, buy, and create the news will set the standard for generations to come. Let’s try not to fuck it up. *Disclaimer: I work for Stuff.co.nz.
Bias Beware Something is rotten in New Zealand’s media. Duncan McLachlan and Cam Price investigate.
A few months ago, South Korea issued an imminent and vital nuclear-threat warning. The main article on Stuff at the time was about South Korean pop sensation Psy. In the byline of a story on Sea Shepherd, The New Zealand Herald described Pete Bethune as a “war-hero” before being pressured to change it to “activist”. When Nigella Lawson was strangled by her husband, 3 News ran with the pithy and insensitive headline “Nigella Lawson’s wedding: a recipe for disaster”.
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It’s been said that although there are three estates in government – the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the state – there is a fourth, non-governmental estate that is far more important than them all. The media is a central pillar in any modern society that identifies itself as democratic and free. It fulfils the essential role of holding the government to account, and so it’s no surprise that the suppression of a free press is the first step on the road to despotism and totalitarianism. The right to vote is null and void if you have no idea who or what it is you’re voting for at the ballot box. In society’s great quest to make informed decisions about the way in which it orders itself, the media equips us with the requisite knowledge to do so. The media shines a light on the cavities of state power. More generally, the press “may serve as a kind of moral barometer against which the audience gauges the parameters of acceptable opinion,” says Peter Thompson, lecturer of Media Studies at Victoria University. The term ‘media’ literally means an agency by which something is accomplished, conveyed, or transferred. The media facilitates and directs the exchange of knowledge and information in society; it is the setting for the important conversations that play out which inform our moral and social progress. Our views and interests are validated when we learn that others hold the same. Our attitudes both shape and are shaped by the press, whose job it is to write the first draft of history. So does the media wield this power responsibly? It’s a pity that, despite the industry’s noble heritage and goals, most people would agree that Stuff.co.nz is frankly a bit shit. I mean, hire a subeditor for God’s sake. 3 News has that awkward, unfunny, time-wasting interplay between the presenters. You know that Seven Sharp is gobshite when people would prefer to watch that sanctimonious wanker John Campbell instead. Talkback radio is a place where fools listen to fools who have nothing to say, say it. But worse than all this is the flagrant bias the media as a collective constantly spouts. Everybody sees bias in the media, but which way it goes is in the eye of the beholder; those who vote National are apt to believe in a left-wing
the media seeks a cause, an angle, a reason, a hero, a winner, a loser, someone to blame bias, and vice versa. Some say that, because journalists are generally of the type who are interested in the liberal domains of the arts and the humanities, there exists a slight left-wing bias. However, the argument that any one political viewpoint is consistently shown in a favourable light is a mere conspiracy theory. Professor Thompson believes “there is a valid argument that the media by and large reflect and reproduce the prevailing political-economic ideology.” He says the more correct view is to say that, rather than having an overarching political bias, the media exhibits different biases on different issues. “At the same time as we have seen a significant shift to the neoliberal right in economic terms, since the 1970s we have also seen a shift to the liberal left in cultural terms.” It is a bias in favour of the present.
Although often pernicious and difficult to quantify, the harm caused by bias is real. The press can make or break a person’s career. John Key’s active courting of the media during his first election campaign was awarded with a ‘honeymoon’ period lasting the first year of his prime ministership. As a result, New Zealanders were unaware of his government’s frequent use of the democratically dubious practice of having the House sit under urgency, robbing it of the ability to take time and care when passing important legislation. Margaret Thatcher had the opposite problem with the media, complaining that if her critics saw her walking over the Thames, they would say it was because she couldn’t swim. It’s too often overlooked that when the flames of racism flare up, New Zealand’s media
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has invariably been there to fan them, and continues to be. The characterisation of the Chinese immigrants during the 19th-century gold rushes as the ‘Yellow Peril’ led to a poll tax being imposed on Chinese entrants to New Zealand – a tax based on nothing more than the randomness of the lottery of birth. Today, the media continues to demonise the Chinese. With all the hubbub about the Crafar farms sale, you will no doubt be surprised to learn that of the nearly 900,000 hectares of land sold to foreigners between 2007 and 2012, only 223 of those were bought by the Chinese. The tiny country of Liechtenstein owns ten times more New Zealand land than does China. Director James Cameron and singer Shania Twain jointly own 100 times more. Take a second to mull that over. How do those facts compare to the impression you got from the media? More recently, the Chinese have been blamed for Auckland’s high house prices. That Australians own far more houses than do the Chinese, and that prices would come down if only the Council would relax its ban on building residential homes on huge swaths of land on the outskirts of Auckland, are treated as inconvenient facts by reporters desperate to take advantage of the xenophobic feelings New Zealanders have. But is it all the media’s fault? Nicky Hager, investigative journalist and author of The Hollow Men, says there are three places to lay the blame. First, he argues that journalists are indeed partially at fault. In their quest to present balanced and fair news, journos often engage in tokenistic box ticking. They will present the two extremes of the argument to show that they’ve done their job, but neglect to show the majority view of those in the middle. Some stories simply don’t have two sides, but journalists will bend over backwards to find them. Will McAvoy, in the US TV show The Newsroom, drily observed that if the Republican Party announced the world was flat, the headlines would read “Politicians Disagree on Shape of Planet”. Secondly, Hager argues that PR people, spin doctors, lobbyists and interest groups are the biggest skewers of news. Journalists work in a strained and stressed environment, faced with
It’s too often overlooked that when the flames of racism flare up, New Zealand’s media has invariably been there to fan them, and continues to be. a torrent of news, tasked with sifting through endless press releases to meet constant deadlines. Reporters aren’t often experts in the areas they are reporting on, and Hager argues that balance is lost because “the media falls unconsciously for the viewpoint of so-called experts”. He points to the media’s positive treatment of rising house prices as an example of a PR campaign run by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand. For the people who don’t own homes, increasing house prices simply means having to pay more in rent. Increasing house prices are one of the worst forms of inflation, particularly for students. But when house prices rise, that side of the story isn’t reported and instead it’s a “sign of a buoyant economy”. But when the REINZ wins, we students lose. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2010, which gave disproportionate power to landlords and property managers over tenants, was under-reported in the media. When it was, a very one-sided view was presented. Most of those who submitted to the Select Committee were lobbyists for the property industry. As a result of the media bias against students, the bill passed and rents continued to get ever higher. Media bias is just another form of discrimination against minorities.
Finally, argues Hager, the capitalistic funding system of the media distorts the incentive to produce objective news. The media has a dual goal: in order to maximise their profits and please their sponsors, they must maximise consumption of their news. Naturally, if a story about Kimye’s baby North is likely to appeal to the audience more than the latest dire statistic about starvation in Africa, the editor often has no choice but to run the former. The main consumers of newspapers and magazines and TV news programmes are middle-aged, and that explains why the narrative is directed at them. Other groups, such as youth, are portrayed as token caricatures of themselves. Economic interests are able to dominate coverage at the expense of the less privileged. There is a fourth explanation for the bias: inevitability. The inability to be completely objective is an inherent fact of news production. Questions of whether an attractive or unflattering photograph of someone accompanies their story, of which stories are reported on, of how prominent each story is, of whether the story is on the front page or hidden in the back, of how much weight is given to each side, of which aspect of the story to focus on etc., simply cannot be answered in the neutral. Further, what’s termed ‘objectively’
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true is dependent on the wider context of social and historical mores existing at the time of writing. The media’s treatment of gay marriage in 2013 would have been absolutely shocking in the 1950s. So, media bias is both mostly unintentional, in that rarely is it the case that we are being knowingly deceived, and mostly unavoidable, in that humans can’t help but be fallible. So, the media is pretty shit when it comes to being impartial. Is there anything we can do to improve the situation in New Zealand? One solution which has been bandied about over the years is to move to a public-funding model of news. Although TVNZ and Radio New Zealand are publicly funded, both are required to operate as a profitable commercial business. If that requirement were removed, journalism for journalism’s sake would flourish. Although there is a general reticence to involve government in the media for fear of interference and corruption, other pillars of our democracy, such as the courts, maintain their independence despite technically being in the pocket of the state. Salient itself is funded by, but independent from, the University, and there is no shortage of vocal opposition to many University policies within these pages. The internet has revolutionised the rapidity and fluidity of information-sharing. Although traditional media remains the primary source of information, the news is being decentralised more and more so that now many people learn their news from Twitter, Facebook and blogs. People can access news directly from the source, as happened during the Arab Spring when millions of young Arabs turned to nonconventional means of news-reporting. The internet is likely to be the biggest driver of change in the industry since the printing press. Nicky Hager is not so optimistic about the internet as saviour. Of the shift to internet-based news, he says: “It’s far from clear that the news media will be economically viable.” Hager also feels that the anonymity granted on the internet retards rather than enhances political discussion. Finally, he worries that blogging has issues with ‘confirmation bias’, that is, people will only seek out and read blogs which conform to their own views. This
leads to a false sense that their views are the correct ones, as they feel that everybody else feels the same way. Hager’s not alone—numerous editorials in our national newspapers have argued against the internet as a new medium. However, it is important to remember that the occupations of both Hager and newspaper editors—in print media—will create an inherent bias in their perception of the internet. When people complain of bias in the media, it is often unclear whether they want the media to be more neutral, or just to be biased toward their own opinions. Counter-intuitively then, the cure for impartiality may be to acknowledge and encourage the sickness. Instead of attempting to be objective, news outlets should explicitly declare their views and preferences. Journalists shouldn’t be able to hide behind a veil of supposed impartiality. They should say what their political leanings are so that we are better able to decide the extent to which we should trust their judgment. In America, everyone knows Fox News is Republican and MSNBC is Democrat. In Britain, all the major papers have a front-page editorial on election day saying which party they want to win. Why not say it explicitly in New Zealand?
to blame. In New Zealand we blame the Chinese. Students are the losers. But ineptitude of the fourth estate needn’t stymie the discussions we as a people need to be having. Readers need to be sceptical of everything they read. We need to yell for better news. Journalists need to create the market for the real stories. We are better than cat stories. Let the conversation continue. Disclaimer: Cam and Duncan struggle to define their political views, but would say they are broadly libertarian. They believe every individual should be free to pursue happiness in any way they please, insofar as no-one else is hurt in that pursuit. This includes legalising drugs, support for marriage equality, and support for open immigration. Their economic views are more complex and less well-developed, but generally they believe that government intervention in the economy, while well-meaning, often produces worse results than if things had been left to individuals and businesses to decide. Their central concern is for the poor and the persecuted.
The media can’t help but fall prey to the dangers of bias. It is a weakness of the human condition which allows reporters to be reduced to mere mouthpieces of special-interest groups; which allows entertaining stories to outsell informative ones; which means the media seeks a cause, an angle, a reason, a hero, a winner, a loser, someone
Some stories simply don’t have two sides, but journalists will bend over backwards to find them.
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silent killer suicide, the media and the status quo By Chris McIntyre
[Content note: The following article concerns suicide] In September 2011, Natalia Lyanko booked a one-way flight to Russia. She was living in London at the time, in a basement flat with my brother—her husband. She flew back to the city of her birth, St Petersburg, where her family lived. During the Soviet years, Natalia's parents were doctors and had been justly rewarded with a fine home; however, post-Soviet Russia had been cruel. Natalia's mother now lived alone in a small apartment. September is autumntime in St Petersburg, and for a few days Natalia stayed with her mother as the leaves fell from the trees, welcoming the coming winter.
On September 23, Natalia's mother left her apartment after an argument with her daughter. She arrived home later that day to find Natalia hanging in the doorway. The last sentence of that paragraph may have come as a shock; something out of the ordinary, a strange tragedy perhaps. You could be forgiven for thinking such a scenario was rare—suicide is rarely talked about, and almost never mentioned in the media. The reality is that it is not. In New Zealand, someone commits suicide every 16 hours, on average. 11 people have died by
their own hand since this time last week. By this time next week, another 11 will be dead. That’s a lecture theatre every nine months. For every two people who die in a car crash, three commit suicide. The media are open about the former; holiday road tolls are broadcast like sport scores, and new police initiatives are given airtime along with safe-driving advertising campaigns. Not suicide, though. While not all deaths are investigated by the Coroner, every suicide is subject to a coroner’s inquiry. Coroners are lawyers or former judges, and are charged with establishing when, where, how and why a death happened. They also investigate whether action can be taken to prevent similar deaths, and make
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recommendations. When the Coroner releases their findings on a suicide, the media is heavily restricted in what they can publish by section 71 of the Coroners Act 2006. Generally, this is restricted to the person’s name, address, occupation, and the fact that the death was suicide. To publish anything else—the means, the motive, the outlines of the life left behind—is to break the law. Such restrictions serve as a safety mechanism, to isolate and minimise the coverage of such incidents so that negative outcomes—further suicides—are minimised. By international standards, our overall suicide rate is about average for OECD rates. It is also steady, at around 550 deaths per year, meaning that though things aren’t getting any worse, they’re not getting any better. ••• Suicide does not exist in a vacuum. In early 2012 I flew to London and lived with my brother for a time, in the flat he and Natalia had shared. We travelled to Paris to speak to their friends, and to Berlin, where they had first met. It was a sort of post-mortem reconnaissance mission, aimed at understanding what had led to her death. Possibilities were discussed in the Soviet-era housing blocks of eastern Berlin where she had once lived and worked, stories were told over dinners in Paris where she’d holidayed, and her presence in the London museums she had worked at was as much an artifact as anything else on display. We talked, shared, cried, hurt, and healed. The subject was out in the open, part of a common consciousness which we didn’t shy or run from. When reporting on suicide, the media follow a ‘code’, the terminology of which you are likely to have encountered: ‘no suspicious circumstances’, ‘no suspects’, ‘died suddenly’. These euphemisms tiptoe around reality, little white lies which are designed to minimise possible harms caused by careless suicide reporting. Fairfax Media, which owns The Dominion Post, The Press, and Stuff.co.nz, asks its reporters to “exercise care” when reporting suicide. This is in order that “journalists do not unwittingly encourage others to take their own lives”. In 1999, the Ministry of Health published guidelines for media in a two-page document entitled ‘Reporting Suicide: At a Glance Card’. These guidelines include
representing suicide as “a poor choice”, avoiding romanticising suicide, minimising tributes, and acknowledging the person’s mental-health issues. The Ministry also recommended not placing suicide stories on the front page, avoiding repetitive coverage, and never reporting on the method used by the person. In 2011, the Ministry published a revised set of guidelines, entitled ‘Reporting Suicide: A resource for the media’. The 2011 iteration was developed by the Media Freedom Committee, Fairfax, TVNZ and Radio NZ, in conjunction with mental-health professionals. The new guidelines were seven times as long, but covered essentially the same material: the status quo was reinforced.
imposed from the outside that the media do not agree with, accept or use." The guidelines were developed, agreed on, and accepted by the media, but this does not mean they are implemented uniformly—different media outlets’ own in-house guidelines differ, resulting in inconsistencies which devalue the guidelines themselves.
Media guidelines are important: the reporting and portrayal of suicide are factors which have the potential to increase rates of suicidal behaviour. As such, the media can help to prevent suicide by reporting in ways which decrease the risk of suicide for vulnerable people. This is supported by evidence-based research: in a 2003 paper, ‘Suicide and the Media’, author Madelyn Gould states it is “crucial for mental and public health professionals and the media to develop a partnership to enhance the effectiveness of the reporting of suicide, while minimizing the risk of imitative suicides.” Gould, an expert on the evaluation of suicide-prevention interventions, takes care to emphasise that the media has the ability to educate and change the attitudes of the public. The 11 years of relatively stagnant annual suicide rates between the 1999 media resource and its 2011 equivalent indicate that the attitudes and behaviours of the public can’t have changed enough. Upholding the status quo hasn’t changed anything for the worse, but equally, hasn’t changed anything for the better. Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean, speaking on suicide in 2012, stated that rates weren’t dropping despite resources like the Ministry of Health’s being provided and used. “I'm concerned we don't seem to be making any impact, there's no downward trend at all,” MacLean said.
Media aren’t totally to blame for being at a loss about how to implement the guidelines, as even experts can’t agree on what constitutes ‘best-practice reporting’. Bay of Plenty Regional Coroner Wallace Bain, who favours a more liberal approach to reporting, blasted the guidelines after his inquiry into a cluster of five suicides in Kawerau in 2010 and 2011. When ruling on the Kawerau case in 2012, Bain stressed that the issues surrounding suicide reporting need to be urgently resolved: “coroners, the media, and communities of New Zealand [need] a clearer direction based on international best practice in suicide prevention as to publication and openness and the effects of suicidal behaviour." In agreement are University of Otago academics Colin Gavaghan and Mike King, who explored the ethics of suicide reporting in a paper released in March. Gavaghan and King, like Bain, came to a liberal-leaning conclusion; that “when a suicide seems likely to cast light on a serious social or legal problem, or to inform an important policy debate, a coroner should be able to take that into consideration when deciding whether to allow reporting.” A counter to the liberal view is offered by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman, who told a 2012 conference on Suicide Prevention that media reporting and coronial enquiries has the potential to make things worse.
Part of the problem here is the adherence to what the guidelines declare as best practice. Former Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne told media in 2011 that guidelines on suicide reporting had to be media-owned, or risk redundancy: "There is no point having guidelines
What is clear is that the grey area in which New Zealand media currently operates (between expert’s opinions, and within the guidelines) isn’t making anything better, let alone more clear. Allowing the reporting of certain facts can, in some cases, paint half the picture. In a coroner’s
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The media are open about car crashes; holiday road tolls are broadcast like sport scores, and new police initiatives are given airtime along with safe-driving advertising campaigns. Not suicide, though. decision released in 2009, the media were allowed to report on a suicide which took place at Christchurch Men’s Prison in 2005. Widely reported was the fact the man had access to razor blades, but media outlets could not report on what he did with them. The “clearer direction” Bain wishes for certainly didn’t point here. ••• A Russian gravestone typically has a photo or engraving of the dead person’s face, on the stone. Before a gravestone is prepared, a temporary photo is placed at the grave. It’s a way of attaching an identity; of supplanting a person’s absence with their memory and paying respect. New Zealand’s protocols around suicide do close to the opposite: according to international research, sweeping suicide under the rug limits opportunities for prevention. If a death is not worth reporting, it can give the impression no one cares. This sends a dangerous message—a potentially deadly message—to those with suicidal tendencies.The less we utilise opportunities to talk about suicide constructively, the fewer opportunities we have to reach out to the vulnerable. If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, how are the other trees going to cope when faced with a strong wind and weak roots? One of Bain’s recommendations in his findings on the Kawerau suicides was for the Government to evaluate how recent changes to media guidelines have affected suicidal behaviours. Later that year, MacLean said New Zealand needed to "gently bring the issue of suicide from out of the shadows". "Coroners have a
responsibility to encourage the informed public discussion about how best to reduce the rate of suicide. To have that discussion we need upto-date and complete information,” MacLean said. At the time these remarks were made, the Coroner had been releasing detailed statistics on suicide to the media for three years, a positive first step to greater information provision. Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne, while supportive of the figures’ release, cautioned there were no “quick or easy fixes". In May this year, eight months on from MacLean’s statements, Dunne released the ‘New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016’. It contained 30 points for suicide prevention across many spheres of society, and was the closest thing to a quick and easy fix to New Zealand’s suicide problem seen in some time. (To be fair, the plan built on previous initiatives and falls under the long-term fix, the ‘NZ Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006-2016’.) At the plan’s release, Dunne described the suicide rate as “unacceptably high” and as something that “must change”. Prime Minister John Key agreed: “it's critically important that we pour more resources [into suicide prevention]," he said of the $25 million in spending to be delivered through the plan. The ‘New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016’ mentions the media only once. It aims to “provide good information to the media” by December 2014, by reorienting the current suicide-information service. Also covered by this directive are “whānau, families and friends of people at risk or people who
have died”. If the media can shape and change attitudes and behaviour, it stands to reason that they are a more important part of suicide prevention than this plan would indicate. Squandering the ability to change attitudes and behaviours of the populace is as much a threat to suicide prevention as anything else. ••• Three weeks ago, I was having coffee with a friend when she received a phone call from her mother informing her that her aunt had just committed suicide. As I offered my sympathies and put her in a taxi home, I reflected on the nearly two years that had passed since Natalia’s death. My brother still lives in their same London flat, visits the same friends they shared, and every so often returns to St Petersburg. I still think of Natalia often. Her mother still opens the front door to her apartment the same way she did on September 23, 2011. Life goes on; the status quo continues. It’s often said that the status quo is not working, and when calls to this effect come from our chief coroner, there is only so long they can be ignored. Settling for a suicide rate that has stagnated is not good enough; we need to try something that will effect meaningful change to New Zealand’s silent killer—something that will make a difference to those 11 people each week. “Not talking about it, treating it as a taboo topic,” says MacLean, “hasn't made any difference at all."
Where to get help: • If it's an emergency and you feel you or someone else is at risk, call 111. • Youthline: 0800 376 633 • Lifeline: 0800 543 354 • Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 • What's Up: 0800 942 8787 (noon to midnight)
Hitting town for a night out with your pack can unleash some drunken traits you won’t always be proud of the morning after. Ask yourself which pack member you are.
WHERE DO YOU FIT IN THE PACK?
HOW DOES YOUR NIGHT NORMALLY END? With a fight!
Taxi home with friends
Walk home alone
FOAMER Fiesty Aggro-drunk Shameless
LONE WOLF Wanderer Over-confident Adventurous
Tip: You need to learn how to control yourself and make better decisions to ensure you get home in one piece.
Tip: Adventures are better shared. Always take a buddy – they can back up your stories the morning after.
CUB Planner Follower Cautious Tip: Seeing as you’re not a big risk-taker and can lack street-smarts, it’s essential you stay with your pack.
Grab everyone and walk home
ALPHA Responsible Caring Peacemaker Tip: Find a balance between looking after the pack and your own enjoyment.
Prepare yourself for the walk of shame
SLOBBERER Messy drunk Gets loose Show-off Tip: Create a cut-off point to how much you drink. Knowing your limit can save you a lot of embarrassment.
COME AND HEAR
JOSH NILES CS, International Speaker,
Victoria University welcomes music label Rattle Free lunchtime jazz Join us in the Hub this week for three concerts to mark the new partnership between Victoria University of Wellington and iconic New Zealand music label, Rattle. Featuring leading musicians from Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music. Wednesday 17, Thursday 18 and Friday 19 July, 12.10pm-1pm. The Hub, Kelburn Campus. All welcome.
LEARNING TO LISTEN
FIND OUT MORE AND DOWNLOAD THE APP!
STICKWITH THEPACK .CO.NZ
Want to learn how to hear and trust divine intuition – find out how to combat the distractions and mental ambushes that keep us from hearing that divine direction? Explore these useful ideas with Josh Niles, lecturer and practitioner from the USA of Christian Science healing.
– SPIRITUAL TRAINING
This is a 40 minute talk with time for questions.
TUESDAY 16 JULY 1.10PM
FOR MORE INFO, CALL 021 395 100
VENUE: LABY Building, Lecture Theatre 118 Victoria University, Gate 6, Kelburn Pde You are welcome to BYO lunch.
NOTE: THIS IS NOT SCIENTOLOGY
COME AND HEAR
JOSH NILES CS, International Speaker, TALK ABOUT
PACKING WITH THE CHRIST
Learn how to identify those burdensome thoughts you carry so you can empty them out and only pack the good and spiritual qualities ... in essence, repack with the Christ. Explore these useful ideas with Josh Niles, lecturer and practitioner from the USA of Christian Science healing. This is a 20 minute talk with time for questions.
Rattle is a division of Victoria University Press rattle.co.nz | vup.victoria.ac.nz
WEDNESDAY 17 JULY 12.10PM VENUE: MASSEY UNIVERSITY, FERN ROOM, BLOCK 4, ENTRANCE A, WALLACE STREET You are welcome to BYO lunch. There will be light refreshments available.
FOR MORE INFO, CALL 021 395 100 NOTE: THIS IS NOT SCIENTOLOGY
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A Civil Discussion An Interview with Ben Uffindell, Editor of The Civilian
Since beginning in March, satirical news site The Civilian has fooled journalists, enraged Colin Craig, and been hailed as New Zealand’s answer to The Onion. Not to mention nearly 20,000 likes on Facebook, and the launch of their political wing, The Civilian Party, due later this year. Salient speaks to Editor and future party leader, 21-year-old Ben Uffindell. Interview by Molly McCarthy & Stella Blake-Kelly
Salient: What inspired you to start The Civilian in the first place? Ben Uffindell: I’ve been asked that question many, many times and it never gets any easier because I’m not exactly sure. I sat down one day earlier this year, and I’d been looking to get some work published online for some time because I’d done quite a bit of writing but I’d never really had an outlet for it. Well, I’d had an outlet for it at one point; in University of Canterbury’s Canta magazine, but I stopped doing that in 2011, and I hadn’t really had an outlet since then. So I wanted to get something published online, and long story short I just sat down and said to myself, “What is something humorous in nature that New Zealand doesn’t really have?”, and immediately my mind went to The Onion as a model for satirical news. I thought, “Well, we don’t have one of those, wouldn’t it be great if we had one of those?” That’s how it came about—quite simply, actually. S: Since starting in March, The Civilian gained popularity fairly quickly. Were you surprised by the response? B: Shocked. Absolutely floored. When I set it up it was on a very basic WebGator host account
which couldn’t handle a whole lot of traffic because I didn’t expect a whole lot of traffic. I sort of thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a couple of hundred people who would read this? That would be fantastic.” And just in the first day it just went crazy, and I had to reconsider what I was doing. Initially it was going to be a side project; it’s become a full-time endeavour now, that I’m trying to make self-sustaining. I’m getting there actually, much better than I thought. It became a full-time endeavour because doing it every weekday, along with a whole host of other things, and the political party we’re now setting up... it has become a full-time endeavour and it’s been well worth it. I just didn’t expect to be putting that sort of time into it because I didn’t expect it to be this popular. S: How is the progress of your political party going? We notice that you’ve got twice as many Facebook likes as the Labour Party so it must be doing alright! B: Yeah! And as everyone knows, you need 500 Facebook likes to register with the Electoral Commission. The political party is something that we haven’t really properly launched yet. It’s something that we put out there and said “Look, we’re going to do this”, to get people on board, but we haven’t fully launched it yet. We actually have a surprisingly large number of members; I was most surprised by how many people are willing to use the post. I expected most of the applications to come electronically, but it seems people are quite fond of sending letters. One of the things that we got wrong, which was terrible, is we initially put up the wrong PO Box number—we had all these letters going to the wrong PO Box. Fortunately, eventually the Post Office figured it out, and redirected most of it, but I probably upset a couple of people who got
their letter sent back. S: Do you think that’s what happened to all of United Future’s membership applications as well? B: Yeah I’m sure they just got lost in the post, sometime between when the sender sent it and they died. I don’t know. As for the political party, there will be a website, and a proper launch coming up sometime soon. I have to be honest, because of the nonsense surrounding the Pakeha Party we might hold off a little bit longer to let them destroy themselves. S: Are you worried you’d be competing for the same votes? B: I hope not. I sincerely hope not. If we’re competing for the same votes then I think that would signal something bad about us. It’s not for vote crossover, it’s just media attention really. They’re the new party on the block, with all due deference to them. S: Have you got any intention to stand in an electorate or will you be going for the five per cent? B: Yes, I will be personally standing in an electorate and we’ll be looking at fielding other candidates, but I cannot say any more on that front. S: Apart from high-profile cases like Colin Craig, have you been threatened with defamation by anyone else since you’ve launched? B: No, it was just Colin. Poor Colin, it was just him. I’ve not had a single other defamation threat. Certainly not since then. I just don’t anticipate it. I think the Colin-Craig thing was
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sort of helpful in a way because it showed that it won’t really go anywhere. I think it probably would be different if it wasn’t Colin Craig though. Him being Colin Craig didn’t help his case. I’ve certainly never had anything of the sort. I get angry emails all the time, from all kinds of people, for all manner of reasons, but certainly no threats. S: Does The Civilian Party have any policy platforms that you’re planning on campaigning on at this stage? B: Absolutely. And that is why we’re waiting for the launch of the website, because we do have a policy platform, and will be announcing that when we launch the website. People will be able to go to the website and go all over it. It’ll look vaguely like the Labour and National Party website, so visitors can trawl through it and find out what we believe, or what we don’t. There will be a policy platform: one aimed at bringing about negative change. S: Does The Civilian or The Civilian Party have an official position on Gareth Hughes’ Comedy and Satire Bill? B: The Civilian Party would really like to outlaw all satire. We believe it’s outrageous that something like The Civilian can exist, and quote people as having said things that they didn’t say. S: Apart from the party, how else are you looking to expand The Civilian empire?
can’t. In that sense, what have been your proudest achievements so far? B: When the site first launched, the article that really threw The Civilian into the mainstream was an article about John Key dismissing a nuclear attack by North Korea. This was an insanely popular article, and one of the things people said about it, repeatedly, was that “It could almost be true. Isn’t it great that this is so close to reality. John Key does dismiss things all the time, so wouldn’t he just dismiss a nuclear strike on us?” It was a deliberate attempt to satirise John Key’s dismissiveness, but it also said a lot to me that it was widely believed by a lot of people, and that people thought it could be true. [To me that said] that maybe people’s perceptions of John Key had been taken a bit far, and maybe the opposition to his government was driven to blind silliness. When people took that article seriously, and other articles seriously, it’s less a commentary on the accuracy of the article, as it was a commentary on people’s perceptions of the world and what they’re willing to believe and maybe there’s something off with what people are willing to believe. I think that’s the thing I’m proud of: not the emulation of reality, as the highlighting—accidentally, entirely without my intention—people’s willingness to believe things that should really not be true. S: With those results in mind, do you think New Zealand needs more satire?
B: Right now it’s not about expansion. I had a few offers of that from various angles, and at the moment it’s about maintaining The Civilian as a site, and growing it as a site. Continuing it for long enough so that it understands what it is before it starts to transform into another medium. I’m quite content with what I’m doing now, and I’m not immediately looking for expansion. I already have to deal with what is almost too enormous for me to deal with, as it is.
B: I think everywhere always needs more satire. I don’t think we would ever reach a point at which there would be too much. Life for so many people is too serious. If we could all take things less seriously and be less angry at one another, then I think the world would be a much better place. I think satire helps that because it encourages people to laugh at themselves, and it encourages people to laugh at others as well. But you have to be able to both, and the more satire the better, in my opinion.
S: As a satirical news site, obviously you can provide a type of commentary on current events that other media outlets
S: Do you think that since The Civilian’s come out that politicians have been more
Well we liked Aaron Gilmore. I will be asking him to join the party. If anyone was concerned that Aaron Gilmore wouldn’t be a
engaged with having a lol on Twitter? You seem to have a bit of banter going with Judith Collins on the odd occasion. B: I never used Twitter before The Civilian so I couldn’t really comment on that because I don’t know. All I know is Twitter post-The Civilian. I couldn’t claim to have any influence, but I have been pleased to see that a lot of politicians do laugh along with what’s on there and that they are willing to have a laugh at themselves. I’m not sure Judith Collins is an example of that. She very faithfully retweets the articles that favour her, although everyone does that. But I’ll be honest, I like Judith. That’s nothing about National, or the policies, but I appreciate that she is open and willing to say things that other politicians would feel that they are too guarded to say. That’s no political commentary, I just enjoy the fact that she uses Twitter that way and I encourage more politicians to do so. S: Regarding the Labour leadership ‘coup’, what’s your opinion: letter or no letter? B: You’re asking me to pick between believing journalists and believing politicians. I believe there was probably a letter, I think Duncan probably got ahead of himself a little bit, and decided that this letter had been more circulated than it had been. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a letter and someone pulled it, when, as they do, Duncan and Patrick got a bit ahead of themselves. S: Too much Kronic. B: Yeah. you want these things to stay quiet, and I don’t know who’s leaking to Patrick Gower and WhaleOil, but they’re doing a very poor job of it. S: Do you have any plans to stop the lettercoup culture spreading from Labour to The Civilian? B: No, we want more coups in our party. We’re all for coups in our party. We’re gonna have a few coups. S: Do you have a political-leader role model? B: Well we liked Aaron Gilmore. I will be asking him to join the party. If anyone was concerned that Aaron Gilmore wouldn’t be a member of The Civilian Party, he will be. He’ll be there, 59th on the list, where he belongs. We don’t know he’ll be there, but if he says yes he’ll be there. He’s welcome.
member of The Civilian Party, he will be. ine onl y onl t ten con
CHECK OUT salient.org.nz for more content
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Babe of the Day By Penny Gault
On June 18, a new cover photo depicting renowned babe Derek Zoolander wondering whether “there’s more to life than being really, really, really, really, really ridiculously good looking?” signalled the demise of ‘VUW Babe of the Day’. Apparently, there is. The calibre of babes slowly diminished, and suddenly on June 23, the Victoria University tap of #baben students ran dry. The Babe-of-the-Day social-media phenomenon supposedly began in ‘Dunners’ on June 6, though the VUW page officially began two days earlier than its Otago counterpart. Despite its participation in the Babe-of-the-Day affair, Victoria University has managed to soar under the media’s radar relatively unscathed. But who’s really surprised that some Wellington kids instigated a nationwide frenzy, and then tactfully avoided taking the rap? Instead, University of Otago’s ‘Dunners Babe of the Day’ and the University of Canterbury’s ‘UC Babe of the Day’ stole the spotlight once the babe epidemic hit mainstream media, claiming they merely appreciate and acknowledge overall ‘talent’, not just looks, in response to complaints that the pages were sexist and a “tribute to gender expectations of beauty”. Page administrators argued the inclusion of small blurbs about the babe (e.g. “studying building science—‘I would love to survey her structure’”) shows that clearly it’s about more than just sex appeal. Then again, I guess sexism isn’t really a problem, is it, if the babes don’t mind? But of course they don’t. They’re babes. What blonde airhead wouldn’t want a photo of them plastered on the internet, to have 300+ strangers affirm their spectacular performance of femininity? Anyone against the pages is fat, jealous, and seriously in need of MAC lipstick. New Zealand Union of Students’ Association Women’s Rights Officer, Arena Williams, said the pages were sexist and “[invited] viewers to comment—and comment they do, on everything
from looks and dress sense to the person’s sex life.” Some respondents claimed that featuring both a babe and bloke of the day, as on the UC Babe of the Day page, meant the pages weren’t sexist. Williams, however, pointed out the comments on ‘babes’ were directed towards their aesthetic appeal, while blokes were
What blonde airhead [
wouldn’t want a photo of them plastered on the internet, to have 300 strangers affirm their
spectacular performance of femininity? Anyone against the pages is fat, jealous, and seriously in need of MAC lipstick. instead congratulated for their performance of masculinity. Mainstream media pounced on Williams’ criticism that the pages were a “tribute to gender expectations of beauty” and published it everywhere, as if including this was enough to really address the rampant sexism the pages propagate. And what a way to address the issue, by filing an article about the whole sorry Babe-ofthe-Day saga under the Lifestyle – Beauty section on Stuff.co.nz and putting ‘sexism’ in scare quotes. This totally undermines Williams’ valid concerns about an overt manifestation of misogyny and the objectification of potentially unwilling subjects. But perhaps my scorn of the apparent overflow of babes attending New Zealand’s universities doesn’t give credit where it’s due.
I mean, with comments like this—"I would swim through the Amazon with 45kg dumbbells attached to my scrotum using Helen Clark's flatulence as my only source of air supply if it meant I could share frozen dinner with you"— who needs to learn about Lancelot and chivalry in Le Morte d’Arthur? What gallantry. But surely we can’t criticise UC, especially after they featured Hugh Devereux-Mack as bloke of the day for rescuing a damsel in distress on her solitary walk home from town. Kudos, Hugh, for being an upstanding citizen. Seriously (I find it hard to sound sincere these days, but I do mean this). But hey, how about the rest of us take a step forward, away from discourses that perpetuate gender stereotypes by focussing on his physical actions and congratulating a ‘bloke’ for his display of masculinity? Apparently misogyny isn’t ‘news’; it’s a lifestyle. Reporting the issue of sexism in stuff.co.nz’s Beauty section couldn’t express this more clearly. But even the advent of the Babe-of-the-Day pages themselves reveals a dark underbelly of society which mainstream media platforms are unwilling to address. Heaven forbid they should investigate something real. It’s undeniable that inside everyone’s mind is their very own Babe of the Day page. Except it’s more likely Babe of the Half-Second. Aren’t we all secretly judging each other as we walk past strangers on the street? We’re bound up in appearance. I’m not saying that’s inherently wrong—I think it’s natural. But take a moment and listen to the voice in your head that’s rating that girl (“a 9—oh no, wait, no! Look at that nose, 6!”) as she walks towards you, but then wonders what sort of job that guy in the suit has (“I bet he earns a lot of money and gets shit done”). Familiar? Instead of addressing the inherent misogyny that instigated the Babe-of-theDay concept, the media is quick to quash the issue as a youthful indiscretion, a lack of judgment, sighing with relief as Otago University dutifully takes the blame.
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MORE THAN THE IDIOT BOX, PLEASE By Carlo Salizzo
It doesn’t take much imagination to say that the way we’re watching television is changing. We’re consuming more and more on our own terms, and less on the networks’. Piracy and internet-based entertainment are eating up profits, while the traditional model of TV seems to be coming apart at the seams. Technological development is charging ahead at breakneck speed, but TV-wise it’s barely a crawl: Sky gave us MySky in 2005, and we’ve since received Freeview and of course the HD additions to both. We’re heading for a digital switchover, and there are separate on-demand streaming services for each network. That’s all wonderful, but really, is it good enough? If I want to listen to music, I can buy it from iTunes or stream it over Spotify. Hell, if I shell out for a weekly subscription I can even listen to it offline. We’re starting to get to a point where it’s just as easy to listen to music legally as it is illegally, and if you can look beyond the difficult questions of ownership and licensing, then you can be happy that finally there’s a system which makes use of the technology available to us. Television is approaching that point in the USA, with the rise of services like Netflix and the iTunes Store, but the analogy is closer to a DVD rental service than a television network. Even so, to us New Zealanders it seems like a far-off dream to have American television shows released to us legally, in high definition, on the same day as everyone else. Even more outrageous is any suggestion that we could download it to our own computers for a weekend binge, get anything on payper-view, or watch advertisement-free. We’re conditioned to accept the 1950s model of
‘flow’, where the channel is sacrosanct and the audience merely dragged along with the current. Oh, sure, we can pause, record and rewind, but we could always do that with a VCR and patience. Even pay-per-view Igloo is little more than a digital sheen on an analogue idea. We can watch online, too, if we can stomach the unwieldy interface and time-sensitive content availability. Even then, we’re
To us New Zealanders it seems like a far-off dream to have American television shows released to us legally, in high definition, on the same day as everyone else. shackled to a channel structure which leaves little room for individual choice. Not to mention the fact that flash-based web players like iSky don’t work on iOS devices. You can either jump through hoops to watch things the way you like, or stick to the old style. No wonder piracy runs rampant. So what next? Right now we’re all working off a combination of TiVo and HDD recorders, available as early as 1999. 14 years on, we have cheap, reliable, high-speed broadband internet, a computer in almost every home, and the mothballing of nondigital television. Here’s my suggestion: a system for watching TV that works like the best marriage of Spotify and the iTunes Store. Entry-level customers can, for free, stream any show at any time they wish. I’d hang on to live
channels as well, and live streaming of shows like the 6-pm news. The trade-off is that users will be forced to watch un-skippable advertisements—in much the same format as Spotify—taking advantage of existing TV-advertiser relationships to make the slots more valuable. I keep bringing up Spotify, because word on the street is that they’re looking at launching a TV service in the near future. Viewers should be able to watch sport and movies at a modest pay-per-view fee (Igloo almost got that bit right). Don’t forget the option to download advertising-free shows and movies right to your hard drive at a cost, taking a leaf out of iTunes’ book. Predictably, the second tier is a ‘Premium’ service, where users can pay a monthly subscription to access the same content for free, without advertising. The key is a dynamic pricing structure that basically means you don’t have to pay for all the sport or movies if you don’t want them. Ideally, it would run on every platform: a set-top box for high definition on the lounge flatscreen, an iPhone and Android app, and a nice little computer programme to tie it all together. Before you say that the internet speed is too slow here, remember that this would be at least two to three years away, anticipating ultra-fast broadband. Hey, I’m not saying that my plan would work perfectly. There are doubtless some problems with fitting that into a business framework, and probably some other issues I have no idea about—DRM would have to be there, of course. But I don’t think any of that is insurmountable. In any case, it’s time to act. If the metaphor is ‘flow’, then now is the time to divert that river and build a water park before the waters dry up for good.
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Let’s talk about sex, baby. (But only if it’s to make mo-ney)
By Stella Blake-Kelly
It would seem that for some of us, our internet footprint is becoming more of a worry than our carbon footprint. A quick google of your name indicates a lot about you to prospective employers, admirers, parents. Achievements at school, where you work, friends, and social-media profiles— everything is on show, forming your internet impression. Unless you’ve broken the law, what’s the worst thing that could show up in a Google search about you? Sex. Unfortunately for me, the fourth hit when searching ‘Stella Blake-Kelly’ produces a news story The Dominion Post ran about a study of students’ sexual exploits, which I was kind enough to volunteer for a friend to comment for. What a mistake it was thinking that it would be easy to bring a bit of honesty, maturity and sex-positivity to the topic of sex in the media. “A national survey of university students reveals risky sexual behaviour among the country's brightest young people,” the story read. The survey had produced results that supposedly revealed “an indifferent attitude to safe sex among students aged 17 to 24, including low condom use, multiple sexual partners and unintended pregnancies.” These results don’t seem too surprising to those of us in this age category, although I’ve not come across behaviour as bad as the sentence implies. But then came something which appeared to be somewhat symbolic: there hadn’t been any representative information collected on sexual health from the New Zealand general population in over 20 years. Despite sex being absolutely everywhere, as businesses make billions tapping into our raw lust to entice us to buy things, talking about the actual act remains rather taboo, and those who do so openly are ridiculed, frowned upon—or in the case of myself and the other students featured in the article, receive reactions like “man these three look like a bunch of weirdos”.
According to our national psyche, discussions about sex should be confined to the bedroom; the act itself cut from romantic scenes in our TV shows; the juiciest details hidden within the sealed sections of your Cosmo, as if talking about the ins and outs of sex is something that should be hidden away. Look, but don’t touch. The reality is that, for all its hype, sex can be scary, and embarrassing. Sure it can be great, but given how the media constantly portrays it, is there any wonder the thought of it can make us a bit anxious at times? And is it any wonder that perhaps we are a bit risky with our sexual health, as the article implied, if we aren’t used to open discussions about sex? After outlining the sordid details of the survey, The Dominion Post’s story quickly introduced its ‘real-life’ component, adding in a student perspective. Of the three of us students who were open enough about sex to go on the record about it, I was lucky to have one remark from the 45-minute interview plucked out and trumpeted as the ‘youth perspective’: “No one has sex unless they’re drunk.” Winning quote of the day from the paper’s Editor, and scores of social-media shares, that comment was extracted and turned into click-bait as a sign of triumph for once again managing to sensationalise not only sex, but youth sex, with binge-drinking thrown in for good measure. Predictably, Stuff. co.nz commenters jumped at the opportunity to voice their confirmed assumptions on the youth of today, who waste taxpayer dollars partying and not studying. Students jumped on the bandwagon too, ridiculing the thought of requiring any Dutch courage to carry out their biological imperative. “For students, alcohol is not just a social lubricant,” the author claimed. This is true. Truer than many people realise. When our behaviour is so normalised and accepted, it doesn’t seem odd, and it doesn’t seem memorable—often in more ways than one. Alcohol makes your brain slow down, reducing your intellectual capacity to that
of our cave-dwelling ancestors. Eat (we all end up at McDonald’s at 3am), fight (a paddy wagon is a permanent fixture on Courtenay), and mate. It is so ridiculously common to end a dry spell with a bit of liquid at a party, have a drunken pash, which sometimes turns into a romp, with inebriation forming half of the equation. This isn’t just for singles—many a monogamous relationship has relied on a) Dutch courage to overcome fear of rejection, b) actually realising you have a lot in common the next morning, or c) an unplanned pregnancy. We don’t have the dating culture the US dominated media presents to us, so for us it's often these drunken encounters which, if you’re lucky, develop into romantic involvement. The media entrenches unattainable perceptions of beauty and sex appeal; that’s not news. It makes most of us feel insecure, which can lead to eating disorders and surgical enhancement; again, that’s not news. Being naked—or even the thought of leaving the light on—can feel like a nightmare. The sex that we are exposed to, should TV producers be able to find actors without too many wobbly bits, is hardly an accurate portrayal of the awkwardness that comes with many a sexual encounter. Where is the cringe-worthy ‘Let’s move from fondling to intercourse’, ‘Have you got a condom?’, ‘Ouch, that hurts a bit’, or ‘Why haven’t you come yet? I’m getting tired’? The reality is that, for all its hype, sex can be scary, and embarrassing. Sure it can be great, but given the high standards set by media portrayals of sex, is there any wonder the thought of it can make us a bit anxious at times? Is it any wonder that so many of us feel we have to rely on social lubricants from time to time, driving us to make risky decisions? So to answer your question, Stuff commenter #4, “who is this that can only have sex when they’re drunk?” Not me, but it certainly helps.
th i w s e t u 5 min EO F A T A M was when she ROSE comedian
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Interview by Stella Blake-Kelly and Molly McCarthy
Salient: How did you get involved in comedy, and how did you go from there to your TV work? R: So I started when I was 15 ‘cos I did this school-holiday programme that the festival puts on called Class Comedians, which they still do. So we did this school-holiday programme, and it was two weeks, and at the end we had to do five minutes of stand-up at one of the shows in the festival. I was quiet throughout that whole thing, because I was the youngest—I was only 15, whereas everyone else was 16 or 17, which is a big age-gap when you’re a teenager. Then I put together a set and I did it and people laughed! It seemed like I did well so I kept on doing open-mic nights at The Classic on Queen St, then did Wednesdays, then started doing Pro Nights, and then started doing my own festival shows after that. I’ve done three one-hour shows now. Then I got the Billy T the second time around trying this year.
S: Congratulations! R: Thanks! I hate awards, to be honest, ‘cos everyone was so good this year. I wanted to do like a Mean Girls-style, break the tiara and throw it to everyone in the audience, like she does at the prom at the end. But I didn’t get a tiara, I got a towel, so it would have been a bit awkward, trying to rip a towel. I kept doing stand-up during high school, then when I went to university I kind of stopped doing it as much, cause stand-up kind of sucks sometimes, it’s not actually always fun. I’m stupidly selective with gigs, I just know that some gigs I’ll just die on my arse. I’ve had experiences where I’ve been like, okay I’m not going to do that again... Like doing stand-up for middle-aged parents who live in Devonport. Probably one of the most awkward gigs of my life. When I was 19, in my second year of university, I got a job at NZU because one of the guys who worked on that, his wife is part of the comedy festival and he kind-of knows comedians all around the place. Basically I went to my audition and wore a cat shirt, and that’s why I got the job. It’s a cat looking at a moon, and I was like “this is probably why I got the job”. So I’ve been doing that for two years now. In between I’ve been doing writing and doing 7 Days. And yeah, I dunno, pretty boring.
S: Would you say that you prefer your stand-up work or your TV work?
R: The two are quite different. With TV, in certain situations, there’s less of a risk. With stand-up, pretty much it can go either way every time you do a set. When it goes well, it’s like ten times better than anything you would be doing in TV. But I really love working in television. I’m obsessed with television, and I’ve always loved it, so it’s great being able to be surrounded by it all the time at TVNZ. Probably stand-up is kind of better for me in the fact that I get to control most of it: I write my material that I do; no one’s directing me on how to perform it; no-one’s the boss of me, basically. In saying that, that’s also the stressful thing about it sometimes, in producing your own festival shows and knowing that if you don’t sell tickets to your show then it’ll be your money that’s frittered away. I like both for different reasons, but I would say, at the end of the day that I probably would want to do television for the rest of my life rather than stand-up, because television can be comedy as well, whereas stand-up is quite nerve-racking.
my message to young girls of New Zealand would be “hey, the world sucks, but it’s all good, let’s party”. S: If someone offered you a role on Shortland Street would you take it? R: I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Not because I’m like “I’m a serious actor I should be on Shortland Street”. I was talking to a friend about how it’s kind-of the only full-time acting role in New Zealand, so that’s why there’s so many people on it. I’m obsessed with Shortland Street, so I would totally do it, but then act like a diva so I got written off in some sort of hilarious death. I don’t think I’m as good an actor as I think I am, though. Sometimes you have the fleeting belief: “Of course I’m great at acting, how hard can it be?” I feel like I’d be a great actor.
S: Well you know Kimberley Crossman was on it and now she’s best friends with Selena Gomez, so...
R: This is true. And Kimberley Crossman is a role model we should all look up to, and aspire to be like. Hopefully you can put ‘sarcasm’ around that.
S: If you were offered a book deal like she was, would you take it? R: In my show I do kind of rip her book apart... But then I’m the one who went to Whitcoulls and spent ten minutes reading it, and then bought it, with my own money. I totally would, but mostly to write an anti-that book for young women of New Zealand, in that I don’t believe that if you follow your dreams you will achieve them, and that’s fine ‘cos that’s just life, and sometimes life sucks, and sometimes life’s good. I hate teaching every kid to be aspirational past their abilities or talents. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I just hate her ceaseless optimism. I totally accept that that doesn’t make me sound like a good person. I don’t really like it when people are so happy about the world, when really it’s a terrible place [laughs]. So basically my message to young girls of New Zealand would be “hey, the world sucks, but it’s all good, let’s party”.
S: Do you get to go to much of the Auckland celebrity freebie scenes? R: I did go to the Shortland Street 20th Anniversary thing and got really drunk. I took around a disposable camera and demanded photos with like all of the stars of Shortland Street. I’ve got at least two photos of a semiintoxicated Robbie Magasiva kissing me on the cheek. The interesting thing about working in TV is you get invited to all this stuff, like launches for things. I don’t go to any of them ‘cos I can’t stand the idea of talking to people, let alone in that weird context. “Yeah, let’s drink some more free wine and talk about this shitty book”, or something. I’m invited to so many things now. I’ve actually found recently that I’m such an antisocial person these days, it’s really terrible. I’ve got a group of friends; I don’t make much effort to put myself out there and talk to people because usually it just disappoints me and I just want to go home.
S: Do you find that female comedians are treated differently to male comedians? R: Oh no, not at all, we’re all equal, and it’s totally fine... No, I’m kidding. In New Zealand, the most obvious way female comedians are treated, or responded to differently, is that there are only five full-time professional comedians in the country. That’s ridiculous. The number of how many female comedians there are in New Zealand. They’re all funny, it’s just a combination of not many women feeling like they would get up at open mic and do stand-up. Stand-up’s very different to, you know, being a comedian on Twitter or being a writer of comedy. It’s kind-of a different beast. So there’s less women willing to do it, which is a shame, because it really needs it. And just the same old, in a lot of creative industries in general, women are pitted against each other, ‘cos they’re categorised as female comedians. To have a female comedian on the bill is as much of a feature as having a magician on the bill, you know? You can only have one magician on the setlist tonight, and only one female comedian as well. I think it’s changing, but often it’s unfathomable to have two females on in the same night. It’s a combination of a lot of shit things, but also I think just girls being less encouraged to be funny in life.
S: With your work on U live, do you ever get fan mail or get recognised in the street?
R: I was in a sushi shop and there were two girls next to me and then the one who wasn’t next to me looked at me, smacked her friend on the arm, pointed at me, literally like 60 cm away from me, and then she just whispered, in a really loud stage whisper, “That’s that girl from U TV!” And I was standing there, looking directly into her eyes, and I was like, “What are you... I can hear you. Just say hello. This is so awkward.” Then I was just like “Hi” and she just totally broke eye contact and just looked down, and didn’t talk to me. And I was like, “Oh my God, I’m on a Freeview channel! I’m like the Z-grade celebrity in New Zealand.” I do get recognised sometimes, but mostly it’s just a stare and a point, which is pretty funny. I do get fan mail. I have this one fan who sent me a cat package: cat
I don’t even think I’m a real comedian, to be honest. Don’t tell anyone. stickers, cat calendar, cat diary, and then a soft-toy cat; that was good. Also, I have one called Sam from Dunedin; she sent me a lolly lei of my favourite flavour of MacIntosh. I get some pretty cool people who send me stuff. One guy was actually real cute, he was an au pair from America and he used to watch U, and then he went back, but he knitted a jumper for us, with the U on it. He was a real crafty guy. I stalked him out on Facebook; I found a picture of him kayaking so he must be normal. It’s really cool ‘cos we form this really weird sort of friendship with all the people who regularly watch the show because we basically hang out with them every afternoon, so we know things about them, and we just feel like we know them as a person, which is really funny. It’s quite cool.
S: Do people always ask you to tell them a joke? R: Yeah all the time.
S: Okay, we won’t ask that then. R: Good. Good, please don’t! That is the one question that everyone thinks that comedians love. It would be good if I had a go-to joke to tell people. I thought of one before, but I’ve forgotten it actually. It’s funny though, how people cannot see the disconnect between standing up on a stage with a microphone, elevated, with lights on, in front of you, and telling you jokes, and then just like telling a joke next to you, in public. It’s so different. It’s almost like you need that crutch of being on stage with a microphone, it’s weird. My jokes aren’t even jokes, I don’t even have punchlines. I don’t even think I’m a real comedian, to be honest. Don’t tell anyone
S: Have you got any shows coming up in Wellington? R: Crap no! No, I don’t. I was going to come down and maybe do my show again, now that it’s kind-of not that terrible, but I don’t know when that’s happening. But I’ll come down to Wellington before the end of the year and do something. Follow me on Twitter, I’ll probably tweet about it.
ine onl y onl t ten con
CHECK OUT salient.org.nz for more content
By Tim Manktelow The world has been captivated and polarised by Edward Snowden, a computer analyst who has reignited the debate surrounding freedom. He is responsible for the public disclosure of a series of documents pertaining to illegal surveillance by the United States. The contents of the leak confirmed the already half-acknowledged fact that governments were engaged in mass electronic surveillance of their citizenry. This unabashed assault on privacy is problematic in two respects. Firstly, isn’t it a little too reminiscent of the Orwellian police state in Nineteen Eighty-Four? As our lives are becoming increasingly electronic, they also become increasingly open to surveillance. This is not a new idea, yet for most of us there was still a perception of privacy; passwords, private messaging functions, and security options all exist to preserve some online intimacy. What is most troubling about the actions of the NSA and CIA is that incrimination has become circumstantial: you don’t actually have to do anything wrong. As Snowden said in an interview with The Guardian: “You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they could use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.”
Where does freedom exist in this arrangement? It is insultingly pushed aside by surveillance in the name of counterterrorism. When suspicion can be grounds for arrest, one is no longer free. The Soviet Union under Stalin, heavily criticised by the West, was a compelling example of this. It is suggested that a culture of selfcensorship developed among citizens in the Soviet Union, due to paranoia and fear of excessive surveillance. This is problematic, as people who are constantly surveilled become decidedly limited in their autonomy, which I think we can acknowledge as a bad thing. Yet more troubling is the hypocrisy of the US in their reaction to the leaks by Snowden. The current assault on privacy is bad in its second respect when we consider the US reaction. They have engaged in an international witch-hunt of Snowden, that seems to epitomise a new and sinister approach to freedom. Snowden was right when he said "Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me." Over the past decade there has been unprecedented persecution of whistleblowers by the US. One of the more notable cases is that of Bradley Manning, a soldier who leaked classified information pertaining to US war crimes in Iraq. The corresponding reaction was to prosecute Manning to the full extent of the law, in that he now faces up to 20 years in prison. Therefore the recent revelations, that the US is and has for a while been engaged in illegal surveillance of its citizens, have come with the inevitable backlash against the leaker. Snowden now faces charges of treason, with a potential
30 years in prison. This hypothetical ‘burning at the stake’, of Snowden and other whistleblowers, is a political move to silence those who criticise the actions of the state. Worryingly, it seems as though the US has adopted a ‘snitches-get-stitches’ approach to political dissidents, as Snowden is the eighth leaker to be charged under the Espionage Act in the last decade. When faced with the exposure of an illegitimate and unconstitutional spying programme, the reaction is to condemn the man behind the exposé as a traitor and a spy himself. Rather than using this leak as an opportunity to open up the debate surrounding privacy in the appropriate public channels, they have shrunk back behind their wall of distrust. It is in the US reaction that one gets a glimpse of a malicious and paranoid police state, and this is deeply unsettling. So where does this leave us? Snowden heroically confirmed the extent of government spying, yet he now faces 30 years in prison. However, his martyrdom is not in vain, as he has reignited the debate over freedom in the electronic age. It is from the seeds of his dissent that we are even discussing surveillance right now. Political dissent is of utmost importance to a free society, as Snowden has demonstrated. Yet it is being smothered by surveillance. So before the flames Snowden has ignited are extinguished, let us seriously consider the implications of excessive state surveillance.
'Weekly Rant' is a space for one-off opinion pieces. Want to write your own? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. nz to run riot.
The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of
The Importance of Self-Care
By Caitlin Craigie
By Matthew Ellison
Whether it be flying on a Christmas tree with Professor Dumbledore, being eaten alive by tarantulas on the top of Mount Olympus, or getting an A+ in an exam for very important Frisbee qualifications, we all have dreams. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a few more than average. For years, scientists have speculated on what to make of dreams; this week’s Mad Science will focus on what really is going on when we get a bit of shut-eye. If we were to act out our dreams, our lives would be chaos. Jumping off balconies, kicking walls and tripping over furniture would all be part of the normal night-time routine. Luckily for the sake of New Zealand’s ACC budget, chemicals in the body help keep it paralysed when we dream. Research into rats found that when they blocked both the metabotropic GABAB receptors and the GABAA/glycine ionotropic receptors, the rats moved while dreaming. While night owls may think staying up is a real hoot, a new study shows that those who hit the hay later have more nightmares. While the exact cause is unclear, the authors of the study speculate that those who are up later might be more likely to have mood disorders and stressful lifestyles. There is also some merit to the phrase ‘sleeping on it’. Harvard psychologist Deirdre Barrett had college students pick a fairly easy homework problem to solve in a dream. Students focussed on the problem each night before they went to bed. At the end of a week, about half the students had dreamed about the problem and about a quarter had dreamed the correct answer. Your personality can also dictate your dreams. Type A personalities (driven people who experience almost constant inner pressure) have more disturbing dreams than their calmer Type B counterparts. Anxious-personality types are more likely to dream of the future. Creative people also get the pleasure of more creative dreams. Introverts recall more of their little everyday dreams than extroverts. But ultimately, one must refer to the most accurate of all psychologists—Sigmund Freud. He postulated that through your dreams you are able to act out your unconscious. He believed the reason you struggle to remember your dreams is because your super-ego protects your conscious mind from the disturbing images and desires conjured by the unconscious. In simple terms: if you dream about it, then you just can’t handle the truth.
The queer community, more than any other I’ve encountered, is good at supporting its members. There are innumerable self-organised groups where people look after each other, and we’re united not by political ideologies, or even by a common cause, but by shared experiences. Yes, everyone’s experience is unique, and discrimination within our community (think misogynistic cis gay men, or transphobic basically everyone), is a significant problem that needs more airtime, but the love that I’ve received, and the caring it inspires in response, is wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I couldn’t count the times I have sat down or cuddled with a good friend, or with someone I barely knew, and we opened our hearts to each other about our sexualities, gender identities, sex lives, emotional states, insecurities, and so on. It’s an intensely personal thing to do, and I suspect much more common in queer spaces, but goddamn is it tiring. Something it has taken me a long time to learn is that you can be of no help to anyone if you are too exhausted to help yourself. Self-love and self-care are both critically important for you to be able to offer help to those around you, so take the time to work out what it is that makes you feel good. Maybe you need to take a shit-tonne of selfies and put them on Tumblr. Maybe you need to wank three times in a row and enter a post-orgasmic daze. Maybe you need to take a day (or way, way longer) out and read a book, or sleep heaps, or go for a long walk once in a while. Maybe you need to see your friends more, or less, or drop out of a paper at uni, or buy kickarse new shoes. Or maybe you need to ask for help yourself. With so many people you feel you can help it’s dangerously easy to get swept up and take their problems Check yourself once in a while, and don’t be afraid to reach out. As I said, this community has a lot of love to give. If you’d like someone to talk to, you can contact UniQ’s Queer Mentoring programme by visiting uniqvictoria.co.nz and following the link on the homepage, or for professional help, contact Vic’s Student Counselling Service, which is free for domestic students. This column was largely inspired by a workshop from the amazing and wonderful group School’s Out, which works with queer youth to make the world a significantly better place. Email email@example.com if you want to learn more or volunteer!
Things That Go Bump In The Night with Seymour Butts
I am a guy and wondering what your thoughts are on guys going bare down there - "manscaping" if you will. I tried shaving once but it was bad news, but I've heard waxing is better. Should guys do it? Will it make my dick look bigger? Will it make sex better? Where do I get it done and does it hurt? This is actually something I’ve been asked about a few times. People often seem to be a little insecure about it, although in my experience pretty much everyone (I am no exception) is insecure about something to do with sex or their appearance, and combining the two doesn’t help.
Should guys do it? Basically, you have the right to total bodily autonomy, and there’s nothing you should or shouldn’t do about hair on your body. It’s okay to do it if your partner prefers it and doing something that will make them happy will make you happy, or if you’re doing it because you like the way it looks or feels, or even just because you’re bored and curious (this has happened to me before). It’s less okay to do it because someone else wants you to when you don’t want to (unless the power-play aspect of this turns you on). Manscaping can also describe removing or trimming other body hair, and the above information applies here too. The one time I shaved my chest though, the stubble that almost immediately grew back was
scratchy and awful. If you’re a hairy dude, it’s not low-maintenance.
Will it make my dick look bigger? Short answer: yes. It’s surprisingly empowering. Mostly it’s because the hair grows at least a little way along the shaft, and reducing this shows more of the shaft, which makes your dick look bigger. A Design student could probably explain more about perspective or framing or something.
Will it make sex better? It will not directly make any noticeable difference to the quality of the sex you’re having. One advantage of having less hair is a lower frequency of hairs getting stuck in your/your partner’s mouth during oral, which I personally hate, so for me, this is a good reason. If manscaping, by shaving or trimming (or a combination in different places), makes you feel better about the way your junk looks, then the increased self-confidence could improve other things about your sex life, but this is a secondary effect.
Where do I get it done and does it hurt? Trimming, with scissors or clippers, will not hurt, obviously. It’s like a haircut for your junk. Just be super-careful around your balls! I’ve never had my junk waxed, but a friend recently got a Brazilian, and he said it was quite painful. As to where? Pearl on
Johnston St comes highly recommended. Two people also just told me that getting your butthole waxed actually feels good, and now I’m curious to try that too. Go forth!
Not getting enough? Don't worry. Things That Go Bump in the Night is now a weekly feature! Ask Lux and Seymour about all things love and lust completely anonymously at ask.fm/Luxandseymour
If you have issues or concerns that you wish to discuss privately and confidentially with a professional, rather than Lux Lisbon, the Student Counselling Service can provide a safe place to explore such aspects of your life. The service is free and confidential. Phone (04) 463 5310. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Mauri Ora, Level 1, Student Union Building.
e f i L r u o Y g n i x Fi
[BECAUSE OURS ARE WRITTEN OFF]
Hi guise, I’m really into this guy at my hostel, but being a girl i thought it was normal to wait for him to ask me out. I’m on holiday now, and i’ve decided that when we get back to uni I want to ask him out instead. Got any tips? Will he freak out? How do I do this? Help! Jess Cantwait
Hector Hey Jess, Look, I'm a straight male, so it's hard for me to guess what it feels like to ask out a guy as a woman. In an ideal world, it wouldn't be all that different, but sadly we live in a world which is still shuffling out from wildly different gender expectations. So instead, I'll talk about the likely male reactions to your Big Question. Actually, no, that's marriage. Medium Question. I won't mince words here: there are some guys out there who won't be comfortable with being 'asked out' by a girl at all. Maybe it's shyness, or maybe it's because they are intimidated by strong women (read: not worth the effort). It shouldn’t have to be said that if someone turns you down because of the way you approached them, maybe you aren’t that compatible long-term. So plan for the former, but don't assume that's the case. Either way, you should follow the general guidelines of 'asking someone out', which are usually only learned by trying and failing far too many times–hopefully this will save you some heartbreak. Note: these aren't just for hetero women, but apply to everyone. No doubt there are exceptions, but nothing's perfect. First of all, think about how you're going to do it, but not too much. Location-wise, a public forum in front of all of your friends is probably a bad idea. Nobody, guy or girl, really wants to be put on the spot like that. In terms of your phrasing, avoid the long-winded rom-com speech. Those are really hard to respond to without a team salient.org.nz <<<
of hack writers. Definitely don't just say “hey, I like you, so, uh... do what you want with that.” Consider what you would say in response–it's always better to ask them a simple yes or no question like “do you want to go to Fidel's for pizza tomorrow night, as a date?” Finally, if they say no, don't talk shit about them to anyone, ever, because frankly you're better than that. About the ‘no’: sometimes it’s going to happen. It sucks, but it’s better to hear it than to pretend it was just a miscommunication. We’ve all had that person who didn’t just straight-out say ‘no’ to us (if you haven’t, you will), and it still hurts. So take the hint when they keep saying they don’t want to go on a date with you. It's common Wellington parlance that 'shall we get a coffee?' means 'shall we see each other romantically in social situations?', but your ask-ee might not be aware of that, particularly if they're on the inexperienced side or you've got a history of friendship. It can be very useful to make it clear. You should also think about the current relationship between you and your squeeze-to-be. If you've only met once or twice, the presumption of a romantic date is pretty obvious. If you've been hooking up at flat parties for six weeks, again, it should be pretty straightforward. That's the best time to play the 'coffee?' card. If you're friends already, you're pretty much going to have to use the 'D' word, or better yet bring up your wide-eyed affection over the dinner table itself. My best advice? Do it now. Get it over with. Yes or no, it's better for you in the long term to tear that band-aid off now and save yourself the agony of going to town alone every weekend on the off-chance you bump into them. Chances are, everyone already knows how you feel, and the longer you wait, the less likely it is you'll get a yes. Then again, you could just do it the Kiwi way and go for a drunken pash. Nice. Yours in romance forevah, Hector.
Janet The waiting game is boring. It is excellent that you’ve decided to act. I reckon you should do it some other way than getting drunk and leaning in. I keep saying this to people, but they keep doing it, and it keeps leaving them in functional and fulfilling relationships. Maybe my current ‘offer-someone-a-rationalexplanation-of-why-they-ought-to-date-me’ technique is a mistake. I don’t know. I was having trouble responding to your situation. I racked my brain and remembered that I used to get asked out. It was fun. I liked it. (I am going to bury in this aside my general affliction of not liking anyone that shows the slightest interest in me.) To be honest, I think more guidance is needed in terms of how to play the outing. QUICKFIRE: If they order a long black instead of their usual mocha, they’re into you. If they pay $200 for dinner and you don’t even pash them, that is possibly a little mean—although I maintain my conversation is worth $100/hr, and I did not ask for the oysters. Don’t mention that you love bacon until you are sure they are not a principled vegetarian. Shame is not a date movie, and will cement any pre-existing halfhearted fear of the ssssnake. (Remember me telling you I used to go on dates?) Ideally you’ll just get this person alone when you get back and be like “Hey, how was your holiday? Did you finally do all your washing/ sort out that crazy high-school ex-girlfriend/ get told heaps that you’ve changed? Do you want to get a coffee/drink/crocodile-bike with me sometime?” I don’t really know how else to do it. Hopefully they say yes. If they say no, they’re BLOODY CRAZY (that was me being your mates) but they’re within their rights. Look, Hector is very good at advice, and has nailed this. He is absolutely correct to tell you that everyone most likely already knows how you feel, and it’ll be worse if you continue to stoke your hopes without testing the waters. (Or two other more compatible metaphors). I really can’t add anything. I’ve been relistening to Adele, so I’m pretty fucking surprised I wrote anything positive at all. Anchors away! 41
a Nigell t den Lawstu
A very good place to start By Eve Kennedy
After my last exam and before I flew home for the holidays, I threw a dinner party. Sure, there were only six of us and the main reason for said dinner party was to watch Gilmore Girls and drink ginger wine (try it, it's delicious), but I still wanted nice food, and I wanted lots of it. We had a cheesy pasta bake with mozzarella, brie, roasted tomatoes and spinach puree for our main, but in my eyes it was our entrees that stole the show...
Carrot and parsnip strips with halloumi 3 carrots 2 parsnips 1 onion 2 tablespoons cumin seeds 1 tablespoon oregano
5 tablespoons honey 1 (200g) packet of halloumi vegetable oil salt and pepper ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots and parsnips into thin Dukkah is a delicious Egyptian
70 g almonds
strips. Place these in a large frying pan. Don't worry if there are a
dip that is normally served with
70 g cashews
lot; they'll cook down. Slice the onion into long but thin strips and
bread and olive oil: dip the bread
70 g sesame seeds
add them too. Add about 3 tablespoons of oil, and the cumin seeds,
into the olive oil and then into the
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
and start frying the vegetables on a medium-high heat. Add the
dukkah. It is normally made with
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
honey and continue cooking until the strips are soft when eaten and
hazelnuts, but I prefer mine with a
1 teaspoon thyme
starting to caramelise: between 7 and 10 minutes. Meanwhile, slice
mix of almonds and cashews.
rock salt and pepper
the halloumi into 1-cm-thick pieces and fry at a medium-high heat in a couple of tablespoons of oil until it browns. Once the strips are
In a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan, slowly cook the nuts and seasonings on a medium heat until the nuts start to brown. Make sure to move the nuts around in the pan frequently, as once burnt they are unsalvageable. This should take about 6-8 minutes. Once browned, tip the contents of the pan into a food processor and process until finely chopped – not completely powdered but not too chunky. Pour into a bowl and serve with olive oil and your favourite bread – I
cooked, arrange them on a serving plate. Put the fried halloumi on top, and then some small sliced strips of sun-dried tomato. Season well, with plenty of salt to cut through the sweetness of the honey. Enjoy hot or the halloumi will have cooled and be too rubbery.
Serves 4 as a starter
recommend something white so as to not detract from the flavour of the dukkah. My favourite is ciabatta.
Health tip #
Don’t let’em getcha!
Take Your Pick
AN APPLE A DAY
Northern hemisphere nasties are on their way, with an expected peak in flu season in August. Fortunately this year’s flu vaccine offers protection against the main strains of flu circulating this winter. But the time to act is NOW! The flu vaccine is free for ALL students but only until the end of July. So if you haven’t already done so book an appointment with one of the nurses now at Student Health Service on 463 5308.
Bacchus knows best By Bacchus So, with the 2013 harvest all done and
relying on a wine’s awards. Raymond Chan is a good reviewer, and Wellingtonbased, so the reviews sometimes come
Grandmother Should Have Taught You By Alexandra Hollis
with a little blurb about where he tasted it too. Handy… I know. Check him out at raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz.
Make rice in your microwave: It’s super-easy; just put however much rice
dusted and bringing in record quantities of
Alternatively you could stuff the internet and
you want into a (microwave-proof!) bowl,
crops, there’s now a lot of wine to be made.
let me tell you what has taken my fancy in the
then put in twice as much water. Microwave
last few weeks...
for 10-20 (depends on your microwave)
This then of course has to be sold, and enjoyed. With over 700 wineries around the country it would be pretty tough for you and a few trusted mates to get through everything that’s out there. While it would be good fun giving it a go, sadly I don’t think course-related costs
I came across a bottle of 900 Grapes Merlot at New World for $8.99 on special (and then went back and got a couple more). It had silky sweet red fruits, vanilla and a generous weight to it that made it dangerous to drink. If you see it again at this price or even at
minutes, checking periodically. You’ll know it’s done if the grains are sticking upwards and the water’s evaporated. Make meals in a toastie machine: Including but not limited to; hash browns,
$13.99, stock up!
steak, and crispy refried noodles.
out there lucky enough to be in the financial
I also re-visited a favourite of mine, the
position to take one of everything, each winery
Lindauer Special Reserve Blanc de Blancs,
has to convince us that what they have in the
which is at the top of my list simply because
Fixes everything. You can put it on
bottle is superior to their neighbours’.
the wife and I think that ‘Girls Night Out’
would cover the bill. With not many of us
The easiest way for the wineries to do this is by entering their wines in shows and competitions until they have so many award stickers on the bottle that you can’t actually read the label, and have to peer through the gaps to see if you are getting red or white. I may be slightly over exaggerating there, but with so many wine shows you get the idea—who really cares if some toffs in Hobart thought it was alright? I generally check out independent reviews online to make my decisions, rather than
ad (you know with the guys sitting at home crying?) is hilarious. At $19.99 it’s a bit of a step-up in price, but for a good bubbly it’s worth it! Being made from 100 per cent Chardonnay grapes it had a creamy texture throughout the wine, underpinned by sherbet lemon and fresh grapefruit. The bubbles/mousse were also reasonably fine, making the wine somewhat softer and fresher than a few of the more aggressive bubblies that they have in the classic Lindauer range.
basically anything with a bit of water to remove stains, put it in flowers to preserve them for longer, sprinkle some in your shoes so that shit don’t stank, and it’ll help with rashes, insect bites, bee stings, heartburn. Get warm in the mornings: Shove a hair dryer down your shirt. Tabasco sauce: Put it on everything you eat (except cereal; not a good scene). Tabasco sauce + scrambled eggs (which you make using only eggs and butter!
A Practical Guide to the Film Festival
The New Zealand International Film Festival guide can be utterly overwhelming. It’s a tough ride - but never fear! Here at Salient we have condensed the guide into seven new categories. Super relevant and absolutely life-affirming. To question life choices – Critics have raved about this year's centerpiece, The Great Beauty directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Hailed as a stylish masterpiece, to the tune of Fellini. Closing night showcases Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. Supposedly a vampire film with a point of difference. Life-changing. Also consider; Fallout. To attend with seniors – Your grandparents would appreciate a night out! Take them along to Sofia Coppola’s new feature The Bling Ring and give them a dose of today’s celebrity culture (Paris Hilton plays herself !) Then head to Hitchcock’s 1954 3D thriller, Dial M for Murder. They might even remember it from the first time round. Also consider; Museum Hours, Gloria, My Sweet Pepper Land and The River People. To attend on a date – Mood Indigo is a French/ Belgian film directed by Michel Gondry, starring
Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris. Described as a “surreal romantic tragedy set in retro-futurist Paris”, it’s hard not to be intrigued. The premise itself should give you something to discuss after, if nothing else. Hitchcock’s 1959 thriller North By Northwest is classic, beautifully shot, and a bit freaky; a great film for a date.
To attend with children – Stop the children in your life becoming cultural deserts and bring them along with you to the delightful, Ernst & Célestine. Note that the film is in French with English subtitles, so you will need to pick a child that can read. Animation for Kids and Toons for Tots are always hilarious, vibrant and exceedingly entertaining.
To attend alone – Watching a film alone can be a terrific way to spend an afternoon; moviegoing is certainly not an experience you always need to share with someone. If you fear judgment, aim for a film where the audience demographic is over 40: the likelihood of you bumping into any of your peers is significantly lower. I recommend choosing a film that your friends wouldn’t be so into, or films about ‘solitary emotional journeys’ such as Three Steps to Paradise, which is a trilogy of Love, Faith and Hope in which each film focusses on a different character seeking romantic fulfilment and evangelism.
To uplift – Going to the movies is a great form of escapism, and Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing seems to be shaping up as the feelgood hit of the festival; fast-paced and full of comedic drama. The French/Portuguese upstairs/downstairs tale, The Gilded Cage, has also been hailed a comedic hit, wittily dealing with class and diversity. This year’s live cinema showcase is the 1928 film The Crowd; with a “bustling and energetic” score it’s sure to be a quality time.
To cause disturbance – The Source Family is a documentary about a radical 1970s cult. The warm tones of a summery ‘70s Hollywood add to the inherent creepiness of its uneasy utopia. Michael Cera and Juno Temple star in Sebastián Silva’s new film, Magic Magic, a psychological thriller set in South America in which Cera plays the bad guy, a change from his usual ‘awkwardalternative-teen’ characters. For something more concise, Animation Now is often unsettling, and a wonderful mix of art and entertainment.
‘Merely to be Normal’: A Showcase INTERVIEW
It is time for the THEA406 (Honours Directing course) students to show off their skills in two seasons of eclectic, varied and sometimes challenging theatre, showing 17-20 July and 2427 July. We asked the directors a few questions to see what the next two weeks of performances at Studio 77 have to offer. 1. Tell us in a sentence what your piece is about. 2. Why is it awesome? 3. Describe your favourite theatre warm-up game. 4. In your dream world, which actor would you be working with? 5. Best cure for stage fright? 6. Special talent?
Director Raicheal Doohan on Komachi, by Romulus Linney (Season 1) 1. Komachi’s ethereal and melancholic world, invaded by Prince Shosho’s ‘passion’. 2. Everything seems to fit so perfectly together. 3. Big-booty: we stand in a circle facing each other. One person is 'big booty', the person to their right is 'number 1', the next is 'number 2', and so on and so forth. We clap and stamp a rhythm and pass it on. For example: big booty number 1, (then number 1 says) number 1 number 4... (Number 4 says) number 4 big booty...or what ever. Until someone breaks the rhythm... 'oh shit!' They move to the left side of big booty... The aim is to get big booty out. 4. Anne Hathaway. 5. A moment away from others to focus. 6. Tap-dancing dinosaur.
time. Take your pick, they’re all true facts. 3. Gathering in the chaos: run around the space yelling and pulling in all the energy of a space for a while, and then stop and pull that energy into your fulcrum. Also, yoga. 4. Michael Hebenton and/or Pippa Drakeford. 5. Breathing. Everyone forgets to breathe. You think we’d be pretty good at it by now seeing as it keeps us alive… but no. 6. Best Wookie impersonator in all of THEA406 (self-awarded).
Director Fern Wallingford on The Lost Babylon, by Takeshi Kawamura (Season 1) 1. Life imitating art, art imitating life and gun violence. 2. We have live actors and virtual characters, drinking, joking, fighting, crying, and gun violence. 3. Say the following in one breath, articulating every syllable. One hand. Two ducks. Three squawking geese. Four limerick oyster. Five corpulent porpoises. Six pairs of Don Alverzo's tweezers. Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array. Eight brass monkeys from the ancient, sacred crypts of Egypt. Nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller-skate with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth. Ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who hall stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery, all at the same time. 4. James Franco, for entirely unprofessional reasons. 5. Uther Dean and Nick Zwart’s laughter. 6. Bird whistles and strabismus.
Director Samuel Phillips on The Zoo Story, by Edward Albee (Season 2) 1. Jerry has just been to the zoo, and now he's itching to tell someone about it. 2. Because it's a play about loneliness, love, sex, loss, two empty picture frames, parakeets, and two men getting to know each other. 3. Coffee and cigarettes. 4. Patrick Hunn and Barney Olsen. 5. Go on stage drunk. 6. I can do a mean dolphin impression.
Director Bronwyn Cheyne on Fold, by Jo Randerson (Season 2) 1. Damaged people wrapped up in their own world, whose attempts to make some sense of their lives and society are as doomed to failure as the aimless parties they attend. 2. There’s a series of parties and you’re invited! There are jokes and debates and drinking and presents and a sick cat. It’s a riot. 3. A group rendition of The Mighty Boosh’s ‘Bouncy Castle Crimp’. 4. Steve Buscemi. 5. Never go on the stage. 6. The ability to take a cat-nap anytime, anywhere.
Merely to be Normal, six 30-minute plays directed by THEA406 students are showing across two seasons (17-20 July and 24-27 July) at Studio 77, Fairlie Tce. Showings begin at 7 pm. Tickets $15 Waged, $8 Concession (Student); to book, email email@example.com or call (04) 463 5359]
Director Andrew Clarke on Existence, by Edward Bond (Season 1) 1. After drunkenly stumbling home, X decides to break into a flat in which he finds a person who seems to have been waiting for X for his whole life. One of them dies… 2. It’s a play set in one room, ‘cos its got supersexy low-level lighting, because the performances make me laugh, cry and tremble, all at the same
RAP BATTLE: Yeezus vs Magna Carta… Holy Grail review
I often wonder if babies Blue and North will one day be sitting in their million-dollar Barbie mansions comparing the music that their fathers were making in 2013. If so, North definitely gets bragging rights. One of the things that ceaselessly impresses me about Kanye West is his intense focus on pushing hip-hop into new musical schemas of sound. Yeezus is certainly no different. Much like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the rapper’s latest work seems to challenge his peers to up their game and shake themselves loose from the repetitive drum and bass lines that have plagued hip-hop for two decades now. Unfortunately, it seems that Jay-Z is yet to hear Yeezy’s call to arms. While Magna Carta… Holy Grail does feature some fierce bass lines and outstanding (albeit predictable) performances from the vocalists who have managed to keep his commercial sound afloat over the past ten years (Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Frank Ocean), it is still unclear as to what Jay-Z has learnt about both music production and himself during the process of recording this album. For instance, “Picasso Baby” presents an opportunity for
him to analyse his role in the art world, or even to show an appreciation for the beauty of art and/or music. Yet the only thing that Jay seems to find valuable about paintings by Picasso is the price tag and the status that comes with it. As if he wasn’t already rich and famous enough. So what has Yeezy Baby gained from the various life experiences he has attained over the past three years? Well, evidently not much more than Jay. His biggest concern seems to be getting “spunk on the mink” after he has fucked you “hard on the sink” (good grief I hope my mother doesn’t read this). Yet when one listens to the many samples that he so cheekily crafts to suit his musical needs, the more nuanced meanings of his music become apparent. A prime example is “Blood on the Leaves.” I was initially outraged to hear that West had the hubris to use such a deeply emotive song (“Strange Fruit,” originally by Billie Holiday, but Kanye uses Nina Simone’s version) in such a blasé way. Yet a more cautious listening reveals his intent to compare the ensnaring of men by pregnant women with the restrictions that blacks suffered in America preCivil Rights era. Woah. Deep. Kind of. But what about ‘the music itself ’? Essentially, Kanye’s new music was formed in a cosmic vacuum where only Death Grips and his previous album 808s and Heartbreaks exist. He clearly worked hard to create a sound that is gritty and
challenging to the average pop/hip-hop listener, utilising distorted synthesizers, human screams, and almost consistently placing his songs in minor keys, producing an almost otherworldly effect. Arguably, this style was somewhat inherently necessary to his development as a musician. He has worked with samples from just about every genre to have been caught in the limelight of pop music, while 808s elicited an electronic vibe, and Fantasy explored the emotive power of live instruments such as piano and cello. So what better way for West and his producers to push their own self-prescribed boundaries than to – in my rather wimpish opinion – attempt to scare their audience? And then there is “Bound 2,” the last track featured on Yeezus. The jagged and interrupted rhythms of the soulful samples are almost completely juxtaposed against Kanye’s rapping, which bubbles along ostensibly oblivious to the backing track. While it trades the aggressiveness of the rest of the album for melodicism, the disjointed rhythms continue to raise questions as to whether it is actually pleasant music to listen to or not. Meanwhile, Jay’s music hardly deserves the adjective “new.” Yeezus – 4/5 Magna Carta… Holy Grail – 2/5
reads of requirement review
Last week, I walked into vicbooks to buy my overpriced textbooks and felt a looming sense of despair. This wasn’t just my EFTPOS card talking—it was everything. The stacks of course notes, the over-referenced books, the checking when my classes are and realising how early I’m going to have to get up on Fridays; all contributed to an I-like-uni-but-dude-holidays-are-more-funbecause-12-hour-sleep-cycles kind of despair. Which sucks. But if you’re feeling the same way, never fear! There is help in the form of some Required Reading, a.k.a., two very smart, witty books which will help ease you into the semester:
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris If you haven’t encountered David Sedaris before: a) where have you been? and b) he’s great. Regular contributor to The New Yorker, NPR and This American Life, Sedaris writes mid-length (ten pages is around the norm) essays about his life; his family, his childhood, his partner Hugh, and litter. They’re hilarious. Just trust me on this. If you have encountered David Sedaris before: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls is much of the same. That is to say, no better and no worse than his other collections. It could be taken off the end of When You Are Engulfed in Flames and given a new cover, then released five years later. The ‘newness’ of this collection comes not through much variation in style but a newness in the content, with essays on the French attitude to the American election (“Obama!!!!!”) and marriage-equality debates. As with his other collections, there is a strong focus on stories from his childhood in North Carolina, and a foreigner’s perspective on London, West Sussex, Paris, Normandy, Japan, China... the guy travels a lot. This consistency in quality is weird, and kind of cool. It’s like he’s managed to 3D-print the Sedaris style and perfectly replicate it from collection to collection, essay to essay, creating a Sedaris product, whose quality is always guaranteed. This isn’t to say that these essays are boring or formulaic, just that they adhere to his voice so perfectly: all witty, self-aware, self-deprecating stories which can be surprisingly
moving. ‘Understanding Understanding Owls’ and ‘A Man Walks Into a Bar Car’ were my favourites for this, but really, everything in this collection is just wonderful.
Be Awesome, Hadley Freeman I’m not a fan of the title. It’s a great message, but it makes Freeman (Guardian and Vogue writer—a woman who is both a fashion writer and political commentator, which is definitely living the feminist dream) sound like she’s written a self-help book. Which I guess, in a way, this is. A properly feminist guide to “modern life for modern ladies”, Freeman, in between rants on misogyny, anti-Semitism, or sex, provides a litany of awesome women, books, movies, and devotes an entire chapter to “A day in your life in Daily Mail headlines.” She’s snappy—good with the one-liners and the anti-Julie-Burchill footnotes— but not flippant, taking her time to really work through some truly great arguments. Also, her epigraphs are quotes from Nora Ephron (“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim”), Amy Poehler, and an ‘80s movie. I was sold before I even got to the contents page. Any smart, funny book on feminism written by a British(-based) newspaper columnist will inevitably lend itself to comparison with Caitlin
Moran’s How To Be A Woman, but this is a different kettle of fish (albeit one resting on the same stove, or plugged into the same multibox, or using fish fished from the same river, or whatever strange metaphor you need to use to make that phrase work). While Moran’s strengths lie in her use of anecdotes, Freeman deliberately avoids turning Be Awesome into a memoir. This book deals extensively with societal expectations of beauty (“what these folk don’t like is, not extra bulges, extra hairs, extra lines: they don’t like women.”) but she only mentions her experience with anorexia in passing as “I hope I have something more to offer than my history.” And she does. Be Awesome is, to use to the obvious adjective, awesome. Freeman has a great logic; throughout the book she calmly and carefully dismantles anti-feminist arguments, helping to define and illuminate instances of sexism and misogyny in a light, funny way. It’s similar to what Moran—or the myriad of other witty, intelligent female writers—is doing, and by virtue of writing these books, closely examining feminism and everyday sexism, they are demonstrating the need for them. Number of times I pointed at a sentence and shouted “BAM!” at an empty room: 15.
RATTLE YA DAGS ARTICLE
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Fergus Barrowman, the head honcho of the VUP (Victoria University Press) who has recently added a recording label, Rattle, to his flourishing entertainment empire. I was curious: what exactly was his role in this new acquisition? “I’m the manager… it’ll be managed out of the VUP as a kind of parallel project to the Victoria University Press. I’m in the process of learning the music business.” “I hope you’re a fast learner!” I impudently quip, momentarily forgetting my manners. “In principle it’s kind of the same as publishing – it’s just the system and learnt habits that are different,” he ripostes, a little frostily. Victoria University Press is notable for publishing both heavy-hitters, à la Elizabeth Knox, Emily Perkins, and what Barrowman terms ‘minority interests’: poetry, biographies of obscure or specific interest, experimental first books. This dedication to publishing all manner of styles and mediums is, I gather, part of the company’s ethos and a source of pride to Barrowman – however, though they sell their books locally, nationally and internationally, they still require partial funding from the University in order to maintain the eclecticism they pride themselves on. A recent addition to their oeuvre, for example, is Amy Brown’s ‘The Odour of Sanctity’, an 8000-word epic poem about candidates she believes are deserving of sainthood (including Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel fame). Is it a ruckus, imaginative and frequently ingenious text worthy of publishing? Absolutely. Is it likely to sell? Well... And therein lies the problem, and indeed the solution – under the University’s
partial patronage, VUP can have it both ways. It can afford (literally and figuratively) to publish the arcane and the obscure without fearing financial turmoil. Which isn’t to say that they’re under the beck and call of the University, or that the University has any untoward influence over them. In my first faux pas of the interview, I congratulated him on Mark and Jane’s anthology of New Zealand literature that I thought was published by VUP. “That wasn’t ours,” he said with an absolving smile, “that was the Auckland University Press.” And conversely, there are a lot of scholars from Auckland University on the VUP payroll; the University is not territorial, or disingenuous in its commitment to the artistic. But how will this translate to Rattle records? Rattle focuses on ‘art’ music—avant-garde, Pacific, classical, jazz—that is beloved in a certain ‘musical community’ in New Zealand but more or less unknown elsewhere. I put it to Barrowman that the music on Rattle is almost exclusively of a niche interest, without the pulling power that VUP’s top authors offer; I also mention the problem of an internet culture permeated by music piracy and torrenting. He addresses my second query by pointing out that piracy happens with books as well. “Stephanie Meyer mentioned Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamhunte] on a holiday-reading blog and immediately after that Elizabeth checked a torrenting website… 15,000 people had downloaded it.” Here, Barrowman gets philosophical: “do you think ‘oh, that’s 15,000 new readers that I wouldn’t otherwise have got?’ Or do you think ‘oh, that’s 15,000 lost sales, lost royalties of 15,000 books?’ And it’s somewhere in between, though it’s much closer to the bigger
Roadshow Films proudly presents
(opening in cinemas 18 July. )
audience.” This is a luxury no doubt afforded by the VUP’s relationship with the University, and this luxury will now be afforded to music too. “Unless you want all music to be highly commercial, bigger cultural institutions—like universities—are going to have to foster music in the same way they do books.” Could this, I ponder aloud, be the future of the music industry? To function under the auspices of charitable, art-minded institutions? “It’s going to be an important part of the future – you’re always going to have blockbuster publishing and a lively indie scene, but there has to be a place for specialist recordings… and I’m very pleased that the University sees it that way.” It seems to me that Rattle is under sound control and in safe hands, courtesy of Barrowman’s business savvy. But, to quote Carrie Bradshaw, I couldn’t help but wonder – are cultural institutions increasing involvement in the Arts a good thing? The answer, I think, is yes – it ensures that though a piece of art may not be profitable in our current market, it is still produced purely for its cultural worth, and its indispensable cultural worth is reason enough, I think, for the fees incurred by university subsidies. The heady climate of 1992 is long gone; there will probably never be another ‘Symphony No. 3’ success-story. But, with the shift of recording labels to cultural institutions, the future for ‘art’ music is more brimming with potential that it is has ever been. I, for one, am excited for what the future holds.
ine onl y onl t ten n co
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Shane Cotton, The Hanging Sky review
regeneration, his motivation to continually push his work forward, might be considered dynamism were it not so visibly earnest.
City Gallery, June 15 - October 6 By Simon Gennard
Wielding a reputation as a provocateur, Shane Cotton’s current exhibition, The Hanging Sky, leads the viewer unsteadily through a series of meditations on biculturalism, conflict, and the role of the indigenous object in art. At several points during his two-decade long career, Cotton has reinvented his work. In the 1990s, the artist earned attention for his studies of Māori folk art, taking symbols and motifs from a tradition of figurative painting in meeting houses that emerged in the late-1800s. In the 2000s, he shed the earthy tones and ochre for large-scale skyscapes, while continuing to scrutinise a fraught history of cultural exchange between Europeans and Māori. The paintings in the gallery foyer, however, were produced between 2007 and 2010, and these comparatively recent works are where Cotton’s voice is most pointed. The work is sparse and expansive, evoking the feeling of vertigo. Our attention is pointed upwards, in a series of large-scale skyscapes in a heavy blue, against which birds in sharp red are suspended in motion, almost colliding with jutting cliff faces. Compositionally, these works are cleaner than Cotton’s more recent offerings, benefiting from a clarity and immediacy that seems to have since been lost. Around 2011, Cotton's limited palette and economic composition is eschewed for a fuller spectrum. The result of this shift is a series of deliberately confusing works, less confronting than perplexing. There's a disparate abundance of reference points, from Ralph Hotere to Ed Ruscha, at times so closely studied that it becomes difficult to determine where homage ends and the works become derivative. Cotton's necessity to progress as an artist appears to manifest itself in the repeated rejection of his past work. What has remained, however, is a limited number of visual motifs that reoccur frequently in his work. Unfortunately, this repetition doesn't necessarily equate to cohesion. Cotton's constant
The strongest of these motifs is Cotton's repeated depiction of Toi moko (preserved heads), many of which are based on photographs of Major-General Horatio Robley’s collection. These works are timely, as they are presented during a period of slow, but steady, repatriation of indigenous objects. The artist manages to subvert a long history of spectacle and Orientalism. Public institutions have, historically, served to remove these objects of their power. In dusty glass cabinets, the objects are more likely to demand a terror borne out of unfamiliarity than the reverence they held in their original context. Here, Cotton reclaims the figures. Suspended across two-bytwo-metre canvases, the viewer is in an uneasy position in relation to the subject, they possess the ability to simultaneously compel and repel. Another strength is Cotton’s use of language. Scenes from the book of Job recall McCahon, but only in as much as McCahon’s ubiquity makes him difficult to avoid. Cotton claims in an interview with the show’s curator that McCahon’s intent was for viewers to ‘read’ his paintings. In Cotton’s language English is superimposed over Te reo, words collide with each other and fade into the background. McCahon’s biblical language was an attempt to endow New Zealand’s landscape with a heavenly quality. Cotton is aware of this, but seems to caution against reading the land from an exclusively Christian/Pakeha perspective.
What's on Writers on Mondays with Carl Shuker, author of The Method Actors and Anti Lebanon, in conversation with Damien Wilkins. 12:15 – 1:15 at Te Papa (The Marae, Level 4). FREE ENTRY. Launch of Wanted, a Beautiful Barmaid: Women Behind the Bar in New Zealand, 1830-1976 by Sue Upton, a “social history of women in the liquor trade.” Thistle Inn (3 Mulgrave Street Thorndon), 6 – 7:30 Monday. 60 Years of The Royal New Zealand Ballet film programme, 7pm, Wed through Sat, July 17 – 20, The New Zealand Film Archive, 84 Taranaki St, Wellington Ticket price: $8 public / $6 concession The Andy Warhol Exhibition is still on! Te Papa, $17. New Wu-Tang and Pixies! Hit up youtube ;). X by Chris Brown album release 16 July. Don’t get excited. Tickets on sale for Beyonce’s live Mrs Carter show, playing in Auckland on October 18. Live Nation pre-sales: July 16. General public sales: July 19. Get in quick, every Diva in New Zealand is hoping to buy these tickets.
For all that Cotton sheds in his constant reinvention of his work, he has remained ever conscious of a tradition of appropriation and exploitation under the banner of paying tribute (see: Frizzell, Walters). Cotton acts as mediator between two cultures, informed by his Anglican upbringing and Maori ancestry. His work, though it strays into chaotic territory at times, remains important because it shakes any notion of complacency or certainty regarding New Zealand’s bicultural identity. It is a subject often avoided, for fear of causing a stir when Pakeha ways of seeing are questioned, but Cotton refuses to let us dismiss it.
va r ie t y p u zz les & C R O SS WO R D by p u c k— A N SW ERS N E X T ISSUE
'in some order' - difficulty: medium 37. ‘Waiting for Godot’, for a THEA101 student? 40. Olympus Mons planet 41. Group on a field 42. Loch with a monster 43. Sweeping views 45. One on drugs 47. Remove plumage from 48. Land measure that’s ten square chains 50. Movie SFX technique 53. What some guys might do with youporn.com? 57. Three-fifths of the world live here 59. Lolcat’s greeting 60. Related to hearing 61. Chucky’s dad in ‘Rugrats’ 62. Stifle with love 63. Severe Severus 64. Carnivorous nocturnal 7-Downs 65. In its current condition 66. Scented compound
ACROSS 1. Blackman who played Pussy Galore 6. Gold, frankincense and myrrh bearers 10. They’re, like, really close? 14. Virus named after a river 15. Twirl 16. In ____-Land (distracted) 17. Bugs Bunny’s girlfriend, and namesakes 18. Construction made from blankets or snow
19. Word on a U.S dollar 20. Not return someone’s messages after a date, maybe? 23. Nine-digit ID in the States 24. It might be made on a star 25. Muse of poetry 28. With ‘the’, ‘Happy Days’ character who literally jumped the shark 30. It pops in a nursery rhyme 31. French girlfriend 33. Bird in ‘The Lion King’ 36. Musical with the song ‘Be Italian’
QUIZ 1. Which three Latin American countries have offered asylum to America whistleblower Edward Snowden? 2. Former Prime Ministers David Lange, Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Mike Moore were all born in which decade? 3. From which two animals can the delicacy foie gras be produced? 4. Who was a famous suspect in the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa? 5. Who is the author of the novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns?
DOWN 1. Assists 2. Coins traditionally placed on corpses’ eyes 3. Last director to work with Ledger 4. Oil of ___ (cosmetic additive) 5. Hasty 6. ‘Magic School Bus’ teacher 7. Beings without feet 8. Distance a belt covers 9. Dividing word 10. ‘Mighty Morphin’’ character with a triceratops 11. Sexy reveries 12. You might get a shot to prevent it 13. ‘Moon’ actor Rockwell
6. Which country has the highest population of Japanese people outside Japan? 7. Who has recently been appointed coach of the Wallabies rugby team?
21. Hairlike strand on wheat 22. Word before “whiz!” 26. Things pitched at camp 27. Bullfighting shout 28. Subtitle of a recent ‘X-Men’ film 29. British word book, for short 30. “lol __” (leetspeak for “Ha, seriously?”) 31. Die in _____ of gunfire 32. Pouched animal 34. Highest currency rating 35. Sciences for breweries and vineyards to know about 38. Pub quiz totals, for short 39. The loneliest number 40. Praised person on a 41-Across (abbr.) 44. Letters on a wanted poster 46. ‘__ My Vest’ (‘The Simpsons’ song) 48. One of the Musketeers 49. Raccoon-like creature 50. Measure of purity 51. Flavour described as ‘purple’ 52. Loiterer 54. Dagobah dweller 55. “Don’t ___ me, bro!” (2007 meme) 56. Force led by Attila 57. Part of a pocket rocket 58. Ricky Martin hit, ‘__ Bangs’
ISSUE 07 SOLUTION
YEAR LONG PUZZLE: 13. This one's an old one - rearrange CARTHORSE into a well-conducted group (9).
8. True or false: Oprah Winfrey and famous film critic Roger Ebert dated in the mid1980s. 9. Molecular biologists Francis Crick and James Watson made what important scientific discovery in 1953? 10. Ruban Nielson is currently the lead singer for which New Zealand band?
ANSWERS: 1. Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela. 2. The 1940s. 3. Ducks or geese. 4. Pablo Picasso. 5. Khaled Hosseini. 6. Brazil. 7. Ewen McKenzie. 8. True. 9. The structure of DNA. 10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
T U C P I Y L B I
Target rating guide: 0-15 words: do you even go here?
16-25 words: alright
The answers to the clues below each start with the five letters in MEDIA, in some order. When the puzzle is complete, the answers will be in alphabetical order. (Difficulty: medium).
26-35 words: decent 36-50 words: PRO 80+ words: free drink
Really common and cheap, in U.S. slang
_ ____ _ _____
French phrase meaning 'reminder'
Had lofty ambitions
Evil kid in The Omen series
Circumference divided by pi
Good guy at brainstorming
Election loser's shout, maybe “_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _!” “My parents are gonna kill me!”
“_'_ _ _ _ _!”
What a liar might have done
____ __ __
What the Titanic sank on
In stats, the 'middle number' in a list
Shorter name for the Iran/Iraq area
Solution for Week 12 – Anagram Magic Square
Solution for Week 12 – Sorting Into Houses
1. Yanks, 2. Ought, 3. Unite, 4. Clean, 5. Annie, 6. Neigh, 7. Thing, 8. Haydn,
Black, Bower, Mocking, Song: BIRD House
9. Inset, 10. Toner, 11. Tutor, 12. Heart, 13. Eliot, 14. Media, 15. Where, 16. Issue,
High, Sun, Torch, Traffic: LIGHT House
17. Timer, 18. Hotel, 19. Anime, 20. Seoul, 21. Hades, 22. Ocean, 23. Verne, 24.
Atomic, Horse, Super, World: POWER House
Endor, 25. Loyal. MESSAGE: “Students, eh? Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't
Art, Finishing, Home, Private: SCHOOL House
hit them with a shovel.”
SUDOKU difficulty: easy
letters letter of the week
with this piece of shit! YOUR READERSHIP DOES NOT LIKE CHANGE. WE’RE VULNERABLE PEOPLE AND WE HAVE AN EYE FOR WHAT WORKS. THE OLD STYLE WORKED. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO US???
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I am appalled. APPALLED. I was having a nice browse of the interwebs last week and in between porn and updating my Facebook status I thought, why not check out the page of my favourite student magazine? And what did I find. Rather than the distinguished Salient of old, the coral-green, mould-esque background, that slow parade of features across the screen like your aunt’s holiday slideshow, paragraphs lasting only two lines because the margins were so large, there was something completely different. Something horrible. Something black and white and orderly, all divided into boxes, the margins so narrow that the paragraphs look like actual paragraphs. What is this shit. It is not okay for you to change, Salient. NOT OKAY. Not okay to ruin your impeccable website design and replace it
TRY THE TRUTH I simply want direction to where evidence exists that the gun used in the killings contains Robin Bain's fingerprints . The last few days have focused on "marks" on his hand BUT were his fingerprints found on the gun . I understand that David Bain's prints were found but not Robin's
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Someone missed us Shed a Pipitea-r VUWSA or VUWKCSA (Victoria University of Wellington Kelburn Campus Student's Association) ? While it doesn't have the same ring, I think we can all agree that VUWSA needs to either change its name or change its game. While the students who live and breath, Kelburn, are treated to all that VUWSA has
[Smooth, dreamy, spaced-out music plays] Aquarius... and my name is Ralph Now I like a woman who loves her freedom And I like a woman who can hold her own And if you fit that description, baby, come with me Take my hand Come with me, baby, to Love Land Let me show you how sweet it could be Sharing love with me, I want you to Float, float on (Come on, come on, come on, baby, yeah yeah) Float on, float on (Ooh, ooh, baby) Float, float, float on Float on, float on (Float with me) <3 Ralph
By Sharon Lam
letters Too Many Dicks on The Dear femaliant This recent 50% women’s seat policy being discussed in the labour party is the most complete piece of bullshit I have seen in modern politics. I’m beginning to think our main left wing party is more concerned about looking good in its seats than actually doing a good job in them. It has become a party that is so intent on not looking discriminated that it is considering discriminating as a means to achieve it. I don’t quite frankly give a fuck what the colour, creed, sex, age, ethnicity, eye colour, hair colour, number of limbs the person has/ associates with; I do give a fuck what stand they for and how well they stand for it, i.e. they are the most skilled human being for the job. On another level I think this ridiculous policy can be criticized with the fact that “labour believes its women candidates aren’t fit enough to compete for the same electoral seats as its men,” which denotes some very strong female politicians indeed! In conclusion, Labour should stop wasting its time with petty things such as this and begin establishing policies that will help make a change for the New Zealand people. Yours sincerely Straight Male Middle-class Left Wing Voter
Will you be our date to the moth ball? Dear Salient, Have you seen the Venezuelan poodle moth? It's probably the cutest type of moth. It looks like a pale demon fairy sent to Earth to make us think we're on the set for the ninth Harry Potter film.
By Sharon Lam
If I had a pet poodle moth I would call him Larry. I would make him fetch me tiny gumdrops, and would feed him honey dew from a thimble. Just thought I'd let you know. Yours sincerely, Slightly delirious.
Dirty mink? Talk to Yeezy Dear Lazelient Where the hell have you been for the last month? Wouldn’t the holidays give you MORE time to assemble this godforsaken rag? The toilet paper jokes are played out, but I seriously do use issues of Salient whilst playing Huey Lewis and the News to my friends. Now there’s blood all over my $12000
imported mink carpet and I’m not even having a threesome. Thanks Salient.
I’ve got to return some videotapes. - B. Pateman
We passed this on to Gerald, he gave it a 2/5 To Gerald, the ex-film editor, Shall I compare thee to a summers cupcake? You're both sweet, smaller than a muffin, sometimes you have icing on you, and I wanna put you in my mouth. Please be the Heathcliff to my Cathy. Lets meet up and talk about Jean-Pierre Jeunet and gay social justice. <3 from ur sekrit admirer <3
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