2014 Season 20 Questions Hosted by Wesley Enoch Co-devised by Wesley Enoch & Eamon Flack
Cain and Abel Created by Kate Davis & Emma Valente Director Emma Valente
Brothers Wreck By Jada Alberts Director Leah Purcell
Hedda Gabler Adapted from the play by Henrik Ibsen Director Adena Jacobs
Nora By Kit Brookman and Anne-Louise Sarks after A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen Director Anne-Louise Sarks
Oedipus Rex Director Adena Jacobs
The Glass Menagerie By Tennessee Williams Director Eamon Flack
Is This Thing On? By Zoë Coombs Marr Directors Kit Brookman & Zoë Coombs Marr
A Christmas Carol By Charles Dickens Director Anne-Louise Sarks
Cinderella By Matthew Whittet Original Concept & Director Anthea Williams
Student Rush tickets from $25.
Photography: Gary Heery
belvoir.com.au/ StudentRush for details 02 9699 3444
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Larissa Bricis Rachel Eddie Andrea Huang Tom Lodewyke Lachlan Mackenzie Lily Mei Nathalie Meier Hattie O’Donnell Kristen Troy
Alex Barnet Emma Sprouster
Bella Ali-Khan Avi Bamra Mitch Hockey Eva Kiss Astrid Milne Angela Tam Bryce Thomas Natalie Shue Jessica Wang
Lachlan Bennett Patrick Boyle Georgia Heighway Louise Jaques Sam Langshaw Astrid Lorange Carisse Martis Harriet McInerney Maggie Neil
WITH SUPPORT FROM
UTS Students’ Association Spotpress Pty Ltd, Marrickville
The future of study
What’s SSAF got to do with it?
Sam Salvidge Taylah Schrader Courtenay Turner Alison Williams Laura Wood Rachel Worsley Julian van der Zee
What are we building?
Mind the gap: public transport for all
A Brief History of: Cafés
Living with a Misunderstood Mental Illness
Get to Know: Sydney Writers’ Festival
Face-Blindness: It’s a Thing
Showcase: Bryce Thomas, Harriet McInnery, Louise Jaques
Justice League: Modern Day Slavery
Science, Tech & Gaming
Runs in the Family Law
Mixtape & Podcasts
Zinegeist: Plastic Knife
Have We Lost It?
The Future of Australian Publishing
Killing it: Bloods
Rookie’s Guide: Pop Culture News
Vertigo is published by the UTS STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION Proudly printed by SPOTPRESS PTY LTD, MARRICKVILLE Email us at email@example.com for advertising enquiries. Vertigo and its entire contents are protected by copyright. Vertigo will retain reprint rights; contributors retain all other rights for resale and republication. No material may be reproduced without the prior written consent of the copyright holders. Vertigo would like to show its respect and acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Land, the Gadigal and Guring-gai people of the Eora Nation, upon whose ancestral lands the university now stands. More than 500 Indigenous Nations shared this land for over 40,000 years before invasion. We express our solidarity and continued commitment to working with Indigenous peoples, in Australia and around the world, in their ongoing struggle for land rights, self-determination, sovereignty, and the recognition and compensation for past injuries.
ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
EDITORIAL On a recent trip to Melbourne with friends, I earned the title of socialiser extraordinaire. Browsing quirky boutiques on a strip of Brunswick Street, I greeted the shop assistants with equal enthusiasm and proceeded to converse with them, getting to know a bit about their lives and the worlds they inhabit. I found this fascinating. My friends found it amusing (embarrassing). Each person you meet is an encounter – a chance to learn more about what it means to be human. That sounds a little twee, but I make no apologies because it’s true. Derrida (Cultural Studies represent!) claimed that it is impossible to know ourselves if we don’t know the other. In a world of social media profiles and personal growth, I fear we risk making life too all-about-me. When we turn our gaze outwards, we rediscover some of the richness and diversity around us. To a large extent, this is what Vertigo is all about: bringing you new and wonderful encounters. This issue is a celebration of that – and in certain respects, a meditation as well. Issue 4 has a little bit of a literary feel (blame Sydney Writers’ Festival and my word-nerd tendencies). To balance that out, we’ve included a whole lot of visual delight (Bryce Thomas, our talented showcase artist, I’m looking at you). Mad props also to Angela Tam for her mesmerising cover art. Join us with Ben and Michelle Law, siblings by birth and word, as we chat about creative collaboration. Then, make sure you meet Sam Salvidge. She’ll tell you what it’s like to be face-blind (yep, it’s a thing). And of course there’s our regulars. Swing by A Brief History of Cafés to hear from Courtenay Turner on the origins and development of this social and cultural hub. And if you’ve yet to introduce yourself to Rookie’s Guide, I strongly recommend you do for Larissa Bricis’ friendly networking hints and tips. Happy Vertigo-ing! May your days be filled with new friends and interesting conversations. With love from Nicola and the Vertigo team.
House parties Adventure time Wine time Bonfires Infinity watches Financial Review (you make us look good)
Splendour in the Grass tickets Exams/Assignments Centrelink (it’s a love/hate relationship) The fucking Commission of Audit #budget2014
4 / EDITORIAL
CALENDAR JUNE MON
ART: Falling in Love with Architecture: Engaging Communities @ The Mint, 2pm – FREE ART: Behind The Lines @ Riverside Parramatta, until 21/6 – FREE ART: World Press Photo 2014 @ State Library of NSW, until 22/6 – FREE
LIVE: Story Club @ Giant Dwarf, 8pm – $20
MUSIC: Ellie Goulding @ Hordern Pavilion, 7pm – $72.90
SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL until 15/6
MUSIC: Broods @ GoodGod, 8pm – $12 FILM: Mullholland Drive @ AGNSW, 2pm & 7.15pm – FREE
MARKETS: Finders Keepers @ Australian Technology Park, until 7/6 – $2
MUSIC: TLC @ Enmore Theatre, 8pm – $82.60
LIVE: The Chaser’s Empty Vessel @ Giant Dwarf, 8pm – $20 THEATRE: M.Rock @ Sydney Theatre Company, until 28/6 – $30
Supanova Pop Culture Expo @ Sydney Showground, Olympic Park, until 15/3 – $27.50 JUNKEE DEBATE: The Death of Horror? (part of SFF) @ Festival Hub, Town Hall, 8pm – FREE
MUSIC: RÜFÜS @ Enmore Theatre, 8pm – $40
MUSIC: Miners + Deep Space Supergroop + Dr. Goddard @ FBi Social, 8pm – $15
FILM: Hannah & Her Sisters @ Alaska Projects, 5pm – FREE
ART: Hereby Make Protest @ Carriageworks, until 18/6 – FREE
MUSIC: Dune Rats @ Metro Theatre, 4.45pm – $15
TALK: FastBreak @ Powerhouse Museum, 7.45am – $10
THEATRE: Every Second @ Eternity Playhouse, until 27/7 – $30
COMEDY: Ronny Chieng – Chieng Reaction @ Enmore Theatre, 7.15pm – $34.90 THEATRE: Hedda Gabler @ Belvoir, until 3/8 – $48
MUSIC: Chet Faker @ Enmore Theatre, 7.30pm – $40
THEATRE: The Violent Outburst That Drew Me To You @ Griffin Theatre, until 12/7 – $28
psst: for a more indepth and detailed calendar head to utsvertigo.com.au
CALENDAR / 5
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ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
THE FUTURE OF STUDY THE TIMES ARE A CHANGIN’ AT UTS AND WE’LL SOON BE FACING A HUGE CHANGE IN THE WAY WE LEARN. NATHALIE MEIER EXPLAINS HOW UTS IS PLANNING ON CHANGING THE STRUCTURE OF THE ACADEMIC YEAR AND HOW IT WILL ALTER THE UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE. StuVac (short for Study Vacation) is the week-long study vacation that
Barden is feeling the pressure knowing that end of semester exams
universities offer before the commencement of the final exam period
for Law are upcoming. “We [students] need StuVac because we need
each semester. UTS students have been deprived of that break since
a sufficient opportunity to study for exams as well as tie up loose
its abolishment between 2006 and 2008. It is an invaluable week of
ends from other subjects that don’t have exams, that instead have
review and no leading university should be without it.
major assignments due in the exam period,” he said.
UTS is one of the only universities in the state that does not
So how is UTS going to solve this problem? By announcing its
provide StuVac each semester. Scrolling through various university
commitment to work StuVac into the Academic Calendar for 2016.
forums and UTS Facebook posts, it is clear that this concerns
This has been partly in response to lobbying by the Students’
many students. Those who are studying courses with high content
Association, but mostly due to the overwhelming demand from
demand, assignments, and then an exam block, are currently feeling
students in the Student Feedback Survey (SFS) responses over the
disadvantaged, as they are under enormous pressure to be studying
past few years.
during peak content points of the semester. “StuVac is needed – students cannot be expected to have a perfect grasp of every topic
In early April the UTS Student Forum, in conjunction with university
when they finish semester. In a week, you can’t possibly learn the
executive members, held a student forum fronted by Deputy Vice-
whole course (although people do try), but you can definitely fill
Chancellors Shirley Alexander and Anne Dwyer. Executive staff at the
in the gaps that you’ve missed,” said UTS Students’ Association
event voiced their recognition that StuVac should be seen as a high
Education Vice-President Chris Gall.
priority and are on board for a push toward its reintroduction into the academic year.
When taking a look at the systems in place at other universities it is clear that StuVac is a benefit that is extremely necessary for
Unfortunately, the turnout for the forum was very small. In
full- and part-time students. At the University of Sydney there is
attendance were students involved in the Students’ Association,
a compulsory, university wide week before each semester’s exam
a Vertigo editor, four UTS Students, a few staff members and
period. “I have previously completed a degree at USYD, and I have
executives as well as employees from Student Services. The
to say that having access to this week, simple as it is, dramatically
underwhelming number of attendees raises the question of whether
improved my performance in examinations,” said Gall. StuVac is also
the forum received the publicity that it deserved.
a university-wide policy at UNSW and is guaranteed until 2016 and beyond. The University of Wollongong has a StuVac equivalent called
The crucial question posed at the forum was: How will StuVac be
Study Recess, Newcastle has a nameless study week and Western
implemented into the UTS calendar?
Sydney has a trimester model with StuVac in place. Trimesters. When conversing with a friend and fellow UTS student a few weeks ago, we got talking about StuVac and its potential reintroduction.
The Academic Calendar for 2016 will see the introduction of the
As a second year combined Law and Communication student, David
trimester format, stated by Alexander and Dwyer as a system
8 / NEWS
that allows for more flexibility within courses, as well as allowing
obvious loss of holidays. Trimesters pose a threat to student welfare,
StuVac to fit into the Academic Calendar. Each course will have a
academic performance and employment prospects. “As a student, I
different structure in order to fit academic, administrative and extra
want to know how I am supposed to learn the same difficult content
requirements into the teaching period.
in a shortened teaching period?” said Casanova. “Moving towards a trimester model has already seen a reduction in classes — revising
Obviously this requires a lot of planning, however the ambiguity
the content is difficult already without a StuVac period.”
surrounding the new structure makes you wonder just how successful the trimester format will be. There was no clear outline at
One of the most concerning effects Casanova voiced was the
the forum as to how the trimesters will be structured, how long they
potential impact on the welfare of all students, particularly those
will be, or whether this will impact the holiday period.
from rural, low-SES and ATSI backgrounds. “Rural and regional students will be disadvantaged with less time at home, they will have
We can only conclude that the trimesters will be shorter than the
to travel more often and will have less time to earn money to support
current length of semesters, possibly nine weeks with one week
them over the semester,” said Casanova.
dedicated to StuVac. This is based on the fact that the trimester plan provided on the slides at the forum was not explicit with dates. It can
UTS has a primary responsibility to its students, and before moving
also be concluded that the same amount of content that is studied
ahead with the proposed trimester model, should be consulting
in the semester format will then be applied to the trimester format.
students about the issue before any implementation. “I would
“Attaching StuVac to the trimester model seems to me like a cynical
support an expansion of summer school subjects, which is already
way to wedge students into supporting Trimesters, like saying ‘sure,
an option for those who wish to study over the summer period. The
you can have StuVac like you wanted – but only if you agree to a
university should be exploring how it could make a Commonwealth
massive cut to teaching and learning quality when we cram your 13
supported (HECS) summer school an option in order to make it more
week courses into eight or nine weeks’,” said Gall in response to this
accessible,” said Casanova.
new calendar structure. Moving forward, we can only hope that the university will consider With such little information surrounding this key educational issue,
and weigh out the positive and negative impacts of a trimester
we must question the logic and motives behind this huge change.
system. Yes, there is a need for StuVac, but trimesters are not
Is this restructure being introduced in order to benefit students, or
necessarily the answer.
for purely economic reasons? Granted, the university is a business that thrives with profit, but its priority should be catering to student needs rather than churning students in and out of the system. Unfortunately, this is the assumption that many have reached when questions surrounding the “StuVac solution” are left unanswered. The prospect of this whole system was to put an end to the uncertainty surrounding StuVac. It has instead created a whole new list of enquiries. Third year Communications and Law student at UTS, Alexander Casanova, is concerned that the new trimester model will introduce a multitude of issues, notwithstanding the
NEWS / 9
ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
WHAT’S SSAF GOT TO DO WITH IT? UTS STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION TREASURER CARISSE MARTIS GIVES YOU THE RUNDOWN ON WHY YOU PAY THAT EXTRA FEE AND WHERE IT GOES. Many students have asked me “What is SSAF?” and “Where does it go?” So here’s a rundown to provide some clarification. The Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) is a payment made by students that goes towards providing facilities and non-academic services to students. SSAF first originated in 2012, when the Federal Government passed legislation that allowed universities to charge a compulsory fee. The many areas that SSAF can contribute towards includes; food services, sports and recreational activities, counselling, financial advice, student advocacy and legal services. Essentially, SSAF helps to make your university experience more pleasant, enjoyable and easier for you. We here at the UTS Students’ Association (UTSSA) work hard to make sure that SSAF money is put towards things that benefit the majority of students in both the long and short term. The UTSSA is a representative body, run entirely for students by students. We support issues that affect students and those about which students are passionate. If you have any suggestions on what would make your university experience more enjoyable, whether it be academic-based or involving the rest of university, or life in general, please let us know – we would love to hear from you! Currently, UTSSA SSAF-funded services include: • Improving and extending the operation of the not-for-profit second-hand bookstore. • Employing independent advocacy caseworkers, assisting with all forms of student representation. • Supporting UTS Collectives that concentrate on key areas for students, such as the Wom*ns Collective, Disability Collective and the Enviro Collective. • Funding equity which supports 10 equity departments
10 / NEWS
• • •
including education, welfare, Indigenous, ethno-cultural, queer and more. Free independent legal services for students. Providing free breakfasts to students at the sustainable pop-up breakfast café, the Bluebird Brekkie Bar. Supporting the production and expansion of Vertigo, your magazine run by students, for students.
Other services ensured by SSAF: • Providing 10% discount across all ActivateUTS food, beverage and retail outlets. • Maintaining and expanding student clubs and collectives. • Funding sports, social clubs and general recreation at UTS. So what was UTS like before SSAF was introduced? Well, in a nutshell, not a very exciting or fun place. That payment you make in addition to your university fees has had a huge impact on the standard and quality of university life at UTS, and has created new avenues and opportunities for all students. Without SSAF, many of these essential services would not exist. For general questions, you can contact the UTSSA at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about SSAF or the UTS Students’ Association, you can reach me at email@example.com
LET’S BE FRANK:
WHAT ARE WE BUILDING? THE AT TIMES RATHER EXTRAVAGANT UTS MASTER BUILDING PLAN HAS DRAWN CRITICISM FROM A LOT OF STUDENTS IN THE FACE OF INCREASED STAFF CASUALISATION AND OTHER COST CUTTING. LACHLAN BENNETT LOOKS AT THE POSITIVES THE NEW BUILDINGS COULD BRING AND WHAT THEY COULD DO FOR THE FUTURE OF UTS. There’s a joke going around about the soon to be completed Dr Chau Chak Wing Building. They say UTS management only commissioned Frank Gehry because he’s the only architect capable of designing a building so bizarre, it would finally take attention away from Sydney’s ugliest building: the UTS Tower. Whatever the reason, the construction of such an extravagant building — along with several similarly lavish structures included in the $1 billion Campus Master Plan — has perturbed some members of the student political class. Students have complained during elections, at rallies and more recently, at the Students’ Association open assembly, where one student representative decried management’s thirst for “more and more flashy architecture.” It’s easy to point the finger at Gehry’s shiny palace of architectural genius, especially when it looks more like a chocolate castle left to melt in the sun. After all, we live in an age where quality tertiary education is increasingly under threat. Between funding cuts and greater intakes and competition, universities like UTS are increasingly casualising their workforce. It’s touted as improving flexibility, but the bottom line is, casualisation is a hell of a lot more economically viable (never mind that it’s detrimental to our education and imposes dire working conditions on staff). So that leaves the question: why is money being thrown at extravagant buildings instead of being spent on minimising casualisation? The fact is, while academics are the most important aspect of any university, they are also the most expensive. Although the budget for Gehry’s paper bag building has already blown from $150 to $180 million as of November 2012, its cost pales in comparison to the annual cost of UTS employees.
In 2012, $350 million was spent on employee related expenses alone. $177 million of that was spent on academic staff with the rest going to UTS office workers, maintenance staff and other employees. It follows that the yearly wages of academic staff is equivalent to building world class facilities that will serve students for decades to come. The idea that casualisation and associated funding problems would be alleviated by a no frills incarnation of the Campus Master Plan is ludicrous. The problems faced by universities today arise from changes in the nature and purpose of tertiary education, not frivolous accounting. What’s more, doing the master plan on the cheap would see UTS miss out on the chance to build something spectacular to inspire the countless architects and design students it churns out each year. In a city that is increasingly choked by high rise developments designed only to maximise returns and capitalise on harbor views, UTS understands the importance of architecture and the value of integrating art in everyday life. If we have learnt anything from the failings of Modernist and Brutalist architecture, it’s that people are shaped by the spaces they inhabit. In the words of academic Simon Malpas, “the environments in which they live, travel and work can deeply affect how people view themselves, relate to each other and experience the world.” Is it not in a university’s best interests to provide a learning environment that encourages imagination and endeavour? And as a university that educates the architects and designers of tomorrow, should we not be at the forefront of innovative design?
NEWS / 11
ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
MIND THE GAP:
PUBLIC TRANSPORT FOR ALL THE LACK OF URGENCY IN THE NSW GOVERNMENT’S PLAN TO IMPROVE TRANSPORT ACCESSIBILITY HAS RAISED QUESTIONS ABOUT DELIBERATE OVERSIGHT FOR THE SAKE OF SAVING MONEY. RACHEL WORSLEY INVESTIGATES. “I think they’ve forgotten me again,” says Pauline David. Her wheelchair is perched on the edge of the floor. The distance between platform and train is bridged by a small gap, but just large enough to trap a wheelchair. The train remains standing at platform twenty-one of Central station, and the doors gape open. But nobody comes. Not until one of her friends steps off the train and seeks the platform guard’s help to lay a ramp across the gap. “They know I was on the train, that’s why they didn’t move,” says Ms David. But the guard disagrees, and argues with her. They eventually settled that there was a call from Fairfield station, and someone forgot to let him know. “Miscommunication. That’s not the first time,” says David as she rolls off the ramp, towards the lifts.
David is wheelchair bound because she has spina bifida, a spinal cord defect that leaves her unable to walk. Her biggest pet peeves on public transport are unhelpful staff and the lack of lifts. The latter forced her to take a wheelchair accessible taxi just to get her to the other platform of Fairfield Station as the lifts are currently out of action for two months. “Frankly, there [have] been quite a few major oversights from transport planning from this government and their requirements for Easy Access,” said Alex Dennis, a disability rights campaigner for community advocacy group Transport For All NSW. “It is the government purely ignoring [problems] based on the financial constraints ... we have to take into account all parties of the community.” But according to Transport for NSW, the government body responsible for public transport infrastructure and services, they were taking the disabled community into account. The Transport for NSW Disability Action Plan contains 150 actions for improvement to be carried out over a five year period from 2012-2017. This includes better disability awareness and customer service training for staff, as well as rolling out a $770 million Transport Access Program over four years to upgrade stations with modern and accessible infrastructure such as lifts. But David has questioned where the group’s priorities lie. “Look at Circular Quay for instance, one of the busiest stations in Sydney and they have a couple of lifts that can only fit one wheelchair...where is the money to upgrade the lifts there?” said David.
12 / NEWS
Poor planning of accessible services even marred the NSW Government’s latest transport project, the Inner West Light Rail extension that opened in late March. The extension failed to install lifts at busy stations such as Dulwich Hill and Lewisham, which are essential for commuters with disabilities or mobility restrictions nearby. Dennis said these oversights are particularly embarrassing for the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, having “personally delayed construction of the extension” and failing to undertake further transport planning that would have picked up the oversights. Berejiklian was unavailable for comment, but a spokesperson for Transport for NSW said that any new development at these stations is subject to “evidence-based criteria including the needs and demographics of customers who use the location ... and the accessibility of other transport interchanges and facilities.”
Dennis believes the real issue isn’t a lack of planning but is to do with cost.
For Abdel Karim Hamzeh however, these criteria seem at odds with his job as a platform guard at Flemington Station, a popular stop for Paddy’s Markets. He had to carry a man in a wheelchair up several flights of stairs due to a lack of lifts. “I’ve had two hernia operations,” he said, partly because of the toll it took on him. It wasn’t until last August that Berejiklian announced that Flemington station would get new lifts as part of a major upgrade.
“We’re looking at early May [for the Minister to spend a day in a wheelchair],” said Ms David. “I feel that as long as she doesn’t understand what it’s like to be disabled and in a wheelchair, she won’t prioritise making services better for us.”
“It costs up to $100 million for a good lift, including redesigning the station to fit the lift in. Again, I can understand the costs but when it comes to those with disabilities, public transport can be the only way to get around. Without having these things put in place, they can’t actually go out and be proactive in the community, have a job, basically have a social life,” he said. David thinks empathy may be the answer. She launched a petition on change.org in January demanding Berejiklian spend a day in a wheelchair navigating the train network. Within two weeks, the petition amassed 15,000 signatures and reached 20,000 signatures in April.
NEWS / 13
14 / NEWS
ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
LOVE THEM OR LOATHE THEM, CATS ARE HERE TO STAY. THE DOMESTIC CAT (FELIS CATUS OR FELIS SILVESTRIS CATUS) IS A SMALL, USUALLY FURRY, DOMESTICATED AND CARNIVOROUS MAMMAL. APPROXIMATELY ONE-THIRD OF CAT OWNERS THINK THEIR PETS ARE ABLE TO READ THEIR MINDS. NICOLA PARISE, OUR RESIDENT CAT LADY, CHATTED WITH HER CAT FELIX FOR A BIT OF INSIGHT. N: The humble cat is a bit of an enigma. Tell us, what occupies your thoughts most of the time? F: Look, to be honest, I don’t really care about anything but food. Like 90% of the time I’m like, “Feedme. Feedme. FEEDME!” The other 10% I’m thinking of ways to conquer the universe. N: It’s a debate that has raged for centuries. Cat or dog? F: Cats are capable of making around 100 sounds. Dogs can only make ten. We are the only animal that can make continuous noise. We can purr forever – literally. Need I say more? I mean there’s also the cleanliness thing. Dogs actually eat their own shit. We, on the other hand, spend nearly a third of our waking hours cleaning ourselves. I think it’s pretty clear who wins. N: Who would win in a fight, Grumpy Cat or Doge? F: Seriously? Are you seriously asking me that question? It’s a no brainer really. Doge is just a few Bachs short of a symphony. N: How do you keep your svelte physique? F: As a cat you spend most of your time eating, sleeping or sitting. It can be easy to pile on the pounds. Take Himmy, a
16 / CULTURE
Tabby from Queensland — the fattest cat ever recorded. He weighed nearly 21kg and died at the age of ten. Google him. He was such a whopper! I, however, am quite the athletic feline. I like to go on runs down the street; I can get up to speeds of 49km/hr. Not bad, hey? N: Can cats get depressed? F: Cats can get depressed, legit. My sister, Fluffy, always needed to have a happy pheromones air freshener around. N: What’s something most people don’t know about cats? F: A group of cats is called a clowder — FACT. A cat’s nose pad is ridged with a unique pattern, just like the fingerprint of a human – FACT. Cats are lactose intolerant — FACT. Author’s Note: This page was brought to (inflicted on) you by one proud Ailurophilic (that’s Greek for cat lurver). My grandma was a cat breeder — it’s in my blood. #sorrynotsorry
A BRIEF HISTORY OF:
THE CAFÉ WHERE ELSE BUT THE CAFÉ CAN WE PEOPLE-WATCH UNDETECTED, CATCH UP WITH FRIENDS, OR BECOME ABSORBED IN OUR LATEST READING PROJECT? WHERE ELSE CAN WE SIP STRANGELY COLOURED JUICES FROM RECYCLED GLASS JARS AND OBSERVE A LOCAL HIPSTER AT EASE IN ITS NATURAL HABITAT? THE CAFÉ IS WITHOUT A DOUBT, THE SOCIAL AND CULTURAL HUB OF THE 21ST CENTURY, BUT WHEN AND WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN? COURTENAY TURNER LOOKS AT THE ORIGINS OF THE HUMBLE CAFÉ. Believe it or not, cafés – or coffeehouses as they were once known – date back to 14th century Turkey. The first coffeehouse, Kiva Han, was opened in the Tahtakale district, where men and women would go to drink aromatic cups of the popular local brew, and engage with the flourishing social scene. Find that hard to imagine? Let me paint a picture for you: the room is dimly lit and smoke hangs in the air. In the far right corner, two men are hunched over a game of chess, neither of them moving except to reach blindly for his scalding hot cup. In another corner, an elderly man is perched on a wooden table, reciting poetry and songs and stories to anyone who will listen. Another group, the loudest of them all, passionately discusses literature and politics and the music of the day. It’s a romantic picture, isn’t it? And not a whole lot has changed. Sure, we’ve switched chess for Instagram and perhaps given poetry the flick, but I think we can agree that cafés will always be a darn good site for social lubrication. Fast-forward to 1615: the magical coffee bean has arrived on the shores of Venice and is followed by Italy’s first coffeehouse. France was next to join in on the fun, easily making a name for itself in global café culture. Modern day tourist attractions Les Deux Magots and Café Le Procope were once the favoured haunts of writers, poets, socialites and intellectuals, such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and it’s easy to see why: where coffee and soft, buttery pastries are involved, there will be people – and lots of ‘em!
By 1652, the humble café had evolved from its modest beginnings to conquer the bustling streets of London. It was there that men, and only men, would pay a penny at the bar for access to these sacred hubs of social and cultural interaction. News was spread, opinions were given, gossip let loose. Without Facebook, Twitter and the World Wide Web, our 17th century predecessors had to engage in face-to-face conversations to discover the word on the street! Not only were cafés important places of social interaction, they also provided the means by which information could be uncovered and shared. So how does contemporary Australian café culture fit in with all of this? Almost seven centuries later, has much really changed? While we may not pay a penny to enter these fine establishments, nor subject others to outbursts of song or poetry recitals, many things have stood the test of time. We still gossip and chat and read and write. We eat and we drink. We gather around mugs of frothy coffee and pots of steaming tea. If anything, the café lures us out of our homes and encourages us to engage with friends on common ground. It is the study room, the psychologist’s office and the library all rolled into one. But despite its role as the social playground of contemporary Australia, perhaps we still have a thing or two to learn from the past. Why not try and enjoy our food without having to affirm its existence on our Instagram feeds? Why not engage in a little more conversation with our fellow human, even though we might not know them? And how about we keep our smartphones safely tucked away without reaching for them the minute conversation wanes? Let’s make like the Turkish (minus the 14th century dress) and dust off the old chess board, engage in some hearty discussion, or even tell a story or two. Go on, I dare you!
CULTURE / 17
ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
MODERN DAY SLAVERY CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, SLAVERY WAS NEVER ABOLISHED. IN FACT, THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE ENSLAVED TODAY THAN AT ANY OTHER POINT IN HISTORY. THE SALE OF HUMANS INTO SLAVERY IS ONE OF THE MOST PROFITABLE INDUSTRIES WORLDWIDE, GENERATING US$32 BILLION ANNUALLY. JULIAN VAN DER ZEE EXPLORES THE STATE OF SLAVERY IN AUSTRALIA TODAY. In 2006, my hometown of Faulconbridge was rattled by allegations of slave labour at the local Indian restaurant. When the case went to court, we heard that an Indian migrant had worked 14-hour shifts from 9:30am to 11:30pm, seven days a week, over a period of six weeks. His passport was confiscated on arrival and he was housed in a shed in the backyard of the restaurant. On one occasion, the man consumed poison for which he was only given one working day off.1 The International Labour Organisation estimates that around 21 million people worldwide are in forced labour, with more than half that number located in the Asia-Pacific region. Less conservative approximations by the Global Slavery Index place the number at closer to 29.8 million. Beau Neilson, Fundraising and Public Relations Coordinator at Anti-Slavery Australia, claims that although the slave trade is larger than it has ever been in human history, common understanding of the issue is quite poor. “I think there’s a whole lot of denial and disbelief.” Neilson explains that when she meets people and starts talking about her line of work, reactions are often similar: “People like the idea of trafficking being an overseas issue and find it hard to face that it [may be] in their neighbourhood… it makes some feel guilty and complicit.”
Sex trafficking remains the most publically discussed form of modern slavery in Australia. A front-page investigation by The Sun Herald recently highlighted the issue, detailing a student visa scam that trapped Asian women in an illegal brothel network. Organisations such as Anti-Slavery try to raise awareness of the variety of forms of forced labour; from the hospitality, agricultural or construction industries, to forced marriage and cases of servitude – sexual or otherwise – in private dwellings.
Last month, the Federal Government granted Anti-Slavery $360,000 for the next three years to continue their work against Australian incidents. Anti-Slavery was one of four NGOs to receive the support. Other organisations included the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), Project Respect and the Scarlet Alliance. Anti-Slavery primarily operates as a legal service for trafficking and slavery survivors. This includes matters incidental to survivors’ experiences such as recovering unpaid income. Neilson says the small team may be working on up to “70 cases at any one time.”
1. One of the main points of dispute in the case was whether there was sufficient evidence that the labour was “forced”. Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict which acquitted the accused of the “trafficking in persons” charge. The accused was forced to pay salary arrears to the complainant, as well as an additional $18,200 in penalties into Commonwealth revenue. www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tcb/1-20/tcb005.html 18 / CULTURE
Anti-Slavery has launched an e-learning training program on their website to educate frontline workers including teachers, social workers, lawyers and health care professionals. The program is designed to help better identify potential victims of trafficking and subsequent avenues for referral. “It’s the first of its kind in Australia,” says Neilson. “It’s very exciting for us.”
While public understanding of modern slavery in Australia may continue to lag, there are strong suggestions that government awareness of the issue is improving. This is indicated by legislative amendments made in early 2013, which made forced labour and forced marriage standalone offences. Amendments have also made it easier for survivors to receive compensation.
Another anti-slavery organisation working in the Australian space is Not For Sale, led by Jono Hirt. Acknowledging that the root cause of forced labour is economic disparity, Not For Sale investigates the supply-chains of companies around the world to determine which companies are using forced labor. “There’s a metaphor that we come back to,” says Hirt. “Imagine there’s a river and there are people flailing around in the river drowning. One approach is to get people out of the river and that’s compassionate and important, we need people doing that. What we’re trying to do is walk upstream and see why people are falling in in the first place.” Not For Sale encourages consumers to do more than boycott companies failing in their ethical duties to protect supplychain workers and instead ‘buy-cot’ them. This form of protest proactively supports competitors who are performing ethically. From there, says Hirt, “the market will do the rest.” Last year Not For Sale published the Australian Fashion Report, which assessed businesses in the garment industry on a number of criteria that include their policies (their sourcing methods, for example); traceability and transparency (the company’s knowledge of its own supplychain); monitoring and training (mechanisms of identifying slave labour); and worker’s rights. In terms of overall ratings, David Jones, Supré and Lacoste were among the worst offenders, while smaller ethical organisations like Etiko and 3 Fish performed best.
However, The Trafficking in Persons Report 2013 – published by the US Department of State – issued a number of recommendations for Australia. Increasing focus on forms of labour trafficking (as opposed to just sex-trafficking), continuing to train frontline workers to recognise trafficking victims, proactively identifying victims among vulnerable groups (in particular when entering the country), ensuring social services are present alongside law enforcement when interviewing trafficking victims, and taking a leading role in promoting other countries in the Asia Pacific region were some of those recommendations the report made. With much improvement to be made and with so many organisations working within Australia, there has never been a better time to get involved in the cause.
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ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
PLasTic kNiFe PLASTIC KNIFE IS A ZINE STARTED IN 2007 BY AN ANONYMOUS MELBOURNE-BASED MAKER. OTHER THAN THAT, THERE ISN’T A LOT ON THE INTERNET ABOUT THE ZINE (OR ITS CREATOR). THAT’S WHY ANDY HUANG WAS PRETTY SURPRISED – AND EXCITED – WHEN PLASTIC KNIFE, THE ZINEMAKER, AGREED TO AN INTERVIEW AND WAS GAME TO DO IT THROUGH THE POST. THE FOLLOWING IS TRANSCRIBED FROM LETTERS EXCHANGED BETWEEN ANDY AND PLASTIC KNIFE.
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You’re sort of a legend in the zine world, so you’ve been on the scene for quite a while… How has the zine (sub)culture changed – if it has at all – from the time you started to now? The first zines I encountered were music zines in the early 1990’s, picked up around Melbourne at Polyester Books, Augo-go, Missing Link, and at shows at The Punters Club. Often they were A3-folded, black-and-white zines talking about The Meanies. A lot of that music writing has gone online now [and] you can link to songs and video clips, and have a deeper understanding of what the zine was excited about in the first place. I seem to be attracted to zines that play with the zine form. I’ve put out zines that are wrapped around metrelong sticks, stuffed inside bottles that you have to smash if you want to read them, zines that come packaged inside enormous cardboard boxes. I find if I work to the strengths of the medium that [the] zines [that] exist within my zines are the best. It is impossible to replicate a zine wrapped around a metre-long stick on the internet. How were you introduced to zines and what is it that keeps you making them? An early zine memory of mine is going to the launch of an issue of Woozy at The Punters Club in Melbourne. I remember walking into the pub and being confronted by a huge table full of zines and being rather excited. There were all kinds of strange bands playing that night and I remember being confused as to why there was such a small crowd when to me, this was the centre of the universe. At one point, one of the bands thanked the entire audience for coming up to the show – by name! They pointed to everyone in the audience and said, “Thanks to John, thanks to Sally, thanks to Iain”, and when they got to me and my friend, they said, “Thanks to the newcomers.” And I was sold. I think I keep coming back because there is actually no limit to what can be done with a single piece of A4 paper. Each issue, I use it slightly differently and have nowhere near exhausted my ideas yet. Plastic Knife could be thought of as a collection of short stories, or bits of poetry, or even random musings… How would you describe the zine, and how much of it is autobiographical? I think of the writing in Plastic Knife as short stories – very short stories. And then there is often a visual component to the zine too. The current issue I am working on [is] a split zine with another Melbourne zine, where all the text will be by Plastic Knife and all the visuals by the other zine. I like to approach it differently each issue. There is one autobiographic piece in an upcoming issue, but most of my other zine work is autobiographical so I find Plastic Knife [is] a place where I can do something different to my usual autobiographical writing. And it’s a nice escape from my
other zines. Maybe a fully autobiographical issue of Plastic Knife could happen in the future – yes, I like the sound of that! Over the years, you’ve done some pretty interesting/ cool/awesome things with Plastic Knife: experimenting with taping a plastic knife on the cover; to split zines and top-of-the-mountain-at-midnight-launches… So what are some of the experiences – or stories – that have really stuck out for you? One of the things I’ve been really enjoying through my zines is working on split zines with people whose work I really love. I worked on a split zine with a zine called Pony For Now from Canberra for the Melbourne Fringe Festival last year, and worked with Vanessa Berry for the Melbourne Fringe too. I published a Plastic Knife/YOU split issue, as well as a Plastic Knife/Black Pain Gold Wine split zine. It’s just really cool to be able to say to someone you like their work, and you’d like to make a split zine with them. Kind of like if you were a fan of the Rolling Stones and just called up Mick Jagger and said you fancied writing a song together. Right Now, I’m working on a split Plastic Knife/From Here to There issue, as well as a split with a great zine from Sydney called Piss Factory, and that will hopefully be a split 7” record, recorded by both zines. Tell us about your latest issue, what’s it about? I launched the latest issue last week at Sticky [Institute]. It is actually Plastic Knife #10 but it has been released about a month after Plastic Knife #11 was launched at The Tote Hotel, as part of Sticky’s The Festival of the Photocopier 2014. Plastic Knife #11 is a collection of songs – the lyrics all taken from stories that appear in Plastic Knife #10. Issue 10 is actually all in French but the songs are sung in English in Plastic Knife #11. I did perform one of the songs in French at the launch of Plastic Knife #10 though. It all sounds so complicated, I know, but really you can do what you want with a zine. It’s really just me and my project, so I can do whatever the hell I like. There’s not a lot about you on the internet… was there a reason you made it kind of hard to find you? I guess what I’m asking is, why the anonymity? I started making zines twenty years ago this year. The first zines I ever made were all anonymous so then to ‘come out’ in later zines I made felt like I was selling the earlier zines out somewhat. As the years have rolled by, people have seemed to become more and more obsessed with making themselves as contactable as possible. I don’t have a website, I’m not on Facebook, I don’t have a Twitter account. Zines are my medium and if you are interested in what I’m up to and what I’m thinking, then the only way to find out is through the zines and I like that. I like that the zines are given that level of respect.
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ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
LIVING WITH A
MISUNDERSTOOD MENTAL ILLNESS FOR FAR TOO LONG, STIGMAS HAVE STIFLED THOSE SUFFERING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS. IT’S TIME WE PICKED UP OUR GAME. VERONICA SIMS DISCUSSES HER EXPERIENCES WITH MENTAL ILLNESS. Trigger warning: this article discusses suicide. It’s a common assumption that anyone with a mental illness is a crazy person; one voice in their head away from setting fire to the building that you are also in. With this kind of stigma and misinformation, mental illness continues to be shrouded in a cloud of public ignorance. In the past five or more years, notable organisations such as Beyond Blue and days such as R U OK? have helped spread awareness of depression, particularly common in youth. However, the stigma is still strong, and lack of awareness is just as rampant as chlamydia is in most residential colleges at the University of Sydney (jokes). I have anxiety. That doesn’t sound like much. Most people assume it just means I get stressed a little easier and avoid me during the last two weeks of uni because I will be highly strung. I’m not saying that’s necessarily wrong; I’m often highly strung during those times. But there is more to it. The reality for most people with anxiety involves the usual symptoms: nausea, loss of appetite (a lot of appetite), sweating, shaking, wooziness, fainting, and becoming avoidant and an emotional wreck as the mind tries to identify the immediate threat or danger. This can lead to panic attacks, and has a very close relationship to depression and substance abuse. Anxiety
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causes so much more than just stress. It’s the starting blocks of a full mental breakdown if undiagnosed and left untreated. Back in 2008, The Age published an article in which mental health experts declared a state of emergency around youth mental health in Australia. Quoting the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the article revealed that, “26% of people aged 16 to 24 – about 650,000 people – suffered mental illnesses last year .” That’s a lot of people. Some may think I take a comfort in knowing I’m not alone. I don’t, though. If anything, it makes me more concerned: a state of emergency was declared by leading mental health experts six years ago and I only heard about it now, while researching my condition, when it reached a tipping point in my life. I’ve had bulimia from the age of 14 or 15. I have an extremely addictive personality. Most days, I will have an urge to get drunk and/or high. My libido is at a bewildering high compared to that of my friends and particularly my boyfriend. An urge to be stable or feel happy and relaxed is what my brain has associated with things that usually are celebrated in relaxed and appropriate environments: sex can be awesome. Parties with friends and alcohol can be awesome.
Festivals and music on particular drugs can be awesome. Swallowing a pill with a bottle of champagne, by yourself in your parents’ empty living room on a Wednesday morning, is not awesome. When this happened a month ago, I got pretty fucked up. I put my headphones in and danced to a bunch of set tracks on SoundCloud and YouTube. I drove home later (much later) and said nothing when my boyfriend asked me how my day was. When he told me he was too tired for sex after a long day at work, I went and threw up. I was hopeful my stomach would calm down with less acid in it and I might get some kind of a release of endorphins in my brain (which is exactly what your brain does after you spew). That this national state of emergency was declared while I was in high school and I’ve heard nothing about it until my fourth year as an official adult gives me reason for even greater concern. A percentage of you might not even think that my behaviour is that serious. You might think I’m just a young, privileged, self-entitled uni student with an attitude of boo-hoo! Poor me with my tertiary education, financial support from my parents and access to clean drinking water and food. I get that, because this is the perspective I’ve had since developing my disorder and it’s why a lot of people suffer in silence. The stigma encourages this impression, that if you can’t handle what appears to be a very easy life then you are weak and a failure. Of course, admitting to being a so-called failure, ironically, can further develop the disorder. It might keep you from addressing the fact that you should stop waking up with a bong next to your head when you have a lot of shit to do.
Others with my condition are not so lucky. Professor Pat McGorry, one of the leading experts on youth mental health and head of the Orygen Research Centre, suggested at a summit held six years ago that there was a systematic failure in treatment: “I’m not sure the sense of urgency from governments is as great as the need. I don’t think they realise how much investment and political support is needed to address this. Without it I think we’re going to see continuing deterioration. Imagine if there was increased level of heart disease or cancer but the service system was not responding to it; there would be an outcry.” That was six years ago. Six years. At my previous university, I witnessed a suicide by a boy my age suffering from depression. Nothing was published until three years after the event. It’s time to change the way we think, but even more importantly it’s time to change the way we do things. Changing minds is not enough. Action has to be taken. Even if it’s as simple as asking, “Are you okay? ” on a day that isn’t specifically set aside for raising awareness.
Anxiety comes in various and personalised packages that can be triggered or developed by different lifestyles and events. I’ve never been victim to a traumatic event, my parents love each other, and I have a devoted boyfriend and a circle of friends who love me. But even I have had days where the thought of ending my life seemed really pleasant and peaceful.
If you are suffering from anxiety or any other form of mental illness there is help out there. Check out these sites for more information and assistance: psychology.org.au/publications/tip_sheets/anxiety beyondblue.org.au
I never have because of my support networks. The thought of leaving my loved ones behind to handle the grief and pain of losing me is too much for me to proceed.
To read the full article from The Age: theage.com.au/national/mental-illness-ravaging-nationsyouth-20081023-57go.html
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ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
SCIENCE, TECH AND GAMING
TAMING PHANTOMS KRISTEN TROY EXPLORES THE WAYS THAT AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY IS HELPING AMPUTEES TO ALLEVIATE AND OVERCOME PERSISTENT PHANTOM LIMB PAIN. My grandfather was a World War II veteran and amputee. His wooden leg began just above where his right knee should have started. Decades after the land mine devastated his body, he still felt that his leg was there in its entirety. Though the phantom’s presence gradually diminished, it never vanished entirely. Phantom Limb Pain (PLP) is a biological phenomenon where, despite the removal of a limb or organ, perceived physiological sensation of the non-corporeal entity persists. Phantom Limb sufferers often feel that their missing extremity is painful, though itchiness, burning, clenching, tingling, and muscle contraction are also frequently reported. Although its precise cause remains a mystery, PLP is common, with 60-80% of amputees experiencing this surreal condition. Optimising effective and long-term treatment options for PLP is notoriously complex, with tried and tested techniques including spinal cord stimulation, vibration therapy, biofeedback, acupuncture, and hypnosis, among numerous others. There is hope on the horizon however, with the implementation of augmented reality technology (ART) exhibiting strong potential as a pain management strategy. ART involves superimposing computer-generated images upon the technology user’s perception of reality. Previously, mirror therapy has been used successfully as an old-school virtual reality treatment to reflect an amputee’s opposite and intact limb in place of the missing one. Though effectual, this technique’s success is limited to one-sided amputees. Swedish researcher Max Ortiz Catalan, of Chalmers University of Technology (shout out, European cousin!), has led his team in an innovative direction of virtual reality research. Catalan utilises electrodes to monitor muscle-based electrical signals, which are then technologically converted into visual arm movements that are superimposed upon the patient’s stump 1. Myoelectric refers to the electric impulses naturally emitted from muscles, which help coordinate muscle contraction/relaxation.
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on-screen. The patient controls the virtual arm in real-time, and in a gaming context, where the patient needs to execute their phantom limb’s movement with exactness and precision to control a racing car. Catalan’s technique aims to promote motor execution in the missing limb. Because the patient’s control of their virtual limb is based upon myoelectric1 pattern recognition, the patient needs to exact their motor intention powerfully to perform or cease a particular action. Catalan proposes that a combination of interconnecting factors related to his treatment could enable pain relief. The availability of visual feedback from the phantom limb could help to trick the brain into believing that the limb is performing its motor commands. Additionally, the treatment helps to reactivate the unused motor area of the patient’s brain, which falls into disuse upon amputation. Catalan and his team are continuing to trial this incredible new technology, with the view of developing a home-friendly training system that patients can use regularly to practise taming their phantoms. This treatment’s potential to offer a renewed sense of bodily autonomy in amputees like my grandfather marks an important milestone on the spectrum of modern medical technology.
SCIENCE, TECH AND GAMING
BLEEDING HEARTS CLUB THE DISCOVERY OF THE HEARTBLEED BUG SCARED THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF A LOT OF COMPANIES THAT THOUGHT THEY WERE OPERATING ON SECURE ONLINE CONNECTIONS. HOW DID WE MISS A HOLE THAT BIG? SAM LANGSHAW INVESTIGATES. There’s a hole in the Internet and it has swallowed all of your personal information. Probably. It’s been called Heartbleed and has been described by Forbes columnist Joseph Steinberg as, “the worst vulnerability found… since commercial traffic began to flow on the Internet.” Oh Nelly.
who discovered the fault would likely go after much bigger targets than using your Facebook password to change your birthday so that everyone writes on your wall on the wrong day. That said, you should change your password on any OpenSSL websites you frequent now that the error has been fixed.
What is “Heartbleed”? Heartbleed is a recently discovered flaw in the web security script OpenSSL. Two-thirds of the websites on the Internet use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to ensure the safety of their users, by encrypting their personal information such as passwords and credit card details. Basically, any webpage that has a lock symbol on the URL bar and begins with ‘https://’ could be affected. Fun fact: the ‘s’ in ‘https’ refers to SSL. The bug is a programming error that was part of an update introduced two years ago. What is essentially a hole in the code allows hackers to eavesdrop and steal the data you want to protect.
What happens now? Governments and companies are trying to discern whether their users’ encrypted information has been exploited, but it’s a hard task seeing as they were vulnerable for so long. At the time of writing, the first arrest due to the Heartbleed error had been made of a 19 year-old Canadian man. He has been accused of hacking into the Canadian Revenue Agency’s website and stealing 900 social security numbers. Disturbing reports have also surfaced that the National Security Agency (NSA) has known about the bug for two years and were exploiting it to access secure information, but these are unconfirmed.
Websites that use OpenSSL and were vulnerable to the attack include Google, Facebook, and Dropbox. Banks were also affected, but to a lesser extent. While the error has now been fixed, its full implications may never be known. The problem existed for two years without it being public knowledge, and it’s almost impossible to know who took advantage of the bug before websites fixed the issue. Why the name and the cute logo? It may sound like the name of your neighbour’s awful heavy metal band, but ‘Heartbleed’ was coined by Codenomicon, a Finnish company who discovered the bug and made the logo in order to raise awareness of it. The name refers to the ‘Heartbeat’ feature of OpenSSL, which allows the server to respond to a request regardless of whether or not it is ‘alive’. What about you? Representatives from Codenomicon have said it’s likely that nearly everyone is affected either directly or indirectly. The sheer amount of websites we use means that more of our personal information is online than ever before. However, the hackers
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ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
SCIENCE, TECH AND GAMING
ESPORTS LEGENDS ESPORTS HAS BECOME A WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON, ATTRACTING MILLIONS OF PLAYERS – AND DOLLARS – TO INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIONS. LACHLAN MACKENZIE SPOKE TO JAMES FU AND ALEX MANISIER OF THE UTS LOLSOC TEAM ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN ESPORTS SCENE AND HOW UTS IS GETTING INVOLVED. League of Legends (LoL) is one of most played online games in the world, with 27 million people logging on every day. Weirdly, statistics don’t exist for how many people play popular sports like soccer, badminton and lacrosse daily, but I’ll go ahead and assume it’s a tad less than that. So why do people still see Esports as a peripheral activity? Theoretically all the community support is there. LoL, Dawn of the Ancients 2 (DotA2) and Call of Duty (CoD) all have huge online communities, and due to the success of online streaming we now have broadcast tournaments offering prize pools of over a million dollars. Still, in Australia the infrastructure for the Esports community is lacking. Alex sees a lack of sponsor interest as one of the biggest problems. “There are very few (or even zero) salaried players in Australia.” The Australian Esports organisations that do support their players provide them with equipment and pay their expenses for tournaments; however, the only way to actually make a profit is to win. Just like any other sport, Esports requires training. For professional LoL teams this often means living together and training for up to 16 hours a day. To sustain this kind of lifestyle you need a steady stream of income, but currently in Australia this just isn’t possible. James points to the problem of gaming still being seen as “childish” or a “waste of time” compared to other sports. Esports players need to perfect their tactics and keep a clear head while playing, and for that they need the focus and drive we idolise in other sportspeople. Still, it’s hard for non-players to appreciate this, and until they do the decision to pursue a career in Esports will continue to be met with scrutiny. That being said, the community that shows up to the tournaments is enthusiastic and passionate. Esports finals almost always fill event halls, and the creators of LoL, Riot Games, have opened up a Sydney office to support the community. Currently, groups at UTS and UNSW are combining their efforts to grow the local LoL community, holding inter- and intra-university tournaments. On 9th and 11th May, teams from both universities competed in the Winter Arena tournament, for a shot at entering the Winter Regional Tournament, which is offering a prize pool of $45,000 and tickets to the World Championship. Both James and Alex believe these tournaments are an important step towards promoting LoL to the wider community. They’ve also experienced an incredibly positive and supportive response from UTS students towards the team. “It’s great to see that uni pride is alive in UTS students, whether it’s for basketball, Quidditch or League of Legends.”
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LoLSoc is a sub-division of the EGG (Electronic Gamers Guild). They run casual games spontaneously and organise tournaments within UTS and with collegiate universities. They’re also experimenting with a seminar series to teach some higher-level strategy. If you want to get involved you can find them at facebook.com/groups/utslolsoc or just come along to an EGG event. For more on the Esports lifestyle, check out Valve’s documentary on professional DotA2 players, Free to Play.
HAVE WE LOST IT? VIRGINITY: COULD IT BE OLD-FASHIONED PRUDISHNESS? ADMIRABLE SELF-PRESERVATION? OR NEITHER? AND WHY ARE WE SO GOSH DARNED EMBARRASSED TO TALK ABOUT IT? ALISON WILLIAMS EXAMINES THE RELEVANCE OF CHERRY-POPPING IN OUR SOCIETY. Full disclosure: I am a virgin. Usually I try not to dwell on that too much, for obvious reasons. I’m not a virgin by choice or lack of desire. I definitely like the idea of sex. I am, however, intrigued as to why, in our sexually liberated society, virginity is often a shameful subject. In some cultures virginity is valued so highly that you can be murdered on your wedding night for lying about it. There are surgeries you can have to “re-virginise” yourself. Scarily, they grow more popular every year. In America, Purity Balls are held for girls as young as five, where father and daughter pledge to protect the daughter’s virginity until marriage. But in Australia, many people think it’s weird if you haven’t had a sexual experience before you reach the end of puberty. This often leaves those of us who are virgins asking ourselves, “Is there something wrong with me?” Or, “What am I doing wrong?” And, “Why is it something that is ‘lost’?” Growing up in a Protestant Christian family and education system, I was given a fairly conservative definition of virginity and why I should apparently protect it. For most of my adolescence, I’ll admit, I bought into the idea that sex was for marriage; you lost your virginity on your wedding night. As I hit my 20s though, my ideas about sexuality in general began to change, and so too did my ideas about virginity.
about each other. About our experiences and feelings and views. I know I am guilty of this. A while back, when a friend told me that she’d slept with her boyfriend, I was shocked. From what she had previously told me about fooling around, I thought she had already lost her virginity. I was not judging her morality. I genuinely thought that if I’d had the experiences she had, I would no longer consider myself a virgin. We had two very different concepts of sex. But we do each other a disservice when we make these assumptions. Our sexuality and the choice to act on it is such a personal matter; our experiences will be as wildly different as our unique personalities. So too will the reasons one has for not having had a sexual experience. At the same time however, by talking about virginity in the negative, we alienate each other. And I’ve discovered that the amount of people in a similar position to me is not as small as I had once assumed. The reality is that many of us have, at one point or another, believed a host of myths about virginity. There has never been unanimous consensus on when exactly virginity is lost, from academics, doctors, or your best friend. Or, if there is even anything to be lost. So if we want to label and categorise virginity, let’s at least avoid assumptions. Just because I am a virgin, does not mean I’m any different from someone who has had sex!
When we talk about sex and sexuality, we assume so much
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ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
GET TO KNOW:
SYDNEY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL OGLING YOUR LITERARY HEROES WILL BE MADE EASY AT SYDNEY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL, WHICH KICKS OFF ON MONDAY, MAY 19 AND RUNS UNTIL SUNDAY, MAY 25. WITH FOLKS LIKE BREAKING BAD’S VINCE GILLIGAN, PULITZER PRIZE WINNER ALICE WALKER, IRVINE WELSH AND 400 MORE TALKING WORDS THIS MONTH, WE THOUGHT WE’D MAKE YOUR LIVES A LITTLE EASIER. SO HERE’S A GUIDE (OF SORTS) TO SWF. AND, WHILE WE’RE AT IT, LET’S GET TO KNOW SOME AWESOME WRITERLY PEOPLE.
Sam Cooney: writer, university lecturer, and editor-in-chief of The Lifted Brow, a publishing company which produces a print magazine every two months, a digital magazine every two weeks, and new and interesting writing and artwork on its website just about every day.
Bits of writerly wisdom you would give to your younger self? Read more, and harder. With every year there are more responsibilities and distractions that interfere with long bouts of reading. Borrow books, steal books, but more importantly: read all the books.
Your favourite first line, and why? Don’t have one! Some of my favourite books have begun slowly and/or unmemorably, while many ultimately disappointing literary works can get going with a bang. I love a first line that reads as though the story began a long time before you were let in.
Which event are you looking forward to most? The event that will be the best of the festival is ‘Three Jerks’ – in which a seedy triad from Western Sydney’s best writers group, Sweatshop, deliver a performance that necessarily subverts the privilege and point of view of the standard SWF ticket-holder.
What excites you about storytelling today? People using new technology to tell stories. Why write a novel when you can make a video game? This is the kind of question all writers should be constantly asking themselves. If they’re wanting to publish a book because they grew up reading books, they are – in some respects – living in the past.
Appearing at: Mixtape Memoirs at the Festival Club on Friday, May 23, and hosting a ‘Getting Published’ workshop on Saturday, May 24. (Also on Friday, June 4 for another Mixtape Memoirs event at the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne). More: @samuelcooney | theliftedbrow.com | thejumbuckisalmostextinct.com
What do you see (or hope to see) in the future of publishing – be it radio, print, or online? Online publishers realising that big slabs of paragraphed text are antithetical to the standard digital experience in which a reader is consciously doing several tasks, and thus the publishing of longreads takes care and savvy. Readers being given more access to the process of book and magazine making, especially in regards to editorial work, so that the written word is viewed less as an end product and more as a collaborative creation.
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A.H. Cayley: writer, co-host and creator of Backchat on FBi 94.5FM, writer and performer for A Rational Fear, and curator and host of Confession Booth at Giant Dwarf. Your favourite first line, and why? I can never go past the first line from Lolita: “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” Firstly, because as a former
student of linguistics I can never pass up a good reference to acoustic phonetics. But secondly, because it sets up the entire book so exquisitely. From the very start, we see the story from the intense perspective of Humbert Humbert, the ultimate unreliable narrator. Despite his evilness, we are immediately and irrevocably under his charm and desire. What excites you about storytelling today? I think this is a generation that needs storytelling more than any other, because we basically have no future. Climate change threatens our very existence but we apparently (particularly on the basis of the 2013 election) can’t take strong action on it until the Boomers die. By then it will be too late. On top of that, there are men in power now claiming one’s right to be a soul-sucking bigot should be respected. Meanwhile the average life expectancy for an Indigenous man is only 69.1 years. We need more than ever to tell our stories while we still have a chance, to share our history while history still exists. What do you see (or hope to see) in the future of publishing – be it radio, print, or online? I think publishing will continue in whatever form is most popular and most profitable, and while I adore the scent of an old book more than I do any lover, I welcome the era of sustainable literature, and the story as essence above all else. As a radio presenter and producer, I think radio stories are now – so many decades on – coming into their own. The immediacy of radio is something else – to be able to broadcast right into someone’s home or car (or through headphones, right into their fucking brain) is a powerful and privileged position to hold. Which event are you looking forward to most? Is it poor form if I say Festival Club on Thursday, May 22? I’m reading that night, sure, but more importantly it’s a night curated by my very dear friend and colleague Eddie Sharp, who always puts on fantastic events. Sydney Story Factory – teaching children the power of storytelling, organised by my Confession Booth partner Matt Roden – is a powerful and valuable organisation, and The Chaser’s Empty Vessel is the kind of shit-talking satire we need right now.
Appearing at: Erotic Fan Fiction at Festival Club on Thursday, May 22. More: @ahcayley | ahcayley.com | Backchat on FBi 94.5, Saturdays at 11am | Confession Booth at Giant Dwarf Ben Jenkins: I’m a writer who lives in Sydney. I co-created Story Club with a mate at uni, and now we do it at Giant Dwarf theatre and on ABC2. I’m also a writer and presenter on The Checkout, where my job primarily involves dressing in embarrassing costumes to make a point about consumer affairs. Your favourite first line, and why? It mightn’t be my favourite, but, “To begin at the beginning...” from Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood is the first that comes to mind. It’s really pretty but also kind of silly – so, that’s nice. What excites you about storytelling today? I came into storytelling from a stand-up background, so I get really excited when someone who wouldn’t ever dream of doing comedy completely kills it in the storytelling format. I think there’s something freeing and safe about it for people. What do you see (or hope to see) in the future of publishing – be it radio, print, or online? People getting paid more often and more money for their writing. Bits of writerly wisdom you would give to your younger self? Stop writing that. You’re just rewriting The Catcher In The Rye and it’s terrible. Which event are you looking forward to most? I want to hear Vince Gilligan talk so bad. I’m also pretty keen to hear Malcolm Fraser. The Festival Club nights are always a lot of boozy fun, too. Appearing at: Story Club at Festival Club on Saturday, May 24. More: @bencjenkins | storyclub.com.au
Bits of writerly wisdom you would give to your younger self? Shut up: you don’t know everything. Believe in yourself: you know everything.
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ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
RUNS IN THE FAMILY LAW BENJAMIN AND MICHELLE LAW ARE MEGA-TALENTED WRITERS, SO IT SEEMS ONLY NATURAL THEY’D PUT THEIR SUPERBRAINS TOGETHER AND CO-AUTHOR SH*T ASIAN MOTHERS SAY, A BOOK BORN OUT OF GENUINE LOVE AND AFFECTION. AHEAD OF THEIR SYDNEY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL APPEARANCE, RACHEL EDDIE AND ANDY HUANG ASKED THE LITERARY SIBLINGS ABOUT GROWING UP, WRITING, AND WORKING TOGETHER—WITHOUT DRIVING EACH OTHER NUTS. A: You’re going to be speaking about ‘Literary Friendships’ at SWF so let’s start with Sh*t Asian Mothers Say, which you guys co-wrote. How did you find the experience? Has it scarred you forever, or is this something you’re likely to do again, either together or with someone else? M: It was great working together! Because Ben moved last year and we’re not living in the same city [Brisbane] anymore, I rarely see him in person, so it was nice to have an excuse to hang out more. I don’t know if Ben and I will be writing another book together anytime soon, but I wouldn’t mind coauthoring a book with someone in the future. I’d have to know them well to collaborate with them though; it’s pretty rare to find someone whose work you understand enough to embark on a project together. B: Michelle and I have worked together before, developing stuff for television, plus we’re both freelancers so we get each other’s work rhythms. It just works. We’ve got the same sense of humour – i.e. fucked – so we usually know when we’re hitting the mark or not. When you’re able to make your sister bend
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over laughing, and she can do the same to you, you know you’re hitting your mark. Siblings tend to work together well. A: Collaborating with someone you know, love and respect can be really enjoyable, but it can also be the absolute worst! Having made it out of this process without killing each other, what was it that worked for you, and what would you recommend we avoid? M: I think it helped that we lived interstate and weren’t constantly at each other’s throats. Ben and I work best when we’re alone and can send edits to each other via email, which is exactly what we did. We did have several days working intensively in my apartment during a heat wave and I don’t have air conditioning, so I definitely don’t recommend that. B: Yeah, we actually did go crazy writing this book, but as Michelle says, that was more to do with the weather than each other. A good third of this book was written over a deliriously hot summer weekend in Brisbane, when I was up visiting for work. We really wanted to nail some deadlines, but Michelle’s
apartment really traps the heat, so we were both losing our minds and just grunting and sweating through our underwear. Michelle got so delirious. And because she’s studied comedy improv she started getting up and saying really inappropriate, racist, disrespectful shit in some really horrible characters’ voices. And I was like, “This is gold! Don’t stop!” Then we reigned it back from there. Moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to actually go batshit insane. A: You’re both writers, both incredibly successful… Did this come about naturally: that both of you ended up as writers? Did one influence the other? M: It came about pretty naturally. We were both the bookworms in the family. I read so much I got glasses in fourth grade and I was always making up stories, either to entertain myself or as a cathartic thing. But I never saw writing as a viable career option because I’d never heard of a young person being a writer. The turning point for me was when I got a story published in Growing up Asian in Australia alongside Ben, who was studying writing at uni and was offered a book deal, and I realised that writing was something you could actually do as a profession. B: I’m not really sure I influence Michelle necessarily. Our reading tastes have crossover, but I’m far more into 20th century American fiction, whereas she’s more into British classics and the Bronte sisters. Our family was always big into reading, but we’re probably the most similar when it comes to the siblings – we just read a hell of a lot. I mainly got into writing from reading magazines. R: We were curious about how you navigated your teens and sexuality with a mum who appears to be protective and have quite conservative views? M: I didn’t really go through a teenage phase because I wasn’t allowed to go to most parties or hang out with people after dark, and I still haven’t really experienced that, so one day when
I’m in my forties you’ll probably find me passed out in a gutter somewhere, high on ecstasy and covered in my own filth. B: Michelle’s been covered in her own filth before, but that’s probably more been from a combination of food poisoning and lactose intolerance. But we should clarify that Sh*t Asian Mothers Say isn’t really about our mother per se, but a whole lot of Asian mothers. Our mum is probably least like most Asian mothers in that she’s pretty liberal and open-minded when it comes to sex and sexuality. For starters, she and I co-write a sex advice column for The Lifted Brow. A lot of readers refuse to believe our mother isn’t made up. R: Finally, which Pusheen cat describes you best, and which do you think describes your sibling best? M: I love Pusheen cat. Pusheen cat on the scooter (“DGAF BABY”) and Pusheen cat eating a cheeseburger meal are my spirit animals. Pusheen at his laptop or baking Pusheen is Ben. B: Oh, I’ve seen this fucking cat! I was sending out emojis of this cat in China over WeChat a lot – I didn’t know it had a name! There are so many that remind me of Michelle, especially the one that sleeps and eats ramen.
Sh*t Asian Mothers Say is available now as a paperback and e-book. See Benjamin and Michelle Law speak about ‘Literary Friendships’ on Sunday May 25, as part of Sydney Writers Festival.Benjamin Law will also be appearing at: ‘Tim Cope: On the Trail of Genghis Khan’ on Friday May 23; ‘The Politics of Translation’ and ‘People of Letters’ on Saturday May 24; and ‘Strangers in a Strange Land’ on Sunday May 25. For all event details, head to swf.org.au More: benjamin-law.com and michelle-law.com
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ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
THE FUTURE OF AUSTRALIAN PUBLISHING THERE IS NO DENYING THAT THE ACT OF STORYTELLING IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE 21ST CENTURY. WHAT IS NOT SO CLEAR IS THE FUTURE OF THE ONCE INVALUABLE INSTITUTIONS THAT PROVIDE US WITH THESE STORIES. TAYLAH SCHRADER PONDERS THE ROLE OF THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY IN THE DIGITAL AGE. The future of the Australian publishing industry, and the industry more broadly, is caught up in the tension between traditional publishing houses, such as Scholastic and Random House, and online juggernauts such as Amazon and Booktopia. In 2013 alone, 98 UK publishers went out of business as a direct result of the fierce competition between online and physical retailers. An article in The Guardian states, “The majority of the publisher insolvencies related to book businesses, but the figure… also comprises publishers of newspapers, journals, periodicals and directories.” The growing trend towards electronic means of finding information and entertainment is coming at the expense of traditional and economically inefficient publishing models. Jodie Pestana, a UTS Journalism student, aptly describes the modern consumer’s dilemma: “I think there’s something really satisfying about going to a bookshop and buying a book. I love the atmosphere and smell of bookshops… However, websites such as Booktopia are great competition to physical print.” Consumers waver between their desire for a reading experience that appeals to their sense of biblio-nostalgia and one that is more affordable.
“The problem is that they [printed books] are so damned expensive,” said Gisele Nour, a UTS Design student. Her sentiment is one often repeated by members of the bibliophilic community who feel attached to physical bookstores, but are overwhelmed by the substantial price gap. “It’s great buying from bookstores,” said Gisele, “but the fact is that it’s so much more convenient, and cheaper, to buy books online.”
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So the question is, how do we find the balance? The growth of the Internet has enabled the exponential increase in the amount of books now available on the global market, and provides a convenient way for consumers to purchase those books. Online book prices are far lower than those in physical circulation, because there is less labour involved in their production and distribution, and because a digital file can be copied and redistributed almost infinitely. Consumers should, and do, expect to find cheaper prices online than on the shelves of bookstores. So to succeed in our contemporary world, printed books must become cheaper and easier to access. To avoid the monopoly of sites like Amazon.com, Australia’s publishing houses need to get on top of their rising web-based competition. There are success stories, however. The owners of The Turning Page, an independent bookshop in the Blue Mountains, said, “While the loss of any bookshop is sad, there is good anecdotal evidence to support the proposition that many independent bookshops are indeed healthy businesses and are filling an important niche. A key to success is to have a supportive community which appreciates the value that local businesses bring to everyone. Many booksellers find that a great deal of pleasure can be gained from interacting with, and enjoying being a part of, their community, while being able to comfortably keep a roof over their heads. This community engagement helps in dealing with the flight to online sales, and while the demand for e-books appears to
be plateauing at around 25-30% of the total market, it seems clear that publishers are adjusting their approach to the market to properly support as many channels as possible.”
Additionally, sites such as Amazon have made selfpublication a far more accessible option for writers. Mark Coker, founder of the e-book selling platform Smashwords, “has made the prediction that self-published books will account for 50% of e-book sales by 2020,” states an article on PublishingPerspectives.com. Coker predicted that the rate of self-publication would increase primarily as a result of the escalating conflict between authors and publishers, and the exponential growth of the online market. Coker’s optimism about self-publication has a lot to do with our failing press houses rejecting a large percentage of material produced by new authors. They predominantly stock classics and popular titles, out of fear of losing profits to their online competitors, but this is effectively digging them a deeper hole. After being rejected, authors naturally turn to other means of circulating their work. The US independent publisher Cinco Puntos Press is one example of a print publisher adapting to the digital age. They recently used the crowdfunding site Rockethub.com to finance a small print run of Otherwise, My Life is Ordinary, a collection of poetry by co-founder Bobby Byrd, with overwhelming success. “The Internet creates opportunities for discoverability that didn’t exist 20 years ago,” said John Byrd, Bobby’s son. “It gives us one more way of finding this audience that isn’t being reached by the traditional book industry structure.” The Digital Writers Festival (DWF, 13-24 February 2014) made discussions on writing and publishing available via live streaming. Associate Producer Joshua Allen said, “[The festival] does allow for those who work in publishing to become aware of new emerging writers. There are many writers out there who don’t have access to publishing opportunities or writing development, and the DWF is
accessible to everyone as it’s free to view conversations online.” Events such as the DWF are growing, with the Melbourne Writers’ Festival potentially launching its own digital project this year. “Editors and publishers looking to commission new work from writers need to tap into the digital space and connect with writers outside of their local community. There is still a lot of development that can be made in regards to digital technologies, and the publishing industry needs to observe young creatives who are forming innovative projects online,” said Joshua. It cannot be understated, the Internet has become the main format by which the current generation communicates and, in many cases, learns. However, I refuse to believe that its rise should signal the death of the old ways of reading. The system just needs to adapt. Publishing houses cannot remain static, they need to be willing to move with the times and experiment with online mechanisms that are popular and affordable. If they want to survive, they must become better competition for their opponents. As a friend of mine pointed out, e-books have affected the demand for printed books in the same way that escalators influenced the demand for stairs. Both serve purposes that should relate to, not oppose, one another. The development of digital books has not removed the need for printed books, merely changed the way that demand affects their availability. People still choose to use stairs, and people are still going to choose to read printed books. But online publishing and e-books (much like escalators) are on the rise.
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ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
FACE-BLINDNESS: IT’S A THING
IT’S REALLY, REALLY AWKWARD WHEN YOU ARE UNSURE IF YOU KNOW THE PERSON CHEERILY WALKING TOWARD YOU, WAVING. WORSE STILL IS WHEN YOU PRESUME THAT PERSON IS A PAL, WAVE BACK, AND QUICKLY REALISE THEY WERE ACTUALLY HEADED TOWARD THE PERSON BEHIND YOU. SAM SALVIDGE SPEAKS OF HER EXPERIENCES WITH FACE-BLINDNESS. This time I’m walking into a coffee shop when I realise it’s happening again. As I step towards the counter I notice a youngish, brown-haired woman waiting for her order who appears to be smiling at me. I instinctively return a quick grin that I hope can be read either as a warm acknowledgement of a friend or as a general smile directed at no one in particular, a reflection of my beatific inner glow.
are . The condition usually stems from a stroke or head injury, but scientists are finding increasing evidence to suggest that as many as one in 100 people suffer from an inherited form of the disorder. Some are debilitated by the condition, unable to recognise close friends and family after being apart for even five minutes. Others, like me, just find themselves in a constant state of mild anxiety, wondering if the person on the bus waving is looking at them or someone behind them.
I keep walking towards her, hoping desperately that the lightning bolt of facial recognition will hit me. I hazard a quiet hello to play for time that I hope could be misheard as a throat being cleared in case she’s not actually trying to get my attention. She smiles and replies, “Hey.” Now what? Do we know each other? And if so, how? I don’t know. I never know. This everyday human occurrence whereby one person recognises another person and then engages in banter appropriate to their level of intimacy just doesn’t come easily to me. I believe this to be due to a mild case of undiagnosed prosopagnosia, or in layman’s terms, face-blindness. The face-blind can see two eyes, a mouth and a nose but something in their brain stops them from being able to pull their mental file on the person in order to work out who they
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Perhaps the world’s most famous prosopagnosiac, neurologist and popular science author Oliver Sacks, described the trouble face-blindness causes him in his 2010 book The Mind’s Eye. “I avoid conferences, parties, and large gatherings as much as I can, knowing that they will lead to anxiety and embarrassing situations - not only failing to recognise people I know well, but greeting strangers as old friends. Like many prosopagnosiacs, I avoid greeting people by name, lest I use the wrong one, and I
depend on others to save me from egregious social blunders.” At least Sacks’ words are deeply familiar to me.
Prosapognosiacs tend to improvise, relying on other features like haircuts, clothing, body type and gait to recognise others. This of course is fraught with danger, as a friendly, longhaired colleague can turn into a complete stranger with ease by tying back their hair. I experienced great embarrassment a few years ago when a woman with whom I’d had a recent tryst bounded up to show me her radical new hairstyle. “Hi,” I said. “I’m Sam, pleased to meet you.” Our affair did not survive the gaff. Prosopagnosiacs thus spend a lot of time in ‘fake it till you make it’ land – even if you don’t have a clue who they are – always listening out for a personal detail that might help the penny drop. If and when I finally do work out who I am talking to, I suddenly become more effusive. Just as my unknown acquaintance is carefully extracting themselves from the conversation with a “Well, nice to see you”, it suddenly hits me who they are. I begin pulling them right back to the start, asking them about topics we’ve already discussed like, “Hey and how is your family? Is your sister okay after that bike accident?” Or, “Did you end up getting that job in Melbourne?” But the worst, most hideously embarrassing part of being face-blind is saying hello to someone who doesn’t actually know you. Once on the tram home from Docklands after a day at work, a woman waved hello to me. “Hey!” I said, smiling warmly, grabbing the seat across to settle in for a chat. She gave me a weird look as her actual friend smiled and took
the seat next to me. Not only was I shamed beyond belief, I was also boxed in my seat by weary commuters, sitting there blushing until Southern Cross station. “Well,” I think to myself, “at least I got a seat.” I first felt this shame at age five at a muddy car boot sale in England. I was with my Dad when I spotted a collection of Star Wars figurines over at a stand, a few over from the electronics display, in which my Dad was absorbed. After a minute or two admiring a Han Solo in carbonite and developing a deep inner need for the purchase of a Wookie, I turned to run and find Dad to make my case for the purchase of the little guy. I found him in his wellington boots and mackintosh near the baked potato stand, and I grabbed his legs and hugged him to me. I looked up and realised that it was not my dad but someone else’s. I was so overwhelmed that I forgot all about the Wookie. So here I am, back at the coffee shop. The woman and I have said hi to each other, I’ve ordered, and now we’re just standing there waiting. I start playing with my phone, hoping that the whole problem will go away. The stranger seems mildly but perceptibly put off by my frostiness, and I find this troubling, but I don’t know what to say. In a cruel twist of fate our coffees are served up at the same time, and we head out the door; I am right behind her. We walk down the street single file and it’s not until she turns off the road to head into my office that I realise that she’s the new staff member who I actually sit next to, and whom I’ve just snubbed for the last ten minutes. Between phone calls and walk-ins we sit in silence. Presumably, she’s thinking I am a total jerk. And I, feeling awkward, just want to yell out, “I’m really sorry! I’m face-blind! It’s a thing!”
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ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
MIXTAPE: SONICDOTES HATTIE O’DONNELL SPEAKS TO THE BABEN’ ELIZA SARLOS, AND FINDS OUT WHAT TUNES THE AUTHOR OF AMAZING BABES RECOMMENDS FOR AN ENCOUNTER WITH YOUR EARHOLES. What would be the first song you’d put on the stereo for someone you’ve only just met? Maybe The Microphones – ‘I Want Wind To Blow’? It’s such a perfect song that I think if you played it to someone and they knew it, you’d instantly be BFFs forever, high-fiving at a strangely structured, recorded and written song that just works. What song do you think of when you see someone you haven’t seen for a really long time? I have a terrible memory, and the way I overcome this is through attaching music to certain events and people – so it’s impossible to think of just one. Instead I’m going to cop out and give you a song that I think suits that act of leaving: ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ by Bob Dylan. It’s a really beautiful, heart-wrenching, but kind of spiteful song as well, and if I can be a total a-hole about it, go for the demo version, it’ll floor you even harder. What song or album best describes your experience of first moving away from home? Yo La Tengo’s And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out – I discovered it on the t-shirt of a guy at uni who I thought I’d like to be friends with, and went to the record store in Glebe on my way home to listen to the band. I loved them – they sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before. I remember turning them down low on my stereo because I didn’t want my Mum to think I was weird for listening to the drone that starts the album. More than 10 years on, I’m still friends with the guy who wore that t-shirt. What’s the strangest encounter you’ve had living out of home? My first job out of uni was as a publicist for Popfrenzy Records, and pretty much the first job I had was working on the first
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Calvin Johnson tour. Calvin is a total hero – he started K Records, was in Beat Happening, and has been involved in some of my favourite music, so this was a big deal for me. We toured around Australia in what was a pretty intense week or so, and our last stop was Brisbane. The two of us were cruising through Brissie airport and my eyes locked on another hero of mine, Mal Meninga. It was one of those perfect encounters where two worlds collided: a hero from the past strolling past a hero from the present. What five tracks are you really into at the moment? I’m a classic old crony at the moment and am only listening to what are probably my comfort foods of music – but I’ve also been rediscovering a lot of the women that have made the music I love, kind of in line with Amazing Babes. Some classic folkies like Karen Dalton and Vashti Bunyan, the music I grew up with – mostly Tina Turner and a bit of Ike too (my Mum was obsessed), and then some of the women who activated my interest in feminism through their music – a lot of Kathleen Hanna. There are so many more, but I’ve got to throw Queen Bey in there too – I think she’s such a positive role model, and love that she’s ardently incorporating feminism into her image. I also adore that her latest album came out so close to when Beyoncé had Blue Ivy, debunking the myth that mothers exist in this singular world of parenting in those first years of a bub’s life. I can’t pick specific songs from these babes - there are too many great ones! Go find their albums and fall in love! More: @elizasarlos, and amazingbabes-thebook.com
PODCAST THAT PUBLICATION YOU CAN NOW LISTEN TO YOUR FAVOURITE MAGAZINE – ISN’T IT NICE TO HEAR THE VOICE BEHIND THE STORY? ANDY HUANG GIVES US THREE PODCASTS THAT ARE AS EXCELLENT AS THEIR PARENT PUBLICATIONS. Longform: #85 “Tavi Gevinson” Broadcast: March 26, 2014 Longform.org – not to be confused with, although very similar to Longreads.com – is essentially a directory or reading list of long-form pieces. Doesn’t sound like much fun at all, at least on paper (tl;dr, anyone?). But it is! Longform recommends new and classic writing that’s freely available online, and it’s all quality stuff from folks like Wired, New Statesman and The Atlantic. The Longform podcast is a weekly conversation with a nonfiction writer or editor. This episode features Tavi Gevinson, founder and editor-in-chief of Rookie, an online magazine about art, pop culture, music and feminism. In the interview, Tavi talks about how “writing is a little bit like vomiting”, her discovery of Riot Grrrl, and other stuff growing up, such as having a weird bullied-kid complex (like most teens) and being profiled by The New Yorker at thirteen (not like most teens). The New Yorker Fiction: “Gary Shteyngart Reads Lorrie Moore” Broadcast: July 1, 2013 The New Yorker probably needs no introduction, but just in case: it’s a magazine from and about New York that publishes clever cartoons, fiction, political commentaries, essays and satires. It’s been home to the likes of Haruki Murakami, Vladimir Nabokov, Alice Munro and J.D. Salinger. 1. He’s also headlining this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival (yay!) 2. On Vintage Attraction by Charles Blackstone: “If you like pugs, wine, and Greece, Vintage Attraction is for you. It’s so post-post-modern it’s almost pre-modern. I read it on a stone tablet and loved every word.”
For its monthly podcast, The New Yorker invites a celebrity from the literary world to read and discuss a fiction piece taken from the archives. This episode is my favourite because it features two great writers: Lorrie Moore, who writes sad, funny stories about terminal illness and failing relationships, and Gary Shteyngart1 (Super Sad True Love Story, Little Failure: A Memoir), who is just a generally awesome guy. Having blurbed over 150 books, he’s known as a master blurber. The blurbs are always thoughtful and funny2 – Shteyngart’s turned this into an art form, and inspired a Tumblr (shteyngartblurbs) and a quirky 15-minute documentary by Jonathan Ames (Bored To Death). Slate’s Culture Gabfest: “Abstract Nouns” Broadcast: December 25, 2013 Slate is a daily online magazine that’s built itself up to be a go-to source for news, culture and tech. Currently, they have almost 20 podcasts covering a bunch of topics, from sport (Hang Up and Listen) to women’s issues (DoubleX Gabfest) and politics (Political Gabfest). Slate’s Culture Gabfest is hosted by senior Slaters Stephen Metcalfe, Dana Stephens and Julia Turner. Each week, they discuss cultural moments, like Her, normcore and iOS7. There’s a real sense of rapport and humour, which ensures that the show isn’t just a bunch of self-indulgent intellectuals dissecting everything to death.3 Unlike regular episodes, ‘Abstract Nouns’ looks at how we communicate and use language. The Slaters talk about “never-use” words (e.g. “compelling”), how “delight” is a delightful verb, and dialectic bagels. There’s also a Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault anecdote, and a burnt raisin cake analogy in there, too.
3. Ethically, you shouldn’t dissect things that are alive. Also, technically, you can’t dissect things to death if they are already dead, but in this sense “to death” means “in the extreme” as in: “I was bored to death.” So semantically, that sentence makes total sense.
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ISSUE FOUR: ENCOUNTERS
KILLING IT RIGHT NOW:
ON THE BACK OF WINNING AN AWARD FOR BEST LIVE ACT AND A FOUR-SINGLE EP, BLOODS ARE FLYING HIGH. MINA KITSOS SPOKE TO MC – ONE-THIRD OF BLOODS – ABOUT GOLDEN FANG, FUCKING AROUND AND UNDERWATER RECORDINGS. What do you get when you throw three best friends into a room with two guitars, a drum kit and couple ideas? Usually, a lot of noise, some broken windows and a lawsuit filed by your neighbours. That is, unless you’re Sydney trio Bloods, in which case you fiercely learn the shit out of your instruments and write some genre-bending, “cute garage noise” tracks. Since joining forces in 2011, MC, Sweetie and Dirk have picked at ‘90s lo-fi scabs, peddling a new brand of nostalgic pop-punk that has seen them score coveted support slots along bigwig local and international acts, including The Rubens, The Dum Dum Girls and DZ Deathrays. “We’ve all been playing music for a while, independently and together, as well. I’ve been playing in a band since I was twelve-yearsold. I know [guitarist-turned-drummer] Dirk’s been doing the same thing, and [bassist] Sweetie’s been playing violin since she was four-years-old. In one form or another, all three of us have always loved music and wanted to play music. It feels really natural,” says MC.
With electro-pop consuming mainstream airwaves, the revival of hazy, pared-back soundscapes is a bold wave to
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ride on. MC insists the band’s direction is not fuelled by a desire to rebel, but is instead rooted in their punchy, brash influences. “I think the music we write is inherently who we are, and the kind of music that we liked growing up. What we write is basically a combination of the three of us, the three different influences and the three personalities. Also, obviously, a consequence of having to teach ourselves how to play and writing within our means, and what our capabilities are,” MC says. “It was never a calculated thing – it’s just the kind of music we’ve always liked. When we started to write, we weren’t going for any particular genre, it’s just kind of what happened.” For their inaugural EP, the self-proclaimed pizza fanatics assigned the help of producer Liam Judson, who has been hailed for his work with Cloud Control and The Laurels. Having to upgrade their base size to Family wasn’t an issue though, with Judson’s induction proving value-for-money. “He was brilliant, because he actually ended up being like the fourth member of Bloods. When we recorded this EP, we met Liam at this really remote part of the Hunter Valley, in this big old house, and just kind of locked down for a couple of days there and ate, drank and recorded. That setting really helped us relax into recording. [Judson] was just such a gun and really understood what we wanted from the EP, in terms of sounds. It was so easy for me to articulate what I was after, and for him to really nail that.”
While your average EP is a one-track medley, Golden Fang has bared some sonically sharp teeth. ‘Language’ is the fourth track to come out of Bloods’ debut, heralding a middle-finger to female subservience. Filmed by their friend Gus, who tagged along on their recording trip, the video clip for the single was an accident, forged out of candid snippets of rehearsals. “When we were talking about it, we obviously had that conversation – ‘Four singles from an EP? That sounds ridiculous!’ But we didn’t care, we were like ‘Fuck it! We love the song – let’s just put a video clip together for it.’” This unbridled approach is an integral part of Bloods’ process. “We always will do what we want to do and I can’t see that changing. We’ll get better at expressing ourselves, now that we know how to play our instruments a little better and we’re becoming better as a band,” MC says. So how exactly does a creatively restless outfit possibly begin piecing together a song? “It works in two ways. I do a lot of the songwriting on my own in my bedroom. I’ll demo it and send them around to the guys. They’re usually really rough because I’m half asleep and I don’t plug my guitar in. We call them underwater demos because they kind of sound like I’m trapped underwater,” MC giggles. “The other way the songs are born is us trying to jam on a song that isn’t working and just having fun. That’s how so many of our songs were written. It’s been like – ‘Oh let’s just fuck around and be silly.’”
Since MC and Sweetie share main vocal sensibilities, the band have found themselves fending off the girl-band label. MC says she and Sweetie have learned to laugh off the girls-playing-guitar stigma. “For us, we just do what we do. Sweetie and I aren’t essentially girly-girls, but we’re not really playing that part. Sometimes we get written about as a girl band, which is hilarious – poor Dirk. Obviously, he’s not a girl,” she sniggers. “For us, we’re not playing on our sex and our gender. We just want to write good music.” Having been awarded Best Live Act at the FBi SMAC awards after a string of sell-out shows, Bloods have cemented their reputation for getting crowds rowdy. While MC admits the tour circuit isn’t breezy, she maintains that being on stage is well worth sacrificing sleep. “It sounds pretty daggy, but we get a bit lost in what we’re doing. It’s a real drain sometimes, travelling interstate and getting the super early flight ‘cause it’s heaps cheaper, then getting to soundcheck and hauling all your shit to everywhere you need to go. It’s not really a show for us. We’re just enjoying what we do, and being in front of people more than anything.” With a new album on the cards for later this year, MC assures us they aren’t short of material. “Because we write about what we are experiencing in our day to day, we don’t necessarily feel like we have to be incredibly articulate or poetic. We’re pretty straight up people, we’re not trying to be fancy.” Golden Fang EP is out now through SHOCK Records. More at bloods.bandcamp.com/
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BRYCE THOMAS Bryce Thomas is a first year Photography and Situated Media student. Heâ€™s some pre-pubescent kid who has never won anything but he has been heckled by Getty Images. He also makes moving pictures and once had his own film screened in a cinema. Go to his website www.brycethomasphotography.com and follow him on everything, why not get him to take a photo of you too, before he walks in front of a bus.
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SHOWCASE: SHOWCASE: WRITING WRITING
AMERICAN TRAVELS WORDS BY HARRIET MCINERNEY
Diving in the Desert We pitched the tent so well, my lover. Ambidextrous in the dark. The camping ground: so tiny, so filled with hidden noises. Surroundings written through sound and smell. We’ve never done this before, never arrived at a camping ground after dark, never camped, really. We noticed how everyone smelled of dinner and fire and barbeques. I wake in the night and you are shivering. We only had one sleeping bag, and you gave that to me. I cradle around you, and shiver back into dreams: I am underwater, a diver. Part of a team. We are diving through passages, long corridors of tiled walls. There is grout in the cracks, and things growing. It is a submerged shopping mall, off the coast of a small American town. I think it’s Northern California. Locals have taken us in and feed us every night. We seem to be investigating how this shopping mall came to be so far under the sea. Every day we have to do a longer and harder dive. There is something we’re looking for, but I don’t know what. It’s a deep dive, and we don’t have much oxygen. One day someone doesn’t make it back. We lost him on Level 3, near the restrooms. Everyone is sad, but there is also the assumption that what we’re looking for is the most important thing. Inside the mall everything is shrouded in a deep blue light. It floods the building. I realise that on the ceiling
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the electric lights are still working. Then I think about the broken power lines that look like giant skipping ropes in the ocean. Then I know this is a dream. We leave by six a.m. Packing up as the sun rises, an immense blue glow over orange dust. I find a toilet block, and you clean your teeth at the picnic table and spit into the dust. On the way back to the city it’s all Bob Dylan and foggy straight roads. You say, “Did you know deep-sea divers can’t surface immediately? The deepest divers have to wait hours and hours, just underneath the surface. A decompression chamber. I read an interview once. They bring stuff down to read; magazines work the best because the glossy pages stay together. But the guy being interviewed, he said mostly they just kind of float, and think, and drift.” Mamma’s, San Fran We sit at the bar, the four of us. Mamma comes to serve us, slurring the words. We think booze is free – how can she count the money? – but it’s not, and she can. In this tiny room everyone is loud, lights are flashing on TV. This is Chinatown. This is midnight on a Sunday. The only thing we know is that everyone’s calling this woman Mamma. She’s wearing traditional Chinese dress, all gold swirls and heavy makeup – dark eyes, red lips, everything smeared. Her husband is tiny. Well, we think he’s her husband. He is sleeping on the ATM by the door. Leaning his chest over the screen. Protruding lower lip, beanie worn down to his eyebrows. Occasionally, he shuffles over to the bar, to talk to the men and boys in leather jackets.
Boho hipsters are singing karaoke. They are from Portland and stumbled in here on their way home. They want us to sing ballads with them. Some of them are dressed up, but there’s no real theme. They were coming from an engagement party. One couple is dressed as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. When Scott hears I’m Australian he wants me to sing Nick Cave with him, because Zelda doesn’t know any of the words. There is talking and forgetting and more talking. Yelling over noise. The bar is closing suddenly. We’re all out on the street. We’re talking about how to get back to the hostel, and it’s comically German when you want to know what exactly I mean by ‘a few blocks’ – but how far is a few? How many metres is that? The karaoke singers are smoking against the wall, and as we’re leaving Zelda grabs my arms and says, “This is the strangest night you’ll ever have, but only for tonight.” This means a lot and very little all at once. Walking the Ice Lake – If the freeze is quick, if the temperature drops suddenly, the lake can freeze flat and sometimes you can see fish swimming under the ice – Your neighbour tells us this, one veiled white evening. I think, my friend, that you already know, but you let her tell us anyway. The next day we head out on the lake. We stand near the edge and push snow away with our feet and our hands, and under the ice we can see rocks. We walk out further. Around us there are tracks in the snow, winter boots and big paw prints. Paw prints zigzagging around boots. Our tracks meander too.
All around us is flatness, and all around the flatness are mountains. The wind keeps everything in motion. I think: “This is what the penguins see.” There is an ice-fishing hut, and people on snowmobiles. We don’t go too close. One of the snowmobile guys pulls over. He’s pretty far away, so he yells – “Hey girls! Didya see me fall off of this thing before? Oh it was funny, was a big fall. All the guys were laughing. Anyway, you girls wanna ride? Ok, ok, well let me know if ya’s change your minds.” As we get further out onto the lake the conversation progresses. Snow and wind are the worldly obscurers, only things close to the self can be seen. We’re no longer talking about parking fines, or politics, or our relationships. We ask each other about our deepest dreams and secret plans. About how we want to be when we’re old. About how we want to be. The landscape is changing, we are reaching the other side. You say, “Sometimes the ice gets thin on the edge, so we shouldn’t go too close.” Close to the edge there are long yellow reeds poking out of the ice, shivering in the wind. We walk back, quiet, red cheeks and whipped hair. Still pushing away the snow, still looking for fish we no longer believe we’ll see.
Harriet McInerney is an Honours student in Writing. She likes old posessions and new places and is considering making bird watching into a viable future career.
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CHIMERA WORDS BY LOUISE JAQUES
i seem to recall a distant dream at number fourteen-and-a-half on crown, when the dusk had thrown itself over us, like a web of light, and we drank the sky, (it poured out of the moon, as though from a jug) i recall when summers lasted one thousand years waking from seventy two sleepless hours walking seventy two shoeless days wondering, with all my heart, if. and then, without warning, the sky exploded with flower petals, tonnes and tonnes of fragrant, slightly spongy flower petals, a volcanic effect, and the scents rose from tar as crowds of curious onlookers appeared from their homes and stomped and danced, killing and birthing them, releasing the aromatic haze, and drunk, and blind, we opened our mouths and crushed the brilliantine lemon, blush, and wine-coloured petals between our teeth and kissed each other, exchanging the nirvana of dense, olfactory bliss on our tongues i cannot recall. what are those strange voices that cling, like moss, to the space under my bed? are you the ghost in the back of my head?
Louise Jaques is a fifth year (yep, fifth year) Public Relations and International Studies student. Her poetry appears in the 2014 UTS Writers’ Anthology, Sight Lines, and will be read at the anthology’s launch at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
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REVIEWS: MUSIC & BOOKS
THE DELTA RIGGS
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
SOUNDS LIKE: A NICE HIT OF JET AND THE HIVES WITH PERVASIVE INFLUENCES OF 1960S AND ‘70S ROCKERS LIKE THE FACES AND THE WHO.
Ranked number one on TIME magazine’s 2012 list of fiction books, John Green’s young adult (YA) novel The Fault in Our Stars is a romance about death. Sixteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster is living with Stage four thyroid cancer when she meets her Prince Charming – Augustus Waters, a victim of osteosarcoma. Hazel is strong and independent, but she doesn’t yearn for more than the inevitable result of terminal cancer. She befriended Death long ago, and frequently welcomes the end of her existence.
Boot-stomping instrumentals, punchy lyrics and an affinity for rhythm would be the only way to describe the magnificence that is The Delta Riggs. Their first gig of the Supersonic Casualties tour involved many a beer, a big bottle of whiskey and the right kind of attitude. With four large cut-outs of the psychedelic, crayon drawn faces from their tour poster scattered around the stage, and an unbridled sense of energy from lead vocalist Elliott Hammond, the Delta Riggs were immersive and downright entertaining. Support bands Harry Heart Chrysalis and Jenny Broke The Window offered a unique brand of indie-pop, which proved easy to dance to as everyone migrated closer to the stage. The latter was particularly appealing for their bop-along riffs and catchy percussion in tunes like ‘Abracadabra’ and ‘Ravel.’ After good vibes were supplied by the support, The Delta Riggs took to the stage and got down to business. Hammond wielded a vintage silver microphone, which was tossed around considerably during high-energy opener ‘Counter Revolution’. Heavy percussion, electric strings and an up-tempo organ provided the right ingredients for a refreshing rock n’ roll racket, with personal favourite ‘America’ being both lyrically memorable and fun to dance to. Promising tracks from the forthcoming album Dipz Zebazios were also offered, treating the audience to a sweet harmonica/electric guitar frenzy.
John Green writes about cancer with refreshing and unembellished honesty. In fact, he writes about human experiences of cancer so accurately that he supplied an author’s note to appease particularly sceptical readers, insisting that “this book is a work of fiction. I made it up.” Despite such a realistic depiction, Green cannot resist the common traps of YA fiction. At times, the plot is melodramatic, overpolished, and the audience’s intelligence often underestimated. The plot’s lack of mystery is at odds with the dialogue, which is convoluted and implausible at best. The novel is character driven, which is a shame; the main characters operate within cookie cutter archetypes, which make for predictable and dull reading. Although The Fault in Our Stars is in no way a literary masterpiece (and it’s never claimed to be one), the story provides a truthful insight into teenage illness, an important area that is often neglected. If you’re in the market for some lighthearted existentialism, TFIOS is for you.
Words by Larissa Bricis The Delta Riggs are the type of band that fuses a wide variety of genres, yet manages to create a sound that is uniquely their own. Three words: check ‘em out. Words by by Georgina Heighway
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SoCAL Turns out, there is in fact life over the bridge. And the North Shore are out to prove they can keep up, with the opening of a number of funky restaurants and bars. SoCal, Neutral Bay’s newest bar, brings southern California to the suburbs. The owners of Bondi Hardware and The Botanist Kirribilli opened SoCal at the end of 2013, and it’s clear these boys have found a formula that works. The relaxed Californian vibe makes it perfect for a quiet weeknight drink. But don’t be fooled, the impressive drinks menu and fun atmosphere will have you kicking on until all hours on weekends. With 13 varieties of tequila, you can tell the bar staff know what they’re doing. The share cocktails are the way to go if you’re with a group, at $35 a jug, but well worth it (individual cocktails will set you back somewhere between $16-$20). The fruity and festive red wine sangria is a standout, and it’s hard to go past the SoCal Margarita. Both the San Diego Summer: a mix of tequila, orange bitters and lemon juice topped off with fresh passion fruit, and the Del Mar-tini: vodka, peach liqueur, lime juice and peach bitters, are sweet, refreshing drinks that complement the saltiness of the food perfectly. If you feel like something else, you’re sure to find a drink that takes your fancy among the many wines, beers and spirits available. It may take you a little while to get your order in, though the staff are friendly and helpful; that is, when you manage to catch their eye. While it is nice that they reflect the relaxed vibe of southern California, there is nothing more frustrating than watching your drink sit waiting to be brought to your table. The food is a creative take on Mexican meals and designed to be shared. Unlike many small bars, the servings are generous, so don’t worry about getting bang for your buck – you won’t leave hungry. The Baja fish with Chilli, and the Steak with Shaved Fennel tacos are tasty and well-priced, a must have;
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$20 will get you four substantial tacos. The Special Quesadilla changes weekly. On this night it was pulled pork with caramelized onion, which was the perfect cheesy bar snack. Avoid wearing tight jeans; you may find yourself bursting out of them by the end of the night. The food arrived promptly and with no stuff-ups, but a part of me will never trust a waiter who memorises an order instead of writing it down. The dim lights, exposed brick and jazzy music make for a chilled and contemporary atmosphere. The seating consists of wooden stools and high tables, with an open plan layout that makes the place seem spacious. There is a covered outside area with white wooden floors and coloured lights, reminiscent of sunny California. SoCal is open seven days a week, 5pm-late on Monday and Tuesday, and noon-late from Wednesday to Sunday. It’s just the place for both an afternoon drink and a late weekend night, which is not often found in the one bar. While its location may be uncharted territory for you and seem a bit quiet, SoCal is definitely worth a visit. Located just off Military road, it is easily accessible by bus (and parking is easy, too). Go on, who can really turn down a margarita? Words by by Laura Wood
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THINLY VEILED SCEPTICISM BY PATRICK BOYLE In recent weeks, the mainstream media and Australian
and colour choice. Some have criticized the move as an irresponsible, exorbitant
blogosphere has been dominated by talk of frightening audits and merciless budget slashing. Several dramatic changes to federal spending have been made, including the decision to purchase fifty-eight F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Jets. This airborne acquisition cost Aussie taxpayers 24 billion dollars. Treasurer (and known wearer of ill-fitting suits) Joe Hockey explained the decision was made, “because I misheard the Prime Minister as we were discussing budgets, I thought he said buy jets! Budgets, buy jets. Honest mistake.” Despite doubts and even rid-
misuse of taxpayer money. In response, Mr Abbott explained that, “if families are flying around the country, we will save money otherwise spent on roadwork. Actually, our number-crunching has indicated that opening airspace to the public may positively affect massive issues in the current budget, such as inadequate hospital resources, stretched education facilities resources and underfunding of major Arts bodies. Because planes.” After concluding the press conference, the PM windmill high-fived Joe Hockey in a heartwarming nod to Top Gun.
WORDS BY RACHEL EDDIE First there was Harriet Tubman, soon after came Bell Hooks, and now comes Mark Saunders, the social justice warrior (and fedora connoisseur) of our generation. Selflessly devoting his time to the cause, Saunders tirelessly exposes the injustices imposed on cisgender, straight, white, able-bodied, middle-class dude bros. In his Thought Catalog article, Saunders outlined the, “18 Things Females seem to not Understand (Because, Female Privilege)”. In
icule over the political maneuver, the Prime Minister is sticking to his guns (literally). In a surprise press conference today, Mr Abbott announced a new scheme to have a Hoasufighter jet in every Aus-
sie driveway by 2035. The aptly named ‘Cool Shiny Jets Initiative’ will ensure each Australian family has an F-35 within the next 20 years. Details remain sketchy over means-testing, provided training
the 18 point piece, the noted social justice warrior courageously analysed female privilege, and in turn, men’s oppression. “Being able to walk down the street at night without people crossing the street because they’re afraid of you,” was the first female privilege in the firing line. Speaking behind a pinstripe fedora in order to ensure anonymity, UTS student Richard Neckbeard revealed his two cents on the matter: “Feminism has hurt my ego. Thanks to Saunders, I now feel
empowered to smash the matriarchy that has for too long impinged on my right to wear a fedora, flame shirt and cargo shorts. This is my body. Wearing a fedora is my choice.” Forced to spend their lives watching women cross the street to avoid them, men have for too long lived under the matriarchy. As Saunders so valiantly put it, the time for women to check their privilege – and to cease this incessant street-crossing – is now. “Avoiding harassment or assault is
not a good enough reason to hurt my feelings,” Neckbeard added. “I am tired of women making me feel bad for being an arsehole.” Saunders continued his spell of real talk with a further 17 female privileges and encouraged men everywhere to pick up a fedora to show their solidarity. And for his efforts, we salute him. Tweet at #fedorasforfreedom to show your camaraderie with Saunders.
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ROOKIE’S GUIDE: SCHMOOZING/NETWORKING IF YOU WANT A JOB YOU’VE GOT TO WORK IT – ‘IT’ BEING YOUR STUNNING, ACCESSIBLE AND ULTIMATELY LOVELY PERSONALITY. RESIDENT PEOPLEPERSON LARISSA BRICIS SHARES HER TIPS FOR TURNING HEADS. Unless you’re one of those people claiming that they study for the education – “Oh, I just love to learn!” (get out pls) – you need your degree to turn into a job, right? The theories you’re learning will earn you a glorified piece of paper, but it’s networking that will really set you apart from the other hopefuls. If you’re a little bit in the dark, networking is the totes profesh art of building industry relationships with people who can help you achieve your career goals. Here’s our Rookie’s Guide to getting schmoozy.
Don’t be a dick Once you’ve made some connections, keep in contact with them. And that doesn’t mean the insincere ‘Happy Birthday!’ post on Facebook. Striking up a genuine relationship with your contacts will increase the chances that they’ll seriously consider you for that job or internship when the time comes. For extra brownie points, establish some topics of interest that aren’t job-related, such as pasta shape preference, or an affinity for candle-making.
Lean on me Contacts don’t have to be Richard Branson or Clive Palmer (lel) in order to be useful. Start at the bottom: talk to your friends and family, and their acquaintances. Potential contacts are everywhere, just waiting to share their brilliance with you. As Bill Nye said, “everyone you meet knows something you don’t.” There’s always the Seven Degrees of Separation theory, which suggests that a famous person (or, in this case, an industry heavyweight) is separable from you by seven contacts or less. Exploiting this will propel you much further than you might imagine. I’m connected to Deborah Mailman by two degrees and I once talked to Dr. Harry Cooper for twenty minutes #cashincheques.
Keep your eyes peeled The overlords of UTS have a vested interest in your professional success, so they’re making heaps of professional networking schemes available to you. All you have to do is take your eyes off that baben’ babe in your lecture, and glance instead at initiatives like:
Befriend a polar bear ‘Cause you’re gonna need some A-class ice breakers. The best ice breakers are light-hearted, humorous, steer clear of controversy, and focus attention on others within the conversation. If you’re lost for inspiration, try talking about yourself in the third person, divulging your irrational fear about the secret lives of spiders, or initiate a lively round of ‘I Never’, because none of those could possibly backfire, right?
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• • •
BUiLD (Beyond UTS International Leadership Development) is a global leadership program with a focus on sustainability and social justice. UTS: Soul Award encourages students to use their skills in the real world, developing leadership skills and establishing meaningful networks. The Big Lift is an ongoing non-profit community service project. Students travel by bus through NSW and Queensland, stopping in six towns to help under- resourced community organisations.
GRAD’S GUIDE: ACADEMIA
ASTRID’S GUIDE TO #GRADLYF COMMUNICATIONS GRAD ASTRID LORANGE TELLS US ABOUT THE THRILL – AND TOTAL DESPAIR – OF PURSUING A PHD, THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING SUPPORT NETWORKS, AND FINDING THE PLEASURE IN WRESTLING WITH THINGS YOU DON’T QUITE UNDERSTAND. Tell us about your background. How did it bring you to where you are now? I started my degree [Writing and Cultural Studies] and in many ways, it was exactly what I wanted. It gave me this really vibrant social context, and I became instantly politicised and aestheticised in these ways that had previously been impossible to imagine. I wrote my Honours thesis with Martin Harrison on Gertrude Stein, and she was a really important figure for me in understanding the potentials of language in a poetic context, to be the philosophical catalyst for thought. I’m an Associate Lecturer at COFA now, in a kind of art theory and history context, from which I have to reimagine all of my language studies and literature background. When you were at university, were there any experiences or styles of learning that you found useful in terms of your professional development? I would say the most important thing was my peer group. We had such a solid support system and we did a lot of stuff that was outside of the organised constraints of our assessments, which was complementary to the study we were doing. Just things like little exhibitions and performances, poetry reading groups. It set up a group of people who could work together – who still work together now. I [also] did Vertigo in 2004 with a group of people, to whom I remain close. We knew nothing about what we were doing and we produced these weird, mostly entirely unread or hated entities. But we learnt so much and it was such an incredible experience of immersive, really collaborative and exciting labour.
For anyone that wants to be an academic, what kind of advice would you give them? Increasingly, it’s important to have a PhD if you want to be an academic. It’s a good way to see if an academic is something you want to be, because PhDs are difficult, exhilarating and often very troubling things to take on. You inevitably have all these moments of total despair, and moments of flight, where you just say, “I don’t want to do this.” If you get to the other end and say, “Yep, give me more” – then you’re probably the right type of masochist to be an academic. If I could give any advice to someone, it would just be: try and read the world as a daily, habitual practice, and try to respond to yourself or in a journal, or in some sort of ongoing writing project – however you can do it. And teaching – it drives research. Having to stand in front of a group of people and wrestle with ideas in this strange performative way is the only way you learn how to think critically. What would you say to your first year self? Don’t ever feel like you have to understand something in one class, or one week, one semester, or one year. This is a lifelong project. You read something, you take it away and it lives with you, and you have to read it again and again, or maybe never again. But you cannot learn everything there is to know about an idea or concept or a theory, writer, movement, or aesthetic regime, instantly. You just have to embrace that total confusion and unknowability, and the sheer difficulty of conceptual work – and that’s the pleasure.
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PUZZLES Puzzle 3 (Hard, difficulty rating 0.69)
6 3 1
6 9 4
Generated by http://www.opensky.ca/~jdhildeb/software/sudokugen/ on Fri Apr 18 13:41:13 2014 GMT. Enjoy!
Puzzle 4 (Hard, difficulty rating 0.69)
3 1 7
7 2 6
Generated by http://www.opensky.ca/~jdhildeb/software/sudokugen/ on Fri Apr 18 13:41:13 2014 GMT. Enjoy!
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The problem with love these days is that society has taught the human race to stare at people with their eyes rather than their souls. - Christopher Poindexter
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Here are the silly questions that two people on campus have asked me since a group of students protested Christopher Pyne on QandA. 1. The student protest on QandA reflected students in a bad light. Now people aren’t taking us seriously! Students are not a homogenous group who all believe the same thing. We know this, because some of us are also students ourselves with our own views that disagree with yours. Importantly, your argument relies on the current dominant powers not liking what we have to say, which is “fund education more, help students more”. The people in power get to control the context of what is a good and bad light, and that limits how people can respond. Can students who have to work the majority of their week to get by move up these sociallybuilt ladders of “acceptability”? No.
4. I disagree with your tactics, but I agree with your message. If you hold this view you need to be involved in these discussions of what do we do next immediately. Unfortunately, I cannot personally run a huge campaign that talks to every student on campus to get them to protest in an “acceptable” format. All we can do currently is culture-jam existing structures to use their reach and alter their discourse to let people know: This is what we stand for, and we’re over here! Come and find us. No one really thinks that through one protest on QandA we’ll solve the issues surrounding the funding and support of private education. It is believed (and confirmed now) that these actions have revitalised the opinions of students and encouraged them to get involved on their campuses around Australia.
Depending on what you define as “seriously”, we’ve had major media and the general public show significant support behind what we’ve done. From small independently-owned newspaper and university radio stations to big television and newsprint companies, and all the way to international support from Al Jazeera and the UK press. We’ve made a dent on society that everyone has heard about.
5. How do I get involved in the campaign? Find your local group that’s campaigning on these issues: it could be a political group, the Youth wing of a political party, or it could be the UTS Students’ Association. The department in the UTSSA that focuses on education is the Education Action Group (EAG), run by Chris Gall this year -read his report too, it’s next to mine.
2. The majority of media has been negative. The majority of people didn’t hear your message. Wrong again. From in the media, to on the ground we’ve had a plethora of support, including from businesses: we’ve had everyone jump at the opportunity to associate with us. The media is there to show two sides of the story, and the other discourse is plain and simple: a conservative Liberal party agenda. Now we’ve got our secondary discourse that speaks out against it being carried through society, and people are hearing, understanding and agreeing with it.
The EAG meets at 2pm on Mondays in CB01.03.18 or you can come by the UTSSA office any time and talk to a student representative in there. Or email me, or Chris. Now, more than ever we need students who are influential on campus, who have passion and energy, and who want to make a difference to this place. We need students to contact us in any way possible and say: “How can I help?”
3. You’re all just socialists! I’m not a socialist. Many people who were there were socialists. Students in the crowd who asked questions were socialists. Some students in the crowd were not socialists. Most importantly: What has this got to do with anything that happened? Take your socialist hate somewhere else and let’s talk about what actually happened!
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Andy Zephyr President UTS Students’ Association firstname.lastname@example.org
EDUCATION VICE PRESIDENT REPORT
By the time you read this we’ll know if UTS is going on strike. This means on May 21, every class in the university may be cancelled, entrances blocked by staff, and all of UTS shut down.
We had our SRC meeting on May 1. At this meeting we:
Don’t blame the staff. This is an absolute last resort for them, and if they can’t get a decent agreement, it’ll be our education that suffers. A couple days of strikes means a decade of better education. The trade-off is a no-brainer. All of the blame falls on management for their appalling behaviour. Firstly, they’ve been negotiating at a glacial pace and refusing to consider modest staff requests. Secondly, they’ve offered nothing but cuts to pay and conditions, and without action the staff will take a real pay cut and lose job security. Finally, management has suspended the NTEU President Simon Wade from his job, a cynical attempt to undermine the negotiations. What’s a strike? A strike involves all staff refusing to work for 24 hours, effectively bringing UTS to a close. Strikes often involve “picketlines”, where staff, students, and community members will block entrances to the university to convince people not to enter, and support the campaign instead. What should I do? The easiest thing is to STAY HOME. Don’t go to class, don’t come in to study and never, ever cross a picket line. A strike only works if the uni is shut down, and everyone entering campus during a strike is betraying their teachers and fellow students. You’ll benefit if the strike is a success, so do your part – don’t be a “scab”! Help by joining staff on the picket-lines! They’ve asked for student support and it’s an amazing, selfless way to improve your university. If you want to join the campaign or learn more, come along to an Education Action Group meeting, 2pm Mondays in the room behind the Students’ Association, or email me (below).
Heard the Welfare Officer Report: Jess Xu is implementing a UTSSA Food Bank where any students in need can grab some free food. Jess is also planning a Scavenger Hunt for students to learn about ALL OF THE SERVICES at UTS and possibly win some prizes. For more information, or to help out, email email@example.com Discussed conference funding for the Indigenous Student’s Collective, and conference funding policies more generally. Delegates from the Education Action Group, Wom*n’s Collective, Environment Collective, and Queer Collective will attend upcoming conferences to learn new skills, and the SA wants to help get as many students there as possible. Passed support for the “Fossil Free UTS” campaign. The Environment Collective is demanding that UTS divests from the fossil fuel industry, and is encouraging the university to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2020. If you’d like to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org Heard the Education Vice President’s Report: Chris Gall explained the University’s “academic year restructuring” (aka trimesters) plan, the Kemp-Norton review and its implications for university students (fee hikes and reduced intakes of students from low-SES backgrounds), and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU)’s Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. Approved Queer Collective spending. The Queer Collective spent some of their budget on materials for the creation of their biennial publication, Queer Vertigo, which will be released next semester. If you are a queer-identified student and you would like to contribute or help with design you can get in touch with the editorial team at email@example.com
And remember: NEVER CROSS A PICKET LINE.
Discussed grievance procedures and policies to deal with personal, structural, and constitutional disputes and approved Vertigo Issue 4 printing costs.
Chris Gall Education Vice-President UTS Students’ Association firstname.lastname@example.org
Andie Yates Secretary UTS Students Association email@example.com
FRINGE / 57
MAY 21 STRIKE
All classes cancelled
Staff will be on STRIKE for fair pay & conditions They need your support: Don’t enter the university Study from home instead or join the picket lines! RALLY against Abbott’s cuts - 2.30PM (Front of Tower)
A strike is when the staff all agree to refuse to work for an entire day, shutting down UTS. ‘Picket lines’ at entrances will stop anyone from getting inside. This shows that without staff, there is no UTS, and forces them to bargain more honestly. A strike is an absolute last resort taken by staff when all other options are exhausted. Staff have been driven to this by the unfair suspension of NTEU President Simon Wade, and the refusal of management to even negotiate fairly. Staff want modest improvements to pay and conditions, but management have ignored these requests and proposed savage cuts. The Students’ Association is calling on students to stand with staff during this difficult period. You might miss one day, but in the long run, students are better off - after all, staff teaching conditions are student learning conditions. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor has agreed that no student will be penalised for not attending class, all assessments are to be rescheduled and assignments due on May 21 will receive an automatic 1-day extension, so take the day off, and relax. Staff are fighting for your education and if they win, so do you. Don’t come in on May 21st, stand behind the staff who are standing up for you!
For more information: http://www.nteu.org.au/uts http://www.facebook.com/UTSStudentsAssociation or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Education Action Group (EAG) helps organise student activism around education issues. It is open to all students and meets Mondays at 2pm in the room behind the Students’ Association.