PLUS TWILIGHT WITH
KIM IL SUNG A DEAD MAN LIVES ON
McUNIVERSITIES THE GREAT EDUCATION SELLOUT
SEX: THE WEIRD, HIT NEW TRILOGY [P21]
WORONI The Australian National University Newspaper Since 1948
Inward Bound runsintotrouble FERGUS HUNTER Interhall sports’ most iconic event has been excluded from the Interhall Sports Shield. In the event’s 50th year more than 50 percent of competing teams did not finish, and an independent inquiry will be conducted by the University into the events’ failure. The event began at 7pm on Friday 30th March, when the first teams signed in at Bruce Hall, and did not finish until approximately 3.30am on Sunday 1st April when the last team arrived at End Point, located at Majors Creek Oval south of Braidwood. Given the extent of the large number of team withdrawals and recoveries (teams who required assistance completing the course), as well as the potential storm created by disqualifications and consequent appeals, the
Interhall Sports Organisation decided to exclude the entire event from the Sports Shield. No points were awarded to any teams. 32 out of the 63 teams did not finish – the vast majority of them being in divisions 1 to 4 – and the longest time any team spent on the course was 28 hours. Inward Bound co-ordinator Victor White (who is also an Editor of Woroni) has accepted full responsibility for how events unfolded, and apologised to competitors. Mr White outlined the three mistakes he felt were made by the IB Committee: the length and navigation difficulty of courses, oversights on the exclusion map (the map given to competitors that displays out-of-bounds areas and checkpoints) and the location at which division 4
NO. 5 VOL 64
URSIES DIV 4
(FENNER HALL) FENNER DIV 1
GRIFFIN DIV 2 JOHNS DIV 6
BRUCE DIV 3
WHERE THEY ENDED UP // ILLUSTRATION: TOM WESTLAND
was dropped. According to Mr White, “the exclusion map was set far too late, and contained a key error.” The failure to mark the checkpoint at Lower Boro meant that a crucial navigational aid – that was also a requirement by the NSW Police and Palerang Shire Council – was not known to competitors. Without being directed down Lower Boro Rd and then Hazeldell and
Mullon to then cross the Kings Highway, navigation was made next to impossible, especially for divisions 1 to 4. Mr White added, “the wording on the exclusion map was also not what it needed to be. It was ambiguous at best, slightly deceptive at worst.”
Anger grows at Young’s cuts CONTINUED P4
But rally against fee cuts divides undergrad & postgrad student groups ANGUS MINNS
ANU students and staff will rally today against the $40 million budget cut proposal made by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Young. However, students and student groups are divided about the aims and potential benefits of today’s rally. Concerns have been raised about the rally occurring before details of the cuts have been decided or at least made public. The public consultation period, announced by Professor Young at the initial press conference, officially ended last Friday. Chancelry has yet to make any public announcement on the outcome of this process.
Professor Young has previously announced that $25 million of the cuts will come from staff reductions. ANU Students Association (ANUSA) President, Dallas Proctor said that ANUSA was supporting the rally because “students need to show the Chancelry that we are not happy about the prospect of big cuts.” ANUSA is aiming to highlight the level of concern “about the whole process” and get “the message across to the University that areas affecting undergraduates are off limits.” In contrast, president of the Postgraduate and Research Student’s Association (PAR-
Mutemath: the Abortion & interview // 21 the law // 12
Can we engineer our way out of climate change? // 11
SA), Areti Metuamate, said that PARSA’s council has decided to “wait before getting involved in the campaign and rally” until more “concrete information” is available. At the time of writing, Mr Metuamate said he had only heard from two postgraduate students asking him to support the rally. All others he had spoken to think “PARSA should ‘wait and see’ before we get involved further.” Mr Metuamate also said that he had several “irate” phone calls from staff accusing him of being a “sellout” for not participating in the rally. In response to these phone calls, Mr Metuamate said “I’m not going to be bullied by anyone into taking a particular stance” and emphasised that he represents the interests “of postgraduate and research students at ANU, not staff.” Stephen Darwin, the ACT Division Secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) told Woroni that he hoped today’s rally would “highlight the risk” posed by the Vice-Chancellor’s “ill-conceived ‘repositioning’ strategy” to the “quality and diversity of ANU teaching and research.” In response to suggestions that the rally was premature, Mr Darwin said it was taking place at “exactly the time to stop this strategy
before it causes real damage to the university.” ANUSA President, Dallas Proctor echoed these sentiments stating that “once something concrete is announced (even if it is just ‘proposed’), it becomes infinitely more difficult to stop” and that students cannot afford to “wait it out.” Mr Metuamate said that while PARSA acknowledges the NTEU’s “right to represent their members in whatever way they believe is appropriate”, it would be “premature” for PARSA to be involved in the rally before information on the cuts is released. When Woroni asked these organisations whether they had any knowledge of areas likely to be affected by the cuts, they all said they had no official information. Although the overall consultation process has not finished and the university has not made any decisions about which areas will face cuts, rumours are swirling that the College of Arts and Social Sciences will be hit particularly hard by Chancelry’s budget measures. Mr Darwin stated whilst the Vice-Chancellor had not specified to him any information on areas likely to be impacted, the NTEU did
Medical students’ group warns of internship crisis
ANU delegation to Rio+20 meets with Govt taskforce JULIE MELROSE
Seventeen students have recently been selected as delegates to represent ANU at Rio+20 – the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 20 – 23 June 2012. The ANU delegates come from a range of different academic disciplines in both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. On Thursday 12th April, the ANU delegation was given a private briefing by Christine Schweizer, the Director of the Australian Government Rio+20 Taskforce from the Department of Environment and Water Resources. Ms Schweizer told delegates that Australia has eight priority areas that will be the focus of Australia’s negotiations leading up to and during Rio+20. These are: oceans - Australia is leading the debate on the “Blue Economy”; indigenous issues - especially land and sea management; food security; mining and sus-
tainable development; gender and women’s economic empowerment; disaster risk reduction; sustainable development goals – a campaign being spearheaded by Colombia, Peru and Ecuador; and desertification and land degradation. The organizing team delegates of the ANU Student Delegation to Rio+20 consists of Julie Melrose (Delegation Director), Luke Kemp (International Engagement), Tatiana Stotz (Logistics Manager) and Tom Stayner (ANU Engagement). Each of the ANU delegates will be writing a research paper in the area of their interest to present at a student symposium planned for late May at the ANU before leaving for Brazil on the 17th June. The ANU delegates are also interested in engaging with other students interested in environmental policy and sustainable development leading up to Rio+20.
Debaters come to ANU
MARIE NGIAM As the number of medical graduates in Australia continues to rise, many risk missing out on an internship. According to the 15th report of the Medical Training Review Panel, 3512 medical students will graduate from Australian universities in 2012, more than double the number of graduates in 2006. Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) President James Churchill noted how this could escalate to a “genuine medical internship crisis.” He said the sharp and sustained increase in numbers of medical graduates is putting significant pressure on the clinical training system. “Internship is a critical hurdle to obtain full
registration as a medical practitioner and to progress to further training. This year, there is a real risk that medical graduates will miss out on an internship, leaving young doctors out of work and unable to serve the community,” he added. As the internship crisis looms, AMSA has called for stricter regulation of the number of medical students being accepted. “Ultimately, if medical graduates are not able to complete a high quality internship, the ongoing increases in medical student numbers will have been a fruitless waste of taxpayer dollars,” Mr Churchill warned.
The Australian Intervarsity Debating Championships (colloquially known as “Easters”) was held at the ANU from the 10th to the 14th of April, hosted by the ANU Debating Society. Featuring more than 300 debaters and almost 30 from the ANU, the tournament ran smoothly and efficiently, culminating in a grand final victory by the University of Sydney Union over the University of Queensland. Aside from its hosting success, the ANU Debating Society itself saw impressive results, breaking two teams through to the tournament’s finals series. Standout performances included Emily Stirzaker and Thomas Goldie, who ranked in the top 30 speakers of the tournament. ANU debaters Laura Birchall, Daniel McNamara, Simone Procter and chief adjudicator Claudia Newman-Martin also saw individual success in being selected to adjudicate
for the tournament’s finals series. NewmanMartin and McNamara were amongst the nine members of the grand final adjudication panel. College of Arts and Social Sciences Dean Professor Toni Makkai delivered the awards ceremony address, expressing delight at the tournament’s liveliness and the high quality of the tournament’s grand final debate. Reactions to the tournament have been overwhelmingly positive. “After Mooseheads on the final night, I can’t remember anything, but I’m sure I had a good time!” said one pleased adjudicator from Monash University, who joined many on Facebook in congratulating the ANU Debating Society on its organisational role. The tournament is to be hosted next year by Griffith University. The ANU is likely to send a large contingent of debaters again, this time with the incentive of Gold Coast sunshine over the icy Canberra April.
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Persian New Year ERIN NEIL
Nowruz or the Persian New Year is an ancient celebration steeped in tradition and is the most important event of the year for people from Persia. Nowruz, meaning ‘new day’, marks the first day of spring and signifies inner positive change that should accompany the rebirth and reawakening of nature. With the significance of this celebration in mind, the ANU Persian Society hosted a Nowruz event on Saturday 24th March. Around seventy people from all different backgrounds attended the celebration, making the night hugely successful and great fun for all. We enjoyed live, traditional Iranian music performed by Hamid Khodakarami, Farzaneh Kordbacheh and Shahriar Etemadi-Tajbakhsh, followed by an informative speech about the history and significance of Nowruz
ART DIRECTOR Yasmin Masri
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given by Sara Hosseini. Yet no Nowruz celebration would be complete without a Haft Seen table. The Haft Seen or the seven objects beginning with the letter ‘S’, is one of the most famous rituals of Nowruz. Each object has a special significance and importance for the New Year. For example the apple (seeb) symbolizes health and beauty, and garlic (seer) symbolizes medicine. Usually, the Haft Seen table has a number of other objects that do not begin with ‘S’ such as a mirror, candles and a goldfish, and these are remnants of the ancient Zoroastrian New Year rituals. Typically the table also has a Quran, an addition made after the advent of Islam in the Persian world. For further information about the ANU Persian Society, email anupersiansociety@ gmail.com
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Protesters call for electoral reform in Malaysia SHAN-VERNE LIEW
THE FUTURE OF TRANSPORT IN THE ACT // ILLUSTRATION: YASMIN MASRI
Govt weighs up bus lanes, light rail SHAN-VERNE LIEW
Dedicated bus lanes may be arriving along Northbourne Avenue and Flemington Road, but road construction and design is likely to cost $300-360m and take over four years. After initial studies, the ACT Government is weighing the costs of constructing either a dedicated bus lane or light-rail (LRT) transport system. Dedicated bus lanes would halve peak traffic times along Northbourne Avenue to eight minutes, while light-rail would further reduce times to six minutes. Woroni found that travelling down Northbourne Avenue during peak periods can currently require up to 30 minutes.
A light-rail system would cost an estimated $700-860m and require six years to complete, but a recent project update document states that the system is a “popular and attractive” option. Both systems are expected to deliver environmental and social benefits to areas adjacent to the roadway, as well as reduce traffic congestion and improve access to Civic from Tuggeranong, Belconnen, and Gunghalin. “The Government hasn’t reached a preferred position at this time, but what is very clear is that everybody wins when we invest in public transport,” Member for Molonglo Simon Corbell told the Canberra Times.
“You can for example develop bus rapid transit and then transition it to light rail over a period of time,” he added. Meanwhile, others have argued that the government is just stalling. “We do need to actually act on this,” said MLA Amanda Bresnan. “We’re at the point where we have to make a decision, we can’t just keep talking about it,” she added. The Government has invited public submissions on the project before project design commences later this year. Meanwhile, the Government is also aiming to have front bike racks on 80% of the Action bus fleet by June 30 this year.
ANU student runs for Qbn council MARIE NGIAM Proving that age is indeed no barrier, ANU student Ben Duggan is seeking to become one of the youngest councillors ever elected to Queanbeyan City Council. The founder of Raising Hope Education Foundation confirmed his intention to run as a Labor candidate for the City Council, with elections to be held in September later this year. “Being lucky enough to study at ANU and participate in university life has given me a great deal of experience that I would not have otherwise. University has also taught me the importance of support networks. I had a really tough time last year and it was ultimately my good friends who got me through,” he remarked. Born and bred in Queanbeyan, the former ANU Union chair and Bendigo Community Bank Board Director remains level-headed about future career prospects, and expressed interest in becoming a Teach for Australia Associate. At just 22 years of age, Duggan’s candidacy will no doubt raise questions about his expe-
rience and ability, should he be successful. “While age should not matter, having Councillors that are able to understand, relate and advocate for young people is important for Queanbeyan,” Duggan said. “Council is no longer just about rates, roads and rubbish. I want Queanbeyan to develop initiatives such as the Partners, Industry and Education (PIE) program at Eurobodalla Shire Council.” “I also want Council to drive a greater focus on sustainability at a local level and give stronger support to our community and sporting groups.” he added. Some council members are keeping mum about Duggan’s decision to run for Council, but several told Woroni that they were supportive and enthusiastic. “I think it is a wonderful step that Ben has made. He represents a sector of our community, and this is very useful,” Deputy Mayor of Queanbeyan City Council, Cr Peter Bray said.
“Whether he is successful or not, it is part of learning about how our community runs and that is very encouraging. I congratulate him on doing that,” he said. Long-standing council member Cr Tom Mavec, who is retiring at the end of his term in September, praised Duggan’s decision. “I welcome the possibility of new blood coming into the Queanbeyan City Council by candidates like Ben Duggan. His enthusiasm and hard work, and his longterm relationship with the Queanbeyan community puts him in a good position to represent the best interests of residents,” Cr Mavec said. “It is important for people like Ben and his knowledge of younger people to be part of the decision making process in local government,” he added.
Bersih protests for electoral reform in Malaysia, which first occurred in 2007, are scheduled to reoccur this week. The protests are scheduled to take place in the nation’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, and in 21 cities outside Malaysia on 28 April. “We’re doing this in multiple cities to really signal that the people protesting are from all over the world, not just Malaysia,” said ANU student Radin Faizal Arif, who is helping organise the rally in Canberra. “I’m doing this because I believe that, for me at least, this is the right thing to do,” he said. The protest group, comprised of 84 nongovernmental organisations, has called for the dismissal of Malaysia’s Electoral Commission, arguing that it has lost the faith of the people. “There’s no commitment as far as we can see to clean up the elections before the 13th general elections,” said Bersih co-chairwoman Ambiga Sreenevasan, according to foreign sources. Parliamentary recommendations for election reform were produced in response to the group’s demands in 2011, but Bersih’s steering committee has said that these are insufficient. The group is also calling for extensive election reforms, and for international election observers to monitor the upcoming elections in 2013. An estimated 40,000 protestors participated in the first Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur in 2007. Police arrested nearly 1,700 protestors, and used water guns to disperse crowds. About 30,000 were present in Kuala Lumpur during the group’s 2011 protests, according to local sources. On Friday, Kuala Lumpur city authorities rejected Bersih’s application to protest at the country’s national square. The steering committee responded that it will not appeal the decision, but will continue the protest anyway. “People are finally standing up for their rights, and what they deserve,” said a secondyear ANU student, who wanted to remain anonymous. In the lead up to the Bersih protests in Canberra last year, the Malaysian Embassy issued a notice warning Malaysian ANU students against participating in the protest. “If any such assembly is held, the Education Department of Malaysia (Australia) will work with Australian authorities though applicable laws and will take action,” said the notice. As of yet, no notice has been issued this year for upcoming protests. Not all students are supportive of ongoing the campaign. Some told Woroni that they would prefer electoral reform to occur through a more democratic process. “Public protests are useful, but they need broad support from within the government to ensure long-term institutional change.”
Talk of cuts bring back painful memories in CASS TOM WESTLAND
At a faculty meeting in 1998, the then dean of the Faculty of Arts, Professor Paul Thom, announced that the Russian major was to be abolished. To say that the decision came as a shock would be the tenderest of understatements. Staff who were at the meeting say that Professor Thom – the last staff-elected Dean of the Faculty – refused to admit that it was he who had made the decision. Thom disclaimed any knowledge of previous promises made by his predecessor to continue the program, and despite protests from staff and students, the program was gone. The Vice-Chancellor’s recently announced budget cuts, which will see over 100 staff members lose their jobs, have brought back painful memories for some in the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS), of the last time the university undertook mass sackings. In early 1998, the Vice-Chancellor Deane Terrell (currently an emeritus professor at the School of Finance and Applied Statistics at ANU) announced that the Faculty of Arts was in deficit to the order of $600,000 annually. It was alleged that the Faculty’s accumulated debt ran to several million dollars. However, staff disputed the figures, with some saying that the formula used to allocate University revenue to the faculties was misguided and unfairly disadvantaged the Arts. The head of the English Department, Pro-
fessor Iain Wright, said at the time that the University had used “crude, unexplained and inexplicable financial logic” to distribute government funding to the funding. Dr Chris Gregory, head of the Department of Archeology and Anthropology, argued that the ANU had made changes to the formulae used by government, which resulted in less money for the Arts, telling the ANU Reporter in 1998 that these changes were the source of the Faculty’s budgetary shortfall. The Vice-Chancellor, however, was unmoved. The faculty budget had to be balanced, and although the Vice-Chancellor officially stated that decisions about how this was to occur where best made by the Faculty, academics who were around at the time claim that Terrell was closely involved with the decisions to impose cuts on certain areas. Initially, the University advocated the abolition of the entire Classics Department, and, in an options paper, suggested that the teaching of modern languages ought to be privatised in a commercial language centre. In the event, protests from staff and students prevented either option from being implemented. However, the money was found elsewhere. The Department of Modern European Languages was ruthlessly purged; permanent staffwere reduced from nineteen to nine. Officially, these were mostly “voluntary redundancies”, although staff – espe-
Initially, the University advocated the abolition of the entire Classics Department, and, in an options paper, suggested that the teaching of modern languages ought to be privatised in a commercial language centre.
cially older academics – were under immense pressure to accept offers. One academic who took a redundancy told Woroni that there was almost nothing “voluntary” about the cuts. Although it had been targeted for abolition, Classics survived but in a diminished way – it was merged with the Department of Modern European Languages. Some staff credit protests by students and staff for the survival of the discipline at the ANU. Russian, though, was not so lucky. Although students had already purchased textbooks and some had come to ANU specifically for the subject, first-year classes were cancelled after the first week of semester, citing low enrolments. However, Dr Kevin Windle, a Russian specialist who is still a lecturer at the ANU, told Woroni that the low number were “possibly a result of widespread rumours that the program was to be axed.” The impact of the staff cuts on morale amongst language specialists at ANU was considerable. Dr Windle said that the damage was “long-lasting” and that morale in the department was “badly affected.” Course offerings were cut drastically, and class
sizes increased. Staff at CASS told Woroni the euphemistic language used to describe the sackings being considered currently echo the words used to describe the events of the 1990s. Small disciplines are once again feeling under pressure to justify their existence on financial rather than academic grounds. Rumours abound that Classics may once again face significant cuts, if not outright abolition. Whether or not the impact of Vice-Chancellor Young’s cuts will be as controversial as Professor Terrell’s remains to be seen.
Inward Bound runs into trouble CONTINUED FROM P1
“I think the course we set was too ambitious and given the fact that we didn’t get the first, second or third choice of where we wanted to run the course, we didn’t have enough time to scout or check the course,’ Mr White explained. Though the 2011 course was generally well-received, competitors labelled it navigationally rudimentary. As a result, the Committee brought in an experienced course setter. However, the original drop points for divisions 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 and Indy had to be scrapped; for 1 and 2 a crucial crossing became unavailable, and the drop points for 5, 6, 7 and Indy weren’t accessible by bus. The revised routes were not adequately scouted, leaving routes marked on the map that no longer existed. “The course was too long. Runners were dropped with distances that…were greater than what’s specified in the rules.” Things started going wrong “from the moment the [division 4] runners were dropped” according to Mr White. “There was a miscommunication between myself and a couple of other people. I thought they were going to
be dropped in one spot, the bus drivers were told a different spot, which was not on the map.” This point was 15km away from the intended site. Mr White has flagged that perhaps the overarching reason for the mistakes was that the Committee was “stretched resource wise and because of that people had too much responsibility, which led to a couple of small but rather significant errors being made.” There were no serious injuries sustained by competitors. “We’re in a position where we have to be very frank with our mistakes and admit that…key lessons need to be learnt…I want to apologise to all the runners involved, and congratulate them all on their amazing efforts.” There are expected to be three inquiries into 2012 Inward Bound, one each by the Interhall Sports Organisation, IB Co-ordinator Victor White and also an independent one by Luce Andrews, Director of ANU Residential and Campus Communities.
Budget cuts raise anger, questions CONTINUED FROM P1
have “their suspicions.” Mr Proctor pointed to previous instances of libraries merging, “ballooning” class sizes and cuts to majors and electives with low enrolments as indicative of what will likely happen with future cuts. PARSA president, Mr Metuamate told Woroni “not even deans of the colleges know this information” and he believes that Professor Young is entering into the decision making process with an “open mind.” This statement is at odds with the views expressed by the NTEU. Mr Darwin stated that the NTEU believes that this “financial crisis is largely manufactured to justify another FOR MORE, TURN TO agenda.” MARK FABIAN // COMMENT P7
In the latest edition of the NTEU publication ANU Intelligence, the union asserted that the ANU’s claim of investment revenue shortfalls of $30 million were unsubstantiated. The union also disputes Professor Young’s argument that a surplus of 4% is required, saying that “despite extensive investigation, it is impossible to find anywhere that there is a 4% surplus target for Australian universities.” ANUSA identified that the university already has procedures in place to address poor staff performance or situations where courses are “not achieving their objectives.” Mr Proctor noted that these cuts are a way to “sidestep” existing university procedures.
A penny for the chimneysweep? Raising wages for young people would be an inefficient way of addressing youth poverty, argues Andrew Wade Student income is a student election standard going back to antiquity, with promises from all sides offering to end the pain. Often these commitments shuffle quietly to the bottom of agendas as candidate posters peel and fade in the aftermath of furious campaigns. The university experience has changed over the last forty years and students are turning to paid work to support or supplement their living costs. The result is less time for studies and less balance in a frenetic and formative period in the lives of Australia’s best and brightest. Youth Allowance in a town like Canberra doesn’t go far. The pressure to get a job to pay for the basics can be compromising. To top it off, Australian labour laws mean that those under the age of twenty-one are paid less than their counterparts. Some claim that it is necessary abolish youth wages to address the injustice of different minimum rates of pay. Here I’d like to outline why this bad public policy and why, under the Australian model, we should focus our policy reform agenda towards targeted measures that address cost of living whilst avoiding the specter of expensive middle class welfare. A long-standing principle in Australia is that adults should be paid enough for the basic cost of raising a family. This principle is in the tradition of the landmark 1907 Harvester Judgment stipulating that remuneration “must be enough to support the wage earner in reasonable and frugal comfort”. Abject working poverty has consequences for the dignity of workers and the opportunities of their children. For this reason adult minimum wage is a non-negotiable for believes in opportunity as a right of every Australian. However, very few people under the age of twenty-one at university are in the business of raising a family, which is why they are not remunerated at the adult minimum rates. Minimum wages do not reflect the real marginal price of labour; they are an artificial floor price, which is why the test of income needs is central to avoid unnecessary distortions to our market economy. This is not a one-size-fits-all model, but one must draw a line somewhere and twenty-one is about right for most Australians. So what of student income pressures? The problem is that the abolishment of youth wages is a blunt measure with a high socializsd price tag. The youth wages issue is a potentially dangerous precedent in Australian social justice reform, it seeks to solve an equity issue under the cloak of labour market regulation, with no regard to targeting out-
comes. A student on a gap year living in their parents’ $2 million home, not paying a cent towards their basic living costs, would be entitled to the same increases in pay as another student with no parental support. Increasing youth labour costs has a real price impact on goods and services, like a tax, but is inefficient as an equality measure because it doesn’t go exclusively to those in need. Thus we all pay more for those who need it and those who do not. This is classic middleclass welfare and is bad public policy. We have a welfare state for a reason: to target support to those in need. Youth is a temporary condition so differences in minimum wages are not a structural inequality in our society; the true enduring costs to students are the potential opportunity costs resulting from acute financial stress. Rather that pursuing an un-targeted, and therefore inefficient youth wages agenda, we should be delivering measures to reach the people who need it with minimal collateral costs. Youth allowance is a well-developed piece of public policy: those with a problem with youth poverty should look there first. Beyond the rarified view of the ivory towers, the issue of youth minimum wages has implications for the wider community. Raising the price of youth labour has the potential to unleash a wave of youth unemployment setting back the inexperienced and unskilled looking for a break. Furthermore, the abolition of youth wages has the potential to create new incentives for young people to leave school early, to work in low skilled jobs, with long-term costs to productivity in the broader economy. Nobody is proposing a roll back of wages and conditions. However, when a social justice agenda is proposed to extend the reach of government, there must be a caveat that it targets those in need. That way society gets bang for its buck and students win. There is a temptation when addressing the issue of youth minimum wage to make superficial appeals to the Australian ideal of the ‘fair go’. I remember being personally affronted by my first pay packet and how much less I was being paid. In the case of youth wages the greatest priority is maximizing opportunities for our generation, for a lifetime of productivity, at an efficient cost. The Australian model, of lower overall taxes combined with a targeted welfare state, has allowed us to develop as a market economy whilst guaranteeing the dignity and opportunities of the individual. The youth wages issue cuts to the core of the Australian way: we must strive for measures that deliver the greatest good in the most efficient way.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Each edition, the best letter to the editor will win a bag of coffee from Two Before Ten. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Woroni,
Dear Woroni, I almost choked on my muesli this morning as I read with shock your article “Changes to exec at Students’ Association” (Woroni, Vol 64 No 4), in which I was described as being “really excited”. The incident would not have been so much of a bother, had it not resulted in considerable amounts of milk, and biodynamic goji berries, being displaced over what we would call a newspaper and what you would call your competitor, the Canberra Times. Devastated, that I would now be starved of journalistic integrity (an essential part of my breakfast routine) I pressed forward, only to notice upon closer inspection that the wrongful inference that I was “really excited” was a direct quote! It is inconceivable that I would ever have described myself as being excited. Close friends and family will attest to the fact that I have never been excited in my life. Years of perfecting the nonchalant shrug, have been seemingly wasted, given Woroni’s claims of a much wider repertoire of dispositions at my fingertips. In a year in which I am going through the process of graduate applications, such character assassinations could have devastating consequences. As such, a full retraction is hereby requested.
tere t e L f th o eek w
Warm regards, Rashid Kazak Treasurer, ANU Students’ Association
As someone who routinely encounters articles, opinions and attitudes that she severely disagrees with but who can’t be bothered to do anything about, I should be applauded for even getting out my computer to shoot off this email. Your writer Kalista Magnus’ article entitled “Size, lies and laziness” (Woroni, Vol 64, No 4) was the worst piece of self-obsessed ranting I have encountered this week, so you’ll forgive my vitriol. We get it, Kalista. You’ve had sex. From the sound of it, you’ve banged heaps of people, and you know a lot about penises. Well done. You’re such a lady. Just because you swear in your article does not make it insightful or interesting, it only serves to crease my forehead even more as I read on (and, for the record, I am not against swearing, but your use of swearwords was awkward and unnecessary at best). Your definitive conclusions are so ignorant that I can only assume that you have adopted this self-righteous persona to qualify the predictably lengthly opinions you dish out to your friend. Finally, your crass sharing of intimate details - “he just couldn’t get it up and it slipped out like five times” - was nearly too much to bear. I am not a prude, and I have taken part in similar discussions with my girlfriends, but some things are not meant to be shared in a student newspaper with such arrogance. Your article only served to cement you as another uni student taking feminism and liberalism to a whole new level. Thanks Woroni, I feel heaps better now. Srsly tho, that article was woeful. Reconsider your editing processes, eh? Elle-May Starbuck
Stand up to uni on student fee CHRIS MONNOX
Having received an invoice for it, most students are aware that the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) has come into operation this year. It is arousing controversy on campuses right round the country, yet it remains one of the least understood changes ever to be introduced by an Australian government. Its detractors in the Liberal Party call it a tax and a wholesale repeal of Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU). Some of its supporters would like to see it in the same light, while Socialist Alternative and other such extremist coteries took to calling it “political VSU” several years back. The incomprehension of the reality of SSAF is a direct product of the incomprehension of VSU. When VSU came into operation in 2007, universities were presented with a choice - they could continue to fund student organisations (the collection of compulsory fees prior to 2007 always was reliant on university enforcement), or else they could leave them high and dry. Many of the less responsible institutions went for the latter option and then blamed John Howard. Given the political leanings of the tertiary education sector these universities didn’t have a hard sell on their hands. It was what people wanted to hear, and when the media came calling the student union presidents, with their organisations now in dire straits, they would almost invariably blame Howard first and the universities second, if at all. This was understandable. 2007 was an election year, and there would be no end to VSU unless the most obstinate and vindictive Prime Minister since at least Billy Hughes was removed from the Lodge. But it was also misleading. Howard had given the universities a choice; but it was the universities which had made it. All through the Rudd years, the universities tried to maintain their line, now pleading that they could do nothing until such time as the Coalition, and that little remembered and even less lamented non-entity Senator Fielding, ceased obstructing Labor’s SSAF Bill. By now it was beginning to wear thin. In 2009, the National Union of Students publicly rated all universities according to their support for student organisations. Several universities which had allowed theirs to die, after a great deal of behind the scenes whinging, forked out the money to get replacements off to ground. Yet those that thought they could continue to get away with blaming Canberra while pleading good intentions did so. As President of the University of
Wollongong Student Representative Council in 2010, I well recall being treated to a handon-heart homily from the Vice-Chancellor about how he would like to support us, but had to wait on the SSAF Bill. Of course this wasn’t true. Plenty of other universities were financially sustaining their student associations back then and he could have too. He just didn’t want to. Which brings us back to the SSAF. It does not guarantee any funding to student organisations. But by re-empowering universities to raise revenue for this purpose, it robs them of the capacity to hide behind the government (or the Opposition) when they seek to run down civil society on campus. And by requiring universities to consult with students, it forces them to tender a case for their decisions. The SSAF is thus best viewed as an accountability measure. That this is the nature of the beast is made perfectly clear by the experience of Monash. Faced with an unsatisfactory funding allocation from their university administration, the Monash Student Association coined the clever slogan WTF? (Where’s the Funding), since adopted by both Swinburne and the ANU, and took out a full page ad in the free commuter newspaper MX urging prospective university students to head for Victoria’s other G8 university, Melbourne. My involvement as an elected student representative was concurrent with the operation of VSU (2007 - 2011). During that period, I never saw a university confronted in this fashion over a matter of funding. That this new level of scrutiny is being applied to universities now is in some ways fortuitous. With universities across Australia looking to cut their budgets, in some cases quite dramatically, the temptation for them to raid the SSAF is immense. Witness the ANU’s concurrent announcement of $40 million in budget cuts and allocation of SSAF funding to capital works. Yet it also puts a lot of pressure on the current crop of student representatives. The SSAF arrangements entered into now are likely to have a lot of staying power, and after half a decade of blame shifting it is certain that no university will be keen to take responsibility for its actions on this front.
Elections for four positions on the ANU Student Media editorial board will take place from the 28th May to the 1st June, with nominations closing on the 11th May at 5PM. The main task of the Editors is to oversee production of the fortnightly newspaper Woroni and weekly broadcasts of WHAM Radio; and to manage the affairs of ANU Student Media. If you’d like to nominate, please send an email to email@example.com.
Parts of the Canberra music community are up in arms about the use of the workshop area by art groups, but Yasmin Masri isn’t convinced. The Fitter’s Workshop, an open plan concrete building on the Kingston Foreshore, has been at the centre of disputes in the local arts community for nearing two years. Currently the venue holds the annual Canberra International Music Festival and, despite being touted as a “multi-use arts venue”, is largely unused beyond this. When looking to develop the Kingston Arts Precinct in 2009, the ACT Government awarded the sole use of the space to Megalo, a Canberra based print studio. Music groups did not apply, although later claimed that the application process was poorly advertised. Since the decision about the use of the Fitters Workshop, various community petitions and counter petitions have ensued, with rumors of a pro-bono legal case still to come. But as we near the two-year mark this is all just getting old. The music community itself is divided on this issue, as the acoustic qualities of the room
only suit a small range of vocal and chamber styles. In contrast, the broader visual arts community is united behind the print studio. Megalo is an important local art institution. Its studios and galleries bring exciting, established artists to Canberra. It also supports the work of emerging artists which, among many other benefits, provides opportunities to the ANU School of Art Graduates each year. Further to this, anyone can become a member of Megalo and so use the facilities that they offer. Canberra doesn’t need more underused community halls. The Fitters Workshop’s prime location near the Canberra Glassworks and Bus Depot Markets would allow for an arts precinct to develop, creating a similar culture to that of the Jam Factory in Adelaide. When it is a case of community art group versus community art group, surely we have to support those who enable the creativity of more people?
Dawkins & Krauss Eric Shek on a conversation way too cozy for comfort between two self-confident atheists
If the Q&A showdown between Professor Richard Dawkins and Cardinal George Pell Chris Monnox was President of the Wollonwas a bitch-fight, the recent “conversation” gong Undergraduate Students Association in at ANU between Professor Dawkins and his 2010 and National Union of Students Welfare atheist henchman Professor Lawrence Krauss Officer in 2011. could be aptly described as a bitch session on God. One would expect that two pre-eminent scientific savants would engage in much deeper and more pensive discussion than the Q&A cat-like battle. But really what emerged was a rant on religion and a showering of praise on science that bore uncomfortable resemblance to the zealous sermons of their religious adversarYou must include: your name, your stuies. dent number, your year of study, one exThe rant started straight from the outample of original written or multimedia set, with Professor Krauss inviting Professor work, and a short biography including Dawkins to dish out some derogatory rewhy you are interested in becoming an marks about Cardinal Pell. Editor of ANU Student Media. Any From there on, Professor Krauss merely undergraduate or postgraduate student provided increasing amounts of fodder to who has made 3 submissions can nomiProfessor Dawkins to direct all his possible nate. artillery against religion, sliding snuggly into their red plush chairs and as well as their comfort zones. If you have any questions about the elecThe attack on religion reached a climax as tions or the role of an editor, get in touch Professor Dawkins declared: “Why would with us at firstname.lastname@example.org anyone base their moral beliefs on religion?”
WORONI. EDITORIAL ELECTIONS ANU STUDENT MEDIA, INC
Fitter’s Workshop: much ado about nothing
So what was the alternative? Just take a night to lie down and look at the starry night, and you’ll feel an immense privilege to be a part of the universe, no matter how insignificant. That’s right, drop your scriptures and look at the sky and all will be fine. Professor Dawkins didn’t explicitly provide that those holding religious beliefs should abandon them, but rather said that they should be subject to scrutiny about their beliefs. If they could “defend their faith convincingly”, they had valid grounds for their religious beliefs. But the anti-God thrust of the conversation was clear: there is no convincing proof for the existence of God, so your values have no valid basis. The religious amongst the audience were really left with no room to move, except for the lady who lividly took issue with the professors’ denigration of her Catholic beliefs during question time and swiftly left the hall. Professors Dawkins and Krauss certainly have a point in exposing the dangers of fundamentalist religious beliefs, but a world ruled by science is equally alarming. Unless they have scientific proof for democracy, human rights, ethical living, and other values we so cherish.
The Dow Chemical company presents Introduction to Economics
Harry Lawless looks at the thorny issue of corporate money in universities.
It’s a problem that can seem dystopian and hence ridiculous: hegemonic corporate sponsorship of university faculties. These institutions, like Sydney University’s United States Studies Centre (USSC), do exist, and may impact a university and its students in many ways beyond the obvious. Two million dollars is provided by the Dow Chemical Company, the chronic war profiteer and at one point the sole supplier of napalm to the U.S. government in the Vietnam War, to the USSC. Merck & Co, a giant pharmaceutical company, has contributed over $500 thousand. More generally, the faculty is half-sponsored and organised by the American Australian Association (AAA), which is heavily funded by Rupert Murdoch personally and an array of US corporations. Tim Anderson, a lecturer in Political Economy at Sydney University – considered to be the last bastion of genuinely left-wing ideas within the university – has argued strongly that the involvement of these groups amounts to censorship. In 2010 he stated that, “In addition to vetting all senior appointments, the [AAA] has demanded detailed and annual accountability…and clearly holds the purse strings…the university provides a cloak of intellectual legitimacy for the project, but the private lobby group holds the reins and has positioned itself to move the centre elsewhere, if dissatisfied”. Pervasive influence, sure. But is such influence as terrible for students as Anderson implies?
Relevant to this debate is the extent to which universities are becoming vocational and less Harold Bloom-esque institutions of learning-for-learning’s-sake. Excluding a shrinking elite, the primary reason students attend university is to improve their chances of finding better-paying or more rewarding employment than they would be able to without a degree, according to a 2010 survey conducted by the Times newspaper. Ownership of university faculties, if wellregulated, could help provide a channel of access between job-seekers and job-creators, and give degrees, particularly in the humanities, a more tangible bent. For instance, the AAA is legally a company, and through extensive links to the business world – including partial chairmanship of the Business Council for Australia, New Zealand and the US, it can offer a bewilderingly extensive scholarships and internships program. In a way this has already been achieved at the ANU without private sector interference, where internships can be integrated into one’s degree through individual agreements or through the university-run Australian National Internships Program. However, because of the nature of placements, this program overwhelmingly caters for those interested in government and the public service, versus USSC’s engagement with the private sector (where most of us will end up). Without the incredible degree of financial and administrative aid the ANU receives from the government, it is unlikely that even
this limited scope for vocational education would be in any way meaningful. Just because it is better, does not mean it is right, and any private sector engagement in universities must be heavily scrutinised to avoid bias. It has been argued that the success of institutions with political agendas like the USSC is not by extolling a particularly controversial or pro-business view, but rather by avoiding sensitive topics, like war profiteering in Iraq or the political influence of America’s Big Pharmaceutical. Such subtlety makes it difficult to condemn the faculty, particularly when the quality of lecturers and tutors is so high due to the money that is thrown at it. Indeed, at a University where they are being forced to auction off their own paintings to make ends meet, it is clear that a cash cow like the USSC is too tempting to pass up for the sake of an arguably obsolete ideal of academic integrity. At the ANU we may be able to stave off this dystopian nightmare for a little longer because of our generous friends in Parliament House. It would appear that corporate sponsorship is the direction in which the world is heading. It would be far better to establish conditions whereby universities can exercise at least a degree of influence over co-sponsored faculties now while they are in their infancy, rather than realise the threat that they could pose too late and be too financially dependent on the private sector to argue. This is an issue that cannot be ignored.
ILLUSTRATION: TOM WESTLAND
IB should cool its heels MARK FABIAN By all accounts, this year’s Inbound Bound (IB) was a fiasco. Less than a dozen of the 64 teams made it to end-point and several participants experienced severe dehydration. Several teams ran close to 100km without coming near the finish line. Some teams were given the wrong end-point coordinates. In light of these catastrophes, it may be time to investigate whether IB needs to be run the way it is. For those who don’t know, IB is a one-ofa-kind ultra-marathon rogaining event held once a year by the ANU halls and colleges. There are seven divisions. It is customary for division 1 to run close to 100km, while division 7 runs roughly 25km. Participants are dropped in groups of four in the bush in the middle of the night, given coordinates to end-point, and told to get running. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the event. In 2008, when I was sports rep for Burton and Garran Hall, the event ran into some major hurdles with insurance and council permissions. The Interhall Sports President worked tirelessly to get the event off the ground, but to no avail. An enormous effort was subsequently made to professionalise the organisational side of the event to great effect. Insurance issues were overcome, and the institution of rules for running through private property assuaged local councils. The runs in 2010 and 2011, in which I participated, were flawlessly executed by the same team that was in charge this year. The problem then is not the organisational structure of the event, and it would be inconsistent to suggest changes to the fundamentals of IB as a result of this year’s incidents. But this year showed how very wrong IB can go, and given the recent history of insurance issues and the ANU’s constant apprehensions about the event, now seems as good a time as any to consider some reforms. Here is my proposal: halve the distances. 50km overnight with navigation is still a great challenge. I would say it is just as epic as 100km because you would actually have people racing to the line instead of struggling to finish. Running speeds would increase dramatically. In addition, courses could be set almost entirely in national parks, eliminating the irritating private property rules, which often cause post-event controversy. IB would be cheaper and easier to organise. Insurance would not be so much of an issue. Fewer councils would need to be appeased. It would be easier for colleges to find people willing to run. The lower divisions would be more competitive. Crucially, the event would be safer on so many levels. Human bones do not mature to the point where running a marathon is safe until your thirties. I know several individuals who have suffered permanent knee damage as a result of running three high division inward bounds. Beyond this, dehydration would not be so great a risk and evacuation of broken ankles would be easier. And the event would still be epic, and adventurous, and fun; so why not?
What chance for reform in Indonesia?
Economic advisor to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Dede Basri, talks to Liam Gammon about how Indonesia will face up to the challenges of the next decade.
Arguably one of the most welcome good news stories of the last decade has been Indonesia’s remarkable recovery from its economic collapse in the aftermath of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. Under the presidencies of Megawati Soekarnoputri (2001-2004) and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004-), successful macroeconomic management has seen the country’s budget balanced, inflation and government debt brought under control, and a successful evasion of another domestic banking crisis during the GFC of 2008. Combined with the return of relative political stability under president Yudhoyono, all this has facilitated the return of strong economic growth (6.5% in 2011) and a flood of foreign investment—particularly in natural resources, and in selling consumer products to Indonesia’s burgeoning middle class. Be it BHP, BlackBerry or Korean boy band managers, everybody wants a piece of the action. Yet the visible signs of economic recovery can and do distract from the massive social and economic problems Indonesia still struggles with. Corruption in government is endemic, from cabinet ministers to cops on the street. Indonesia has seen nothing like the infrastructure development that has occurred in China, with ports, highways and railways decades behind its competitors. Indonesia still has no comprehensive social security system. Huge increases in social spending have not been matched with satisfactory increases in health and educational outcomes, or reduction in poverty rates. One Indonesian well-qualified to share insights on the opportunities and challenges his country meets today is Dr Muhammad Chat-
ib ‘Dede’ Basri, economist at the University of Indonesia and economic advisor to the Indonesian president. Dr Basri was a panellist at the Crawford School dialogue ‘Thinking About the Asian Century”, which was held here at the ANU— his alma mater—on 18th April. Woroni spoke to Dede Basri at the Crawford event for his thoughts on what the future holds for Indonesia’s economy:
year at the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) revealed to be brittle and hollow. The timing of the removal, so close to the sensitive period of leadership change, coupled with the fact that Bo shares a similar family background with many senior leaders, is given as the reason for the significance of the drama. But the removal of Bo, never a deeply powerful player in Chinese politics, is not without precedent. Over the past two decades there have been three instances (including that of Bo) where a senior leader was removed from power close to a CCP conference and leadership change. The first case occurred in the 1990’s when Jiang Zemin led China. Chen Xitong was the powerful Party Secretary of Beijing and a long-time political rival of Jiang. At a time when many of the informal institutions which govern China today were being formed and when Jiang was still trying to solidify his power, Chen represented a major stumbling block to Jiang’s authority. In 1994, the Vice-Mayor of Beijing, Wang Baosen, committed suicide triggering an inquiry which eventually led to an investigation into Chen. He was removed from office in 1995 and in 1998 was sentenced to 16 years in prison for corruption, bribery and dereliction of duty. The second case involved current Presi-
Brendan Forde continues the strange tale of the Chinese Communist party figure whose wife has now been accused of murdering a British expatriate businessman.
Xinhua news agency released a statement announcing that former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai had been stripped of his final few offices and placed under investigation for misconduct. In a dramatic twist his wife, Gu Kailai, has been arrested for the murder of an expatriate British businessman. The entire saga has played out as if following the script of a political drama on film: corruption, intrigue, murder. But while Bo’s case has been dramatic, does the political significance of the saga match the intensity of the controversy? According to many commentators the fall of Bo challenges the entire structure of elite politics in China with the institutionalised leadership transition coming up later this
If we’re talking about access to education, particularly at the primary level, I think it’s good enough already. Our literacy rate is high; higher than India, actually. If we’re talking about tertiary education, then it’s not just about access, but quality. There are still a lot of problems there. Our ability in innovation, R&D, technology—Indonesia, relatively speaking, lags behind. The government has to work hard on this issue, to ensure that the quality of human resources is there.
It’s clear to see that a lot of wealth is being created in Indonesia today. Is this being Indonesia has recently passed laws restrictmatched with sufficient reduction in poverty ing foreign ownership of resources projects, levels? Is the prosperity being spread evenly? and employment of foreign executives in local firms. Some observers, including from here at Firstly, talking about just the incidence of the ANU, have criticised what they see as Inpoverty, the poverty rate has been in steady donesia’s tendency to embrace economic prodecline. Now it’s about 13 per cent, you’re talk- tectionism in good times, and reform when ing about 30 million people. But the question bad times force it to. Do you agree with this is whether this is fast enough. It’s true that analysis? in the last ten years a lot of wealth has been created. But if you look at the composition of Yes, actually I agree very much. But that’s this, for example in the growth in consump- not unique to Indonesia. Everybody wants to tion, it’s really being driven by the top 30 per reap the benefits of the good times, often in cent, rather than the lower ones. Their con- the form of protectionism. In the bad times, sumption has increased also. But the problem politicians will usually listen to the technoof inequality has also increased, for example crats. It is true that in Indonesia there’s a our Gini coefficient has increased. tendency of creeping protectionism. But we need to also understand that Indonesia has You mentioned at the ‘Thinking About the also made engagements—with the ASEAN Asian Century’ conference that Indonesia en- FTA, the ASEAN-China FTA, to APEC, the joys a ‘demographic dividend’, i.e. a boom in WTO. There will be “talk of war” domesticalthe proportion of the population of working ly, but I really think our commitments to inage. Are you confident that Indonesia will be ternational agreements will prevent us from able to educate this generation of workers so backtracking. the economy can benefit from this phenomenon? dent Hu Jintao. Shanghai Party Secretary Chen Liangyu found himself in opposition to the macroeconomic policies pursued by Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao. The authorities in Beijing wanted balanced national development without regional parochialism. This threatened Chen’s position on Shanghai’s development. The relationship between Chen and Beijing became increasingly strained as he tried to pursue his individual agenda. In August 2006 Shanghai official Qin Yu was removed from office for misappropriation of US four million dollars of municipal pension funds. This led to an investigation which implicated Chen. By August he had been dismissed from all positions and placed under arrest for corruption and misconduct. Unusually his case was handed over to civil judicial authorities who in 2008 found Chen guilty and sentenced him to 18 years in prison. The cases of both Chen Xitong and Chen Liangyu draw noticeable parallels with that of Bo Xilai. Both Chens had difficult relations with the authorities in Beijing, just as Bo did. All three were brought down by a close aide in one form or another. All three were stripped of office with ease by the central authorities. But the most important commonality comes from timing; each case occurred before a major meeting of the CCP. In the first case, Chen Xitong was removed just before the 15th Congress which
Is Indonesia moving fast enough on developing a comprehensive social security system? The government is preparing for this one. But in talking about social security, we need to be careful. We need to learn from what happened in Europe. If you allocate a lot of money into a system and not consider the fiscal sustainability of it, it could be very dangerous. We need to find a balance between the need for social security and fiscal sustainability. President Yudhoyono has suffered some of big political and legislative defeats in his second term. If he is a ‘lame duck’ president as the media narrative says, can we expect any major reform before his term expires in 2014? With all the pressure of reform, there will continue to be a lot of ‘talk of war’ between reformists and anti-reformists. Even up to 2014, I think we will continue to reform. But don’t expect that there will be very bold reforms. In a nutshell, how do you think young Australians should be thinking about Indonesia? Indonesia is a great country, and we really need to enhance our relationship with Australia, and not just between governments. More Australians could study about Indonesia. We’re a country of 240 million people, and a close neighbour of Australia. A lot of things need to be done between our two countries. marked a period of consolidation by Jiang Zemin. He was sentenced before the 16th Congres, in which Hu Jintao rose to power. Chen Liangyu was removed just before the 17th Congress in which Hu consolidated his power and Xi Jinping effectively became the anointed successor. The removal of Bo comes months before the 18th Congress in which Xi will become the leader of China. In each of these cases the targeted figure was removed with little trouble. This is remarkable given the power possessed by both Chens. Bo comparatively could not count on a commensurate level of power; even his influential connections were unable to save him. Regardless of these commonalities, the three cases are not directly connected. The common thread which animates them is the role of the central Party in removing the figure. In none of the cases did the removal precipitate a crisis in the Party. All accepted the decision by the central authorities, not wanting to be seen to be defending a purged leader. The connection with the upcoming succession is minimal as shown elsewhere; Bo just became too big a problem for the Party to ignore. Bo’s wife has fallen as well; allegations of murder are difficult to brush aside. By removing her, Bo’s power base is eroded. Bo’s removal was quick and relatively painless; the Party and public opinion are largely united behind the decision. Regardless of what fate awaits him Bo has inadvertently shown the resilience of the Party under internal pressure.
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North Korea’s new leader may just be a chip off the old block, says Ben Henschke In the days leading up to April 15th, the world was granted a rare glimpse into one of the most secretive nations on Earth. Fifty foreign journalists were shepherded into Pyongyang and North Korean state media beamed bombastic military parades around the globe. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Kim Ilsung, founder of the North Korean state and Eternal President of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. To some, he was a megalomaniacal tyrant, mixing sadism with a Donald Trump-esque penchant for self-congratulation. A towering testament to this is the Mansudae Grand Monument, a gigantic Kim statue presented to him on his 60th birthday, at which all foreign visitors must pay their respects when visiting Pyongyang. To others, he is the endlessly beneficent father of the Korean people, who singlehandedly defeated Japanese colonialism and overcame the rapacious United States. Living in North Korea would be markedly easier if your opinion matched the latter. The centenary celebrations were no less orgiastic than was expected—nobody parties like the Korean Workers’ Party. Some events were innocuous enough. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that participants at an international festival in honour of the centenary called for “Holding Peerlessly Great Men in High Esteem as the Eternal Sun”. Guinea held an exhibition of Kimilsungia, an orchid-like flower named, the regime insists, by former Indonesian President Sukarno to honour Kim’s great exploits. Unfortunately for the international community, no North Korean shindig is complete without a few military provocations. Accompanying the armed forces through the Pyongyang streets was a new road-mobile ballistic missile with an alleged range of 5,000-6,000 kilometres—enough to hit the United States, although the missile remains untested. Most unsettling, though, was a failed rocket launch on April 13th that forced North Korea’s neighbours onto high military alert.
The North claimed that the rocket carried a weather-monitoring satellite, while its neighbours considered the launch a missile test. Japan, South Korea and the United States had all vowed to shoot down the rocket if it entered their airspace, but it fizzled and splashed into the ocean soon after take-off. In a move that has baffled analysts, state media admitted the failure a few hours after the launch. In the past, even after spectacular failures, the KCNA has announced that the rockets were orbiting Earth, transmitting revolutionary songs penned by Kim Il-sung himself. This time, however, the KCNA issued a three-sentence statement admitting that, “The earth observation satellite failed to enter its preset orbit. Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure.” (Given that the missile failed while fifty international journalists were in the country and the world was watching, it might have be more correct to announce that, “The Party is now blaming scientists, technicians and experts as the cause of the failure, and will promptly dispose of their bodies in a secret location.”) This may simply be an acknowledgement that with an influx of contraband technology from China, the North Korean people are now more informed and less vulnerable to government propaganda. It may also be a diplomatic tactic designed to salvage the Leap Day Deal with the United States, in which North Korea agreed to a moratorium on long-range missile tests, nuclear tests and uranium enrichment in exchange for 240,000 tons of food. The United States trashed the deal in retaliation for the rocket launch. The question now is how, if at all, other na-
tions continue negotiations with North Korea. The Leap Day Agreement brought with it a brief period of optimism that the younger Kim may not be as uncompromising as his father. The demise of that deal means one of two things: the military announced the launch to undermine the Foreign Ministry, symptomatic of a power struggle within the regime; or that Kim Jong-un has learnt from his father the art of diplomatic baiting. The second conclusion seems increasingly likely. The KCNA has been at pains to stress that Kim Jong-un is “identical” to his late father, Kim Jong-il. In his maiden public speech, delivered on his grandfather’s birthday, Jong-un called for a strengthening of the ‘military first’ (songun) doctrine, instead placing the “first, second and third” priority on the military. A glance at the tab for the week’s festivities shows that these words were not mere posturing. South Korean intelligence calculates that the rocket launch cost Pyongyang US$850 million, enough to feed 19 million people for a year. Overall, it estimates the cost of the centenary celebrations to have been $2 billion, or a third of the DPRK’s annual budget. Adding to the tensions, there have been predictions of an underground nuclear test in the near future. Such an action would seriously compromise the chances of any diplomatic solution, so negotiators will need to quickly find a way to convince North Korea that a Leap Day-style agreement is more beneficial than repeated nuclear and missile test failures. If they cannot, the second Kim century will be no less of a headache than the first.
“ intelligence “South Korean calculates that the rocket launch cost Pyongyang US$850 million, enough to feed 19 million people for a year. Overall, it estimates the cost of the centenary celebrations to have been $2 billion, or a third of the DPRK’s annual budget.” ”
Winter is coming, and the dreaded cold and flu season will shortly follow. Herbal remedies and bucket-loads of tea may soothe the symptoms of winter sniffles, but the common cold virus itself is famously incurable. That might be about to change, however, thanks to new research at MIT. In a paper published in 2011, a group of researchers at MIT introduced the world to DRACO: Double-stranded Ribonucleic Acid Activated Caspase Oligomeriser. DRACO is an innovative anti-viral agent that identifies cells infected by viruses, and then induces “cell-suicide”, causing infected cells to die and stop the reproduction of the virus. Viral diseases are common, and can be much more deadly than the common cold. Chickenpox, hepatitis, influenza (including swine flu and bird flu), polio, herpes, and HIV/AIDS are just a few of the diseases caused by viral infection. Some diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, have been linked to viral infections, although may not be directly caused by a specific virus. Treatments for specific viruses exist, but viruses have the unfortunate tendency to grow resistant to individual treatments. The flu shot is targeted to a different influenza virus every year because the disease mutates rapidly, limiting the effectiveness of the previous year’s treatment. DRACO is the first “broad-spectrum” antiviral agent. It is not tailor-made to a specific virus, but is able to identify a wide range of viruses by spotting viral RNA (genetic data) inside an organism’s cells. So far, research has demonstrated the effectiveness of DRACO in both treating and preventing infections by fifteen different viruses (including rhinovirus, the common cold). While further research is required before human trials can begin, the potential uses for DRACO are numerous. Sniffling and noseblowing could be eradicated from campus libraries worldwide. Sudden outbreaks of never-before-seen or newly mutated viruses, like SARS in late 2002 or swine-origin H1N1 in 2009, could be treated and contained. Diseases like polio and AIDS could be made a thing of the past. DRACO is not just an awesome acronym; it could potentially save millions of lives. For more information, the MIT paper on DRACO, Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Therapeutics, is available on PLoS ONE (www. plosone.org)
SHOOT TO KILL A spate of recent incidents of gun-related violence in the United States hasbrought the topic of gun rights and laws, a contentious topic at the best of times, back to the forefront of national discourse. In Florida, Trayvon Martin, a 17-yearold African-American boy, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a 28-yearold community watch coordinator, as Martin was walking back to his home in a private gated community. In Oakland, California, One Goh, a 43-year-old Korean-American, opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun at Oikos University, a Korean Christian college, killing 7 and injuring 3. Four New York City police officers in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, were shot while rescuing a woman and her 4-month-old baby from her boyfriend. Suspect Nakwon Foxworth, 33, shot at the police officers with his 9-mm Browning semiautomatic handgun, which had been obtained out-of-state, despite having a criminal record. Even a casual observer might conclude that there is something seriously wrong in a country where normal civilians and even people with criminal records s are able to buy semiautomatic pistols and assault rifles, weapons typically available only to law-enforcement and the armed forces in most other countries. Indeed, the above-cited examples are only the most dramatic ones of an epidemic of gun violence, which, according to the U.S Centre for Disease Control, claims over 30, 000 lives in America annually.. For every person who dies from a gunshot wound, another two are wounded.
The easy availability of guns increases the probability of deaths from domestic violence by placing lethal weapons in the hands of the emotionally unstable . It also increases the ease of suicide and places children at particular risk. With all this happening, why are politicians and policymakers failing in their duty to protect their constituents, and not enacting legislation ensuring more responsible gun use? Why did Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum insist, as did his party counterparts, that “this is not a firearms issue, it is a human issue”? To answer this question, one must understand the power of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA is the major advocate for gun rights in the American political scene. The organisation, founded in 1871 in New York by two Civil War veterans who were con-
Andaleeb Akhand on gun culture & politics in the United States.
cerned about the lack of marksmanship in the armed forces, now has over 4 million members. It considers itself the guardian of the Second Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights and court rulings, which protect an individual’s right to possess a firearm. Indeed, it was the NRA that was the driving force behind the proliferation of “stand your ground” laws that were illustrated most recently in the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. The standyour-ground law states that a person may use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first. T h e s e laws have often been criticised as “shoot first” laws by gun control advocates, and in Florida, has resulted in self-defense claims tripling since its introduction. Critics say that the existence of the law makes it extremely difficult to prosecute those who shoot others claiming self-defense, as the shooter can argue they felt
“Is the right “ to own an AK47, AR-15 or Uzi really what the drafters of the Second Amendment envisioned? Or is its only purpose to arm criminals and strengthen the NRA’s ridiculous proposition that it is part of Americans’ constitutional right to defend themselves?
threatened, and the only other witness is the one who was shot. In 1994, the Assault Weapons Ban was enacted by then-President Bill Clinton. It outlawed the sale and importation of 19 military-style weapons. The reality of bipartisan politics, however, saw the Democrats agree with the Republicans to let it expire in ten years time, unless support was renewed. By 2004, though, with Bush and the Republicans in charge, support for extending the ban had evaporated. Moreover, the NRA opposed the bill’s renewal, idespite support from many police organizations, including 1,100 police chiefs and sheriffs from around the country, to extend it. Is the right to own an AK-47, AR-15 or Uzi really what the drafters of the Second Amendment envisioned? Or is its only purpose to arm criminals and strengthen the NRA’s ridiculous proposition that it is part of Americans’ constitutional right to defend themselves? America’s leaders face a monumental decision: whether they will continue to capitulate to the blackmail of the NRA and the gun lobby, or listen to the sorrow of those whose lives have been destroyed by gun shootings? If they choose to go down the latter road, a great deal can be achieved with a mix of better training and gun control legislation including repealing the assault weapons and the stand-your-ground law, and more thorough background and mental health checks. If they choose the former path, however, one cannot expect to be surprised that a gun continues to be the tool for many more senseless tragedies in the States.
WORONI’S GROOVIN’ THE MOO COMPETITION We asked you to tell us the band you were most excited to see and why...in 25 words or less. We had some amazing entries, but alas, there can only be two winners. Congratulations to Hannah Bruce and Shota Adam, who both won double passes to Groovin’ the Moo 2012.
Compulsory vegetarianism. Drugs that make you care. Discouraging reproduction. Making people shorter. Is this how we save the world? The ecological future of the Earth is – let’s face it – bleak. So it’s no surprise some scientists are considering drastic measures, as Elise Thomas reports. In the near future the journal Ethics, Policy & Environment is set to publish an article which is already making waves. Titled “Human Engineering and Climate Change”, the article, written by three bioethicists, argues that the world should seriously consider the possibility of engineering humanity in order to reduce carbon emissions. Behavioural and market-based solutions to climate change are, the article argues, unlikely to do enough to mitigate climate change. Solutions such as geo-engineering, are unproven and extremely risky. The purpose of the paper, its authors Liao, Sandberg and Roache say, is to open up the debate on the possibility of engineering ourselves and our children to lower carbon emissions. Their paper has so far been met with scepticism, ridicule and flat dismissal. This is hardly surprising, as their proposals for possible applications of human engineering range from the bizarre to the downright disturbing. The four main suggestions are listed below.
Biologically enforced vegetarianism Animals produce methane. Cattle are particularly prolific, with the global bovine population estimated to produce somewhere between 150-750 billion litres of methane per day. The UN has estimated that up to 18% of the world’s carbon emissions come from livestock farming (more than is produced by transport). The authors’ proposed solution is to induce ‘pharmacological meat intolerance’ amongst the population. They admit that their first proposal, slathering the meat in something designed to make you vomit is unlikely to be popular. Instead they propose a kind of meat allergy patch - like a nicotine patch, only instead of curing you of meat cravings it’s going to make you sick every time you eat something that comes from a cow.
Drugging people to make them nicer It’s a sad but true fact that many people don’t care much about the environment, or if they do, care only in the kind of vague, formless way that they care about people starving in Africa and obscure species of tropical birds going extinct in the Amazon. People who care more about an issue are more likely to do something about it. Liao, Sandberg and Roache’s plan is to increase altruism amongst the general population using a drug called oxytocin. Oxytocin, amusingly referred to by one researcher as ‘the cuddle hormone’, is the chemical released just after a woman gives birth to help her bond with the baby. It makes people more trusting, less stressed, more social and more generous. A 2007 study found that it also made people 80% more likely to give money to a stranger. The problem is that alongside all that fuzzy good will comes a whole
heap of trust, and not a lot of good judgment. Research has shown that people doped up on oxytocin are more likely to trust even when they have clear reasons not to. The article makes a grudging nod to the need to ‘minimise’ the obvious risks for a world full of trusting people doped up on happy hormones, but maintains that the effect on carbon emissions would be worth it.
Make people smarter so they have fewer babies
A 2002 study in the US found that women with lower cognitive abilities were more likely to have babies before the age of 18. The article argues that this implies the use of ‘cognition enhancements’ could be effective in lowering birth rates in first world countries . The article makes no recommendations for what these cognition enhancements should be but goes on to say that if the experiment fails to have any effect on birth ratesat least making people smarter is a good end in itself.
Shorties are better for the environment Short people consume less, so the theory goes. They eat less food, their clothes use less fabric, they weigh less and so they don’t wear out furniture and shoes and the carpet so quickly. Therefore short people are better for the environment. The height of your children, the authors suggest, could even serve as a kind of trade-off for the number of children you have. Human growth is heavily influenced by hormones. One obvious method of engineering smaller children is to decrease or inhibit the effect of hormones known to cause growth. A second method suggested by the article is the possibility of screening embryos in the womb, something which is already taking place. Instead of screening for genetic diseases, however, doctors would be screening for embryos with a genetic predisposition to tallness. As Liao, Sandberg and Roache rather chillingly put it, “It would simply involve rethinking the criteria” for which embryos should be terminated. Terminating a pregnancy for medical issues is already an extremely complex, difficult and emotional decision; terminating a pregnancy because the resulting child might grow up tall seems almost unimaginable. Liao et. al.’s final suggestion for engineering a smaller human race is to use ‘drugs or nutrients’ in pregnant women to reduce the birth weight and possibly also the birth height of their babies. The article is unclear on exactly how drugs or nutrients would be used to achieve this. It leaves unanswered the glaring question of whether depriving foetuses of the chemicals and nutrients necessary for growth would also mean compromising their health or the health of their mother.
12 LISA VISENTIN
AND THE LAW In Australia, one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. This means that termination facilities are an essential health service that have been, or will be, accessed by a woman you know: a friend, a sister, a girlfriend…you. Yet abortion remains regulated under criminal legislation in most parts of Australia. Abortion. It’s a dirty word. It evokes imagery of bloodied foetuses, broken and undignified, hands and feet identifiable. It is, of course, imagery for which the pro-life propaganda campaigns deserve begrudging back pats for their exceptional use of Photoshop. It is an under-acknowledged fact that unplanned pregnancy is a reality for many, many Australian women. In fact, over half of all pregnancies in Australia are estimated to be unplanned, and around one quarter of all pregnancies are terminated. The sexual arena is rarely conducive to sensible, forward thinking, but even with preventative measures it largely comes down to a numbers game. In her fertile years, the average woman will cycle over 500 times, meaning that over a 35 year timeframe she has more than 500 chances to fall pregnant. According to the World Health Organisation, even if all contraceptive users used contraception perfectly in every sexual encounter, there would still be six million unintended pregnancies every year. In real, quantifiable terms an estimated 90,000 -100,000 Australian women have their pregnancies terminated every year. In Australia, abortion is not a hot issue. Rather, it percolates at the periphery of public interest, occasionally launched back into the spotlight with political issues such as the RU486 debate in 2006, and the 2010 prosecution of a Queensland couple under the state’s abortion laws. But, for the most part, our exposure to the abortion debate comes via media channels from the US, giving us ample opportunity to saddle up our highhorses with an exhale of “only in America”. Only in America would state legislatures attempt to wrestle women into the stirrups, the latest manifestation of what is now being dubbed as the Republican Party’s “War on Women”. In recent months, a swathe of red states have initiated regressive legislative packages that force women to submit to a mandatory transvaginal ultrasound prior to undergoing an abortion procedure. It is, without hyperbole or exaggeration, state-sanctioned rape. Abortion in Australia is, by comparison, an extremely cold issue. A false polemic. And this is the
problem. The relative availability of abortion belies the fact that Australia’s system is embarrassingly fractured. And there is no social impetus for reform. In every state and territory, except the ACT and Victoria, Australian women do not have a legal right to choose. Yes, you read that correctly. They do not have an express right under law to make an autonomous decision to terminate their pregnancy. Instead, under the various state instruments, this right is ascribed to one, or sometimes two, doctors who must judge abortion to be in the best interests of the woman’s physical or mental health, or necessary to preserve her life. Practically speaking, this requirement rarely poses any actual impingement on a woman’s ability to access abortion services. But this seemingly innocuous procedural hoop is latent with ideology that rejects the notions of moral agency and bodily autonomy that should feature front and centre in any self-respecting democracy. There is something irrefutably paternalistic in requiring a woman to justify her decision to a timeconstrained doctor who legally possesses the right to refuse, regardless of the rarity with which such right is asserted. Then there’s the fact that abortion remains regulated under criminal legislation in every Australian jurisdiction, except the ACT and Victoria. Most draconian and archaic of all the laws are those in NSW and Queensland. In legislation which predates Federation, it remains a crime in NSW and Queensland for a woman to intend to abort her own pregnancy, for another person to intend to do so, and for someone to unlawfully supply or obtain for someone else the means to induce an abortion. The “it aint broke don’t fix it” argument held sway until 2009 when a Cairns couple, 19 year old Tegan Leach and 21 year of old Sergie Brennan, were charged under the first and third offences after they imported an abortifacient drug from the Ukraine and used it to terminate Leach’s eight-week pregnancy. Their acquittals hinged on a technical interpretation of the “noxious” status of the drug. Had they been convicted, they were looking at jail time of up to seven and three years respectively. Despite the media fracas generated by the trial, and widespread academic criticism calling for the overhaul of the archaic laws, they continue to exist in the same form as they did when they first became operative in 1899. Here in the ACT, abortion has been decriminalized since 2002, when it was repealed from the Crimes Act. Our laws are now described as
the most liberal in the country. Really, all they do is regulate abortion where it belongs: under health legislation, alongside other medical procedures. As it stands, abortion in the ACT can only be carried out by a medical practitioner in an approved medical facility. A doctor’s referral is not required. During the research for this piece, Woroni met with Kate*, a 24 year old ANU student who attended the Marie Stopes clinic in Civic for a medical abortion in 2011. She spoke openly of her experience, one that she likened to visit to a standard medical clinic: “You have this idea of this stereotype of woman who gets an abortion and that’s just not true at all. I was there with my partner, there were two young teenage girls, an elderly Indian couple, a woman by herself – all different ages, all different ethnicities.” Before seeing the doctor, a nurse performed an ultrasound on Kate with the screen turned away, confirming that she was eight weeks pregnant. The doctor then prescribed her with two doses of pills to take to induce the miscarriage. The first dose is taken during the consultation, and the second dose is taken at home 24-48 hours later. Within an hour of taking the second medication, the process starts. For Kate, at the upper threshold of the 9 week cutoff, the pain was agonizing. “It’s not gradual pain. I started feeling sick and then I vomited explosively. I just remember thinking about nothing else but how to stop the pain, how I would never want to do this again. I was completely delirious, I couldn’t speak.” During this time, Kate passed what she described as a grape-sized glob of tissue. A fortnight later she attended a standard follow-up appointment to ensure that the miscarriage had occurred without any irregularities. While she bears no guilt in relation to her decision, Kate acknowledges the stigma that remains associated with women who have an abortion. “For me it was a simple decision...but I felt really guilty that I didn’t feel guilty, and I knew people would be uncomfortable with me not feeling guilty about it at all.” With Victoria the only other state to provide the same ease of access to an abortion-provider as the ACT, access across the rest of Australia remains circumscribed by restrictive and outdated legislation. The inability of the abortion issue to make the transition from the academic arena, where the calls for reform are loud and frequent, to the political scene, suggests we can expect to see this antiquated and fragmented system in place for decades to come. For the tens of thousands of Australian women who access abortion facilities annually, reform is key to fully destigmatising this essential health service. *Name changed to protect identity of interviewee.
Inward Bound End Point
OUT & ABOUT// 13
Somewhere near Braidwood, NSW PHOTOS BY YASMIN MASRI
Earth Hour CHATHURI DISSANAYAKE
Try our $5.00 Meals!
Show your ANU Identification Card to our friendly staff to receive the special of the day for just $5.00! Available for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Open 8:00am-9:00pm, Monday-Friday / Ground Level, Lena Karmel Lodge
Art & Culture
Harry Tucker Nesting Tables, 2010 Bent Rock Maple veneer, coloured laminex and steel rod http://harrytanker.tumblr.com/
LIFE & STYLE// 16
the whos, wheres, whens, & hows of what’s kicking in Canberra. IN MY EYES Multicultural Centre Above Canberra Museum & Gallery 2-16 May Free
It’s a photo exhibition from a competition where ANU’s International Student Services asked students to submit photos “that portray what Canberra means to them and how Canberra makes them feel”. After the 95% of entries that took photos of dogshit were disqualified, they decided to exhibit the rest!
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HARDCORE PAWN: PLAYIN’ CHESS
LAUNCH OF LIP MAGAZINE #21 ANU Food Co-op Fri, 27 April - 7:30pm $7 donation This indie mag outfit has been around for yonks and the Canberra launch is bringing in fun musical locals like Pocket Fox, great readings from some contributors, and delicious soup
This game is between the Russian power14. … Qh3 house, Vladmir Kramnik and the Hungarian, 15. Re4 g5 Peter Leko, from the Classical World Chess An odd-looking pawn, but 16. Bxg5 is met Championship of 2004, in Brissago, Switzer- with 16. … Qf5 forking the rook and bishop. land. Leko plays into Kramnik’s preparation, only to be matched by an over-the-board 16. Qf1 Qh5 refutation, eventually taking the match. Let’s 17. Nd2 Bf5 get into it. 18. f3 Nf6 1. e4 e5 White attempts to improve his position by 2. Nf3 Nc6 giving up the exchange 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 19. Re1 Rae8 5. O-O Be7 20. Rxe8 Rxe8 6. Re1 b5 21. a4 Qg6 7. Bb3 O-O 22. axb5 Bd3 A very standard Ruy Lopez, one of the most 23. Qf2 Re2! popular openings played even today. Play reTrapping the white Queen. But, this is volves around control of the centre. Kramnik’s trap! If he can untangle his pieces, his strong a-pawn will become dominant 8. c3 d5 The Marshall Gambit., first played by Frank 24. Qxe2 Bxe2 Marshall in 1918. Black sacrifices a pawn for 25. bxa6 active play. Very dangerous for White. 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 12. d4 White has won a pawn, and his position looks ok. But looks can be deceiving – it is black that has all the activity.
12. … Bd6 A messy position. Black’s material advan13. Re1 Qh4 tage may soon be nullified by the seemingly 14. g3 unstoppable a-pawn. 14. h3 loses to 14. … Bxh3 15. gxh3 Qxh3 25. … Qd3 16. Re3 Bh2+ 17. Kh1 Bg3+ 18. Kg1 Qh2+ 19. 26. Kf2 Bxf3 Kf1 Qxf2#
STAR WARS BURLESQUE: THE EMPIRE STRIPS BACK Canberra Theatre Fri, 4 May - 8pm $68.50 + bf This is confusing but amazing. Whenever I watch Star Wars I have a hard on anyway, so it’s not like this is any different. It’s just Yoda is actually going to get down on Friday rather than just me hoping that Luke Skywalker is his boytoy, their lightsabers are scale representations of their penises, and when they keep talking about hyperdrives they’re actually talking about...
Black is undeterred by White’s plan, sacrificing his bishop to bring his knight into the fray 27. Nxf3 Ne4+ 28. Ke1 Nxc3 With no choice but to accept the sacrifice, White’s unassailable rook is suddenly exposed and vulnerable, and his position crumbles. 29. bxc3 Qxc3+ 30. Κf2 Qxa1 31. a7 h6 Black confidently secures his position. 32.h4 g4
With his pieces uncoordinated, a-pawn nullified and position in shambles, White resigns. 0-1 A beautifully played game by two of the modern chess greats!
Stephen Priest isn’t a particularly strong chess player, but that doesn’t stop him from writing! He currently plays, on-and-off, for the ANU Chess Club which meets weekly, 7pm on the bottom floor of the Baldessin Precinct Building.
LIFE & STYLE// 17
My stint as a Sober Sam GUS MCCUBBING
The idea—the ridiculous notion that one might go for an extended period of time sober— was introduced to me by a college friend. He had spent some six months on a stringent program of non-drinking, known as Hello Sunday Morning. In doing so, he had developed a deep-seated hatred for Lemonade, as well as discovering a few life lessons. This intrigued me. With Inward Bound’s ominous presence becoming increasingly stronger, I had always planned, at some point, to cut alcohol in the name of fitness. And officially, this is the explanation I maintained, being far easier for my drunken friends to digest on Thursday nights. However this was not the source of my curiosity regarding maintained sobriety. Waking up at 3pm one afternoon just after Oweek with the room spinning, no girl in my bed and having missed lunch at college, I decided I wasn’t particularly satisfied with the direction my second year at university was taking. It was clear that I lacked the ability to have a “few quiet drinks”. With a bottle of red downed at college, drunk Gus would begin to arouse and by the end of the second he would
just about have the reins, imposing his desire for total hedonism. Whilst my Mr. Hyde form wouldn’t kill handfuls of people, he would destroy thousands of my own brain cells. Thus, sacrificing alcohol, could I begin to remember even shreds of information from class? Would I become a more invigorated person? More importantly, could I still enjoy groggy nights out on Northbourne? There loomed obvious hurdles to be overcome during this stint, which were only exacerbated when the novelty of sober nights out soon wore off. Without the dense comfort of my beer blanket, the erosion of my soul affected by Chris Brown hits increased tenfold. When dancing sober, your legs cramp up hours before they should. You are hit with
the cold realisation that the likes of Meche or ICBM repeat songs up to three times in a single night. You become conscious of the limited set of dance moves at your disposal, something which, not unlike concentrating on your breathing, becomes surprisingly irritating. You must also constantly cough up IB-related excuses to expunge swathes of your inebriated friends, who are continually disgusted by your sobriety and wish for nothing more than for you to join them in the land of wasted. Weeks of this leaves you feeling like a prisoner in a cage of reason and lucidity, the only contact with your loved ones being through a pane of transparent glass. The ultimate hurdle to overcome however proved to be what exactly would replace alcohol. This began in a more innocuous fashion with twice the recommended daily dose of Red Bull regularly being consumed,
“ leaves you “Weeks of this feeling like a prisoner in a cage of reason and lucidity, the only contact with your loved ones being through a pane of transparent glass. ” ”
leaving me a jittering mess during the night and with heart palpitations in the morning. Later, however, my use of marijuana developed from a casual indulgence into a near reliance. Whilst this provided many a memorable experience, as usual, it really wasn’t any healthier than alcohol in terms of fitness. By the time I was finally on the booze again, I’d contracted not only shin splints but also some saddening knowledge. Sure it’s comforting to know that, if need be, you can probably enjoy a night out without drinking and that in doing so, you can then participate in less exciting, but more productive activities the following day. However, it was disappointingly difficult for me not to crave some sort of substance in order to unwind. Worse still, the overburdening lesson from this experience was that drinking is irrevocably ingrained in Australian culture. The consumption of alcohol is not seen as something to be occasionally enjoyed, but is instead expected. Whilst initiatives such as ‘Hello Sunday Morning’ are highly admirable, they are but small steps in remoulding this culturally endorsed reliance.
LIFE & STYLE// 18
Bluejuice talk shop
VICTOR WHITE Encompassing a much more ‘pop’ sound than their previous two albums, Head of the Hawk and Problems, Bluejuice’s latest album Company came out in October 2011 and received positive reviews. Lead man Stav Yiannoukas attributes some of the success to the way that they approached the record, with a much larger focus on shared collaboration. Stand out singles for me were “Cheap Trix” and “Shock”. The melody for “Cheap Trix” was largely written by co-frontman Jake Stone. Stav attributed the semi-cheesy 80’s electric theme that is the dominant theme of the song completely to Jake. However, the lyrics were written exclusively for Stav. Stav explained that he wrote the song about himself, after he realised that he had been a bit of a fuck to some of his close girl friends, and had hurt some of them with his womanizing ways. The difference between the seriousness of the lyrics with the pop feel of the riff is proof that the shared approach has really paid dividends for Bluejuice. Stav claims that was the aim of the record, to have personal and emotive lyrics but hide them underneath a feel good, grooving pop melody. However, not all of the lyrics can claim to be personal. Stav claims that Jake came up with the majority of the lyrics to “Shock”, a song I could emotionally connect with, when he stepped into the shower and the hot water wasn’t working so it was a literal shock to the system. Another reason why I have always really liked Bluejuice is their different and funny video clips. The video clip for “Act Yr Age” won an accolade of awards for best video clip and features Jake Stone in a disturbingly erotic kiss with a woman old enough to be his mother. Stav explained that the director they use, Sam Bennetts has been a friend of the band since high school and so it is very easy for them to create a shared vision. On the topic of the kiss, Stav promised that for their live shows there is an expanded and better version played live. Overall Company is a fantastic album that has the ability to lift your mood whilst hitting some core emotional elements. If is a far deeper record than its pop exterior suggests, and is a record that can really connect with the dark part inside of you. Bluejuice have built their reputation as a touring band and I cannot wait to see them live when they come to Canberra in May. Bluejuice are playing at Groovin’ The Moo in Canberra on May 13th. Tickets are available from www.gtm.net.au
Le Old Faithful Is Grandma naughty or nice? MURRAY ROBERTSON At our rigid annual family Christmas last December, where alcohol is not consumed for pleasure but to avoid the awkwardness, I was left in a corner with my dear grandfather. Being deaf and 87 means that he is invariably left out of most conversations but get a couple of light beers into him and he can talk for hours. As the Boxing Day test was the next day, cricket was on the tip of our tongues, “Murray” he said, “these Injuns (he pronounced it like this), these sand men (I cringed), they’re all a bunch of whinging *****” and I’ll stop there. He then laughed loudly and tottered off. An hour later he was found on the couch dozing and we subsequently took him home, not a bad Christmas for him I suspect. It got me thinking: at what age can I cease to be a viable part of human society and become a grumpy, racist and slightly senile badass? My grandfather passed that mark long ago, but I wonder if he had a choice in the matter. I feel there are two choices an older person can make when they retire, two paths that they could take as grandparents and citizens. Here they are.
The first road to elderly heaven is to be kind. This route is commonly associated with lovely old grandmothers who hand out sweets by the bucket load. Being slightly rotund does no harm to this role, where kindness, motherly actions and cakes are the norm. Some men may choose this course, and there is no shame in that. A husband and wife team of elderly kindness is a double dose of sugar and that definitely makes the medicine go down. Once the nice path is taken, it is best not to renege: turncoats and traitors are never the life of the party, just ask Kurtly Beale. The second, and more exciting road, is of course the elderly aggression. You’re outwardly critical of every aspect of society that has slightly changed in your lifetime. You radiate anger, you are hostile, and with your gravelly voice you criticise everything and everyone. When on public transport, you don’t stand up, but sit wherever you want, and if, by chance, there is someone in your seat, you berate them unashamedly. You can channel the racism from your era and bring
It so happened that I was left with a handful in the short and uneventful winter break of Canberra in 2011. A few drifted the halls of the establishment in warm clothes, as no amount of layers did justice to the cruel weather that brewed outside. I wandered in and out of my residence, mechanically commuting to and from my causal job. As I walked one evening from my workplace, I realised that it was Thursday. Normally, Thursday was reminded to us all on Wednesday, as many were demanded to stock on their inventories of alcohol, or were invited to ANU Bar or simply attended the UniNight at many a night club. However, this Thursday was different. Not many were left to remind. Therefore I took the opportunity to create a Thursday night for myself. After a quick trip to the
local superstore and a few text messages later, I had prepared a modest yet daring group to accompany me through this now much-anticipated night. It started with myself and just one other friend and a crisp bottle of Absolut. Half a bottle down, two others joined. That was it, the group was ready. The content of the bottle decreased as our volumes and hype amplified. The bottle was over, but by this time more bottles had mushroomed miraculously (the two other of Bethlehem may have come bearing gifts). The clock struck twelve, and as Cinderella forced herself from the clutches of the Prince, my little crew pranced into the Canberra night. We went into a club that has become famous for its pseudo-classy environs, a balcony and a dance floor that could
it back into the 21st century Names that no one knew existed come to the fore as you single out our multicultural society. You stole the cookie from the cookie jar, and no one can do anything about it. You can fart at dinner, you can swear at innate objects, you can shoplift, you can stare at people, you can urinate in public, you can go to bowling clubs and not feel out of place and best of all, you can wear pajamas all day and no one will care. You can do anything. When one does approach the magical seventy year barrier, make your decision wisely. My grandfather, bless his heart, two years ago received a congratulation letter from both the Queen and the then PM Kevin Rudd on his 60th wedding anniversary. Our family offered our congratulations but our grandmother, after reading Kevin’s letter, let go a long list of expletives and then started hissing in anger. I look forward for the day when I can hiss at my grandchildren, hurl abuse at students, become slightly racist and at public forums, when everyone is saying “Burns”, say “Boo-urns”.
MAN FRIDAY fit at least an ANU hall and a half (UniLodge discounted). We started to drink even more, our speech resembling the merriments of Charlie Sheen. More had become the order of the night, as we were so few. Alcohol alone wasn’t enough anymore… Three hours later I waltzed out of the club. It was really quiet outside now. I called my friend and he happily picked me up. We were both very happy. I was glad to realise that I had lost my jacket, my scarf and my ID. We skipped back to the club to enquire about the ID only, as the bitter cold Canberra of hours ungodly didn’t bother us anymore. And the ID was important because I wanted to carry on and get into more clubs. Much to our delightful surprise, they found my ID in the men’s room. My kind friend asked me if I had
been in the toilet, as I had told him I had to go to the men’s room two hours ago. He said he hadn’t seen me in the club since. Funnily, he also told me he was surprised I was still in there as the club had closed an hour ago. We laughed and went to another club. Next Friday morning I checked my phone to trace the two hours that I had no recollection of. I had called one of my old friends during that stint of oblivion. I phoned to ask him what I was saying to him. He said he had met me in the club earlier. Then I had called him, almost crying and pleading for help. I pondered hard – alas, no memory. Then, like a revelation, I felt a glimpse of an emotion during those two hours. I remembered being in the toilet and feeling like life would never be happy again.
LIFE & STYLE// 19
Eurovision Death of a Key Change: A New Era for Eurovision? Josh Bee investigates.
It’s almost time. Crotches are stuffed, the lyrics are mangled to perfection, and there is a strong whiff of flame retardant. Across Europe, acts have been painstakingly selected to carry the honour of their Nations to Azerbaijan on tasselly, epauletted shoulders. However, as Eurovision 2012 draws near, a stalwart regular is sadly MIA: the Key Change. Every song builds to a moment where a singer must choose between mediocrity and the chance of greatness. By raising the key up a notch, an act will either crash and burn to the screech of breaking vocal chords, or your disgusted, reserved façade will be surmounted by a torrent of squealing fandom. When the powerhouse that is Hera Björk took you soaring betwixt her hefty bosoms on synthesised waves of glory, as your retinas were willingly destroyed in an ecstasy of light - Eurovision moment. When Didrik Solli-Tangen and his quintet pulled a swift double to a cascade of golden
pyrotechnics - Eurovision moment. When the gravity defying Sakis Rouvas, having crumped and gyrated out of most of his shirt, took us flying to the top as he was elevated above the stadium on a custom built, Greek beflagged travelator - Eurovision moment. One despairs then to realise that as 2012 draws closer, the perpetual disappointment that is the UK entry seems to be the last bastion for this Eurovision institution. Portugal is also bringing the key change, but there hasn’t been a non-English winner since Molitva in 2007, and Vida Minha is no Molitva. Hopefully, Europe will regain its collective senses in the years to come, but if not, where is Eurovision headed, and where should you look to direct your douze points? For a masterfully faithful mix of bollywood inspired electro-pop, energetic chorey, wind machines, and flame jets, I award douze points to Norway. Whilst staging is
only brought together in the semis, Norway should have a strong lead if other teams continue in their desperate want for costuming and backup dancers (I’m looking at you Sweden). Speaking of costuming, it seems Jedward’s ABBA-Jetson-esque fusion shoulder pads are the closest we will get to a sequinned codpiece in this year’s competition, though early acrobatics indicate they will be a triumph of form and function. Thankfully, it does not seem the audience will be forced to endure the gratuitous violin props that have plagued Eurovision since Alexander Rybak robbed Greece back in 2009. However, it remains to be seen whether or not we’ll receive a wave of thrusting saxophonists courtesy of Moldova’s 2010 entry, a development, I think, that would be welcomed by all but the stoniest of hearts. Keep an eye out for the wild card of 2012, Russia’s Buranovo Grannies. Look closely for
GIRLS’ DAY “Regardless of whose woman you one day become, you will always be my goddess” The day before International Women’s Day, Tsinghua University in Beijing celebrates “Girls’ Day”. With an on-campus boys to girls ratio of 4:1, “Girls’ Day” is a chance for a celebration of girls on campus. Girls receive discounts at supermarkets and restaurants on campus, boys will give all sorts of gifts to their female classmates ranging from yoghurt (popular amongst the hydro engineering majors ) to condoms (popular amongst the art majors). There are wishing walls erected around campus where girls can anonymously stick up post it notes, along with a mobile phone number, requesting all sorts of gifts, ranging from an apple
signs of discord amongst the heavy baseline, as two of the Grannies were cut to comply with staging regulations. “Rocking Grannies a contender!” you say? With the characteristic voting skulduggery of the Eastern Bloc, anything could happen. Finally, there is a slightly unsettling penetration of no frills soft pop into this year’s competition, likely a result of Tom Dice’s popular “Me and My Guitar” entry in 2010. Whether we see a return to the flamboyantly bedazzled prime of Eurovision in years to come, or the melancholy embrace of a subdued mainstream pop, only Mr God knows (but today his phone is unfortunately out of range). Nonetheless, there should still be just enough “Eurovision” this year to satisfy that shameful pit of trash your mother affectionately calls a soul. As our eyes turn of Azerbaijan this May, let us just pray we are not witnessing the decline of a great European institution.
SUE-LIN WONG to a boyfriend who has never had sex. Another tradition are the standardised red and white signs which resemble the Chinese Communist Party’s political slogan signs which are strung up everywhere in China, along national highways, outside your local primary school and grocery stall. On “Girls’ Day”, these standardised red and white signs carry well-wishing, heartfelt messages from male classmates to female classmates. One sign which made me stop in my tracks was from a group of male classmates to a group of their female classmates: “Regardless of whose woman you one day become, you will all be our goddesses forever”.
Immediately, days of ANUSA Women’s Collective events and Burgmann’s Girls’ Nights In flashed before me. I thought, “Imagine if this sort of sign went up in Union Court.” I asked at least ten of my Chinese girlfriends what they thought about the message, in particular how they felt about becoming someone’s woman one day. Every single one of them thought the sign was lovely, thoughtful and mov-
ing. After all, they retorted, how is it different to saying “She’s my girlfriend” or “He’s my boyfriend”? Of course, I retorted back saying we would not say “She’s my woman”, let alone “He’s my man”. A couple of my Chinese girlfriends bemoaned the fact that their male classmates didn’t put up any sign for them at all and therefore weren’t nearly as caring as the boys who put up the message to their “goddesses”. “We put signs up like that one for the boys on ‘Boys’ Day’, why can’t they at least return the favour?” Which got me thinking: is there a time and a place for messages about still being goddess’ regardless of whose woman you become?
An intimate evening with John Cleese
A Golden Weekend Golden Plains Music Festival
Golden Plains, now in its sixth year, appears to have gracefully hit maturity. With an increasingly large backing and the ability to pull bands like Bon Iver, The Black Lips and Roots Manuva, it has come into its own. Like the suddenly good-looking little sister of your best friend, the festival was enjoyable to the point of rivalling its elder sibling, Meredith. Taking place in the quaint countryside of western Victoria, one could be forgiven for constantly quoting The Castle’s “Ah, the serenity.” It was a typical camping festival in that you could pitch a tent with your mates and amble back and forth between your fort and the stage in a blissful trance of music and whatever substances upon which you happened to lay your hands. However beyond the fact that you stay overnight, Golden Plains is markedly different from the likes of Big Day Out and Laneway for a few other reasons. First of all, there was no form of sponsorship present and thus the usual restriction of alcohol was absent. The allowance of tinnies made for the opportunity to achieve inebriation without going through the juvenile experiences of putting a bottle of Jack Daniels in your underpants as you skulk through the ticketbox or else suffer the grossly time-consuming queues to prove your age and be given an 18+ wristband. The other bane of most festival experiences is the heart-breaking time clashes between bands, a phenomenon that always seem to occur. It’s bad enough having to go through the process of weighing up which band to choose based on their quality and
As Queer as Folk National Folk Festival
The holiday that rolls around in early April means different things to everyone: Easter, maybe the start of a two-week scramble to catch up on assessments masquerading as a holiday, but for those among us harbouring a love for the strumming of guitars, wailing of violins, belly-dancing and teepees serving chai tea by the ladle, it means only one thing: The National Folk Festival. Happily coinciding with the beginning of the ANU mid-semester break every year,
the likelihood they’ll return to Australia, let alone making the gamble and then feeling like you made the wrong choice. Luckily, Golden Plains featured just one stage, so the only restriction upon you was how much fun your body could handle before it collapsed. The thirty-minute break between each band allowed for Margaret Thatcher-style power naps and enough little hints of sleep to occur so as to coax your body to march on into the wee hours of the morning. Another unique trait of Meredith and Golden Plains is the “Boot tradition”. When you feel that you have just experienced the best song of the weekend, you can raise your shoe in a glorious tribute to the artist. I couldn’t help but feel that this sentiment might have been somewhat lost upon first time Meredith performers. Nevertheless, it was a special feeling to see an array of boots, thongs and Van’s sneakers being thrust joyously in the air, before eventually participating yourself when the time was right. While everyone has their own highlights from the festival, no one can deny that the headline act, Bon Iver, provided a predictably fantastic performance. Arriving in a grey hoodie, Justin Vernon perfectly navigated that gentle balance between achieving a commanding stage presence without coming across as completely self-obsessed. And the music was phenomenal. Golden Plains certainly didn’t disappoint this year, and by the looks of things, it will only get better from here.
Many of you can probably appreciate that as a brother/sister combo, we have undertaken many long road trips each year back to our native Newcastle. We would happily confess that it is not unusual for these four and a half hours to be spent quoting the weird and wonderful dialogue of Monty Python. Whether it be yelling “Ni!” at the top of our lungs or pretending to be Mr Creosote exploding from over consumption out the window of the car, lets face it. We’re pretty big fans of all that is Monty Python. So you can imagine the kind of heart-stopping, toe-numbing excitement that we felt at the prospect of seeing none other than the great John Cleese – live! It is not often that a member of Monty Python graces our shores with a show, especially one as popular as John Cleese. However, due to a horrific divorce settlement, Cleese is in need of a bit of cash ($21 million to be exact) to pay off his third wife, American psychoanalist Alyce Faye Eichelberger. A setback for Cleese, but luckily for us, the easiest way for him to make a few pennies is to tour the world telling jokes. Dubbed “The Alimony Tour” by Cleese himself, the show has travelled across Australia this year, allowing audiences to spend an intimate 120 minutes with the genius of comedy. Even after his involvement in Monty Python, his work in Faulty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda has solidified his status as a household name. The show was divided into two sections. The first half of the show involved Cleese chatting to ABC 666 presenter Ross Solly about his family, his early life, his initial involvement in comedy and the times spent with the Monty Python gang. After the inter-
val, Cleese engaged in a stand up solo during which he spoke of his life post-Python. With much excitement and anticipation, we were finally there. We may have been the youngest attendees by a long shot, but when Cleese finally graced the stage, even the most senior of audience members were abuzz. It was a feat of strength that the 72 year-old could walk onto the stage, but once there he held the audience captive, exuding a messiah-like presence. Although the questions and answers were obviously staged, it still felt like an intimate night with Ross, John and the Boltons. Cleese openly shared his past experiences, both good and bad, all the while pontificating with the comedic timing and poise that has made him a household name across generations. Leaving the theatre during the interval, we were beaming with happiness and brimming with anticipation for what the second half would bring. Would we hear more of his turbulent relationship with his mother, or would he grace us with some silly walking? Sadly, we were to be let down and rather disappointed. Cleese emerged to read anecdotal tidbits from an auto-queue before showing YouTube-style clips from Python, Faulty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda. These naturally were very funny, but as avid fans we had seen them all. We could, in fact, recite them. This brought nothing new to the conversation. We felt as though Cleese was holding back from his usual eccentricity and reworking old material simply in order to pay off his ex-wife. Despite this dissatisfying conclusion to an otherwise engaging and enjoyable evening, audiences across the country were still lucky to be a part of the comedic genius and idiosyncrasies that make up John Cleese.
– JESS BOLTON AND SCOTT BOLTON
– GUS McCUBBING this festival brings the best folk artists playing in Australia to the EPIC showground in Canberra. Celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, the festival acts are a long way from the music to which you learnt to bush dance in primary school. Folk music from every culture is welcome, bringing together a wide range of groups – along with their wonderfully wacky fans. This year the stages were filled with more amazing acts than ever. Standouts including the Volatinsky Trio, Dry Bones, Akasa and the darlings of the unprogrammed blackboard stages, Chaika. There’s no doubt that you come to this festival for the music. That said, if your ears
wear out from watching late nights turn into early mornings in the Big Top Marquee that houses the youth fringe festival, there are plenty of reasons to stick around. Even if you ate all weekend, you still wouldn’t be able to sample all of the amazing food from the multitude of food stalls. If you’re more of a fashionista, there are almost as many clothing stalls, boasting fisherman’s pants to frock coats. Still more stalls offer fortune telling, Henna tattoos and every kind of acoustic instrument you could imagine. Every lane is a carnival littered with street performers. Festival favourites have to be the Morris dancers – mostly gruff men covered in bells and
sporting floral hats. In fact, if you love folk, there’s nothing better than the National Folk Festival. On the downside, it’s a pretty pricey affair. For students on a budget it maybe advisable to just get a day pass; alternatively, volunteering for 20 hours over the 5 days (Thursday – Tuesday) will secure you entry for free. While the festival may not be everybody’s cup of herbal tea, if you’re in the mood for a five-day foray into folk and fantasia, it could just be the best weekend that you spend in Canberra.
– LIL WARD
BOOK Vampires and Sex Contracts: When Twilight meets Mills & Boon The Fifty Shades Trilogy, E. L. James
Master of the Universe. A Twilight fanfiction penned by Internet author Snowqueens Icedragon. An erotic, trashy tribute to Stephanie Meyer’s hit series that recasts Edward Cullen as a kinky, horny billionaire who turns his seedy attentions upon a naïve Bella Swan, introducing our chaste heroine to the erotic world of BDSM in his “red room of pain”. A laughable work inspired by one of the most over-rated, poorly written pieces of literature of our time. Surely, this must have been left to fester amidst the dying remains of Twilight’s ending run on the silver screen, right? Right? Wrong. Instead - now with a new title, characters renamed for copyright reasons, and a multimillion dollar publishing deal with Random House at its backing - the Fifty Shades Trilogy stormed to the pinnacle of the New York Times Bestseller list this week, snatching the top three spots, while authors such as George R. R. Martin and Stieg Larsson only fell. The protagonist of our erotic tale, college graduate Anastasia Steele, manages to channel the original Bella Swan’s exasperating melodrama of angst and feeble anxiety. But for those who found Bella’s penchant for first world problems and quarter life crises torturously insufferable, her new, wealthy love interest Christian Grey, aka Edward Cullen, is at least now swift N in getting to the point and propelling the novel towards some laughably cringeworthy sex scenes. Here’s my favourite excerpt from the series’ first installment, Fifty Shades of Grey: “Does this mean you’re going to make love to me tonight, Christian?” Holy shit. Did I just say that? His mouth drops open slightly, but he recovers quickly. “No, Anastasia, it doesn’t. Firstly, I don’t
make love. I fuck… hard. Secondly, there’s a lot more paperwork to do, and thirdly, you don’t yet know what you’re in for. Come, I want to show you my playroom.” My mouth drops open. Fuck hard! Holy shit, that sounds so… hot. But why are we looking at a playroom? I am mystified. “You want to play on your Xbox?” I ask. He laughs, loudly. “No, Anastasia, no Xbox, no Playstation. Come.” The reader is also rewarded with some absolute literary gems - “My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves” – whatever that means. But what takes the cake is an exhaustive contract written up by Mr. Grey himself, spelling out the terms and conditions of Steele’s submissive sexual relationship to him. The contract includes clause numbers and reads for pages and pages, but even a first year Law student who only even achieved a fledgling pass in Contracts could find a plethora of loopholes amidst its kinky but utterly meaningless legal jargon. Just when we all thought that Twilight would be finally put to rest after the Hollywood release of its finale, Breaking Dawn Part Two, we are shown that Twilight itself is much more like a vampire than we originally thought; bloodthirsty, relentless and, for better or for worse, eternal. And, as Bella Swan herself found out the hard way, obsessive vampire love inevitably spawns bloodsucking offshoots like the Fifty Shades trilogy that, infantile and poorly-developed, claw out of the womb prematurely to feast upon the unsuspecting wide world. But, with Fifty Shades opening up an entirely new market of “mommy porn”, it seems that this time its prey is not guileless teenage girls, but the undersexed housewives who bought their daughters the Twilight series in the first place.
– BEN LATHAM
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Ben Latham talks to the band about their third album, their first trip to Australia, and the sad lack of audience-supplied underwear in their shows The Groovin’ the Moo music festival will be roaring into Canberra next month, boasting an all-star line-up that features MuteMath; a Grammy-nominated alternative rock outfit hailing from New Orleans. Woroni was lucky enough to have an ear with the band’s drummer, the charismatic Darren King, who was more than happy to talk about the band’s new album and his extreme excitement for their upcoming tour. MuteMath will be touring on the back of Odd Soul, their third studio album released late last year. The album is fuelled by a captivating raw, bluesy sound, edgy guitar riffs and King’s heavy drumbeats, but as Darren relates, “It wasn’t something we aimed for. We stumbled upon it.” However, what is beautifully intentional is the album’s immediate energy and drive that reflects the band’s passion for live music: “Our main goal was to create an album we’d love to play live. We wanted to make something that had that certain energy, an exuberance like our live show has.” As the band’s first self-produced album, Odd Soul showcases a band at complete musical liberty. Without creative restraints or pressures from any outside source, it reflects a monumental development and maturation from their previous works. Darren King revelled in their unique opportunity to take absolute control of their musical direction and focus purely on the music: “We needed that. We needed to find who we are, who we thought we were and who we thought we wanted to be. I think a fifth person getting paid to inform that kind of confused us. It would have been too complicated.” On a sadder note, amongst these changes that Odd Soul heralded, was the departure of long-time guitarist and founding member Greg Hill in 2010: “I was miserable when he left. We had a strained relationship at times, but to be honest I thought things had been going better than ever. I’m growing more anxious to give him a call some time. But it’s difficult for me because if I were to call him of course I’d inevitably talk about the band because that’s what I do.”
Interestingly, however, the remaining band members opted to play the guitar parts themselves rather than replace their close friend. For King it opened up the opportunity to whip out his dusty six-string: “[Guitar’s] just been an interest of mine. I don’t play well but I do enough to come up with some riffs and ideas.” But, modestly, Darren laughed off the possibility of putting down the sticks to pursue this new career path: “I’m quite content to be the drummer. I just use it as a song-writing tool in the studio. Any part that I wrote would then be played again by Roy because guitarists just play it better.” Lucky for Australian fans, MuteMath will be playing a bunch of tour dates Down Under during May but, surprising due to the band’s hype and popularity, it will be the very first time they’ve graced our shores: “We finally got invited. We’ve always wanted to [come to Australia]. Triple J’s been playing our songs and made us their artist of the month at some point. So that’s what sparked all these opportunities. This will be my first trip. I’m looking forward to it. It should be great.” Although the band has enjoyed enough success to play stand-alone concerts, King gushed at the opportunity to play at a grassroots festival like Groovin’ the Moo: “I absolutely love festivals. I love it. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to spy on your heroes.” Don’t be surprised to see Darren hanging out backstage during Kimbra’s set: “She’s wonderful. I think she’s incredibly talented.” But for all the band’s success, not a single pair of panties has been thrown onstage by an adoring fan: “Nope. Only one bra I believe is all I’ve ever got. Our audience are not a very bra-throwing crowd. They’re very energetic but they’re very civilised. So…should we expect any different in Australia?” King asks. “You betcha!” I promised. How can I be so sure? Not only are Canberrans bound to love everything about MuteMath with a passion that will have undergarments leaping from their usual haunts, but because this new fan will be smuggling in a couple of bras just to show his appreciation. Hope to see you there ... and armed with underwear.
LIFE & STYLE// 22
LIFE & STYLE// 23
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LETTER FROM EARTH JAMIEPLANET FREESTONE
The Back Page
Dear Extra Credit, Colour me ignorant, Extra Credit, but I always thought that “going public” was a term used to describe companies who were in the process of becoming a publically traded entity. If you’re worried about what people will say, then perhaps you and the acnespocked, baked–beans-and-tuna-sandwich-eating PhD dweeb aren’t ready to make annual ﬁnancial disclosure statements to the shareholders of your little romantic venture. And take it from someone whose husband has been the director of no less than ﬁve failed companies – shareholders are bloodsucking little ﬁends, always demanding answers, especially when you take a lot of their money to buy your wife a delightful two-bedroom holidays house in the Lesser Antilles in close proximity to local beaches. Anyway, leaving aside your lamentable vocabulary, I have to ask: are you, sub-consciously, a little ashamed of your little dalliance – of mixing academia and pleasure? It’s a sad day when we deny ourselves the incredible spiritual potential of education out of a fear of looking bad amongst our philistine peers. Teachers have had a huge erotic impact on my own life, although the exact details are strictly between my husband, my son’s Year 9 Geography instructor Miss Slagg and their illegitimate daughter Charlotte-Anne. Love, Aunty Flo
QUAKEWATCH Veronica Coswald-Merrington, 67, Yarralumla I woke at 5am to a slight tremor. The cupboards were shaking. A saucer from my best china developed a hairline crack. But the neighbours have been really wonderful throughout this whole horrid ordeal. We’ll get through it together.
Chris Greenwood, 50, Deakin One of our pot plants fell over because of the earthquake... [W]e were mucking around in the garden the day before, so it was probably because of that, come to think of it.
Trent Brian, 21, O’Connor Shityeah! This is almost as exciting as the ‘11 chemical factory blast. Gotta skate!
Want to take part in an ANUSA election without the pesky hassle of losing all of your friends?
Then the role of Probing Officer would be a perfect fit for you! The Probing Officer will explore the dark and cavernous regions of student politicking, and will play a key role in closing the gaping abyss between ethics and student politics.
Dear Aunty Flo, I’ve been sleeping with a former tutor for the past 3 months. Even though we never dated while I was in his class, I’m still worried what people will say when we go public. Extra Credit
ONEOAKCOALITION Welcome to our campaign...
Hey, I’m Nakul, your constant companion in white guilt. After the turmoil of the Global Financial Crisis, it’s apparent we need to protect our most endangered citizens: those who give so much and ask only for adequate compensation at the going, or slightly above, market rates. Those who suffer most from an unfair tax system where the privileged middle class gets it all. Friends, it’s clear the humble corporation is in need of some TLC (that’s Tender Love and Care, friends). I’ve been hard at work on a tinned food appeal which will see thousands of action agents mobilise a grass roots campaign encouraging the needy and desperate to bring in bring in cans of spinach, corn and soup to their nearest and beloved corporate enterprise. My cynics, my pastor included, may argue this change of heart is because of my recent and very successful clerkship at a prestigious corporate law firm. Admittedly there are statements further away from the truth than this particular one. But, pals, it is time we realised that we are all but piglets feeding from their (corporate) mother, suckling onto their warm teats of knowledge, charity and corporate sponsorship of charitable foundations.
MUMMY WARS Dear Gzorgax I want to tell you about the “mummy wars”: a debate over what women should do when human couples produce offspring. Historically, in such cases the young infant has been taken care of by the female, while the male has continued working full-time. More recently, women have entered the workforce more fully and have become as interested in their careers as men always have been. Understandably, they’ve struggled to reconcile this choice between work and motherhood. Men have cleverly solved this problem for eons by feigning — or actually — being useless in the home, so that even when liberal parents have that discussion about who will bow out of the workforce to raise the kid, it’s still normally the female who does — either that or the parents pay a less wealthy female to do it for them. So why don’t men just muck in and raise the kids half the time? Well dear friend, on top of the history of female oppression and the devaluing of work on the domestic front there’s also good old biology. Biology is the Earth name for life sciences, a discipline which we use to inform our knowledge of all living things, except humans. Well, we use it whenever we need pharmaceuticals, but we ignore it in studying human interactions. It’s considered politically incorrect in many circles to claim that, on average, there are biologically determined behavioural differences between men and women. Because women obviously deserve equal rights, one way to assert those rights is to say women are equal to men, because they are actually the same and any perceived differences are a result of cultural forces shaped by patriarchy. How could this possibly be true? Consider that there are obviously biologically determined differences between individuals. Now you could still say that despite this, the two groups, men and women are the same, but only if for every woman there is one and only one equivalent man, so that the two groups act like two sets with corresponding elements, much like a mathematical function. It’s an interesting idea, but it also relies on one of these man–woman pairs being born and in turn dying in perfect unison, to maintain the exact global equipoise of men and women as identical groups. So I love the idea of battling the mummy wars by having men become stay at home dads — I think men should do it half the time. But is it likely to happen? I don’t know Gzorgax, I’m just a male and though I never claimed to be average, statistically speaking I have a brain that’s better at interpreting systems rather than human emotions, I have ten times as much testosterone as a woman and I get paid more money for doing the same work too. Why is it so hard to convince chaps like me to raise kids? Hopefully, now that gay people are increasingly allowed to have kids, they’ll simply outbreed us heteros and solve the whole problem. Yours earthily, Jamie.