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Issue 11, 2018

Issue 11, Volume 81: The Sustainability Issue

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News

  • Eye on Exec

  • “Drain the Swamp!” No Seriously Donald, People are Falling In

  • Royal Wedding Reactions on the Streets on London

  • Draft Letter to Winnie Peters

  • Suiting Up for the New Aristocracy

  • Updates on Kylie Jenner’s Baby

  • GDPR, and Why European Law Affects You

  • Politician’s Potluck (with Marlon and Beth)

  • Draft Report Proposed

  • Trump’s America: Where the News is Made Up, and the Laws Don’t Matter.

  • How Did Prehistoric Plankton Die? Scientists Check the Orbit-uaries

  • Otago Students Protest Following Critic Cover Debacle

  • Surprise Surprise, Another US School Massacre

  • Features

  • Greenwashing: It’s Not Easy Being a Conscious Consumer

    You stride into Countdown, armed with dual reusable tote bags in your hands and an irrepressible love of the planet in your heart. You’re still a little twitchy from all the fair-trade Peoples Coffee flowing through your veins, which is just as well because you’re going to need caffeine-addled reflexes to polish off your list […]

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  • A taxonomy of the Wellington thrift stores I’ve spent my Studylink on

    Say what you want about environmentalists, but when it comes to thrift shopping we know our shit. Buying your clothes second-hand saves so many resources it’s unreal, making it a rare ethical lifestyle choice that’s still actually enjoyable (I miss cheese so much you guys). Thrift 5/5 For me, Thrift is king. Hear me out: […]

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  • Cheese Vs The Environment: A Vegan’s Take on Climate Change

    Since I can remember I have always cared about the environment. This dedication probably came from my growing up on a patch of land with a small flock of sheep surrounded by native bush. Like many other New Zealanders, my weekends as a kid were spent riding my bike around the neighbourhood, enjoying the fresh […]

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  • It’s Our Blue Planet Too

    Scientists estimate that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. I’m sure that by now, you will have heard this statistic — maybe on the news, or on Facebook. Perhaps you thought for a moment: “well, that’s sad, but I don’t even like fish. I don’t swim in […]

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  • Make a Change with Your Clothes

    The fashion industry is one of the largest and most polluting sectors in the world, second only to oil. It’s estimated that 80 billion garments are produced each year, which is 400% more than what we produced 20 years ago. This is due to the “fast fashion” industry. Fast fashion is a term referring to […]

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  • Make a Change with Your Fridge

    Every year, New Zealanders throw out the same amount of food that could feed the entire Vic student body for almost 12 years. Not only is this disastrous for our pockets, costing up to an extra $600 a year for an average Kiwi household, but it also significantly harms our environment — and us, by […]

    by

  • Greenwashing: It’s Not Easy Being a Conscious Consumer

    You stride into Countdown, armed with dual reusable tote bags in your hands and an irrepressible love of the planet in your heart. You’re still a little twitchy from all the fair-trade Peoples Coffee flowing through your veins, which is just as well because you’re going to need caffeine-addled reflexes to polish off your list […]

    by

  • A taxonomy of the Wellington thrift stores I’ve spent my Studylink on

    Say what you want about environmentalists, but when it comes to thrift shopping we know our shit. Buying your clothes second-hand saves so many resources it’s unreal, making it a rare ethical lifestyle choice that’s still actually enjoyable (I miss cheese so much you guys). Thrift 5/5 For me, Thrift is king. Hear me out: […]

    by

  • Cheese Vs The Environment: A Vegan’s Take on Climate Change

    Since I can remember I have always cared about the environment. This dedication probably came from my growing up on a patch of land with a small flock of sheep surrounded by native bush. Like many other New Zealanders, my weekends as a kid were spent riding my bike around the neighbourhood, enjoying the fresh […]

    by

  • It’s Our Blue Planet Too

    Scientists estimate that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. I’m sure that by now, you will have heard this statistic — maybe on the news, or on Facebook. Perhaps you thought for a moment: “well, that’s sad, but I don’t even like fish. I don’t swim in […]

    by

  • Make a Change with Your Clothes

    The fashion industry is one of the largest and most polluting sectors in the world, second only to oil. It’s estimated that 80 billion garments are produced each year, which is 400% more than what we produced 20 years ago. This is due to the “fast fashion” industry. Fast fashion is a term referring to […]

    by

  • Make a Change with Your Fridge

    Every year, New Zealanders throw out the same amount of food that could feed the entire Vic student body for almost 12 years. Not only is this disastrous for our pockets, costing up to an extra $600 a year for an average Kiwi household, but it also significantly harms our environment — and us, by […]

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • The Bizarre Double Take of Arrested Development Season Four

    If you have yet to see the original three seasons of Arrested Development, don’t bother with this review, it’s nearly as unnecessary and shameless as remixing the television oddity that was Season 4. Go and watch the show.
    Cancelled after three seasons in 2006, Arrested Development remains one of the most consistently funny and unique sitcoms to date. Recurring gags delivered by an ensemble cast of very funny people, Arrested Development is a show about a wealthy family who have lost their money, but have not lost their self-important personalities.

    With the original release of Season 4 in 2013, show creator Mitch Hurwitz aimed to bring AD fans something different, like a large puzzle that could be arranged and digested in numerous ways. Viewers were not treated to the staple format they had come to know from Seasons 1-3, but instead were provided with messy, overstuffed 30-35-minute episodes focusing on sole characters, despite some characters being rather incapable of shouldering an entire episode on their own. Other causes for the new approach taken with Season 4 resulted from showrunners trying to work around the cast’s acting schedules, a tricky feat seven years after the show’s initial cancellation.

    Part of what made the original three seasons so great was the constant interaction between all characters. Some of these interactions are not seen once in Season 4; such as the show’s brilliant take on the disappointed father trope over George Sr’s son-in-law, Tobias. The most jarring change in Season 4, apart from the overall re-formatted approach to the series, is Michael Bluth’s downfall. Where the seven-year hiatus has left every other character at a point in their lives that makes thematic sense, Michael’s feels like too harsh a change in direction. Michael was the show’s moral and comedic grounding, often a foil to the ridiculousness and eccentricities of his surrounding characters, and his drastic change in character only exacerbates the strangeness of the fourth season.

    Things only get stranger, with Mitch Hurwitz deciding to effectively remix the show’s latest season to better fit within the familiar AD framework. Released at the start of May this year, Season 4 received a (lengthy) rebranding — Arrested Development Season 4: Fateful Consequences. With this remixed series, gone are the bloated, single-focused episodes, now replaced by a more typical AD storytelling format more suited for television syndication.

    Though impossible for Hurwitz to write out some of the wrongs of Season 4, most notably the dragging storylines of George Sr and Lindsey, the remix does provide viewers with a return to a more familiar approach to the series. Putting the story in chronological order means the overall story flows better, bringing the ensemble cast together earlier and more frequently. The remix, along with flowing better, moves at a quicker pace, as quick as that of the first three seasons, with the additional narration of Ron Howard helping tie many scenes together. All in all, Season 4 is likely more satisfying for most under its remixed “Fateful Consequences” label.

    The remix appears to be a lesson about what can occur when showrunners second-guess the execution of their work. With the original Season 4 now hidden in the depths of Netflix, it’s hard to avoid seeing the release of the remixed season as anything other than an insecure move with club sauce. Obvious wrongs are hopefully going to be re-written in Season 5 (released on the 29th of May).

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  • Terrible, Thanks for Asking

    Terrible, Thanks for Asking is pretty much how I was feeling on Sunday evening as I sat, laptop perched uneasily on my knee, wallowing in the realisation that I had a podcast article to write in a very small window of time. After briefly reflecting on why exactly I had chosen to squander my weekend away doing pretty much nothing, I decided that now would be an appropriate time to review a podcast dedicated to when things are kind of shit.

    The good news, is that Terrible, Thanks for Asking is a pretty decent podcast. The bad news, is that a lot of sad, difficult, and shitty things had to happen for it to exist. Let me explain. In 2015, Nora McIrney’s husband died from a brain tumour. Her father passed away and she miscarried her second baby in the same week. She found herself alone, stricken with grief and carrying the responsibility of raising a young child as a single mother. When people asked her if she was “okay”, the obvious answer was “of course not”, but she would respond with “I’m fine”. Nora McIrney was tired of small talk, and so her podcast (and her charity, and the book she wrote) was born.

    Each episode of Terrible, Thanks for Asking features a different person with a different story. They are all people who have faced some type of hardship, adversity, pain, or loss. It’s hard to describe the series in a general way because each episode is a unique listening experience. You are welcomed into the world of the interviewee, and it is different each time. There’s Patricia, who in the episode “Witness”, talks about her decision to leave the Mormon church, and in doing so leave her friends, family and life behind. In “Transformation”, you hear the story of Carver and Mimi, their transformation from friends to partners, their journey to healthier lifestyles, Carver’s transition, and Mimi’s recovery from a nearly debilitating accident. There’s Chris, who shares his story of living with a disability in “The Gold and the Broken Bits”, and the unwarranted pity that comes with it.

    McIrney interjects, elaborates and asks questions at times, but the podcast is really about the guests. That’s the best part about it, hearing individuals talk about their experience, tell their story in their own words. This is where podcast as a medium is unbeatable — there’s the intimacy of having someone else literally be, through your earphones, the voice in your head. The lack of visuals makes it impossible to pass judgement based on appearance, there’s an ease to just sitting back and listening. It feels like the right way to hear these stories.
    Unfortunately, briefly naming these individuals does not at all do justice to their stories. And Terrible, Thanks for Asking offers so much more than stories; it provides a wonderful insight into these individuals for all they are. McIrney illustrates that people are more than their grief, more than their tragedy, more than the adversity they face — but also recognises how these factors have shaped their lives.
    Perhaps surprisingly, this podcast has a lightness and a sense of humour in it. McIrney doesn’t tiptoe around topics, or mince words. She laughs easily and encourages you to do the same. Yes, these are predominantly sad stories. The people you hear have hard, awkward, and painful experiences to share, but at the end of it all I don’t find myself feeling low or jaded. Hearing their voices — hearing guests laugh, talk, reminisce, and chat, I am instead left in awe of human resilience.

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  • Joshua Kingsford: Bear With Me

    Joshua Kingsford’s Comedy Festival show really bugged me. His gangly frame jaunted onto stage, with all the charm and naivety of a newly-born red haired giraffe. His set was full of light-hearted jokes about being a ginger, his dad’s post retirement life being totally subsumed by The Chase, and bumbling Facebook messenger banter with women he allegedly claims he would never talk to in real life. Yet, despite this innocent and inoffensive persona, I felt as though as there is something decidedly capital “W” White about this show. His jokes were transparently white middle class. Kingsford’s set was laden with observational humor about his life and his experiences, but he described them as if they’re universal. He came across as earnestly believing that he is recounting everyone’s shared experience.

    I want to be clear; I’m not trying to have a go at anyone here, or be a provocateur for the sake of it. I just feel in a climate where the entertainment industry (and I believe stand up comedy has its place here) is striving so hard to be diverse and to tell the stories of the marginalised, to be a white middle class male comic and to not address the fact that you are, is to presume that your story is still the dominant one.

    If there was an underlying theme that runs throughout the show, it would be that of Kingsford’s relationship to technology. He lamented that it’s slowly divorcing him from the rest of reality, all the while trying to find common ground with the audience by appealing to the technoholic in them. This, in my opinion, is a fine theme to base a show around, however Kingsford never gave the audience their due, even as he tried to forge this connection with them. Jokes about video games being all about “mushrooms and killing people” felt and fell flat because the audience didn’t buy the simplification. I want to think that this is intentional and that Kingsford just isn’t prepared to take a big swing just yet, not comfortable sharing honest opinions without dumbing them down for an audience.

    The show had a disjointed feeling. It seemed as though Kingsford was still trying to figure himself out as a stand up, and he wasn’t yet willing to engage with the sensibilities of the young millennial crowd that make up his target audience. I don’t necessarily think the show was bad, just that there was a lot of room for improvement.

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  • Marlon Williams & Julia Deans

    My review of Make Way For Love in an earlier issue of Salient outlined that I am somewhat of a superfan of Marlon Williams, and his shows at the Hunter Lounge presented my first opportunity to catch him live.

    First of all, his choice of support act was nothing less than brilliant – Julia Deans put on a stellar set of downtempo, singer-songwriter numbers with a grittiness to them. I read a review of the show from the night prior which suggested that Deans’ set was not suited to the Hunter Lounge setting, but I couldn’t disagree more. Deans’ set held the audience spellbound, with “Clandestine”, “Chelsea”, “We Light Fire”, and old favourite “A New Dialogue”, all proving to be highlights. Her stage banter was pretty dry but in an endearing way, and it went over well in the crowd setting. Deans’ new album is out now, and it’s a ripper, so make sure you have a listen.
    Marlon Williams was simply on another planet though. Williams and his band, the Yarra-Benders, entered the stage and launched into “Come To Me” and “I Know A Jeweller”, two relaxed highlights from the new album. Williams’ charm and charisma were already on display, and these feelings were only amplified as the night went on.
    Williams’ set was somewhat of a masterclass in taking an audience on a variety of journeys. His phenomenal, Orbison-esque voice was probably even better in a live setting than on record, and his dramatic performances of soft piano ballads like “Beautiful Dress” and “Love Is A Terrible Thing” were heart-wrenching and poignant. In addition, Williams was able to flick the switch into party mode, performing raucous renditions of “Party Boy”, and a variety of well-chosen covers. Of particular note was his sinister performance of “Can I Call You”, in which he pranced around the stage like a seasoned method actor, portraying the jealousy prevalent in the lyrics with ease, and a Nick Cave-esque swagger.

    My personal highlight came in the encore, as Williams rolled out his infamous version of “Portrait of a Man”. It was utter perfection – Williams and his band navigated the peaks and troughs of the arrangement with vigour and passion, while Williams’ intense vocal performance was out-of-this-world. Williams’ physical performance was, again, equally captivating as he roamed the stage and climbed over into the front of the crowd (directly over myself and my girlfriend, I might add). Quite simply, this rivalled any set-closer I have seen live.
    I often attempt to hold back from hyperbole after a visceral musical experience like this one, but in this instance there is simply no point. Marlon Williams is on some kind of roll right now, and I’m just glad to have been in the room to be with him for the ride.

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  • Blackfish

    A slow burning psychological thriller, this documentary follows the lives of various orca whales kept in captivity, and the heart wrenching consequences of keeping these creatures in a space equivalent to an isolated prison cell for years on end.

    At the heart of this story is Tilikum, an orca whale blamed for the deaths of three people over the span of his traumatic life in various marine parks. It feels like watching and hearing about the haunting tale of a serial killer. In any case, Tilikum — the victim and the perpetrator — is anything but the monster in this film.

    There’s no need for shaky hand held footage of secret government labs, or brash directors leading a pushy camera crew to the unwitting CEO in question (no shade, Michael Moore).

    The facts are there. They are accessible and chilling and softly spoken not by any narrator, but through the voices of those who witnessed firsthand the lengths “respectable” corporations like SeaWorld would go to bring in a crowd and keep them there.
    And therein lies the poignant success of Blackfish. There is no suggestion that the stance of the documentary is conspiratorial. What we have is a collection of truth — a sad, lonely truth about yet another successful assault of mankind on an element of this Earth that did not need disturbing.
    The cries of infant orcas separated from parents, the self harm they exhibited in captivity, the last moments of whale trainers’ lives caught on camera — this is not an easy film to watch. But it’s a necessary one.

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  • The Vulgar Wasp

    I have held out on writing a review of this book so I could fit it into the sustainability issue of Salient, even though I have been dying to review it. As someone who passed Year 11 Science by one credit, I am naturally not a fan of science non-fiction, because I usually have no goddamn idea what anybody is talking about. But with the latest science non-fiction publication from VUP, The Vulgar Wasp, by Victoria University’s own Dr Phil Lester, I was completely surprised and completely enthralled.

    Lester’s book is the “story of a ruthless invader and ingenious predator”, the Vespula vulgaris, or the common wasp. 99% of us hate them, most of us are probably afraid of them, and some are even allergic and could die from their sting. They attack other insects and birds, destroy crops, and inflict a huge amount of damage to our environment and economy every year. Their ability to invade, adapt, and dominate entirely new ecosystems and environments is frightening. The level of destruction they do is horrifying but undeniably impressive. Their methods to attack and kill their prey have evolved to a diabolical level of efficiency. Wasps are basically the insect public enemy number one. But Lester has also convinced me that these elements make them awe-inspiring and amazing.
    Lester devotes the first few chapters of the book to the history of the common wasp, how it was transported around the world (as it is native to Europe, and was introduced to New Zealand by humans transporting goods), and how its introduction has altered and impacted New Zealand’s ecosystem and economy.
    Lester also seamlessly intertwines in other information and histories about so many other wasp species, bees, and other insects so I found myself not only learning about the common wasp, but so many other connected subjects that I would have never researched or heard of before.

    My favourite chapter of the book was chapter 4, “A cocktail of nastiness”, which discussed the effect wasp stings have on humans. Learning about previous experiments to see how deadly a sting could be, or to see what the most effective cures are, was extremely interesting and even comical at times. Lester also debunked a lot of myths for me about what to do when stung (which is pretty much don’t pee on it) and broke down the probability of death by wasp sting (which is also not that likely, but still… don’t fuck with wasps).
    The second section of the book focused on the future, and what to do about the wasp problem. Large scale pest control is a mighty task at hand, and Lester’s proposals are incredibly interesting and thought provoking.
    One of the best things about The Vulgar Wasp is Lester’s sharp wit. The level of sass and sarcasm throughout Lester’s writing made the book completely accessible and consumable. There are even a few laugh out loud moments.
    Sure, I skimmed some of the more meaty paragraphs when the mathematical and scientific terms dominated and I could not be bothered checking the glossary notes. This is still a scientific book, but these paragraphs were few and far between.
    Lester’s ultimate strength is that I, Achieved Minus in NCEA Level 1 Science Alex Feinson, could follow along, and even learnt a hell of a lot. His serious yet comical writing made this totally foreign topic accessible, digestible, and interesting. Lester and his wasps have absolutely inspired me to consider reading more science non-fiction books in the future.

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  • Princess Mononoke

    The critically acclaimed Studio Ghibli film Princess Mononoke presents a beautiful and vivid exposé of how men ain’t shit, and how we are fucking over the environment.
    This masterpiece follows a basic male protagonist, Ashitaka, who deals with a demon plague (and infection), and falls in love with his saviour and true hero of the story, San (who is way too good for him). As the film progresses he is educated about the importance of nature, in a tale of greed, animal cruelty, and environment abuse.
    As per usual with Studio Ghibli movies, we get cool animated scenery, complex characters, strong female characters, and a well-written and substantial story that appeals to audiences of all types. No spoilers but as with most Ghibli movies (looking at you Grave of the Fireflies), you get a happy ending.
    Kudos is owed to Miyazaki, who delivers a visually stunning film that serves as a moral allegory around the greed of humans. The storyline gives the audience an introspective view of how our society’s material values around resources and money take precedence over preserving the environment. It offers great insight about the destructive forces of colonization, and reinforces the scarily real threat of climate change, shown through gruesome scenes of a vengeful force ravaging beautiful lands barren. The film expresses the mess that is humanity, in a bundle of Miyazaki styled perfection.
    Take home for the day: SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT. RECYCLE PROPERLY, AND PICK UP YOUR DAMN RUBBISH.

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  • Intimacy and the Environment

    Recently, at an artist talk I went to by Ngahuia Harrison (Ngātiwai, Ngāpuhi), in conjunction with her exhibition at Enjoy Public Art Gallery, I huti a Manaia i te ika and his heart was broken, she said now there is not enough kaimoana in the Whangarei Harbour to feed the community, that this, for her people, is real poverty. This understanding, that something that was once abundant is now scarce, is a critical reminder embedded in Harrison’s work. In the video work of this show, I huti a Manaia i te ika, a panoramic scene traces across the horizon of the Whangarei Harbour, where the hills turn into an industrial mass. Working in photography, Harrison offers the philosophies of Ngātiwai as a way to work through dominance of the planet, and towards coexistence.
    Another example where art is used to navigate a relationship to the environment is in Bronte and Ange Perry’s recent exhibition and my heart is soft, also at Enjoy. The exhibition was comprised of a series of panels of Pōhutakawa and swamp Kauri that Bronte had planed down to a flat surface, and then laser cut with proverbs in te reo and verses from the Croatian bible. These were arranged with pieces of basalt rock and other natural elements in the gallery space. Two tāniko, woven by Ange Perry, were suspended from the ceiling. In combining these different elements in and my heart is soft, the viewing experience is immersive, and an emphasis is placed on the importance of the materials chosen.
    Bronte’s choice to work with swamp Kauri is meaningful. Swamp Kauri is one of the most expensive timbers in the world, and has a long history of illegal acquisition and exportation because of this value. The swamp Kauri that Bronte worked with was purchased second hand, and although it is difficult to know how it was originally obtained, its use in Bronte’s work acknowledges it as taonga, not as a resource that can be used by anyone. Its home is in Northland, and in this way, swamp Kauri provides a physicality to Bronte and Ange Perry’s process of reconnecting to this region, and reconciling their Māori, Croatian, and Pākehā ancestry.
    Indigenous ways of thinking about the land and grassroots methods are the most effective responses to climate concerns. The intimacy in Perry and Harrison’s work is not something we often allow ourselves when grappling with environmental concerns. It is an immensely Western world view to think about complex climate solutions only on a global scale; we are called to think of future generations, resource depletion, and extreme weather events. This large-scale thinking tends to encourage apathy and disillusionment. How can we think about a personal relationship to environment? What do we care for and what would we miss? The fog rolling in the way it did the night before, cold jaw ache of the first swim of the summer, taking the bus from Lower Hutt to the city and looking back at the clear outline of the valley.

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  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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