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Issue 21, 2018

Issue 21, Vol 81: Looking Back

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News

  • Boomerang Cups: The Mug That Got Away

  • A University or DHB? An Investigation

  • Tougher Marks Affect Law Students

  • Updates on Kylie Jenner’s Baby

  • Want the Pill? Well You’ll Just Have to Wait

  • Plastic Bag Ban Leads to Bruised Fruit Throughout the Country

  • The Wait is Over, But Where to Next?

  • VUWSA Elections: Who’s Who?

  • Education Amendment Bill

  • Clubs Want to Jump Ship

  • Student Evicted for State of Mind

  • Vic Beats a Dead Horse Named University of Wellington

  • Features

  • Daphne Commons

    Meet Daphne Commons. She’s your typical student, bright and bubbly and excited to see the world. She’s studying abroad, trying to get her diploma in massage therapy, worrying about passing her exams and getting good grades, and which hot young doctor she could go out with. Oh, and also World War One’s going on. No, […]

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  • Koridor

    On the wall outside my sister’s room, there’s a painting that looks like a cross between a coffee table and a penis. It’s a flesh coloured shape on a black background, with little veiny oil paint wrinkles. I can remember Bill asking me what I thought the painting was of, though I can’t remember what […]

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  • Where I Came From

    Turn off that radio I can’t hear myself above the drums of flava 106 I want to tell you about where I came from Specifically: Karamea St, the “nice end of Spotswood” (We weren’t part of a suburb till 2008 when the new subdivision came in and we were officially Whaler’s Gate, before that Mum […]

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  • A Survival Story

    CW: Child abuse, sexual violence I don’t really remember the night I was sexually abused. Oh, I remember bits and pieces. I remember my dad sliding a glass of wine across the table, imploring me to drink it. I remember his drunken gaze, lewd smile, his body gently swaying back and forth in tipsy anticipation. […]

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  • Daphne Commons

    Meet Daphne Commons. She’s your typical student, bright and bubbly and excited to see the world. She’s studying abroad, trying to get her diploma in massage therapy, worrying about passing her exams and getting good grades, and which hot young doctor she could go out with. Oh, and also World War One’s going on. No, […]

    by

  • Koridor

    On the wall outside my sister’s room, there’s a painting that looks like a cross between a coffee table and a penis. It’s a flesh coloured shape on a black background, with little veiny oil paint wrinkles. I can remember Bill asking me what I thought the painting was of, though I can’t remember what […]

    by

  • Where I Came From

    Turn off that radio I can’t hear myself above the drums of flava 106 I want to tell you about where I came from Specifically: Karamea St, the “nice end of Spotswood” (We weren’t part of a suburb till 2008 when the new subdivision came in and we were officially Whaler’s Gate, before that Mum […]

    by

  • A Survival Story

    CW: Child abuse, sexual violence I don’t really remember the night I was sexually abused. Oh, I remember bits and pieces. I remember my dad sliding a glass of wine across the table, imploring me to drink it. I remember his drunken gaze, lewd smile, his body gently swaying back and forth in tipsy anticipation. […]

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  • Arts and Science

  • 5 TV Shows that *Might* Fool Others into Thinking You’re a History Wunderkid

    Victoria – 4/5

    Want to pretend you know the Royal Family beyond Queen Liz, Wills, Kate and the newlyweds? Look no further than the period drama based on the matriarch to rule them all, the woman who succeeded the throne before even Queen Elizabeth could — Queen Victoria. Jenna Coleman shines in a British role that has nothing to do with Dr Who. With a narrative that resonates with women today, witness Queen Vic struggle to be taken seriously and avoid becoming the puppet of various powerful men. Romanticise history and take a deep sigh when recalling the lavish costumes and attires of days gone.
    11.22.63 – 3.5/5
    Stephen King’s sci-fi thriller adapted for the silver screen. It’s not the most historically accurate telling of the events surrounding American president JFK’s assassination (far from it) but boy is it a tense clusterfuck watching a time travelling James Franco trying to prevent it from ever occurring. Find yourself feeling sorry for Lee Harvey Oswald and surprisingly enjoying tender moments where Franco jeopardizes his mission by stopping to live a normal life as an English teacher in the 60s!
    World War II in HD Colour – 5/5
    It’s the second World War… in colour! If you’re like me and grew up thinking the past was actually black and white, get ready to have your horizons broadened. Showcasing original and colourised footage, the show provides valuable insights into the narrative of World War II. Recount details like the German military tactic known as Blitzkrieg, or the decimation of the Third Reich, with vivid detail and nuanced knowledge , impressing all your dinner party guests and drawing gasps of intrigue. I’ve watched this show both actively and passively and with so many dense layers of information, it’s beautiful what new tidbits of information you pick up on each sitting.
    Frontier – 3/5
    Diving into the North American fur trade of the 1700s, Frontier follows mixed Irish-Cree outlaw Declan Harp, played by bolstering hero and all around badass Jason Momoa as he butts heads with the Lord Benton and his monopoly over Canada’s fur trade. The show plays like an action-packed game of cops and robbers, with Lord Benton constantly failing to catch that meddling Declan Harp and his band of outlaws. If you’re looking for a niche area of history you’ll almost never have cause to converse about, here’s your number.
    Band of Brothers – 5/5
    Not particularly fond of war films, I remember staying up all night glued to this incredible experience which manifested itself on my TV screen. The show follows the men of the 101st Airborne division and their exploits at Normandy, Operation Market Garden, and the Siege of Bastogne through to the end of the war. Boasting the same sense of realism as Saving Private Ryan, the journey of these individuals clinging to brotherhood and hope through an onslaught of gruelling conditions on the battlefield is an emotionally cinematic experience that could only be captured in a longer form television series format. If you ever get the chance to watch the documentary which accompanies the DVD and Blu Ray releases, be prepared to be astounded by the factual accuracy and attention to detail that went into the show’s creation. Not to forget the interviews with the survivors of the 101st Airborne “Easy Company” and their memories of their fallen brothers, which left me with a tear soaked sleeve at six in the morning.

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  • Books With Protagonists Our Age (That Don’t Suck)

    Here at university we’re all about finding gaps in the literature, like the fact that there are barely any books with characters that are your average university goer’s age. What’s up with that? Characters that are too old to fall in love at first sight or defeat some evil overlord using previously undiscovered powers, but too young to have a midlife crisis or be a detective. We’re missing that sweet early 20s age range where the characters are mature enough that their actions are somewhat believable and yet their lives are still relatable. I have consulted some people who also read books, and here I present the pitiful fruits of our brainstorm.
    The Secret History
    by Donna Tartt – 4/5
    I know this was reviewed a wee while ago and that the reviewer wasn’t a fan, but I am. This book centres around a group of college students who study classics, may or may not have murdered their buddy, and fit the criteria for my round-up. They’re relatable in that they remind you a bit of every arts student ever, unrelatable in that they’re all pretty awful human beings. The author paints a very surreal picture of life at a posh American college, and makes some pretty bizarre plot points seem almost normal. This book is clearly targeted at smarty pants people and I admit, some of the references went over my head, but I was hooked.
    Rivers of London
    by Ben Aaronovitch – 5/5
    This book is the first instalment of a truly delightful series that centres around Peter Grant, a police constable/apprentice wizard in his early twenty-somethings. This book is a bewildering mash-up of urban-fantasy and murder-mystery. It’s quintessentially British, extremely nerdy, and straight up hilarious. After accidentally meeting a ghost and attempting to collect a witness statement, Peter’s dream of joining the murder squad is dashed when he’s instead apprenticed to the Met’s resident wizard. Though Peter’s age is never specified, he’s definitely a youngin’. His A-levels seem very fresh indeed, and at no point in the book does he experience a midlife crisis. Admittedly, he does discover some secret powers, and I assume this series will round up with him defeating an evil overlord, but sometimes you just can’t win.
    Fangirl
    by Rainbow Rowell – 5/5
    Fanfiction has never been my jam, but I really enjoyed Rowell’s earlier novel, Eleanor & Park, so I gave this one a go. The protagonist of this book, Cath, is refreshingly relatable. Her experiences as a freshman at college ring true, and she behaves like a realistic, normal person. Cath feels thrown in the deep end at a college where she has no friends, and where her twin sister is pushing for some distance. This is a modern coming of age story that deals with some reasonably tough stuff, but isn’t too heavy. The characters are well rounded and believable, and the romantic subplot is adorable. This is an easy, well written read, with fanfiction-related plot points as that aren’t as off-putting as I expected. Still not my jam, but an understanding of fanfiction is not fundamental to enjoying this book.

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  • Changing Tides

    “While the notion of a collective identity centred on Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa is reminiscent of a pre-colonial world, it is perhaps also an imagination enabled by a connectedness made possible both through our uptake of new technology and our ability to be mobile again.”
    – False Divides, Lana Lopesi
    The exhibition text for a temple, a commons, and a cave, curated by Amy Weng at MEANWHILE, is a reminder of this “current critical moment in the South Pacific,” where new means of communication can be used to navigate a reconnection of this region.
    Arapeta Ashton and Wai Ching Chan’s video Pātai (2018), has no audio. We see harakeke being gathered. Its threads are separated out in thin wiry strands, then the fibres are rubbed across the shin until they form a rope. It is very long and slender. It is put into a pot of water with a brick, and left overnight, so the earthen pigment can seep in. In the finished object, suspended among other objects, we can understand how one location can host a multitude of different perspectives and approaches to existing in a place. Blessing Machine by Peng Jiang and Thomas Lawley (2018) is a metal structure, like an arcade game, free-standing in the gallery. Visitors are able to type their name in, and a receipt printer that is an internal component of the machine will print out a small docket. The machine is futuristic and exciting. The docket assigns you a Chinese name, accompanied by a short message of blessing from the Chinese gods.
    What is in a name? What can names communicate about ourselves and our heritage? They tell us about connections, to land and to people. The changing nature of identity can be stabilised by the certainty of a name, or severed from it if it doesn’t fit right.
    When I encounter Blessing Machine, I think of the re-naming that occurs in Aotearoa. The supposed complexity of Asian names for Pākehā means that people of Asian heritage in New Zealand are often asked to choose a English name or word, to be referred to instead of their real name. At my high school, Asian exchange students would be introduced in assembly by their real name, and then their “new” name would be announced. This practice only shows that Pākehā value their own convenience over respecting a significant part of someone else’s identity. In 2015, real estate data was leaked showing that the Labour party used Chinese-looking names as evidence that the housing crisis in Aotearoa was influenced by foreign investment. This sent a clear message to Chinese residents who owned homes that they would automatically be othered by virtue of their name alone.

    Barely three years later, Kaoru Kodama has produced Orange Notes (2018). Orange is the colour of bureaucracy in Aotearoa, avoiding any political allegiance. Orange Notes is a 20 minute long audio work, comprised of sections of various institutional culture and heritage documents, including an opinion piece written by the Prime Minister and Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern. The state is willing to accept our dependence on Asia in economic terms, but underplays the cultural contribution of people of Asian heritage in New Zealand. Consequently, their responsibility to culturally support Asian communities is often overlooked in strategic plans. a temple, a commons, and a cave is a changing sea tide.

    The isolation myth is over. Aotearoa has never been isolated, we have always been part of an interconnected web of islands and people and water, and these relationships are being strengthened once again.

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  • In Defense of the Shitty Sci-Fi Sequel

    I grew up on sci-fi, so you better believe that I’ve seen a lot of it. While my peers were watching appropriate things as children (Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, etc), I firmly became besotted by Doctor Who, Stargate, and Star Trek by the age of nine. That’s probably why I’ve still not seen most Disney films, but that’s a story for another time.
    I love sci-fi, and I have a particular penchant for those sort of Hollywood sci-fi sequel films that are released under the radar in April or October and get thoroughly maligned by critics.
    Look, I get it. Fantastic sci-fi is hard to make. You need to balance technobabble with a realistic premise, add humour and fully-fleshed out characters, and you also need to make the whole thing correctly-paced and interesting. Pacific Rim does that very well. So does Alien.

    These films… do not.
    Alien Covenant (2017), Pacific Rim Uprising (2018), and The Predator (2018) are all sequels that seemed vaguely pointless to make.
    However, I loved them. Not because they were good, but because they weren’t.
    Alien Covenant is a batshit-insane follow up to Prometheus (2012) — and sixth addition to the Alien franchise. A spaceship crash lands on a planet with aliens on it, there’s some cloning, and Michael Fassbender has an utterly ridiculous level of sexual tension with himself. I didn’t exactly expect an Alien film, of all things, to be the place for some Fassbender on Fassbender kissing, but it was clothed in a layer of mysticism and bullshit science wankery, so I supposed it worked plot-wise.
    Pacific Rim Uprising is the original Pacific Rim, except without the grim realities of apocalypse life, and with a bunch more teenagers. While it was a fun film, in many ways, I question the necessity of killing off fan-favourite characters and the obvious sequel-baiting within.
    The Predator is a film about a Predator going around and killing people. There is other bits of plot involved, but really, it’s just about some war veterans with severe PTSD fighting against a couple of space aliens. One wonders if a schlocky action film was quite the place to try and seriously cover mental illness, but props to them for trying.
    These three films are not good films. There’s so many things with them that don’t work. The philosophising, the attempt at seriousness — a film that’s aimed at a bored late-night audience doesn’t need those things to work.
    What does work in this genre (shitty sci-fi sequels) is the comradery and the action. Covenant has some of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen. Brutal murder on an alien spaceship in Fiordland? Fantastic! Uprising has a series of giant robots fighting against Kaiju. Predator’s action scenes aren’t all that memorable, but it does have some pretty rad monsters. All three of the films are worth seeing just for those parts.
    What I also love about action films — of this ilk — is the ensemble work. Putting characters into high-stress situations really allows for beautiful relationships to form. Baxley and Coyle’s arc in Predator is heartbreaking, and I ended up caring so much about Amara in Uprising. Though the films themselves aren’t fantastic, it’s parts like those where they really can begin to shine.
    In truth, not all sci-fi films have to be Oscar-worthy. A fun film can exist because it’s fun — not because it has to reign triumphant in the pretension stakes. The world’s shit enough, can we not just watch things that are a bit silly sometimes?

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  • Avantdale Bowling Club

    Around a month ago, legendary Kiwi rapper Tom Scott released the self-titled debut from his new project Avantdale Bowling Club. This record presents a sonic shift towards a cosmic jazz influence but, at the same time, embraces and furthers the same sense of autobiography, realness, and honesty that has made Scott’s work in Home Brew, @peace, and Average Rap Band so revered. I was fortunate enough to have a chat to Tom on the release day of Avantdale Bowling Club.

    Josh: How’s the feeling around the release of this project compared to your previous albums? I’ve seen a lot of positive response to it already!
    Tom: Yeah, you know how compliments are. It’s hard enough to take just one of them, let alone like hundreds. And I’ve been working for so long that I’ve been deprived of any kind of recognition that, when I get it, I feel like I don’t deserve it you know.
    J: Yeah I can imagine. Maybe that’s the humble Kiwi in you coming out [laughs].

    T: Yeah, that’s just how it is. Like, don’t put all the light on me, it’ll just show up all my flaws [laughs].

    J: But maybe the flaws are a good thing too! I feel like, with this album, it’s so personal and so real and maybe that’s the thing that people are embracing in the first place you know.
    T: Yeah, for sure man. It’s way easier to talk about your flaws when they rhyme [laughs]. And I guess the pessimist in me is like, I see the opportunity for a hipster to rubbish the album because it’s been acclaimed. So it’s kind of like my paranoia’s kicking in today a bit. If I hinged this on the people that didn’t vibe with it then I’m really missing out on the whole point of existence you know man. I’ve got to take all this praise I’m getting today and store it away for when I need it you know.
    J: When was the Avantdale Bowling Club project conceived? How did the name come about, and how did it all end up where it is today?
    T: I got a text from my old man one day, I was in Melbourne, and there was just a picture of the Avondale Bowling Club. I think he might have been playing a gig there, funnily enough, or he was just there, but I just thought it sounded like a good name for a band [laughs].
    J: Did you ever consider just using your own name? As opposed to the pseudonym? Because it’s so clearly your vision and all about your life, was there ever a point where you thought about your own name as an option?
    T: I had this vision that one day I’d be this perfectly formed version of myself, or at least be able to articulate the perfectly formed version of myself as a musician and that would be it, that’s the Tom Scott record. I don’t think that will ever happen. I don’t really know if it’s right you know? Like, when people call me Tom Scott it’s like “Yeah! I know who that is! It’s like this ever f**king fluid, contradictory mess of a man that I am”, you know? Like, when people call you by your name bro, you know who you are – you have this illusion of self-belief. I don’t think it would be accurate to sum it up…
    J: You evolve over time and different things come out of you. Who knows what the next 10 or 20 years of that would look like, I suppose it leaves room for that creative evolution you know.
    T: Hard, bro. If you solidify yourself as one thing, then that’s what people know you as. The name that your mother uses has now been tainted by this record that you thought could solidify you, that would suck – “Hey Tom Scott! You’re the guy that…” you know?
    J: A lot of the music you talk about for influences fits that jazz, cosmic jazz realm. Were you always wanting to make a jazz album, or an album with this strong of a jazz aesthetic to it?
    T: Who wouldn’t! [laughs] I always wanted to do it. I mean, I didn’t always want to do it, but as soon as I started hearing that music. You know, all we ever do with music is attempt to imitate something we like, or try to make something that doesn’t exist that we wanna hear, so yeah. As soon as I heard Alice Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders, it was like heroin, it was like somehow losing your virginity twice [laughs].
    J: In terms of how you come to make that happen, your creative process – and obviously there’s a whole host of musicians all over Avantdale Bowling Club, and a pretty stacked lineup too, how did that all happen?
    T: It started as little skeletons here and there, and then when I opened the can of worms that is making a live record, it was draining bro. I wanna make sure I’m not gonna forget this, I might f**k around and do it again you know [laughs], gotta learn from your mistakes. I’m scared I might attempt this again and have a nervous breakdown. It was really hard because it was solely my responsibility at the end of the day. That’s not to say I didn’t have help — I had f**kloads, I couldn’t have done it alone – but once the session musician goes home, he’s not thinking about your record.

    J: What is the writing process like for a project like this?
    T: There’s something I read, I can’t remember who it was, it’s like “to be a writer is to forgive yourself the horrors of the first draft”. As a rapper, you start believing this myth that you go into the studio, write the verse, go home or whatever. Or that you have to do it in motion you know. But no one would write a novel like that, and I’m sure rappers don’t even write like that to be honest. It was just some kind of myth that I had believed. But in the last couple of years, I’ve just been more into re-writing. I heard someone say “I’m not a good writer, but I’m a good rewriter”. That idea… just being able to go back to it and touch it up, instead of catching lightning in a bottle. I might catch a bit of lightning, but then I might just have to add to that. Some of the verses I wrote 3 or 4 times. I scrapped heaps of songs – like, fully fleshed, realised songs. There must be at least 8 – not demos, but like, have recorded, paid all the musicians, f**king mastered it and everything.

    J: What does the rest of this year look like? Touring?
    T: That’s probably what I’ve gotta do next. I’d love to pour as much effort into that as well. I just kinda want to see the world. I’d love [to be like] f**k the touring, and go to Nepal or something like that. I feel like I deserve a break at the moment.

    Avantdale Bowling Club is out now through all the usual streaming/online music outlets, go get stuck in. Catch them live at Meow on October 25.

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  • Medium Playback

    Should an industry which now regularly designs devices that go inside human bodies need professional licensing? Should we continue to lionise a psychological study that was a sham? How accurate do I want my online data profile to be if its primary purpose is to encourage me to part with my time, attention, and money? And how has “good old-fashioned” evangelism gained popularity in “famously liberal Hollywood” among “statistically progressive millennials”?
    Medium, an online cornucopia of quality modern essays and articles, has recently launched its first podcast, Playback, which addresses questions like these. Every second week, journalist Manoush Zomorodi or writer Kara Brown introduces the author of a highly popular article from the site; accompanied by music and sound effects, the author narrates their work, with an interview between author and host afterwards discovering “the story behind the story”. The impact of hearing the author recount their own essay cannot be overstated. Through speech they can relate exactly what they are trying to say: pausing for effect, adjusting their intonation for attention, emphasising the kupu they want to highlight. People sometimes talk of “the writer’s voice”. In this podcast, we get “the writer’s voice”.
    As such, their emotional direction lies not far beneath the surface: the anger of one writer, newly sober, in a world where everyone around her is “super double tanked”; the frustration of another, post-weight loss surgery, in a “shortsighted” world that “mandates to discipline the fat body”. The determination of a creator who wants to hold accountable his fellow designers is evident behind his bleak humour, as is the unsettled concern of a techie at discovering the extent of the information internet companies hold about him. The authors’ strong emotional commitment comes out through their voices in a way their writing could not convey.
    These kaituhi are not trained presenters, and yet, generally translate their stories for audial consumption pretty well. Some problems of course exist: for instance, while in text the problem of distinguishing what is the essay and what is a quote is neatly resolved with the use of punctuation, in the retelling the absence of such can be slightly confusing. Yet while this is a drawback of the audio medium, any complaints are quickly forgiven with, say, the entrance of David Foster Wallace’s lost voice. When his well-known speech “This Is Water” is quoted in the third episode, we don’t receive it in an italicised indented block; we get his voice. In this podcast version of the article, he is not quoted — rather, he speaks. The same later: we do not get a transcript of an interview with Philip Zimbardo of the famous Stanford Prison Experiment; we get his voice from the interview itself.
    The value of audio rings out not only in the quotes but also the music and sound design. This podcast is polished. Foley comes in helpfully every now and then — professionally; unnoticed — and the use of music throughout the pieces serves rather than distracts: in the third episode, the author paints a scene of a modern baptism; when the “soft and low [music of the band] crescendos”, the podcast happily demonstrates, placing you right there in the watching congregation, inexplicably cheering on.
    The articles are different mixes of personal accounts, journalistic reporting, and opinion, and as such the kaupapa covered by the podcast are varied. A distinctive assurance with this podcast, however, is the confidence that, whatever its topic and wherever its direction leads, each episode is going to be of quality: each piece has demonstrated its merit already by being one of the most popular recent articles from a thought-provoking site. While of course the quality of a piece’s preparation and presentation does not necessarily entail endorsement of its premise, there is value in confronting and exploring new ideas, and a well-executed exploration is exactly what this podcast provides.

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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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    Editor's Pick

    This Ain’t a Scene it’s a Goddamned Arm Wrestle

    : Interior – Industrial Soviet Beerhall – Night It was late November and cold as hell when I stumbled into the Zhiguli Beer Hall. I was in Moscow, about to take the trans-Mongolian rail line to Beijing, and after finding someone in my hostel who could speak English, had decided