A thing happened on tumblr on Wednesday – tumblr user korvidian started writing South East Queensland Gothic. Now we are all playing! After today, No Award, you are on your own, but for those of you who aren’t on tumblr and therefore have yet to fall down this hole of gothic glory, here is what we’ve found so far:
where it started, in South East Queensland, pt 1, pt 2, pt 3.
Let’s start with something uplifting: a compilation of rallies across the world calling for No Forced Closure of Remote Communities. Yay to everyone who was able to show their support, in whatever way they could!
For a brief period it seemed the Djar Djar Wurrung tribe had outmanoeuvred the two museums. The British Museum insisted that the Melbourne Museum take legal action against the Dja Dja Wurrung to lift the emergency declaration immediately. The Melbourne Museum became terrified that this reclaiming of stolen artefacts would jeopardise its future loan ability from other international museums, despite recognition in Australian law of the need to protect Aboriginal ownership of stolen cultural property. So bowing to pressure from the British Museum, the influential and well-resourced Melbourne Museum took the Dja Dja Wullung people to court, Dr Foley resigned and later the federal government rescinded the Protection Act.
Actually I can take up the whole lane in the roundabout; no, don’t honk at me for it.
You’re just jealous you can’t jaywalk in a car.
I also pay taxes that pay for these roads.
You should actually be happy, I pay approximately the same amount of tax as you do at a significantly lower infrastructure cost.
Really, I’m saving you money.
Not to mention, otherwise I could be driving a car, and if I was I’d be in front of you, because I’m a chirpy morning person.
(I’m mostly a chirpy morning person because I’m riding my bike, but still)
Registration doesn’t pay for roads, it pays for insurance when you hit someone, which statistically you will (our insurance scheme in Victoria is actually quite good). It’s really very hard to kill someone running into them with a bike, it’s a lot like running into them really fast with your legs. I bought insurance anyway, because I’m a responsible adult.
I know you’re in a rush, and how if you weren’t stuck in traffic you’d be there by now. Instead of getting aggressive consider riding a bike.
I’m also sorry about the time I didn’t stop in time and clipped the back of your car when you pulled out without a lot of notice. However if I’d been a car you’d cut up there would have been actual property damage.
Cycle tourists contribute five times more money to local economies than other domestic tourists in Australia because they can’t bring all their stuff and have to buy it all locally. So try not to buzz me when you’re going at 100km on a poorly serviced highway.
No, I can’t go faster; why don’t you go slower?
Reasons why I, a cyclist, just dinged my bell at you
It is dark, and you are wearing black.
There are limited street lights.
You’re in the bike lane and you’re an almost completely invisible bike/pedestrian/skateboarder/wheelchairer.
(Otamatone otamatone otamatone Otamatone in the post)
On the weekend, Steph was trying to talk about the Otamotone, but couldn’t remember its name. So she googled “Greensleeves descent into hell” and found exactly the video she was looking for.
The hero of the Otamatone is Nobumichi Tosa, who truly loves the Otamatone, and wants you to, as well.
Here he is playing the OTAMATONE DELUXE (オタマトーンDX):
The otamatone is a “singing toy”, but to call it that undermines the pure devilry of the instrument. It’s like koalas mating. It’s like the descent into the underworld. Wiki says it’s like a theremin, jīnghú or synthesiser, and that description is doing those actual legitimate instruments a disservice.
The otamatone is the official instrument of the No Award Staff Writers; but not, we hasten to point out, the official instrument of No Award.
So, the bird. In most respects, they’re pretty basic swans – a bit smaller (and less deadly) than mute swans and not as impressive in the air as the migratory arctic swans, but shockingly, startlingly black. The idea of a black swan was so outlandish to Europeans, that the phrase ‘black swan’ had entered relatively common usage in 16th century English to describe something impossible, a usage that fell out of favour once they were ‘discovered’ by Dutch voyagers in Western Australia in the late 1600s. While they’ve since become widely associated with Western Australia (they’re the state bird and appear on the WA coat of arms), black swans are found throughout the country, from Cairns to Hobart, Adelaide to Broome. (Steph notes: because they’re the WA state bird, I actually had NO IDEA they were found across the country until I moved to Victoria and called everyone a liar)
Black swans are vegetarian, subsisting on algae, weeds and even grazing on grass like weird winged cows. They’re nomadic, happily moving great distances to follow the availability of food and water, but their movements remain poorly understood – anyone spotting a swan wearing a neck tag should take note of it and enter it at http://www.myswan.org.au, a fantastic research study that makes use of the general public’s bird enthusiasm to collect data on a population of 150 swans based loosely at Albert Park Lake. The researchers running this study have also punctured one of the major myths – black swan fidelity. While it’s true that swans tend to partner up for life, the researchers have found that Albert Park Lake is like a giant 1970s key party, with nearly 20% of all cygnets born the product of illicit cross-couple action. Saucy.
I’m not sure how to score black swans – they’re elegant and impressive birds and spotting a flying vee of them above the city skies never fails to give me a little lift, but they’re also aggressive and lacking the charisma of other iconic Australian birds. I’m feeling a bit like David and Margaret reviewing a dull Australian movie – I’ll give them three feathers, but I’m probably being too generous.
The black swan is a philosophical impossibility. Or at least it was supposed to be. Well done Australia in upturning centuries of inward-looking European thought, as per usual.
The idea originated with Juvenal and his line rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno, or “a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan” meaning someone whose qualities are so rare that they are essentially impossible and don’t exist. Satirists, they love a metaphor, especially snarky Roman ones.
Once the existence of black swans became knowledge in Europe, apart from ruining a lot of doctoral theses in philosophy across the continent, they also came to fascinate scientific circles in the way that general excitement over this ‘new’ southern land invigorated explorers, scientists and, as it turned out, even a French emperor.
Did you know that at the exact same time that George Bass and Matthew Flinders were circumnavigating and mapping Australia, there was a French team of explorers lead by Nicolas Baudin sent under the aegis of Napoleon doing the exact same thing, just in the opposite direction? Of course you don’t, because no one writing British-favoured history wants to admit that the French were good at anything, and indeed, we wouldn’t have had such a complete map of Australia at this time without these French explorers – you can still see their influence in French-sounding names for landmarks stretching from Victoria all the way to the Western Australia coast. No one also likes to admit that had history gone differently, half of Australia could have been a French colony (called TERRE NAPOLEON!).
So anyway, Baudin’s expedition also busily collected many specimens of Australian fauna and flora. They may have been officially collecting for the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle, but Napoleon got into Baudin’s ear to make sure that plenty was being set aside for his wife, as Josephine had a very active interest in the natural sciences. Her home, Malmaison, ended up a free-ranging menagerie for a variety of animals from around the globe, including kangaroos, emus, and cockatoos.
But her favourites out of all her animals were her pair of black swans. They were also the only Australian animal to successfully breed at Malmaison, increasing to seven at the time of Josephine’s death in 1814. Many of the illustrations and engravings of the Malmaison grounds from the time feature the swans prominently. Europe was basically losing its MIND over them, and why wouldn’t you? BLACK SWANS.
If I may also add a quick addendum to Michael’s discussion of black swan breeding habits, there has been research that has discovered that a sizeable proportion of black swan pairs are actually homosexual males, and that they actively seek out opportunities to raise chicks by either stealing eggs from other nests, or entering into polyamorous threesomes with a female swan in order gain eggs, which I think is PRETTY DARN RAD.
In short, black swans are amazing. Who doesn’t have room to fill their heart with endless love for the bird that made thousands of years of crusty philosophers pop their monocles, whose propensity towards same sex relationships is an entirely normal occurrence, who were Empress Josephine’s favourite bird? HOW CAN YOU SAY NO TO EMPRESS JOSEPHINE?
There is some crap going on, and it’s all important, but maybe you’re thinking about how you want to do something that’s not rallies and writing to your local member. And that’s okay! So once a week here at No Award, we’re going to showcase an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander thing. “Thing” is a bit inexact, but we don’t want to limit ourselves – we’re talking businesses and not for profits and designers. Things. We here at No Award still want you talking about injustices and and rallying if you can! But things are important, too. (If you can think of a good name for these posts, please let us know)
This week: Bundarra Sportswear. Steph is super into Bundarra Sportswear. She has their Deep Space Hammer leggings which are secretly SPACE HAMMERHEAD SHARKS, they are comfortable and breathable and the print on them is designed by Indigenous artist Robert Levi.
Bundarra is an Australian indigenous clothing label. Founding organisation, Indigenous Job Connections of Cairns identified a growing interest for an uniquely indigenous brand that indigenous communities Australia wide could call their own.
Bundarra was accordingly piloted in 2011 at the Laura Dance Festival to great success. Bundarra will strive to make quality sports aboriginal and torres strait corporate work uniforms, teamwear, leisure wear and promotional items depicting original indigenous artworks.
Bundarra is the Djabuguy word for cassowary. The cassowary keeps the rainforest clean and regenerates the plants and trees. A healthy rainforest means healthy rainforest people.
Don’t you want to support that? Indigenous artists, Indigenous themes, Indigenous jobs. Super comfy legs. Yes, good work, everyone.
“They’re going to close down these communities and turn people into fringe dwellers. There’s going to be more in jail, and more homelessness. And there’s a lot of people homeless now,” Uncle Ben told New Matilda.
“I’m 75 now, and there’s been 70 years of racism in my life. Dehumanising conditions we’ve been living under. There’s still that hopelessness.”
TIMES OF RALLIES FOR THURSDAY 19th MARCH
CANBERRA: Assemble at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy at 11:30 am
One way Ikea researchers get around this is by taking a firsthand look themselves. The company frequently does home visits and—in a practice that blends research with reality TV—will even send an anthropologist to live in a volunteer’s abode. Ikea recently put up cameras in people’s homes in Stockholm, Milan, New York, and Shenzhen, China, to better understand how people use their sofas. What did they learn? “They do all kinds of things except sitting and watching TV,” Ydholm says. The Ikea sleuths found that in Shenzhen, most of the subjects sat on the floor using the sofas as a backrest. “I can tell you seriously we for sure have not designed our sofas according to people sitting on the floor and using a sofa like that,” says Ydholm.
Aside from the TERRIBLE turns of phrase (one should never use the term ‘meatballs out’ to describe the Indian market. INDIA.) this is a great article that speaks to many of Steph’s interests, primarily capitalism and regional difference.
Steph laughed her way through this entire article: Karl Ove Knausgaard Is The World’s Worst Travel Writer. Steph loves travel writing, but hates many travel writers because they’re usually white people exploring exotic locations and learning about themselves on a backdrop of brown people. Good times. This is like everything that’s terrible about travel writing, but a non-North American travelling around North America, and so great. So funny.
Are there Black people in Australia, by Natasha Guantai at Overland. Great piece looking at blackness and immigration and assumptions and Australia, with some great conversations in the comments (and also some terrible ones, of course).
Great whites don’t only rely on their sight for tracking prey. Like all sharks, they have special receptor pores under their noses (ampullae of Lorenzini) that detect the extremely tiny electric fields surrounding all living creatures.
Chinese Feminists have been in detention for 2 weeks, and not charged with any crimes, and basically being detained because they’re prominent feminists, and it is NOT ON. Two good articles: At China Law & Policy; at Foreign Policy.
No Award, we are so pleased to be able to bring you a fatberg update. Not actually an Australian fatberg update! Sadly. But a global fatberg update.
Wet Wipes Box Says Flush. New York’s Sewer System Says Don’t. It was with GREAT DELIGHT that No Award read this article in the NYT yesterday morning. Just because it’s specific to the New York sewer system, don’t disregard it, though! Quartz has some extra deets about the impact of wet wipes. Steph, for example, didn’t realise that the culprits aren’t parents flushing baby wipes, but adults wiping their own arses! (No Award recommends Who Gives A Crap tp, A Lolstralian company producing 100% post-consumer waste paper TP)
Quokkas, don’t put your wet wipes into sewers and drains and water ways. “Flushable” doesn’t mean “decomposes” or “biodegradable” or anything like that. It just literally means that it won’t clog up sewers.
Today on No Award, DON’T PUT THESE LIQUIDS IN YOUR DRAIN, PUT THEM SOMEWHERE ELSE. Note that they are ALL OF THEM considered ‘household hazardous wastes’ in Australia.
Paint (including water soluble!)
Any medications at all, I know they’re not always liquids but DON’T DO IT
Pool chlorine, I can’t believe we’re having this conversation, I don’t care if it usually goes in water and then we swim in it
HOW TO GET RID OF THEM: plug them into Recycling Near You. Your local council may also have ways to get rid of them (The Shops at Ellenbrook, for example, has a ‘Green Room’ provided by the City of Swan where you can drop stuff off, though not actually HHW stuff).
A FURTHER NOTE ON MEDICATIONS: you can also take them to a lot of pharmacists and they get rid of them responsibly through the RUM project.
AN UPDATE ON PAINT: when you’re washing your brushes out, remove as much of the paint via rags as you can, then wash the residual off into a jar or container and then tip that out into the compost. It’s about as much as you can do. SOZ.