Spinning

Spinning, A Short Story by Alex Joshi

The eyes of the frog bore into the giraffe as the fairy floss melted on it’s tongue. The humans were nearby.
“Move.” Hissed the frog. “Move!”
The frog hopped further down the dark alleyway, his giraffe fellow following behind, his long pace easily keeping up with the frog’s comparatively short hops. They were almost out of the zoo, passing by the humans as they made their escape.
The plan was devious, and the two animals executing it were infinitely more so. The frog came from a military background, serving as a commando in the SAS before being kicked out for bad discipline and the giraffe was part of the Italian Mafia.
The giraffe ducked his head as the two escapees exited the zoo grounds, making way into the dark city, into the cover of the night. Behind them, sirens wailed, and the frog grinned.
“Almost there. The monkey should be around the corner.” He said, smiling. The giraffe said nothing, but smiled.
The monkey was another escapee of the zoo, being one of the greatest criminal masterminds the decade had seen, and had a speciality in stealing cars, and, after he was done with them, disposing of them discreetly.
“Hey! There they are!” A zookeeper made his way around the corner, catching sight of the two fleeing animals.
“Damn it! If you hadn’t insisted to get that fairy floss, we would be out and away by now!” The frog yelled angrily, picking up his pace.
The giraffe said nothing, silently keeping his stride.
“Left!” The frog said, turning down into a dark alleyway. Before them, a van opened it’s doors.
“What took you so long?” The monkey said, barely concealing his anger. “The rendezvous was ten minutes ago! Giraffe, you may need to duck your head.
The frog got into the passenger seat and the giraffe clumsily folded himself into the van, which, as big as it was, was not large enough to hold him.
“We-” The frog started, but the giraffe stuck his head through and prodded him angrily. “We ran into some zookeepers. Had to take a slightly different route.”
“Right.” The monkey said, and started the car, moving out onto open road. “Did they see you?”
“Yes.” The frog answered.
“Damn!” The monkey swerved past a small pink volkswagen beetle. “I suppose your delay had an affect on that? If in doubt, stick to the plan!”
“That was not going to work!” The frog replied angrily.
“You could have compromised the entire operation!” The monkey glared at the frog, then at the giraffe. “Is that fairy floss? I swear, if you nearly compromised the operation, for fairy floss, I will-,”
“What would you do? Throw a banana at us?” The frog challenged.
“Shut up!” The monkey shouted.
The car passed in silence for a few moments as the three criminals passed a police car. The monkey floored the accelerator and the car jumped forward.
“Slow down!” The frog said. “The last thing we need is to get pulled over for speeding.”
The monkey slowed down, but didn’t say anything. The road opened up to a freeway and they were able to go a little faster. If only they could get across the bridge- Then they would be impossible to catch in the many alleyways.
Suddenly a police car roared past, and it swerved out in front of them, attempting to create a roadblock. The monkey swerved as fast as he could in the van, but he clipped the very tail of the car and went spinning, crashing onto the other side of the road, which had suddenly opened it’s walls up to the bridge. A second police car came up alongside the van and was pushing against the van’s side, pushing it onto the lanes going the other direction. A car was coming on the rightmost lane, and it swerved just too late, smashing into the police car at high speed and knocking the van into another spin. The rear wheels of the van crashed through the barrier separating the bridge from open space. The van stopped for a moment, hanging over the abyss, but luckily the van was front wheel drive and it jumped forward, further down the bridge, narrowly missing another car.
Another full roadblock had formed, and the monkey was faced with the decision to either ram the road block, or stop and give up.
“Ram it, you idiot!” The frog yelled.
The monkey complied and crashed the van through the small gap between two police cars, sending them spinning and letting the van free.
The criminals roared onto the open street, almost free.
“We’re leaking fuel.” The monkey noticed. “We’ll have to run.”
“Or steal another car.” The frog said.
“What about Giraffe?” The monkey said. “Stop being so selfish.”
“True. True. We could steal some fuel.” The frog said.
“Good idea. Then it will just run straight out.” The monkey replied.
“Right.” The frog said. “So, just run? You Ok with that, giraffe?” He turned in his seat and looked at the giraffe, who nodded awkwardly.
“Ok. Just stop when you need to.” The frog said, twitching his toes.
Suddenly a police car ran straight across the crossing and the van crashed straight into it, stopping dead.
“Run. Run now!” The monkey yelled, getting out of the van.
The frog kicked open the passenger door, and the giraffe kicked down the back doors. They both began to run after the monkey, running as hard as they could.
The frog slid down a storm drain, disappearing out of sight, where none dared follow. The giraffe had caught up with the monkey, who used the few seconds after he rounded a corner, being out of sight of the police and climbed up a tree.
For the giraffe, there was nowhere to hide, but everywhere to run. However, as fast as he was, the giraffe wasn’t fast enough to outpace cars, so he slid down a skinny alleyway where no car could follow. He turned down into a small house and hid himself there, out of sight.
“MUM! Why is there an actual giraffe in our house!?” A little girl screamed in excitement. “Canwekeepitcanwekeepitpleaseplease!?”
The End

Writing prompt: you are death’s summer intern – Edward Jin 11J

You are deaths’ summer intern

12.02.2016 Friday, the weather is sunny

I have just become death’s summer intern. I am to meet up with him? Later today. To be honest I have no idea who he is, or what he looks like. I only know his name. Well, I assume he is a he, at least judging from the name. Ah, it’s almost time. I better leave, or I’ll be late.

Reaching the address, I found that the address given was a cafe. Looking around, I saw no one that matched the image I created from my imagination. Did I go to the wrong address?

“You must be William, am I right” a young voice called out from behind me.

The “Hivemind” effect of the internet – Cameron Gosley

Photo source

The internet is a major force for good in our society. It increases access to all sorts of knowledge and provides an outlet for content creators to be exposed to the wider world on platforms with reach that would never have been thought possible before it. When humanity’s free will is factored in, however, a vast majority of the time people will ultimately seek out things that they want to read or watch, and things that confirm what they believe in. This can lead to people mentally over-estimating the number of people in society who agree with them on any issue. Primary propagators of this behaviour include forums, as well as internet spaces as innocent-looking as your Facebook News Feed. Ultimately, this can have quite negative consequences for people, especially if they’re unaware of the effect of the content they’re digesting on the internet.

If you’re angry and disillusioned, chances are that someone on the internet has felt the exact same feelings that you have, and has made a page on the internet for it. Unapologetic pirate that hates nothing more that the RIAA and MPAA? There’s a news service online for you. Is a round earth really just a conspiracy made up by NASA? No problem, these guys really exist! Want to smash the state? Well, these guys might just be your new best buds. No matter how obscure or deranged the viewpoint is, more likely than not, there’s a community on-line where you’d fit right at home. Sure, there’s clubs in real life for strange things too, like speaking made up languages, or broadcasting on short wave radio, however, the internet provides a meeting place for people with less savoury interests. The veil of anonymity on internet has the ability to push the morally grey into the public view. Extremists on both side of the political spectrum will egg each other on, and may result in clashes being made public, with both side believing that they have the upper hand in public appeal, as we saw in last year’s United Patriots Front rallies and their sometimes violent clashes with opponents. When it most gets on my nerves, is when ultra-progressives from sites like tumblr go way over the top and start vitriolic campaigns, which may occasionally cross over into real life, about minor infractions against their world view. All in the name of ‘Social Justice’, of course. As a result of the echo-chamber-like nature of online communities, members of them may see themselves as having more public traction and influence than they do, which can result in bad outcomes in the on- and offline spaces.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m naturally biased. I think that all people are, but how much they accept this reality varies. As I look through my News Feed, of all the politically-related pages I’ve liked, there’s only about two that post articles and photos that I disagree with. Facebook has a very echo-chambery effect. Profiles are carefully curated and the onus is on the user to actively ‘like’ content that they want to see in their feeds. It’s very rare, I’d say, to see something that challenges your perceptions anywhere on your Facebook News Feed. The effect is heightened if you remove all your friends who have the misfortune of liking politicians that become the target of public ire (e.g. The campaign to remove your friends who like Donald Trump), which only amplifies the silence of anybody you disagree with. This echo-chamber type of website design is one of the major reasons I don’t use Reddit. I find that the up/down mentality only has the effect of silencing all opposition, while promoting a majority view – thus discouraging any discussion or opinions from outside the norm. The same thing happens in the Youtube comments, whereby all favourable comments are thumbed up, and vice versa.

So, what’s the effect of this hivemind mentality that is so prevalent on many spaces on the internet? The main effect is stifling of debate. When I look at the comments section on any article on the Guardian that comments on social issues, the comment section is invariably a pit of left-wing self-congratulatory ‘discussion’, or more like an agreement. Most websites of News Limited publications suffer from the same problem, except on the Right. So, where can you go on the internet if you want to see both sides textually biff it out? Well, unfortunately it’s your responsibility to find counter-views, as it’s not often that you’ll find both sides from one source on the internet, however, there are some, like the Conversation that endeavour to do their best in this regard. Another effect, is the potential for radicalisation of views to occur. If all you’re fed, media-wise all day is stories from one political view, your ideals will slowly start to conform to this view more and more. This can be seen in the unfortunate case of Elliot Rodger, whose misogyny was radicalised by consuming views from people in closed, misogynistic communities online. These sorts of communities have also caused a proliferation in pedophilic content and neo-nazi ideas online, as well as being recruiting grounds for terrorist groups like ISIS – as there is nobody in these communities who are actively against these ideas. This is why the hive-mind nature of the internet is so dangerous.

Grouping together is natural, it is human. The more easily accessible the internet is, the wider audience a non-mainstream view or collective will achieve. It’s imperative that you challenge your ideas, not just to be better informed, but also to be aware of reasons for and against a topic, and why people feel the way they do, and how much of the population thinks the same way. Do one thing each day that scares you – Think for yourself.

Australia’s gun laws have failed speech

A rough speech outlining why stricter gun laws will not work in USA

 

The main reason that Australia’s gun laws have failed is that the number of violent acts have not decreased and Australia is not a much safer place to live with the gun laws as it was before. Violence is not determined by what weapons are available but if the person has serious intent to kill or maim somebody. In 2011 when another of the many gun control arguments was happening in America an article was published called “America, don’t repeat Australia’s gun-control mistake.” This is aptly titled as statistics show that although the number of suicides done with a firearm decreased after the tighter laws the total number of suicides stayed around the same and even increased in the three years after the new laws in 1996. Australia has also not seen dramatic improvements in safety. Opponents claim that the gun laws have reduced deaths by firearm in Australia but this is not a valid argument. Although the number of suicides by firearm decreased total suicides stayed the same and even worse, by 2008 there was a decrease of 9% in homicides but an increase of 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults. Australia’s gun laws have clearly failed and introduction of similar restrictions in the USA may have many negative implications.

Furthermore, gun laws only take guns out of the law abiding citizen’s hands and leave them defenceless to criminals who have guns. Currently in America to buy a gun you need to register your personal details and have a background check to buy and own a gun. Not allowing citizens to buy guns only leaves those who have always obtained guns illegally. In 1999 there were 117 homicides which involved use of a firearm and of these only 9.4% or 11 were with a registered gun. All other homicides were carried out with an unregistered firearm. A more recent set of statistics from 2002 to 2003 over 85% homicides were with the use of an unregistered firearm and from 2006-2007 this figure had gone up to 93%. If stricter gun laws such as a ban were to be implemented in America guns may become even more out of control and result in more murders with no registered evidence of who carried it out. It is also claimed that strict gun laws reduce the number of terrorist attacks. Just look at the Sydney Siege a couple of years ago. Guns obtained illegally. Look at Paris! Gunmen armed with ak-47 automatic rifles, all illegal. The only way to stop black market trade is make regulate the sale and importation of the item, in this case guns. If all ports are regulated by the government black market trade would be significantly reduced.

Australia’s gun laws have clearly failed and not done what was intended. Now you might be wondering how this ties back to America. Implementation of stricter gun laws will increase violence and crime rates in USA. That is, if they even get implemented. Prime minister at the time John Howard got all 6 states (6 not including ACT and TAS) to agree to stricter gun laws in only 12 days. If a president in America tried to reform gun laws it would be unlikely. For one there are 50 states in the USA, more than 8 times the number in Australia.
Another reason as to why even if steps were taken to reform gun laws is that with the Australian situation there was a massacre, The Port Arthur massacre where 35 people were gunned down by a single person. This was such a shock that the nation was in overwhelming support of stricter gun laws. In America however, the gun debate has been argued many times and no major reform has happened. In 2007 there were 2 large massed shootings, one which killed 32 and another which killed 27. It is morbid to say so but with them occurring every other day massed shootings have become almost normal. Only a mass shooting with several hundreds or thousands may sway the opinion on guns. Other mass shootings are simply not big enough of a shock and do not have such an impact that the nation will have strict gun laws sweep across it like australia decades ago.

Jason Li