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September 27, 2010 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

Academic Idol: Round Nine

Out of flight, invisibility and telepathy, what super power would you have and what crimes would you solve with it?

Woah. This shit just got real. We were inundated with votes on Thursday and all bets were off—we didn’t know who was going to be voted off until the 5pm cut off. We were all squealing. There were jumps of joy, and screams of sorrow. To everyone’s shock and horror, David O’Donnell, the father of the theatre department, ended up at the bottom of the heap. Who will the theatre kids back now? Will they join forces with Team Pondy to defeat Dean Knight? Only time will tell. But seriously guys, you should know what to do by now. Text 027 CUSTARD or email by 5pm Thursday with your votes. Who will it be, Victoria University?

Peter Andreae aka Pondy, Computer Science
The only kind of crime that I might be any good at fighting is cybercrime, using computers and the internet (even if only based on my long service—I’ve been programming since 1969 and using the internet since 1977). But in this realm, your super powers have already been superseded: I can get to the other side of the world via the internet in a blink of an eye; even superman would take several hours. It’s trivial to be invisible on the internet (the tricky bit is making computers see physical things!). And telepathy would be so limited—trying to zoom in on the mind of one person somethere in India or China from New Zealand would be beyond the best telepaths; but using the internet, I can pick out just one computer anywhere in the world, and I already know how to read the insides of a computer’s brain. So thank you, but I guess I’ll pass on all the super powers; Computer Science has made them superfluous.

Marc Wilson, Psychology
In the 1970s, Louis Leland (at Otago) asked first-year students what super powers they possessed, and found that while saying you had a superpower or not was unrelated to academic performance, the MORE superpowers someone had the BETTER your grades. As it happens I have actually researched this myself—last year, flight was overwhelmingly the most popular chosen by 35 per cent of first years (cheap travel, but no in-flight movies), 6 per cent chose invisibility (and I quote: “Invisibility (ladies changing rooms, here I come!)”, and 10 per cent said telepathy (helpful in exams). Teleportation was also very popular, along with being able to travel through time. Less, um, common, responses included the somewhat ambiguous “Meat Vision”, “amazing sense of smell”, “to stop loving someone when I choose to”, and “the power to inflict severe gastro-intestinal distress upon the injust”. Soooo… I’m going to ignore you Salient, and go with the 7 per cent who said time travel. That way, I could prevent the fashion crimes of the ‘80s (MC Hammer pants!) I could tell people what a stuff-up George W Bush was going to be, and make sure everyone buys an earthquake kit. Of course, I’d do okay at the TAB as well. Come on—you were all thinking it!

Dean Knight, Law
Pfft. Such silly super-powers when it comes to solving the real crimes in our world today. Constitutional crimes. Assaults on democracy. Political felonies. One needs special legal, forensic and constitutional super-powers to solve these crimes—not smarty-pants, cartoon-like powers. The power to sniff out a violation of the Rule of Law at 100 yards. The power to quickly parse a long, multi-judgment decision of the Supreme Court for a breach of the separation of powers. The power to bang one’s fist firmly and loudly, with Sir Geoffrey Palmer-style, hyperbolic constitutional outrage. Actually, telepathy might be helpful—if not just to work out what “Gerry order” is being dreamt up in the mind of our now omnipotent Earthquake minister!


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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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