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July 17, 2006 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Academic Idol: Round two

YOU VOTED in droves, and it was close too, with four people at various stages appearing to be out. It’s time to say goodbye to Maryanne Garry. With two psychologists in contention you decided that psychologists are a bit like teapots, you can have too many, and so one had to go. Anyway, let’s move into round two. The question:


Peter Andreae (Computer Science)

Your specification is vague, so I will take advantage of the apparently limitless size and cost of this capsule. It’s clear that the best possible item for the capsule would be a Google facility: just encapsulate the computers and disks (along with independent power supply and instructions for use). Google’s copy of a significant fraction of the all the information on the web has not only useful information about technology, but a detailed enough snapshot of the state of the world to convince any observer that they should try to avoid setting up their civilisation the way we have.

Peter Gainsford (Classics)

As someone who deals with the relics of antiquity on a daily basis, I relish the chance to mess with the heads of future historians. I would include a videotape of Fox News, a recording of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, a summary of the rules of cricket, my copy of Munch’s “The Scream” that a friend of mine picked up in Oslo a couple of years ago, an edition of Webster’s play “The Duchess of Malfi”. This will show future ages that we are all Republicans, tasteless, masochistic, morbid, and psychotic.

Jon Johansson (Political Science)

1. The complete works of William Shakespeare, to explain our ways. 2. A disc (and disc-player naturally) containing all our most important scientific knowledge, including Galileo, Newton, Einstein’s theory of relativity, everything we’ve learned about ourselves from the humanities, our maths, to our accumulated understanding of our universe. 3. Another disc, holding all of our art – from the earliest cave paintings to Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Dali – to showcase the beauty and insight we’re capable of. 4. My favourite poem, from Robert Frost – “We dance around a ring and suppose…And the secret sits in the middle and knows” – to confound our successors with Frost’s exquisite ambiguity, and; 5. A letter containing the following message, “We fucked up, despite all this knowledge and beauty; try and do better.”

John McDowall (Psychology)

Dear People of the Future, I enclose the following five items for your immediate use – they have helped us through dark times, may they do the same for you. One classic Fender air guitar (red); one inflatable dart board – darts included; one packet of dehydrated water – when ready for use just add, um, water; two volumes on the history of the Taranaki Solid Fuel and Wood Burner’s Society; and lastly, a second hand, but still watchable copy, of the greatest love film ever made – Placenta Eating Mothers from Hell.

David McLaughlan (Contract Law)

I would include: A CD of Grant Morris’ Greatest Hits – because he is too modest to include it in his capsule; Some typical Vic students’ assessment schedules – to show that they never had the time to really learn and think; My book of advice for aspiring lecturers, opening with my motto (courtesy of Professor Harold Berman); “If a scholar is not a teacher his scholarship will be sterile. If a teacher is not a scholar his teaching will be superficial.” A dozen DB – because the person who finds my capsule will surely deserve them. A box of Ferrero Rocher chocs – to show that our lives did have some simple pleasures.

Sashi Meanger (Management)

Let’s bring in ‘womankind’ for a start! Let’s face it, without them we just don’t have a ‘kind’! If ‘our kind’ were to be saved it would be too late for anything to go in the capsule anyway. So, why not just put in… 1. A can of Coke 2. A Peanut Slab. 3. The Guava Tree 4. A picture of Tom and Aishwarya. 5. The five hairs on my head!

Grant Morris (Law)

1. The Collected Works of Shakespeare – my mother says that everything one needs to know about human nature can be found within its covers. 2. “Boston Legal” DVD box set – I say that everything one needs to know about human nature can be found in the quotes of Denny Crane. 3. Playstation console with EA Soccer/Rugby/Cricket – to show how the average young(ish) male survived day to day living in the early twenty first century. 4. A dozen Tui – to go with the Playstation console. Playstation without beer just doesn’t work. In any century. 5. The combined outstanding parking fines of Wellington citizens – let the future generations take care of them, all they need to do is open the time capsule and inflation will do the rest.

Warwick Murray (Development Studies)

Five women, because ‘mankind’, as you put it in the question, will rightly get the blame for the end of civilisation. Plus, they are more likely to remember where they left the keys to get out.

Sean Redmond (Film)

Poem: Epitaph on a Tyrant by W.H. Auden. Song: ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie (Sung in German). Film: Blade Runner by Ridley Scott. “I hope she’s worth it. Too bad she won’t live. But then, who does?” Smell: Burning flesh after a firefight. Memory: Of my child being born and the impossible hope that Carla and I had that we would all live forever….

Tony Schirato (Media Studies)

(1) The Warner Brothers/Chuck Jones cartoon ‘Duck Rabbit Duck’ with Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd, where it turns out that it isn’t duck or rabbit hunting season after all, but really baseball season, and so Elmer shoots a baseball: one of the high points of Western culture. (2) The Marx Brothers’ film ‘Duck Soup’ where Grouch says of Margaret Dumont ‘Remember men, you’re fighting for this woman’s honour, which is more than she ever did’: another one of the high points of Western culture. (3) The ‘Father Ted’ episode where Dougald & Ted win the Eurovision Song Contest with a song called ‘My Lovely Horse’, which includes the Lines: ‘I want to ride you all day/and jump over fences/comb your mane and take you/ to the horse dentist’: yet another of the high points of Western culture. (4) The episode in ‘Blackadder’ where Baldric’s cunning plan to make quick money is to disguise a bear as a chicken and enter and bet on it in the cock fights: still yet another of the high points of Western culture. (5) Me: modesty forbids…

Matt Wagner (Theatre)

I am, in fact, fearful for the survival of humanity, and would want a representation of ‘what went before’ to point towards both that which we might strive to achieve, and that which killed us. So, that so-called ‘despairing play about hope’, Waiting for Godot, which contains both those elements, is Item #1. Item #2, a skull (draw your own conclusions). Item #3: a bottle of Glendronach 15 year old single malt (not only to represent something exquisite from our time, but also to represent the hope that somehow, I might actually be around to open the time capsule). #4 is a copy of John Lee Hooker singing the blues, or Miles Davis playing them (to go with the scotch). And the last item must be this message, perhaps in a bottle: “It was only through ignorance, and the willed decision to choose ignorance, to choose fear and the false comfort of isolation, that we have been brought so low.”



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.

Comments (12)

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  1. Fredrick not-quite-so-dead Von Hayek says:

    The pics to this page get blocked by ad blockers cause they have acADemic. Is a text link possible? Might get more people voting

  2. Administrator says:

    Just changed the alt tag on the pic. Let me know what happens… Actually, can you tell me what you mean by it has acADemic? The alt tag? Title of page?

  3. Fredrick not-quite-so-dead Von Hayek says:

    The is blocked. It is really silly to have any images with “ad” in them as any decent web browser (read: anything not made by Microsoft) will not load them.

  4. Administrator says:

    Good point. Should be fixed now. Let us know.

  5. Fredrick not-quite-so-dead Von Hayek says:


  6. Peter Gainsford says:

    (Obviously with a vested interest) It’d be worth making clear to those who are voting that they’re voting for who *to get rid of*, as opposed to who to keep! Love and kisses,

  7. Yes – that could be stressed more. Although web voting is new this week and a fraction of actual votes.

  8. Jenn says:

    for starters, shashi and warwick deserve to make the final four at least for their answers… but seriously where is the gender balance in this competition? i mean, i understand that academia is a man’s world but the list of competitors doesnt have to reflect the fact that only 16% of senior academics are female. how did you choose the first group of lecturers?

  9. As voted by Victoria University students.

  10. Jenn says:


  11. o_o says:

    That was SUPPOSED to say:’ I heart John McDowall’, but the little heart ruined EVERYTHING. Sigh.

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