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Jun 22, 2009 - 03:02 PM
Weight Loss
Approximately two years ago, I had a bit of a feud with my mother. During a brief stay at her sister's house, she attempted to control more and more of my daily life as if to demonstrate her power. This, while not original behavior for my mother, was uniquely frustrating during that time, so I protested by accepting my aunt's offer that I should stay with her for the remainder of my summer. Life was not splendidly adventurous thereafter, but stress was considerably less. Confident from that assertiveness, I decided to try exercising regularly.

I was very overweight. I weighed nearly 300 pounds. Thankfully, my aunt owns a very nice treadmill, so I tried walking on that initially. It wasn't much to begin with, but, as I gradually increased my effort, it did begin to yield some noticeable results by the end of that summer.

I exercised less throughout the fall semester. I had a bit of an emotional crisis through that time as my mother attempted to inflict guilt upon me. Surely I lost some weight through that time because I simply wasn't eating, and, admittedly, I wasn't doing other things as well. That fall semester I performed very badly in my academics. I essentially stopped attending classes, devoting my time instead to distractions: talking to the friend with whom I recently reunited, the internet, and video games. I am not proud of that time. I began seeing an on-campus counselor. That my behavior was excused based on my time with that counselor seems unjust, though I am nevertheless glad I can continue my university education. My academic performance has been infinitely better since that time.

As I gravitated toward some state of normalcy in the spring semester of 2008, I started exercising again. I started walking around town. I walked a few miles every day. I began adjusting my diet slowly. Motivated by my dad's amateur running "career," I started running along a short route. Last summer, as I wound up in Bradford, Pennsylvania again, I ran on my aunt's treadmill daily while doing occasional PHP scripting for my uncle. By the end of June 2008, I had lost approximately 130 pounds.

This is a picture of me, standing next to my aunt, from my high school graduation in 2006:



...and this is a picture with a cousin of mine from a family vacation this past May:



I don't have the physique of a professional athlete, but I feel much improved. I continue to run regularly. Forgive me if this all seems terse. I still have issues writing introspectively while remaining intelligible and concise!


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Jun 8, 2008 - 09:35 AM
KIDS ARE MEAN ;_;
In my time browsing GFF, I check my profile very often. Maybe I'm a massive narcissist, but clicking on my username in the active users list has become a habit of mine. I've done it as long as I can remember being here. The tendency is most likely a relic from the days I cared about post count. This morning, I read my profile very quickly and noticed my user rating had gone down. Oh, I assure you, I nearly broke out in tears! How could someone rate me lower?! It seemed impossible. Therefore, I began to investigate; I looked at the list of users that have rated me and noticed that a certain "Goldfish from Hell" seemed to be new on my list. Since only eight people have rated me, that means he had to rate me one out of five for my average rating to drop five-tenths of a point.

I was seriously concerned; what reason did he have to hate me so much?!
As my investigation continued, I found that Goldfish was recently involved in some level of SAUS-related something-or-other. I couldn't be bothered to care what this was about, so I moved on. Ah, but--I gasped--that was exactly the source of it! I dared click on a certain link in this journal entry, causing me to diss his SAUS nomination post. "Was he upset about that?" I asked myself. "Is this ::RAGE::?" Oh, indeed, it must have been rage like a kindergartener's tantrum
"HE DIDN'T GIVE ME A VALENTINE CARD HE'S A BAD KID HE MUST HATE ME. LET'S GO PUT A FROWNY FACE ON HIS DESK."

On a completely serious note, I don't really care about user rating, because eight ratings on the internet do not dictate much about me. I only wish that one day Goldfish will be able to give me a smiley face instead of a frowny one. That frowny really made me cry


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May 9, 2008 - 09:14 PM
Suddenly, disaster--?!
Shortly after 9PM last night, my roommate turned on the television here with the hopes of watching whatever incarnation of CSI is broadcast on Thursday nights. Dismay! Insult! Misfortune! CSI whichever was not on television at the time, as a local news station was taking another opportunity to dramatize severe weather likely in the hope of a ratings boost of some kind. Their language is sometimes akin to "HEY, TELLING THEM THAT THIS CELL HERE CONTAINS FLYING PIGS MIGHT GET THEM TO SIT HERE LONG ENOUGH THAT THEY'LL MEMORIZE ALL OF OUR ADVERTISEMENTS AND THEN WE'LL BE RICH AHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAH LET'S TAKE OVER THE WORLD; THE WORLD I SAY! GET MOVING AHAHAHAHAHA. BRING OUT THE WHIPS AND BONDAGE COLLARS IT'S TIME TO CELEBRATE." A ratings boost is only a guess. I don't know why they talk about severe weather in this manner, but increased arbitrary, assumed prestige seems like a decent possibility. After the weatherman got done telling us that there were four, you can count them on one hand, four tornado warnings for surrounding counties, my roommate turned the television off, content in knowing that his show wouldn't be on. Actually, I bet he was pissed that CSI wasn't on, but my roommate has never been known for expression of any distinct emotion; most of the time that I look over at him in his chair, he looks angry at something. Asking him if he's angry, though, usually gets an instant response of "no, not really," usually followed by another incarnation of the quick "I know I look angry, but I really have a CALMED HEART" discussion.

The look on his face is quite perplexing. Yes, generally, he appears angered at something even if he isn't actually enraged in the slightest, but I always like to ascribe some more dramatic language to his consternation. "Ah, look, it's the troubled computer-user! Look at how he suffers amid the stresses of posting to internet forums! He is like the Poor, trapped in his habitat by his own mawkishness!" Something about associating my roommate with either feigned or sickening sentimentality has always been interesting to me if I happen to notice that he's sitting in his computer chair. Maybe I feel sorry for him. I guess we don't share as many interests as it might seem at first.

A couple hours after we had discovered that there's tarnados afoot, about 11:45PM to be more precise, I decided I was going to get to bed a bit earlier than usual. I had an exam today at noon, so I planned on waking significantly earlier than I might normally in order that I could look over my endless notebook before that exam. This brilliantly conceived plan was quickly cut short. Excitement of a related but brand new sort was about to knock on my door! This floor's "community advisor" was knocking on all the doors on this hallway to alert people to a brand new danger; a tornado warning had been issued for Guilford County! Sacrebleu! The warning was a little ineffectual in the end, honestly--our beloved CA told us that we "might have to go down to the basement [soon]" in order that our lives wouldn't be totally forefeit to the impending evil, but she did not mention any specific plans to that end. All we were told is "hey, you might want to move soon." LEADERSHIP IN ACTION. Had she been watching the news more attentively, she would've enlightened herself to the fact that tornadic activity was confined to the northern and southern extremes of the county. This university's campus is, thankfully in this instance, located less than a mile from the center of Greensboro, NC. In many other instances, it's a little bit troubling to be here; we're surrounded by dilapidation in the form of a ghetto of immense magnitude. I don't know if my family is afraid of black people or what, but they always seem to be terrified when I call them before I go jogging through the evident heartland of crime. "OH, watch out! You know, all someone has to do is decide that they want to shoot you and you're dead! ...or shot! Shot with a bullet! A bullet made out of lead! Lead that they probably stole!" That's not the only curious element of our rather compact campus. As a land-locked university near the heart of a city, parking is also awful here or so everyone says, though considering how packed the parking decks always seem to be, I have plenty of reason to believe them. Luckily, I can't experience that hell, because I don't own a car! Hooray, one instance in which it's actually more convenient not to possess a vehicle! Awesome! I'm on my way to greatness now!

After getting a borderline hilarious warning from our fearless resident leadership, I knew I couldn't sleep with such commotion outside our backwards-locking door. What if a tornado struck this building? I might be hit with something heavy and spend the rest of my life in a coma! Well, yes, actually, that could happen if a tornado struck this building, but I'm a college-aged male! Am I not supposed to approach every mildly dangerous situation with an attitude of testosterone-fueled reliance in my newly-discovered invincibility? Fucking yes! COME ON, TORNADO, ALL THE SHRAPNEL YOU CAN CREATE WILL SHATTER ON MY BODY. I wish I had the energy for that kind of exuberance last night; it was my roommate who was practically begging for a tornado to rip through the university's campus, forcing me to wish for the same but for a very different reason. I began to make the same plea with the specific hope that my roommate might be pinned to a wall by debris in order that I could give him what may be the most epic "I told you so" of his life.

Dissapointingly, after that great sadistic wish, destruction did not visit our dormitory last night, but death almost visited us. I almost died in laughter at the local television meteorologists' extensive coverage of the carnage. We turned the television on again around the time that we hosted foreboding guests at our door, and I became completely fixated on the thing for the next hour or so. The weather, the grave situation at hand was reported with extreme attention to detail. "We have a confirmed report of a flattened structure from the emergency manager of Randolph County." Oh, that comment was priceless. I instantly responded, "Flattened structure... A dog house, perhaps? A gazebo?" They much less reported than they sensationalized--at one point, one of the two meteorologists reporting for the local CBS station began a comment with a warning. "Now, we don't want to frighten anyone." he said as he stepped toward the regional Doppler radar map. "I don't want to scare anyone, but this cell here is showing a signature very similar to that of an F5 tornado that ripped through Greensboro a few years ago." He did recognize his own hyperbole at the end of that statement by noting "I can't be certain about that, though..." Though, I respect both he and the other meteorologist in the studio at the time for the reason that they had both been reporting this enthralling drama for "four or five hours," interrupting more than a few prime-time shows; they even canceled the 11:00PM news broadcast on that station in favor of CONSTANT TORNADO COVERAGE.

Eventually I filled my humor quota for the day and went to bed, sometime around 1:00AM. In the morning, I quickly checked that news station's website to find out that there were even injuries from last night's storm! I would've never thought that severe storms might cause damage! I understand that the purpose of TV meteorologists in the event of severe weather is to alert the public to any potential danger, but I think they must be showing off their imaginative or exaggeratory skills in hope that the weather report remains the most dramatically interesting portion of the broadcast.

...and with that, I give up on writing this! IT WAS ACTUALLY A GREAT CHALLENGE FILLING THIS TEXT BOX WITH MY WORDS AFTER TODAY'S EXAM, although I typed the entire thing in Notepad before even opening Firefox to get here! Hi, I'm here now! I'll leave


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May 8, 2008 - 10:40 AM
Call of Duty 4: The Prometheus Syndrome
Some time ago--probably two months by now--I purchased an Xbox 360, because my Wii and other gaming consoles were being hoarded by my mother. (To be more accurate, my mother and I were not on good terms after the events of last summer.) I played a friend's 360 fairly extensively before making the decision to buy one myself, so buying my own wasn't a completely blindfolded shot. Picking out games for the thing, though, was a bigger challenge for me. There were very few certain choices; maybe it wasn't a great idea to buy a 360 right now, I thought.

I had played Bioshock and Halo 3 on my friend's 360, and I knew that I wanted to buy my own copy of Bioshock. Halo 3 wasn't so spectacular to warrant purchasing for myself, although I only played the single-player campaign several times, the first of which was a depressing six-hour journey of brevity. About that time, I remembered that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was going to be released on Xbox Live Arcade, so I had another reason in that. Viva Piñata looked interesting as well, though I had very briefly watched my friend play it two months before, partially to my chagrin; I was regardlessly interested in playing my first Rare[ware] game since their departure from Nintendo six years ago. Viva Piñata only gained illustriousness when I looked at the price, because I managed to find a new copy for $15. Content in these somewhat haphazard choices, I decided to purchase an Xbox 360 Premium or pro--whatever the hell they're officially calling it--with those games, Bioshock, Viva Piñata, and Miserable Little Pile of Secrets.

A few weeks after making my purchase, I had again finished Bioshock on all three difficulties and nearly completed all I felt like initially completing in an Alucard file in Symphony of the Night. In a bout of partial boredom with the thing, I started to investigate what other games I might purchase for my new toy; I started downloading various demos through Xbox Live. Rez HD was probably the first of the demos I downloaded, and it was a definite purchase after playing a bit. Part of my impulsiveness at buying Rez undoubtedly lies in the dastardly trick the demo performs to induce a cliffhanger, ending gameplay with a sudden "buy it now!" message mid the first boss fight. Rez is a great game, so I never discredited it any for this typical marketing technique. Following my foray into the bowels of Xbox Live Arcade, I looked more toward the prospect of purchasing another few disc-based titles and found the same titles represented by most I asked for recommendations. Out of the myriad suggestions, I bought Devil May Cry 4 and Call of Duty 4. (How I ended up simultaneously purchasing the fourth game in these respective series is a question that has seldom been asked, although one of my friends somewhat childishly suggested that I would incur the wrath of an Aztec number god should I continue unintentionally buying the fourth title in a franchise.)

I don't have much to say about Devil May Cry 4, as I've not played it terribly much. I haven't even finished the poor thing! What I remember of it tells me that the combat is fun and fairly straightforward but that I loathe Nero, the game's stereotypical, sentimentally self-sacrificing, puerile, disingenuously aged protagonist. That's only a partially correct assessment of the character if only for the fact that Nero is one of two protagonists. The long-time series hero, Dante, returns to monotonously save the day later in the game, but I don't have any great affinity for him either if only because his character in Devil May Cry 4 seems to be just as bad but in an opposite direction. Maybe I'm dumping too much shit on a well-established series; I've never played any of the other three Devil May Cry games except for a brief attempt at the first game in the series. Maybe it's not meant to be enjoyed for its characters or its story. Truthfully, I only purchased it as a lark, because it wasn't so highly regarded by everyone I questioned.

Call of Duty 4, on the other hand, was recommended by every person I originally asked for suggestions. For many of those friends, it was the first suggestion they offered, so I eventually decided I'd get that as well. My decision to buy Call of Duty 4 was not a completely unchallenged one. I hadn't played much Call of Duty before COD4 either, but I knew I would be buying a first person shooter bereft of a health bar, something that kept me away from the series after shortly playing its first installment. When I brought this complaint up with one of my friends, they suggested that I must be an exemplary pussy to complain about an element so overlookable, but even after playing a good enough portion of Call of Duty 4, my protest still stands. The lack of a health bar of any sort requires that players rely on "audio and visual clues," in the words of both many a packaging feature list and 'professional' review, to determine when being a virtual bullet magnet isn't a desirable quality. This would be okay if implemented properly, but too often these audio and visual clues increment so quickly after single shots from enemies that it becomes hard to determine exactly how you're doing in the surviving-successive-bullets-to-the-torso department. Does your health completely restore if you stand still long enough? I hope so, but I have reason to believe otherwise; Call of Duty 4 seems to increment these clues to a severe level more quickly after "completely" recovering from damage. It is possible that I have simply been getting hit by more bullets, but knowing oh god you're a total nub stop playing this game you disgraceful miscreant hasn't ever made me desire repeating a particular section for the ten millionth time.

When COD4 was recommended to me by an onslaught of seven people, one suggested that I play the game on the highest difficulty, sheepishly called "veteran," with the justification that the game would be longer if I did so. I, being genuinely out of touch with console first-person shooter games, compromised with his somewhat dickish desire--his message to me read something like "haha, play COD4 on veteran [so I can gleefully record the tragedy of your suffering] "--and decided to play the game on the slightly less frustrating difficulty, "hardened." I may be a terrible player, but to this day I have not completed the penultimate level of Call of Duty 4. The number of times I have died on "No Fighting in the War Room" is entirely innumerable at this point, though counting all my unfortunate deaths would be pretty useless toward the goal of completing the damn thing. Moving forward in this area at any pace seems to be like wading through a sea of spent nuclear fuel; you're going to be hurt, and there's not terribly much you can do about it. Call of Duty 4, unlike copious irradiated material, simultaneously adds hope and urgency, two additionally irksome elements, to the endeavor by the addition of a time limit. I believe you begin the level with eleven minutes to stop nuclear ICBMs from decimating the continental United States, but time begins to escape you as your repeated deaths blur the perception of whatever level of progress you might have already made into a war of attrition with the game. I found myself replaying a few sections of this level an innumerable number of times only to have the privelege of declaring that I had outlasted the game.

There is one section in particular that caused me to abandon my quest for glory against a stream of electricity flowing through a white box. FAQs tend to label this section one of the personally notorious "hallway" sections, in which you are challenged to get from one end of a hallway to the door on the other end without exhausting too much of your remaining time or, obviously, dying. The second of these sections, with scenery more akin to several locations in Metal Gear Solid than COD4, is by my account impossible. If an incalculable number of deaths have occurred throughout the entire level, this second hallway (rather,the enemies in it) has caused at least 80% of those deaths by this point. There inevitably seems to appear an enemy behind or in front me who can easily kill me in a matter of seconds, and I have tried an extensive number of approaches toward protecting myself from bullet rape. I have tossed grenades directly at enemies and seen their terribly unsatisfying deaths with the hope of clearing out one of the corridors only to find that another enemy has replaced the one I killed while I was recovering health. I have killed enemies fairly quickly and been instantly shot down when trying to move further. I have tossed flash bangs, prayed to both pagan and christian deities, professed my undying love for R. Lee Ermy and all things related to unending warfare and even considered providing my contact information to some division of the United States' armed forces in order that I might somehow be enlightened by military genius enough to learn how to better survive uncountable scraps of metal flying at my fragile human body. None of my attempts at changing my strategy have worked. Conceding that a war of attrition might not be the best way to finish this section, I restarted the level last night with the sure hope I'll get to the end of it eventually.

One of the chief unmentioned problems with the no-health-bar situation in this game is that it forces players to stand still long enough to recover their health unless they enjoy gaining new holes from which their bodily fluids can pour. This probably sounds like a great feature at first; "Hey, I can get to cover and be okay!" In practice, particularly in a timed area, this idea is absolutely horrific, because it forces players to waste further time by standing around in order to move on unless they're really seeking out a pithy quote from the military leaders of yesteryear. There's another problem with this section in a characteristic element of the game's AI. COD4 does a lot to ensure that people don't stand around and camp themselves in one spot for an entire level by way of spawning a seemingly limitless number of enemies if the player doesn't keep progressing. I suppose you might call this realistic at first glance, and in most levels, it does add a bit of excitement. In this second-last death-fest, though, it's little more than an annoyance.

SOMEDAY I'LL WIN................


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May 6, 2008 - 01:09 PM
"Who really killed Tasmania's aborigines?" (Draft 1)
In 1982, an Australian magazine, The Bulletin, published an article by a woman named Patricia Cobern which purported to seriously question the notion that Australia and Tasmania were "founded on genocide." I discussed this article in a class of mine recently, and went to read the thing to gain my own understanding of it; a professor identified it as an "excellent example of common defenses for genocide."

There are many issues in Cobern's article. In the annotations I made to the article over the past two days, I complain about her grave lack of any citation and cursory substantiation. Often, she quotes an individual or states a "fact" without providing either any or little indication of her substantive sources. The gravest error of them all is a statement near the end of the article, 'Some scientists believe that many died because of the exposure [to the weather] alone but others claim it was mainly a kind of melancholy death-wish due to an absence of strong religious beliefs to keep them going when life became intolerable.' The author boldly presumes to know, through her haphazard research, that Tasmanian aboriginals wanted to die. I can only wonder what scholars Cobern consulted before deciding that Tasmanian aborigines did not have any religion, because there is little scholarly evidence available to that end. Indeed, there is little information available on the organization of Tasmanian aboriginal culture precisely because of their 1876 extinction. What information does exist comes from a myriad of European governmental sources, and is therefore held with some scrutiny. Regardless, as the title another article I examined states, 'Absence of Evidence Is Not Evidence of Absence.' (The full title is Fire-Making in Tasmania: Absence of Evidence Is Not Evidence of Absence. It was published in Current Anthropology in August 2002, volume 43, issue 4, pages 650-656. That article serves as evidence that information about some practices Tasmanian aboriginals is largely the work of great discernment rather than direct observation.)

Quick investigation into the The Bulletin revealed that the publication, discontinued early this year due to declining circulation numbers, was known among other things for its nationalistic sentiment as evidenced in its masthead, "Australia for the White Man." Publishing 'Who really killed Tasmania's aborigines' likely wouldn't have been anything outside the established practices of the bulletin, though dismissing the publication entirely because of this one article would be unfair. Further research outside of encyclopedic sources must be done to the determine the nature of the magazine.

Cobern's article caused me to question the qualifications for "genocide," eventually leading me to a paper published in January of this year, entitled From Terror to Genocide: Britain's Tasmanian Penal Colony and Australia's History Wars by Benjamin Madley, published in the Journal of British Studies. Madley's paper posits that occurrences in Tasmania between initial settlement in 1803 and 1847, the year "where all but forty-seven [had] perished," were the result of action and inaction on part of the British and colonial governments and heavily influenced by settler's acclimation or desensitization to violence throughout the entire period of 44 years. Madley doesn't have all the answers, though, as he clearly states in ending his paper:
'Australian historian Tony Barta has suggested that Australia is “a nation founded on genocide.” Further regional studies are necessary to accurately assess this statement, but Tasmania under British rule was clearly a site of genocide.' He makes this statement long after establishing the United Nations' definition of genocide as basis for his argument:
'[In 1948,] the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. According to the convention, “Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such, (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” The convention also outlawed, as a separate crime, “complicity in genocide,” which involves the roles not of genocide perpetrators but of accomplices'

Madley's paper is a well-documented and well-written antagonist to both Cobern's article and writings by a Keith Windschuttle, particularly The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume One: Van Diemen's Land 1803-1847, published in 2002. In Fabrication, Windschuttle threw away convention and argued similarly to Cobern; the death of the Tasmanian aborigine was not the result of European influence. It was, in fact, their own fault. Patricia Grimshaw points out many of the logical issues in Windschuttle's argument in her short article, The Fabrication of a Benign Colonisation?, published in the journal Australian Historical Studies in 2004. The article is fairly short; Grimshaw herself states that 'In this brief space it is not possible to do more than commence an evaluation of [Windschuttle's book],' although she does so with remarkable lucidity.

Return, then, to Patricia Cobern's article. Published twenty years before Windschuttle's Fabrication, "Who really killed Tasmania's aborigines?" interestingly contains many of the rhetorical elements of the later book in microcosm, notably in its eerily similar revelation of aboriginal culpability. It is for this reason that I recommend Grimshaw's essay as a companion to the Cobern article reproduced here.

Cobern's writing is in the quotation block below, edited for typographical mistakes between an original copy and the copy I initially found on the internet. Changes between the original version and the final text are documented in a PDF for those that might be interested.

Links for related reading
  1. My initial commentary on Cobern's article [PDF Format - May only be compatible with Adobe's own PDF reader
  2. Alternate format for #1 [Microsoft Office 2007 (OOXML) format]
  3. Alternate format for #1 [Microsoft Office 97-2003 format]
  4. Comparison of the first version of the Cobern article I found with the final edited version [PDF format]
  5. The Fabrication of a Benign Colonisation?; Grimshaw, Patricia; Australian Historical Societies: April 2004, Volume 35, issue 123, pp. 122-129
  6. From Terror to Genocide: Britain's Tasmanian Penal Colony and Australia's History Wars; Madley, Benjamin; Journal of British Studies: January 2008, Volume 47, issue 1, pp. 77-106

Quote:
(This article is an edited [typography mistakes removed] form of the copy retrieved from http://home.iprimus.com.au/burgess1/cobern.html on May 5, 2008)
The Bulletin, February 23, 1982, pp. 32-34.

Who really killed Tasmania's aborigines?

By PATRICIA COBERN

The descendants of the early settlers of Tasmania have been branded as the children of murderers who were responsible for the genocide of the Tasmanian Aborigine. Is this really true?

The Encyclopaedia Britannica Research Service says ". . . It is a reasonable assumption that had the island remained undiscovered and European settlement not attempted until the present day, the Aborigines of Tasmania would have already become extinct and their few relics mere bones of contention between differing schools of Pacific archaeology. Like the moa-hunters of New Zealand and the unknown race which erected the stone giants on Easter Island, the fate of the Tasmanians would have been just another Polynesian mystery instead of a colonial tragedy . . ."

What then was the cause of the extinction of Tasmanian Aborigines? Although the first people to settle in what was then called Van Diemen's Land were mainly convicts and soldiers there were some free settlers. These were peace-loving folks: farmers, bootmakers, shopkeepers and laborers who had been given free passage to Tasmania and land on which to settle. Only those of high moral character were given passage as settlers. They had to produce character references and be sponsored by some reputable person who had known them for many years. Few had used a gun or weapon of any kind and they knew nothing about hunting or fighting.

On the other hand, the Tasmanian Aborigines were war-like hunters. According to reports held at the Mitchell Library, Sydney, they were "fickle and unstable, and some unknown cause of offence would, in a moment, change their attitude from friendship to open hostility . . ."

The reports of James Erskine Calder, who arrived in Tasmania on the Thames in November, 1829, and who remained in Tasmania for the rest of his life working as a surveyor, should be more accurate than the writings of moderns who have never lived there. (Calder said "the natives had much the better of the warfare . . .").

They had developed remarkable skill for surprise attacks. They would stealthily creep up on an isolated farm and surround it. After watching for hours, sometimes days, they would take the occupants by surprise, massacre them and burn their house and out-buildings. Then, they would move on to some pioneer family in another part of the island and repeat the massacre.

A trick frequently employed by the Tasmanian natives was to approach isolated settlers, apparently unarmed. They would wave their arms about in a friendly way and the naive settler, seeing no weapon, would greet them, often offering food or drink. When the natives were close enough to the house they would flick the spears from between their toes and plunge them into the hapless frontiersman and his wife and children. After that colonists learned to be wary of natives who walked through long grass, knowing that they could be dragging spears between their toes.

Naturally, after many of their neighbors had been massacred, settlers began to arm against attack but the superior fighting ability of the Aborigines was undeniable. More white people were killed in the so-called "black war" than Aborigines. The most Aborigines killed in any one melee was 41 of a force of several hundred who attacked the Royal Marines.

Reports of the number of natives living in Tasmania at the first white settlers' arrival in 1803 vary from 2000 to a mere 700. Some reports claim 700 would be the absolute maximum at the time of the first settlement and they were, even then, fast dying out.

The factors which killed the Tasmanian Aborigines become apparent after careful research. There were (1) their eating habits (2) hazards of birth (3) lack of hygiene (4) their marriage, or mating customs (5) dangerous "magic" surgery (6) exposure to the harsh climate of Tasmania.

The eating habits of the Tasmanian natives alone were enough to wipe them out. It was their custom to eat everything that was available in one sitting. George Augustus Robinson, an authority on Aborigines, described their diet as "astounding." They ate every part of the carcass of any animal they found. Not a bone nor an organ was discarded. The hunters would sit around the fire chewing the half-cooked brain, eyes, and bones as well as the flesh of animals. The women, who were treated as less important than dogs, were thrown the worst parts of hone and gristle. Only the fur or feathers were uneaten. These were singed away on the fire.

Robinson reported seeing two men eat a whole seal. On another occasion, an Aboriginal woman was seen to eat 60 large eggs followed by a double ration of bread which had been given to her by Robinson. Even the babies consumed horrifying amounts of food. One baby of only eight months ate a whole kangaroo rat and then grabbed for more food.

Besides animals the Tasmanian natives ate mushrooms, birds' eggs, bracken, ferns, ants' eggs and shell fish of all kinds. But the eating of scaled fish was taboo to the Aborigines.

For the newly-born Tasmanian Aborigine and his/her mother life hung by a thread. When she was no longer able to keep up with the tribe the expectant woman was abandoned in the bush with a handful of food. If there was an old woman who could be spared she stayed with the mother-to-he and helped her at the delivery. Usually, however, the woman coped alone. When the child was born she either chewed the umbilical cord or cut it with a sharp stone. The placenta was then reverently hurried. The baby was cleaned with dry leaves or whatever vegetation was available and, as soon as she was able to walk, the mother slung the child over her shoulder and hurried after the tribe.

With such a primitive and undignified birth, the child often died before the mother could get up. If both mother and child survived it was fortunate but their troubles did not end with a safe delivery. It might take days or weeks for the mother and child to overtake the tribe and during that time there were many perils. Strange tribes coming upon the woman and her baby would kill and probably eat them. If she was able to avoid capture by hostiles there was still the problem of getting enough food to eat, with no hunter to provide and herself in a weakened state. More often, mother and child perished before rejoining the tribe.

Lack of hygiene was another hazard. Tasmania's climate is often cold and wet so bathing was something they never did. In spite of the rigors of the weather they went naked from birth to death, their bodies caked with mud, grease, charcoal and red ochre which was never removed.

Any cut or scratch would immediately become infected and the infection would spread. Lice and fleas multiplied. When seeing Aborigines picking fleas off their bodies and cracking them in their teeth, Europeans were horrified and Robinson and his well-meaning associates made the natives bath. This hastened the death of those in the mission as it was a great shock to bath a body that had always sheltered behind a coating of mud and grease.

The marriage customs were hardly conducive to the survival of the race because only the elders of the tribe were permitted to take wives. For this reason, the young men would try to steal wives from another tribe and many met death in this way if caught. Naturally, the old men were not so fertile as the young bloods and few children were born to their women.

Charms and superstitious practices, although not so prevalent among these primitive people as with the more advanced Aborigines of the mainland, did exist and caused many deaths. Wounds caused by ritual slashing with stones to protect the person from harm often became infected.

Exposure to the weather was a common cause of death before the coming of the white man. As these Aboriginal people built no shelters and wore no clothes they were always battered by the weather. Some scientists believe that many died because of the exposure alone but others claim it was mainly a kind of melancholy death-wish due to an absence of strong religious beliefs to keep them going when life became intolerable.

Contrary to cherished beliefs held by modern society, the white men did not introduce venereal disease. This was already making inroads on the natives of Tasmania as well as the mainland when Europeans first landed. Professor Manning Clark in his Short History of Australia says of the mainland ... "Like their predecessors in the interior, Sturt's men found the effect of syphilis amongst native tribes truly disgusting: many had lost their noses and all the glandular parts were considerably affected…" This sort of thing obviously existed in Tasmania also and was the cause of many deaths as well as sterility among both men and women.

So we return to our original question: Who killed the Tasmanian Aborigines? My research has shown that the only massacres that were carried out were those on white people by the natives. The killer that stalked the Tasmanian Aborigine tribes was the traditions and customs of the race, its face was not white.



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