Public OPinion image SMeredith

Photo finish for short format competition

With the strongest field in the history of essay competitions at the Lair, a split decision has forced Ebner’s hand in having to shell out for two more T-shirts. To top it off, no Queenslanders were in the mix. The winners as judged by Allswell, are David Wood of Mildura and Shaun Meredith from the other side of the continent. One of the contributions is a an audio-physical weapon of choice while the other has a conceptual slant.


Silence is bliss, turned up to 11: the headphone

By David Wood (Mildura)

Data entry can take hours. Upon arriving back from time in the field or time spent in the lab, all the data you have collected needs entering into some form of database. There is nothing better than to take the tedium and boredom out of entering data than some tunes to keep you motivated.

As I share an office with other staff, the type and volume of music is somewhat debated. Well it’s not really a debate, I just try to make everyone feel included. So out of courtesy, i.e. losing the debate, the headphones are jacked in and some sweet tunes selected. With the headphones in, the hour’s just wiz by as numbers tumble in front of your eyes, matrix style.


But wait, there is an added bonus of having headphones in your ears. It means you can work in silence. The ability of said headphones to cancel unwanted noise (and not the fact that they are putting out about as many decibels as a jumbo jet during take-off) is a real winner in a busy workplace. That way, not only does it cut general background hubbub but completely obscures distracting conversations (e.g. a rundown of what -insert name of ‘cute’ pet- did last night) and stupid questions (e.g. Why does Excel hate me so much, what did I ever do to it?) by your colleagues, sitting right behind you.

If it weren’t for the headphones and the time saved from ‘distracting noises’, I would still be entering data from last year. That is why I consider the headphone my number one choice in the scientific arsenal.


Weapon of Choice: I’ve got a big one.

By Shaun Meredith

My ultimate weapon of choice in the world of fish ecology is opinion.

I’m not talking about the confrontingly shallow heresies that you find in a three second media grab, or the glib one-dimensional extremism that gets farted out by self-confessed “interest” groups to anyone that will listen. That stuff is bland and predictable like the arse-end of a carp’s gut.

Public OPinion image SMeredith

I don’t mean the spit-laced opinions of ego monkeys wielding loud hailers, either. Good opinions rarely rhyme, and rebuttals for that populist rubbish can be found in the comms plan of any decision maker worth their salt. And I certainly don’t mean the ideological retching of a seven-day-a-week necktie whose opinion is formed by a sense of entitlement and well-connected mates. Too often these are the opinions that we need to bother to change.

The opinions I covet are the timely and considered thoughts of a well-informed nerd – someone who has a near-complete understanding of the big picture and the small, and whose opinions are informed by both logic and emotions, without being tainted by self-interest. Someone who thinks about how things are, not how they should be. Someone who has listened to opposing views and has sought to understand them – even adopt them if they prove incontrovertible. Someone who pauses a little before answering your question.

Because opinions really do change the world every day and in every way. And I reckon that if you look hard enough, the scientific method is just as applicable to the informed opinions that our decision makers rely upon, as it is to the fisho’s dreamy hypotheses that flow freely like beer after a hard day’s fieldwork. I find that just a little bit comforting.