AE 646 – The Goss: Cannabis Legalisation, Women’s Sports, & Dating Indigenous Art with Wasp Nests

In this episode of the Goss, I chat with my father Ian Smissen about the week’s news where we chat about cannabis legalisation in Australia, women’s sports, and dating indigenous art with wasp nests.

AE 646 - The Goss: Cannabis Legalisation, Women's Sports, & Dating Indigenous Art with Wasp Nests transcript powered by Sonix—the best automated transcription service in 2020. Easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

AE 646 - The Goss: Cannabis Legalisation, Women's Sports, & Dating Indigenous Art with Wasp Nests was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

G'day you mob. What's the goss? What is going on, right? What's the gossip? What is your news? Welcome to this episode of The Goss, guys, where I sit down with my old man, my dad, Ian Smissen, and we chat about what's been happening in Australian News and elsewhere in the world. Today is the second part of the episode that we recorded the other day, the first part being Episode 5. Today we talk about women's sport in Australia as well as elsewhere in the world, women's cricket and AFL - Australian Football League. We talk about that in Australia and how that is a burgeoning sport, or couple of sports, that are becoming more and more popular on TV. And for women, you know, it's great to see them playing games like cricket and AFL, which were previously dominated by men in Australia. Furthermore, we talk about drug legalisation. Cannabis has recently become legal in Canberra, although federally it is still not legal. So that's interesting. We talk about that for quite a bit and our opinions on the legalisation of all drugs.

We talk about how orcas were seen in Port Phillip Bay for the first time in my dad's life. Okay. "Orcas" as in killer whales, they were seen.. Six of them; a pod of walkers in Port Phillip Bay. We talk about a wallaby that was found six kilometres out in the ocean, right. And how on earth that happened, right. What a swimmer. What a swimmer. And then lastly, we talk about how indigenous paintings in Western Australia are being dated using wasp nests. It's a very, very cool scientific study that's come out dating these paintings, using wasp nests as, I guess the proxy right there, dating the wasp nests to work at the age of these ancient indigenous paintings. Anyway, guys, without any further ado, well, let's get into this episode of The Goss and give that kookaburra a cheeky kick.

Dad, welcome back.

Hey, Pete.

How's going?

Good. Yeah. Since we last spoke.

That's it. So it depends when this will be released. But we are... It was ending up to be a really, really big episode. So I thought I'd better break it into two. So what else? Can you think of anything else that's been going on in the news this week or do we want to go to the stories that I've got?

Football started.


Australian Rules football started with the AFLW: the Women's League that started last night. So that's exciting because we go through this really intense period of sport over the early part of summer with tennis and cricket on. And then once the tennis finishes and the cricket starts to wind down, you end up with this period of nothing, and being a sports fanatic, like I am.

How is that going? Because back in the day when you were my age or younger, it was obviously a very bloke orientated sport. There was no significant female cricket or AFL or footy.

when I was a kid no girls or women played football.

Was that even recreationally for like small clubs or anything? There was just no..?

And yeah. Then probably when you were younger, when that sort of auskick, that little sort of thing, there would have been a few girls.

Do you want to explain what auskick is?

Yeah, auskick was this... It's sort of like national organisation, where all the sort of local football clubs would have... One morning on a weekend they'd have little kids come around and they would do basically some skill stuff. Learn how to kick, learn how to handball and then they'd have a game which, you know, when you got a bunch of six and seven year olds running around, that's literally what it is. Everybody just runs around, chasing the ball, but it's good fun. And so it was just a way of introducing little kids to the game. And I suppose when you do it, there might have been two or three girls and 200 boys.

And we all just did it together.

And everybody does it together. Yeah. Now there'd be... It's probably not a 50/50 split, but I'd be very surprised if it wasn't sort of one third, two thirds of having a third of the participants being girls. Around that time though, there were also... Around when you were playing, there would have also have been girls playing in junior competitions where up until under 13, girls could play with boys. There was no girls competition or boys competition. It was just they all played together. And clearly, the girls had to be better to play against, and with, boys because they weren't playing against just other girls. But it worked. The challenge for that was, though, the really good... The girls who were really good at it, once they got to 13...

had nowhere to go.

Had nowhere to go. And it was one of those ones where... To some extent you understand, because clubs just simply weren't, you know, they didn't... You couldn't play girls in an under 15 competition because there was no change rooms for girls. And that's a very... that's a minor thing. But that was just one of those things. And I use the example of, probably the best Australian... Women's Australian footballer, Erin Philips, who's one of two of the the best players in the country. Think it's with the AFLW, which is only in its fourth season. But she played in under 13. She was the best player in her competition, not just her club as a 12 year old, including against boys and was then told you can't play anymore. And her father was a... This is pre AFL, but her father was a state level footballer, played actually at national level football, and that's what she wanted to do. You know, she wants to go and play football, but she couldn't. So she switched over to basketball, played for Australia, won the Commonwealth Games, and got medals in the Olympics and played in the WNBA in the United States for 10 or 15 years. And then when the AFLW, the women's AFL competition, now football competition, started, she came back and said, "That's what I want to do." And so she'd spent her life basically playing her second favourite sport because she couldn't play this sport as a woman.

Why do you think it is that there seem to be so many women who can do so well across multiple sports compared to men? Do you think that's... Like it seems from my view that it's because there are smaller pools of women competing to play in those sports so that the spread of talent isn't as wide. So the women that dominate in one sport tend to be able to dominate in a lot of others compared to the men. If you train really hard to be in the top percent of men that can play AFL, you're not going to be able to have the body type to play basketball or to, you know, play cricket probably. And nor the time, right. Because training is literally...

Yeah, I think there's an element too. But I would suspect that time is probably the one, because for decades, men's sport has been more professional in a literal sense, of that they are earning more money out of is. Therefore, I think boys who specialise in a sport earlier. There'd be very few boys now, as in junior footballers, for instance, who would still be playing high level basketball or cricket or so on. They'll be up until about the age of 16. They possibly are, but often by the time you're sixteen you've been recognised and rewarded as, " Well we want you in the elite football competition."

This is where you're going.

You can't play cricket or basketball. You could do it recreationally, just mucking around. But you can't play state level cricket, state level basketball, state level football.

Well you're wasting your time, right? Because imagine all of those hours put into the one sport, focussing on that and where you would be otherwise. And then there's so much competition that you need to have given it everything, right.

Whereas for women, if you're, and I don't think is an inherent difference between men and women from that point of view, if you're going to be a good footballer, you're going to be a good basketballer. You're probably going to be good at a whole lot of other sport. But for women, because of that lack of professionalism in them...

Not in women, but in the area.

In the the sports themselves that women have been able to play multiple sports here longer and therefore can switch between them.

because I used to get so jealous of how easy it seemed a lot of the girls at Jujitsu had it, especially when competing in competitions, because I would show up and I would have 50 guys in my bracket. And so the chances of me getting to, you know, winning that gold medal was close to zero and a lot of girls would show up and they'd have three people. So they were guaranteed a medal already, but not even that, because a lot of them were still good, but they just didn't have the pool to pull from to have to compete and get through. But on top of that, they would be able to switch into other sports like judo and wrestling. And because they also had smaller portions of women...

Transferability of skills works.

Yeah. They just do a few lessons and they're already, "Okay. Well, you know, we'll have you compete at the Commonwealth Games, you know, because we... Australia only has ten women who are even thinking about doing it. You can already get to the Commonwealth Games." So you would see these women just be able to switch between sports and then shoot up and take over. So, yeah, if you're a girl, if you're a young girl thinking about doing sports, man, now's the time because it's a saturated market for men it seems. It's so difficult to get to the top.

I joked with you for a while when you were at high school, when you won a state title in fencing. Yeah. And, you know, I was proud of that. But you said, "Yeah, but the other guy came second." You only had to... Because you chose a small sport in Australia and you had you also chose the least favoured weapon it, and therefore there were very few people that you had to compete against.

It was for Sabre.

Sabre in fencing. But yeah, I remember saying to you, "If you want to get a scholarship to a United States university. Yeah. Forget academics, forget mainstream sports, but this fencing. Yeah. There'll be a handful of universities in America who would say, "Hey, we got a national champion in Sabre. We'll take him." And you get the full ride scholarship. So yeah, it's... That women's sport thing is... It's enviable from a male point of view.

Do you think it will catch up? Because I imagine it will eventually.

It will. It will. There's no difference in some sports, like swimming, tennis.

Well, running.

Golf, athletics, those sports where they're... Even the highly professional ones like tennis and golf. There's no advantage to being a woman playing golf or tennis in comparison with a number of people you're competing with. There'll be the same number of young girls playing golf and tennis as there'll be young boys.

But it's a burgeoning market with those sports that are opening up like AFL and...

The contact sports, which traditionally girls have been less likely to play because they were considered not to be feminine and so on. And those contact sports have just really opened up.

Man, even MMA, you know, there are some girls that I was training with who were really, really good. But yeah, they just kept going for a few years and they're already in competitions like one, you know, the UFC, stuff like that. You're just like, the path that they had to take to get there was so much shorter. It still required dedication and effort. But... And also I think those competitions are dying to have more women compete in them.

They are, they're much more marketable.


If you've got men and women playing a sport, they're more marketable at the individual level. You know, sense that you've got companies who are going to sponsor women, you know, in a sport more than they are going to sponsor men because it's new and it's different. And the other thing is, from a television rights point of view, as well, if you can sell a sport to both men and women, you're more likely to get television rights bumping up.

So how is women's cricket and women's footy going in terms of numbers of viewers and spectators? Is it catching up?

It's catching up. It's still behind.

Yeah. But do you think it will ever be par on par with males, with the male sport?

It's going to be a difficult one, because I think this/... We'll use the AFL, the Australian football as an example. If independently of whether you like watching men or women play sport, if you want to watch the purist version of the sport it's probably watching women play it because they play football like men used to play it 20 years ago or like young boys and young junior teams play it now. It hasn't got to that really professional strategic level. The skills are very good. The fitness levels, particularly amongst the women now is increasing really rapidly because you have to be that fit to compete to play the game, whereas the men's game is... I love watching AFL football, but it's got to the point now where every year the strategies change and it's evolving and so on. Whereas, you know, watching that... And I watched the first game in the AFLW, the women's last night, and I just thought, "I really enjoy watching this." However, it's not going to be huge. They're not going to be paying.. TV studios, TV companies and things are not going to pay billions of dollars a year to have the rights to play the AFLW, whereas they will pay billions of dollars a year to have the AFL.

Well, that's one of those sad things that kind of makes me think, when I'm considering "Do you give women equal pay to men," your initial thought is that you want to say yes, but you have to think of what is equal and if...

They earn it.

Well... But the male teams bring in a certain amount of money, is that earning it? What is earning it? Is doing the time earning it? You know, how do you work that out? And so that's what's hard, at least with some of these things that have come up in the news recently where, you know, soccer players, women's soccer teams want equal money payment per year as the male ones. But if the male ones are getting all the spectators, whether that's fair or not fair or whatever, that's...

Well, it's where does the money come from?


If you've got a... And look, I'll use the AFLW again, AFLW in terms of number of spectators live at a game is doing better than I thought it would.


Extremely well. They get up to 20000 people going to a game. Now the NRL, the National Rugby League, another code of football for men would be pleased about getting 20000 people to a game. Not that the AFLW's getting 20000 every game, they'll get a few games where they only get a few thousand. But if they're getting a few thousand people, and I don't even know whether they're paying now, in the first season they were free.


Because they wanted to... And we're in our fourth season now. The AFL, who runs both competitions, the men's and the women's competition, wanted to make this a community sport and wanted to encourage people to go and it was free to attend. So they're not making money out of it from a gate attendance, but there will be TV companies paying for the rights to play it and so on. And so... But eventually, if you wanted to say, if I were a young woman wanting to play this sport and saying, "I want to..." They're only playing a very short season as well, so... But even just a per game thing. "So why am I not being paid the same amount to play a game of AFL football as a woman, as a young man going into their first season to play as well?" You've got to start to ask, "Well, where's the money going to come from?"


The gate is going to be much smaller. The receipts from marketing, from television, from merchandising and all of those things are much smaller. So you don't have a right to expect, even though it's... Your performance is equal. Yeah. But as, a you know, it's this is not work in a sense of you're actually doing the same job.

Well, that would be kind of like me demanding a certain wage for podcasting that say the top 1 percent of podcasts as if they're making millions of dollars...

Casey Neistat.

Yeah. And I'm saying, "Well I'm doing the same number of episodes that he is." But if I can't generate the audience to pay for the content and to buy my stuff, then why do I necessarily deserve a certain amount of money per episode?

It's a tough one. Looking at tennis as a good example though, whereas there are as many people, if not more, who watch women's tennis as watch men's tennis, and therefore the women should be getting the same amount of money. Yeah. So that's perfectly fine. But where it comes down to is whether money is being generated based on popularity... Popularity doesn't... Isn't logical. It doesn't make sense in terms of, you know, the amount of effort you put in should be rewarded the same.

And that's the hard thing, I guess, for the people to get their head around that equality versus equity kind of thing. It's like, yeah, you're doing the same amount of time, but if it's not generating the same amount of money, then...

That's not in any way denigrating the performance...

Just it's you guys hear rate of athletes who work out a way that generates more income, whether it's equal to men, if it's more than men, whatever. And then you get your fair share of that income that's generated as opposed to you get the same as someone else in a different system is getting payed.

Cricketers are a good example. You know, Australian cricket team... And I don't know what the numbers are in a sense of how much they are earning, but there's a limited number of players in Australia who will get contracts with Cricket Australia. That is, they will get paid to just be contracted to be available to play for Australia. And obviously only 12 of them can ever play at one time in any one game. And one of them is not going to even play, they're sitting on the sideline, but those men, I think, are earning somewhere in the order of a million dollars a year just to be silent. They will obviously earn more with endorsements and game fees and sponsors and all those sort of things. I have no idea what the women's players are being paid, but I'd be very surprised if they were any even close to a tenth of that. Yeah, purely on that on the basis of numbers. However, when you also look at it from the perspective of individual performers, I think we've got arguably two or three of the top three or four women players in the world in playing in cricket, one of whom I think is Australia's best sportsperson, Ellyse Perry, and hey Ellyse, I you're not going to watch this but I'll call you out. Absolutely sensational cricket. She plays as a batter. She's a bowler. Brilliant fielder. But she's also played soccer for Australia in a World Cup. How many people have scored a goal in a World Cup finals match? For any club? For any team anywhere in the world. But, also is arguably the best player in another sport. So she's sensational, but yet she's marketable as well. But I guarantee you, she's not earning a tenth of what your average male player is earning in Australia. Yeah, and that's purely on the basis of audience.


And it's unreasonable. Frankly, I would much rather go and watch her play cricket than most of the men and play cricket.

I guess you have to, you know, get the word out there and try and see if their audience shifts. But yeah, it is like voting with your feet.

But it's getting there. If we look at what's happened over the last four or five years, I can now watch the AFLW game on television. I can watch the women's cricket on television. Five years ago that was just not possible. And so we are now getting more public interest and therefore media is more likely to cover them.

So how do you see it shifting in the future? Do you see it changing much or do you think it'll just continue at a steady rate of of what's going on at the moment? Or do you think it's going to garner much, much, much more interest?

I think it will creep closer to the men's sports. Yeah, but some sports that's different. Swimming is a good example of that. I think over the years, if you look at, you know, certainly in my life of being a swimmer and following swimming, I think Australia has had far more famous women's swimmers than men's swimmers. Ian Thorpe is clearly the most famous Australian male swimmer in your time.

Grant Hackett.

Grant Hackett, probably. But then once you get down to the third or the fourth it'll be difficult, but I could probably name ten women who are swimming at the same time who are winning gold medals and so on. But that's in a sport that is extremely popular in Australia from a television watching point of view. But they don't get huge crowds. Most swimming pools don't have big stadiums to go and watch them. Yeah, but so it's one of those weird ones where, you know, every second year, whether we have an Olympic Games or a Commonwealth Games coming up and we have Australian trials and things, then the Australian trials for swimming will be on television. Athletics? No, the National Australian Athletics Championships; They never going to be on television.

Is it just because it's too boring or..? what's the reason there?

Well I think it takes a long time. Athletics championships will go over three or four days, takes a long time to actually have anything happen, but there's just not an interest in it. But come the Olympics, everybody wants to watch it. So it's...

Yeah, exactly. It's weird. It's a strange one with the Olympics with everyone being obsessed with swimming, but then not giving a shit for the rest of the year. Yeah. And you know, when anytime time the national or whatever competitions on, no one's really watching it. It's not televised.

Go back 20 years. Who was the most famous person in Australia? Cathy Freeman.


An Australian female athlete.

Yeah. So especially coming up to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Moving on. I guess some other stuff in the news was that Canberra has legalised cannabis.

It has. Yay! Catch up states.

I think we get... We have 50 grams of dry cannabis per person, 150 grams of wet to cannabis - so undried. Four plants per house. Legalisation conflicts, though, with the Commonwealth laws prohibiting possession of cannabis. So it's still prohibited to use. It's still a prohibited substance. But you're allowed to have it at least based on state or territory laws. So it is one of these confusing things. I think it's the same in the US where they've legalised it, where a lot of states have states, and the states won't chase after you. But the country will, the federal, or in this case Commonwealth, laws still prohibit it so they can come after you.

But there's nobody to actually catch you.


Because the Australian Federal Police don't have the jurisdiction to go on banging on doors to decide whether you're smoking marijuana or not.

It's a very weird thing, isn't it.

It's a weird one.

So, yeah, you're allowed to have it. You're allowed to grow it. You're just not allowed to have proquired it, or like acquired it rather, from someone...

Or use it.

Yeah, that's a very weird situation.

Although I think, you know, I might have been reading yesterday that the first medicinal marijuana selling has just opened in Melbourne.


Some place that you can get it under prescription.

Invest in that stuff. That's going to boom in the next few years.

Well, look what look what's happened in some of the states in the United States. Look, Colorado, after 12 months where they put a tax on it to make money. And they had put a cap on that because they'd said we're going to earn whatever it was tax out of that. They went more than that. And they are paying tax back to their citizens on the basis that they were earning more money than they said they were going to.

That's it. It gets crazy. So like in the US, apparently it's two thirds of cigarette sales where cigarettes make up about $80 billion a year of sales in the US and cannabis is now about 50 to 55 billion dollars a year. So it's one of those things where I'm sure a lot of listeners won't be necessarily pro drugs or using drugs themselves. But I would say that there's an argument to be had that at least if it's legalised, we can tax it and you can take whatever that is, 10 or 20 percent off the top of $50 billion in the US. So it would obviously be a bit less here, but you can put that towards anything else. Education, hospitals, roads, schools, whatever.

You're taking crime off the streets.


Because if you're making it illegal, then people will be doing it illicitly. They'll be selling it illicitly. And therefore they are more likely to be committing other crimes in order to be able to do it. So it's a bizarre one. You know, that whole war on crime, the war on drugs. And, you know, picking on Americans particularly.

Well we should in this case.

We spend billions of dollars a year with the war on drugs. 95% of which is tried to prosecute people for smoking marijuana, not even selling it. And there has never bee an established instance of somebody dying from smoking marijuana.

Yeah, well, especially in the case of marijuana. I remember watching a few docos on on cannabis when I, and I'll admit to you guys, I've used it in the past, recreationally. It's one of these things it's kind of hard to justify using today because I just have too much to do. You end up sort of, you know, vegging out, wanting to eat. And yeah. So it's very difficult to justify today. But when I was interested in and learning a lot about it, apparently it's something like you would have to smoke over a ton of cannabis in 20 minutes to get a lethal dose of the drugs. So no one's going to die from it. And there's the argument that some people have adverse psychological problems with it, but that's very few and you need to be predisposed to it. It's not like anyone has the chance of becoming a psycho if they smoke weed.

My argument is, if you do have some form of psychosis, then marijuana, because it is reducing your inhibition, is more likely to bring those out.

100%. And you know, those sorts of people, people who have those sorts of problems, obviously stay away from cannabis, but stay away from other drugs too. stay away from the alcohol.

Yeah, alcohol will kill you. You could sit here for an hour and easily drink a lethal dose of alcohol and not even notice it until it was too late.

It's a very sad thing. And the whole reason with cannabis that shits me is that we Australia followed suit with America outlawing it. And this is... It's a really interesting story. So obviously hemp arrived in Australia. Hemp is cannabis. Cannabis Sativa, the stuff that's it's the version of it that's been bred to be grown as fibres, to be used in things like paper and rope and everything. So there's not much of the THC or other chemicals in it that you can smoke and get high from because it's been selected to be good for fibre. So the plant puts its energy into that instead of flowers where the drugs are. So they came to Australia, it went to America. A lot of their products were being made. And it's actually a lot better than paper. It's a lot more durable. It's an amazing product. This was in the 1800s in America. In the 1900s immigrants came to the US and they brought smoking cannabis, which was a recreational thing that was unique to them, using it like cigarettes, which was called marijuana or "marijuana" that they called it.

And the issue was that at this time they had the prohibition of alcohol. And so the FBI and a guy called Harry Anslinger was going nuts, cracking down on alcohol, because you had, you know, the... What was the movement called that was very Christian and anti the use of any kinds of drugs? So they were very strong. The problem was that obviously the prohibition on alcohol ended and Harry Anslinger still needed an enemy. And so he decided to switch on to marijuana. And the biggest.. The thing that irritates me the most is that at the time he... Before marijuana had sort of made itself known in the early thirties, 1930s, he said it was not a problem, no one could become addicted to, it's not worth worrying about. And as soon as he lost alcohol, he decided to find a new problem. And on top of that, racism was at a high in the US. So he found that this drug is used mostly by Hispanics, mostly Mexicans and by blacks, by African-Americans using this drug. So he created a lot of fear mongering, saying that black people, Hispanics would lose their place in society. They would forget who they were and that they were below white people. If they smoked this drug, you know, they would mingle with white women and they... He used, you know, going after jazz musicians. I think Billie Holiday was one woman who had a song about it that he went after. And yeah, just went nuts. And they brought through that law in 1937 to make it illegal to have cannabis. And then Australia followed suit the next year without batting an eyelid.

Even though we had no problem here, except for the film that came out that was called Reefer Madness, which suggested that people, and it's just crazy people who smoked cannabis, teenagers... The movie shows teenagers smoking cannabis for the first time, hallucinating, raping people and murdering people. And it's one of those things that at the time people obviously were scared shitless of this drug that could do that. But you think about it today and it's like when was the last time you heard of anyone smoking cannabis and raping or murdering or even robbing someone and ending up on the news and them saying, "Yeah, the dude smoked too much, he got messed up. And so he decided to rob a liquor store and, you know, rape someone just for good measure. So it just doesn't happen anyway. So off my pedestal. But that aspect of cannabis legalisation, even if you don't want to use it, you don't like drugs, it's kind of like just let other people do what they want to do in the privacy of their own homes.

Medically and environmentally. Yeah, it makes so much sense. But you know, that's another story.

Well, the medical thing irritates me too, because especially in the US you see these stories coming out of children with things like epilepsy or other diseases where they have motor neurone disease or something and they're not allowed to use medication that's been made from cannabis or that is cannabis that is shown on video to immediately remove any of their negative symptoms.

And some people suffering from Parkinson's.

And yet they're prevented from using it. And so it's so funny watching those documentaries where you see parents talk about their children's illnesses and how they had tried to find so many different treatments and the suffering that their children or friends or family went through and that they were very anti-drugs originally. But as soon as they saw the good that cannabis could do for these children and these people that were sick, they totally change their minds. So it is one of those things where I think we're going to look back and be really ashamed of what we've done.

It's the politicisation of fear.

Yeah. And that's the challenge where you. And because it's an old story, as you say, this is the 1930s that this story bubbled up in the United States of the anti cannabis story. That's an old story now. This is generations old. Yeah. And so there are people who have grown up with their grandparents telling them that cannabis is evil. And so on. And so when you get an acculturation like that, that you believe what you've been told and you believe what everybody else believes and tells you, then evidence just goes out the window.

It was sort of the same thing with racism right back in the day where white people in America haven't significantly changed in terms of their morphology or their physiology that would make them less racist. They just had shitty ideas at the time because everyone had shitty ideas at the time. And so it's just been through that education that, you know, you realise actually we're all equals and everyone should be treated the same. But the other cannabis thing that irritated me about the history in America was that they used it as a way in the 60s and 70s of cracking down on hippies and protesters against the government's Vietnam War.

That's right. Specifically that. Right. I was going to mention that. That was the politicisation part of it, is that...

The drug wasn't a problem before.

It wasn't a problem before. But now we've got people we don't like the message that they are saying, and some of them are smoking marijuana. Therefore we put them in jail for smoking marijuana. And so it's, yeah, it's that politicisation thing. And now we have this fear mongering within politics on all sorts of issues that when there's a general cultural belief within our society...

I would guarantee you that if you went around and asked 100 random people in the street, "Do you think that marijuana is a problem drug in our society?" 70 or 80 of those people would say yes. When you presented information to them and presented an argument and evidence to them, a small number of those people will change their mind, but others will just simply say yes, because that's what they believe and you're not going to change their mind.

Beyond that, asking them the question kind of frames the response too. As soon as you say, "do you think this..?"

"People who drive red cars drive faster." Everybody'd say, "Of course they do!"


And therefore, anybody who drives a red car expects that they should be driving faster. So it's... Yeah, it's bizarre. So and look, I've had this rant for a long time about people. Mostly it's around loose...Generally called "science education," not how you study science in schools, although I think that's part of our problem. As an ex science teacher, I'm part of the problem rather than the solution. But of just teaching people to understand evidence.


Of "make up your mind based on evidence. Not when you told."

Well that's much more important because you have to get over what you think is right and what you think is best. If the evidence shows that's not the case and you're going to to have better outcomes for your nation and for people as a whole...

And potentially even yourself.

Yeah. Yeah.


Yeah. Yeah. But yeah. Then let's do it. But it is a tough one because you have so many of those arguments of, "It's a gateway drug,"

It's not. No evidence.

Well it's one of those things, too. There are a million people in Australia who use cannabis on a regular basis or something like you know, an annual basis - once every year. We don't have that number of people using cocaine or using heroin anywhere... Like, it doesn't just... They start out and then just shoot to the worst thing that they can find. And a lot of the things that I've seen recently on drug addiction tends to be that the person... It doesn't... Not anyone can just take things like heroin or cannabis or... cannabis isn't even worth mentioning next to heroin, but cocaine and get addicted to it. You have to have a predisposition to it, whether psychological or physiological, but also societal, where you've got problems in your life that you're trying to escape, that then pushes you toward...

They're behavioural addictions and there are physiological addiction.

Yeah, yeah.

Heroin is a classic example of where there is... And, you know, I've never taken heroin, but I've taken opiates medically, painkillers in hospital. And once you've taken morphine based drug, you understand why people get hooked on heroin, as a behavioural thing, because it feels amazing. And, you know, so a lot of people have sort of, "Well, what are you talking about?" I said, "Well, if you've ever had a morphine based drug, people say it's a painkiller. It's not. You just don't care. And you feel the pain, but you don't care." Now, that sounds weird, but it's true. And so there's a behavioural thing that means people will keep taking heroin, but there actually is a physiological addiction. It's like caffeine. That is one of the most addictive things you'll ever do, is drinking things with caffeine or eating things with caffeine in them. Whereas marijuana is not physically addictive.

It's much easier for me to stop drinking alcohol than to stop drinking coffee.

Yes, exactly.

But the weird thing too, is that if heroin... Because I'm someone who believes that drugs should be just legalised. Controlled, and obviously managed, you don't just say, "Have at it," because you don't want them sold next to primary schools and stuff like that. But I think that if you want those things, you as a citizen of society, if you're going to do it anyway and you're going to buy it from some shady dude who's doing it illegally, at least if you do it legally, society gets the money and you get the product that is safe to use and hopefully information on how to use it. But also, if it were to be that heroin was legalised tomorrow, that stuff scares the shit out of me. If it was available at Woollies or Coles, I'm not going to buy it. So it's not that if it's suddenly legal. I would... Everyone in the world is just going to stop working and go and buy heroin from Coles or Woollies. You know, I would imagine that if you asked 99 people, 100 people out on the street, 99 of them would say, "No way. I'm not touching that. Even if someone gave it to me for free and it was legal," because they know better. Right. It's the same reason that I don't drink two bottles of vodka. It's like I'm just not looking forward to the results of that. Anyway, so we talked about that a bit.

We did. Over-talked about that one.

Six orcas were spotted off Pope's eye in Port Phillip Bay. Did you hear about that? Yeah, the killer whales.

Orcas in Port Phillip Bay. Welcome back.

What you mean welcome back?

Well, they... Not in my lifetime, but orcas were certainly in Port Phillip Bay and around the coast of Victoria historically. And I have never seen one in Victoria. Yeah, I've seen them in New South Wales, but I've never seen one in Victoria.

I've heard of them being further south and further north. I've heard of them being on the Great Barrier Reef and I've heard of them being north of... South of Tasmania. Closer to Antarctica, but not in Victoria. In a bay in summer. You know, because I was looking up the details and it was saying that they found around Australian waters, usually between the months of June and October. So what the hell are they doing in January, February in a bay in South Australia in summer? Can you explain it? Do you have any idea of why or how they do it?

I just think there are... The populations of them clearly growing. So there's more likelihood that they are going to be here. Who knows why they're up here now? I suspect it is probably got something to do with fisheries. And I don't know what orcas in Australia actually feed on, but certainly in the north west coast of North America, from, sort of, you know, Washington state all the way through British Columbia up to Alaska, there are two different groups of orcas in a sense of what they feed on; Some feed on fish and some feed on seals. And I suspect that we may have ended up with a seal feeding population that have come in here because we got lots of sea lions. Seals in the broader sense. But, you know, eared seals, we've got tens of thousands of them around Port Phillip Bay and Victorian coasts. So I suspect that we may well have got a few that have come up here and gone, "oh, I don't need to leave here. This is breakfast on a plate."

Yeah, it's just crazy to see them around because... I'm trying to find this story now online. But I remember reading, I don't I can't remember exactly where it was from, but that there were killer whales, I'm pretty sure in Australia, that we're interacting with indigenous tribes on the coast and hunting things together, where the indigenous tribes... I don't know how they were communicating with these whales, but every year at a certain time, the whales would come in and to the this beach where the indigenous tribes were and they would work together in order to hunt.

The whales would chase the fish in.

Yeah, certain things. So I think that was what was happening. Yeah. The whales were herding fish into the shore, the people would catch them, then give them back to the whales. They had this amazing relationship, but obviously that would have ended when whaling came through the Australian coast in the... Well would've been eighteen hundreds, probably only eighteen hundreds.

Early eighteen hundreds.

So I'm kicking myself that I didn't get to see orcas and that they would have been within what, 20, 30 kilometres of my house. Yeah, it's insane.

Pope's Eye is just off the coast of Queenscliff.

Yeah. Well I remember recently being out at the beach down here surfing and just seeing, you know, a school of dolphins... A school? A heard? I don't know what... Pod of dolphins?

A bunch of dolphins.

a mob of dolphins, a heap of them out there behind the waves. And it is one of those things where you see why surfers are so airy, fairy and spiritual, because when you do get out there and it's, you know, sunset, it's a really calm day, the waves are undulating, slowly coming in. And you do have, you know, killer whales... You do have dolphins jumping up and down in the water. It is such a lovely experience.

Rainbows and dolphins.

Now the story. Did you hear about the wallaby off North Stradbroke Island that was found 6.2 kilometres out to sea?

I did. You're going to ask me to explain this?

Yeah, well, that's it. So I was...

It fell off of a boat.

Yeah, I don't know. That's a weird situation, apparently... So these people were on a boat, obviously cruising around North Stradbroke Island where they saw something in the water and they were like, "What the hell's this thing floating around in the water?" they drove their boat closer and it turned out to be a small wallaby that was distressed, in need of rescue.

I would think so!

Kilometres and kilometres out to sea. They nicknamed it Dawnie. The people on the boat were...

After Fraser, I presume?

I'm not sure. Yeah. But then they nicknamed it Dawnie. They were going to pull it out of the water, but were too worried about getting injured or injuring it. So they called the police to come and grab it. They rescued it, let it go on North Stradbroke Island in the scrub, but they believed that it was likely a rip.

I have seen wallabies, kangaroos and wombats drinking seawater.

I've seen echidnas swimming in seawater.

Yeah, it's obviously a salt source. Yeah. And if... And particularly around that area of Queensland, around Moreton Bay, because there are sand islands, Moreton Island and Stradbroke Island are two large, and Bribie further north, three large sand islands off the coast of southern Queensland. And I suspect there are lots of really strong currents. So if it had happened to have been down having a drink of seawater or just hanging out on the beach and then you get one of those either a wave or the tides coming in, and you get one of those tidal waves, literally, where the tide reaches a certain point and then the next wave is going to wash over a whole section of beach and it gets washed into a current. And it can't... I mean, wallabies and kangaroos are not the greatest swimmers. Yeah, they can swim, but... Obviously. But I suspect it wasn't strong enough. And it probably... Even if it were strong enough to swim it not being a natural swimmer, wouldn't have thought, Oh, swim against the current. swim back to land," it just would have...

"Go! Don't drown!"

"Stay afloat."

It's crazy, but it... It goes to show how... As a biologist, as an evolutionary biologist, I always see this sort of stuff when you see these animals swimming around the water, how they spread between islands or, you know, end up in different locations...

There have been occasions in Indonesia where people have seen elephants swimming between islands. No, an elephant is not going to get washed off a shore. So they are choosing to swim and whether they can smell a new, another piece of land somewhere, because they can't see across the water. So the islands are too far away to be able to see...

Especially when they're swimming and their eyes are pretty much underwater.

And so they're choosing to swim. Yeah. It's astonishing when you look at it.

I was watching a doco recently about mammoths in North America and there was a story about an island, a small island off the coast that had a number of species of mammoths, but it had the world's smallest mammoth. There was a dwarf mammoth. And that... I think they showed that they had been swimming to and from the mainland there or that that ice ages had caused that gap to be there. But the reason they got small was, and this is quite often the strange thing in evolutionary biology is that you end up with small animals on small islands, as opposed to big ones, obviously. Well, it's not that strange because there's not as much food. Yeah, but so obviously they were getting there often enough that the population was sustained. You know, they had enough and then they got smaller and smaller because they were the ones surviving.

But that island stuff was crazy. And I remember being up in Raine Island in Queensland, which is near the north, near the tip of Queensland of Australia, and that was hundreds of kilometres away from the mainland. There's no trees. It's pretty much a sand and a few little bits of scrub. There's no rainwater. And there was a honeyeater bird on the island.

That will just been blown over in a storm.

And I was like, "How did you get...?" It's so sad because you see this little honeyeater and you're like...

There is no chance. It's got to fly a hundred kilometres or more. Against the prevailing wind, it's there by itself.

Well, you're gone.

There's no water and no food. They'll find insects to eat, but they won't... They'll... With the heat there, they will need water on a daily basis. And so they'd have a few days, which is a bit sad. Yeah. But yeah, there's lots of notionally Australian species of birds that over the last few hundred years have ended up in New Zealand. Yeah. You just look at and go. There's no chance they are going to fly there by choice.


But the prevailing wind is westerly from Australia to New Zealand...

and there's not any places to land.

You get a few storms and they hit the coast and there's land. That'll do. And they can't fly back. So they end up...

Well they have to go round the world. Yeah.

Well they end up with enough of them to to end up with their own populations. Yeah. Viable populations of these birds that have only been there for 50 years and, you know, how did the first one come? It wasn't the first one. It was the first 20 or 30 out to get a viable population.

Jesus. Did you know about kangaroos too? Going back to them and water how they often... When they're attacked by a predator, will seek out water to walk into, and try and encourage the predator to attack them in the water. There's a video on YouTube, I believe, of two dogs attacking a big, large male kangaroo. And he just runs straight into the dam and just stands up on his back legs and his arms out...

He's nearly two metres tall as well.

And the dogs are going around the dam trying to come in. And every time the dogs come up to the kangaroo, it does like a chokehold and just puts their head underwater. And you're just like, man, these things are switched on.

They know what they're doing. You know, they've had a few thousand years with dogs in Australia.

Well that's it. It's crazy because they probably learnt that from being attacked by dingoes and whatever other marsupials like the Thylacoleo, the marsupial lion, although I don't think...

That would've taken out your average red kangaroo, I'd think.

The last story here before we finish up was the Guion paintings in the Kimberley that were dated using wasp nests.

I know.

Did you see that story as well?

I didn't see it. But I know of that sort of stuff.

Yeah. So this is really cool. So Damien Finch, a PhD student from University of Melbourne, my old uni, was there studying these paintings, which until recently hadn't been dated because it's incredibly hard. Usually I think they use calcite deposits to try and date paintings that are done on limestone that are then covered or in a cave that are protected. But the problem with the paintings... The indigenous paintings tend to be on overhangs which are exposed and they end up with a lot of dust and other things blown onto them, so you can't accurately date the pigment because it's contaminated.

Yeah. And so what they worked out was that the wasp nests that... The wasps make their nests out of mud from the ground and when they pick up the mud they pick up burnt wood from fires that were there. And they embed it on the wall and some of these paintings fortunately were done over the top of some wasp nests and wasp nests were then done over the top of the paintings again. So you had an upper and a lower range. Yeah. So they used carbon dating to date the carbon in the charcoal in the wasp nests below and above to get an upper range and worked out that the paintings were 12000 years old. So it's very cool. Yeah, but it was just very, very unique. You know, a very creative way of using science to, you know, examine one thing and indirectly get a date for another thing.

You've got to love that stuff because you can imagine being this student, assuming it was a student or a researcher, who found that particular instance of pigments from the paint sitting between wasp nests, and went, "Oh! Bingo! Yeah, I've got this," because otherwise you're just constantly trying to come up... You can't create that. You've got to find it.

Well, the hardest thing is, I think for them they found, you know, hundreds of paintings and probably thousands of wasp nests. But a lot of paintings had the wasp nests over the top, which would've meant that it could have happened any time after the paintings... Or vice versa where the paintings are on the top of the wasp nest, but didn't have one above them. And so they could only... You could only get one - an upper or a lower range.

Which doesn't tell you anything.

Yeah, exactly. So it was very cool. Anyway, so that's the week's news. So yeah.

Cool, it's a lot of news.

I know, lots of stuff in there.

Two episodes for one!

Hope you guys enjoy it. Hope you're learning a lot from the different things that we can chat about.

We can talk about all sorts of crap.

That's it. Dad's got a lot of knowledge.

What he doesn't know he makes up.

Yeah, exactly. You guys will never know. Thanks for joining me, Dad.

Thanks, Pete. See you.

See you.


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