Sunday, December 31, 2023

Oil Light and the Bay of Pigs

I was on the phone to my sister when Brownie and Doogs arrived from the bush camp, their dingo-looking hound Flex in tow. 'So yes, I've found a $1500 shitbox with no windscreen wipers or muffler.' I said to my sister, waving for the men to take a seat, 'It drives great and looks like sin apparently ... and Queen Ben is probably bound for the wreckers. What a fucking day.'

'It's about to get even better,' said Brownie after I'd ended the call. 'Have you heard about the Bay of Pigs?' 

'Drives great, look like sin.' Doogs nodded. 'Sounds like me.'

The oil light in Queen Ben came on yesterday on my way home to the inlet and then flickered out. This morning, with my dog Selkie still not home from her pre-dawn date with Flex, I headed out for another tower day, and the oil light came on again. In the mistaken belief that the oil light works like a fuel light, giving me a few more kilometres, I continued for another two or three hundred metres. (Yes I know, shut up. I've been self flagellating all day okay?) A terrible knocking sound. I stopped. Under the bonnet and off with the oil cap. Smoke curled out of the sump.I poured in some oil and heard it sizzling against the heat.

Queen Ben turned twenty last year. The five years that I've had her have been about replacement and good husbandry. A new head, replacing the turbo, ironing out dented panels, gearbox issues, idler arms and wheel alignments. My philosophy is that a diesel four wheel drive can last forever if you treat her right. 

Yes, I'm a terrible husband.

I walked for a while until I came into range and texted my boss that I couldn't make it to the firetower today, with some brief details of my poor car's demise. Cicadas chanted in the forest and parrots flitted around me, colours of karri leaves and bottle-brush flowers. Then I turned and walked home, patting Queen Ben's bonnet as I passed. It was surreal, walking through the forest that I drive through every day. Walking is when you notice things.

Smoky red dust rose up on the gravel as a car approached and I found a welcome ride home. Selkie was back, soaking wet, smelling of the inlet and limping badly. 'So that was quite the excursion,' I said to her. She looked at me in that way dogs look when they've done some bad things. I turned on the wifi. 'Oh no! Are you okay, do you need a lift?' My boss had replied. I told him I was okay and then I rang my sister.

I managed to borrow a car for the day and make it to the firetower eventually. I'll leave out the bits about the missing firetower key, the long drive to retrieve it, the firetower nerd I met up there today who was really cool, and that snake. But I have to have a car and the Queen Ben is dead. So I got busy on my phone, bought a car ('drives fine, looks like sin'). I live 35 kilometres from the nearest town and the firetower is an 78 kilometre round trip. There's no public transport and getting on a bicycle is a bullshit option, dammit.

I made it home close to dark and asked a mate to help me tow Queen Ben home from her unhappy perch on the gravel shoulder.. My reasoning was that the RAC will be badly stretched over the next few days of New Year's Eve chaos in our little seaside holiday town. 

I was just having a self-congratulatory glass of wine on the back veranda and updating my sister on the phone about the new car I was buying, when Brownie and Doogs turned up. They growled at Flex as he dawdled innocently towards Selkie's food bowl. Selkie looked up and didn't even complain or harry Flex. She was still limping. She looked very, very sore. 'So, the Bay of Pigs,' said Brownie.

Flex and Selkie took off before dawn this morning. They often do this when Brownie and Flex are staying in the bush camp. Selkie and Flex go off for hours and I never know where they go. Sometimes they'll come back streaked with charcoal and I'll know they've been into the firegrounds. Sometimes, while looking for them, I've followed their tracks along the beach for miles. Selkie always comes home exhausted and she's sore for days. There are few roads and no fences around here. It's dog heaven but I always worry about them taking baits.

This morning, Doogs went down to the boat ramp and heard the two dogs barking. It was an early easterly and so he could hear them, their voices calling along the inlet shore. I was mourning the knocking piston death of Queen Ben and beginning my dejected walk home, by the time Brownie and Doogs walked east along the beaches and rocky outcrops to find Selkie and Flex bailing up a huge black boar. Apparently, the pig was standing in the water facing off the two dogs. He was in the inlet, water around his shoulders and nose to nose with Selkie and Flex. 

'This pig was huge, Sarah!' Doogs said. I put my head into my arms. Oh. My God.  'Much bigger than these two,' he motioned to Flex and Selkie. 'They were crying and barking like babies though.'

'What a fucking day.'

'We're calling that place Pig Bay,' Brownie nodded over his beer. 'It's something that's happened here and that place needs a name. Never seen that before. Never. A pig facing down some dogs in the water. Never seen it.'

So Pig Bay it is.

This stuff all happened here on New Year's Eve 2023. It's been another mad year yes? Happy New Year Bloggers xxx


Sunday, December 24, 2023

A Very Towery Christmas


On Thursday it rained and at the top of the mountain little pools filled with water. This is my favourite, obviously!

Below is a more treasured local than the reptile in my previous post (eek!). We call these little dinosaurs bobtails or blue tongues. In the eastern states they are called shinglebacks. All appropriate descriptors, really. There are a few babies hanging around as well. Too cute.


Below is of a bushfire sixty five kilometres away. This was a particularly nasty one, only a few kilometres away from a town that suffered a terrible wildfire a decade ago. It was started by a machinery fire in a paddock and roared straight into the forest.

Gunsight, reflection, binocs, map and my very cool little weather station - the red gadget is called a Kestrel and takes recordings of wind speed, humidity, temperature etc. Around me the real kestrels whirl and shriek. They have the most acrobatic aerial courtship ever, tumbling over each other in the sky, using the updrafts to race around and around the tower.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Danger noodles and nope ropes

This morning I was on my way to work at the fire tower. Stepping out the front door. I quite like these sliding glass doors because I can see what is outside. This morning it was a tiger snake, just hanging out.

'It's such a magnificent creature!' I said to my sister, as the snake slid away into the thicket of cummock.. 'But fuck! Can they just fuck off from my doorstep?'

The last time a tiger hung out at my front door was a month ago. My front door is north facing and has brick paving... so tiger friendly territory. I squirted the snake with a tomato sauce bottle full of petrol and freaked the poor critter out. Then I went next door and asked the resident snake handler for help. He was into the respectful and kind relocation of reptiles. I just wanted him to kill this one. There was an impasse of communication between the two of us. 'Here's the shovel,' I said, handing him the shovel and then we both said prayers as he took a life.

So this morning, seeing another tiger snake on the path between my front door and the car, I was thinking of my dog and me, and the times when I stumble along that path at night to get something out of the car, headlamp on. 

Some people are fine with resident tigers. I'm absolutely not.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Voting yes and then saying no

I've spent the last few weeks in a funk of emotions. There are several clouds of issues going on in my head and I've been trying to separate them into spheres or boxes or ... something. This morning I woke up with: "okay Sarah, there is this and then this and then there is this."

It was like my brain finally cleared. People say that when the amygdala is stimulated the frontal cortex goes offline and I've probably experienced this before but not totally cogged it. This time around it was like 'fuck, what is going on?'

Anyway, a few weeks after the nation voted against a voice to parliament, I gradually unscrambled. Someone asked me to sign a petition against inner city social housing because ... I dunno, nimbyism? No, I wrote back. Not gonna sign that one. An institution asked me to maintain my contract on a chapter about colonial experiences. No, I wrote back. I'll return that advance payment. (Damn, damn my conscience!)

I began writing this post back in October when I voted Yes to an Indigenous voice to parliament, so it's been sitting here for a while. But I'm still playing in my same brain sandpit, flicking up sand into the circle of eyes. I'm not willing to play this game anymore. I voted yes and now I'm saying no. I'm entering the Crone Zone with a kind of delicious fury. Care to join?


Friday, December 8, 2023

Past tense

Years ago I wrote a story on A WineDark Sea called 'Can't kill him with an axe'. It was an account of the times I'd nearly killed Old Salt on his fishing boat. He'd previously had heart surgery ('they put a bit of pig in me!'), licked asbestos as a kid because he liked the tingling feeling on his tongue, had an affinity for battery acid and thought electrocution was a fine remedy for Ross River Virus.

Bill died on Monday. It's a weird feeling. When a close friend is dying, people ask if I want to visit them but I'm already there, somehow. Several hundreds of kilometres apart and I'm with them. I don't really know how to explain this. Despite this feeling, when Nga told me on Sunday that he was now on morphine, I'd said, 'Yeah, I'll ring him in the morning.' He sounded fine on Friday when he took of his oxygen mask to chat. Fine.

He was my mentor and teacher. He taught me everything about what it is to be on a boat, how to follow the channel markers home to port in the middle of the night. That was one of his first lessons as we motored home from Michaelmas Island. He taught me about family, about how fish think and how to tie knots (still terrible at that).

He seemed incombustible, unkillable. An incorrigible white man with a stout sense of right and wrong, a strong interest in his family's history of fishing the Great Southern inlets. He never gave up. So Bill, the star of Salt Story is gone. Bizarrely and so bloody banal for someone who always sailed too close to the wind, he copped covid at a funeral a few weeks ago. On Monday, we'll go to his.





Monday, August 7, 2023

Psychogeography of the inlet

 Psychogeography is a term that emerged in the 1950s and its practice is great for landscape writers and artists:  "the effect of a geographical location on the behaviour and emotions of individuals." Until a few years ago, I was completely unaware of the word but had been thinking about the concept for decades. Writing about people of the sea and islands will do that.

"Unfold a map of London, place a glass rim down, anywhere on the map, and draw around its edge. Pick up the map, go out into the city, and walk the circle keeping as close as you can to the curve. Record the experience as you go ... footage as footage." Robert MacFarlane, A Road of One's Own.

In an urban context, this exercise forces a re estimation of our surroundings - what is accessible and what is off limits: fences, the concept of private property, the absoluteness of a stoic brick wall, drains and public thoroughfares. Really, it's a form of re-mapping or even anti-mapping. It breaks us out of the unaware carpark and footpath thinking that we have when heading down to the shops.

The reason why this is coming up for me right now is that the inlet broke its sand bar out to the sea last night. Here is a photo from today and you can check out photos from yesterday in my previous posts.

You can see the footprints from where Selkie was wading out to catch a stick that I'd thrown for her last night, those trees then a pretty reflection on the glassed-off water. We have a beach again!

For the last month, we haven't had a beach. As the inlet filled with river water threading through a system of thousands of square kilometres, places to walk became scarce. We are in the bush here: there are few tracks or roads. The inundation began to feel oppressive. On land, ancient marri trees leaned over us, blocking out the sun and keeping us cold and the solar panels failed us. The bush became more dark and damp. I grew up in sand dune, coastal heath country. We always had an horizon, a big sky. Living in the forest takes some getting used to.

From a person unwittingly writing about the psychogeography of islands, I became a person writing about the psychogeography of inlets and how they are kinda negative images of each other. An inlet is a body of water surrounded by land after all. My feelings come back to the original definition of psychogeography: "the effect of a geographical location on the behaviour and emotions of individuals."

Now this is cool. Last night, I strapped the camera trap to a tree at water level to capture the water as it receded. There were only three night time infra red photos. It was glassed off so the waves didn't trigger the motion sensor. What triggered it was the water rat, a marsupial better known as a Rakali, or in the Noongar language a Ngurju.

Friday, August 4, 2023

She will break


The inlet is about to open after all these rains. Here are some 'before' photos that I took today. I'll post the 'after' photos once the sand bar is broken and we have a beach again.


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Raven Report

I set up the trail camera at pretty much waterline, facing out into the inlet. She's swelling fast now and I was hoping for shots of waterbirds. When I picked out the SD card after 48 hours and plugged it into my computer, it came up with over 1600 images.

Of course. The waves. That meleluca tree swaying in the wind, constantly setting off the motion sensor. I wondered whether or not to download the whole lot. Surely a waste - of what? - time? of digital space? Anyway, I did download the lot and what I have now is a stop motion film of the inlet over 48 hours, with the water photographed every moment it moved, each surge and return, every flicker of that tree in the wind. The resolution and clarity of the photos is ... pretty good.

It's the most amazing, utterly beautiful sequence of images I've ever seen and they were taken entirely by accident. I mean, I'd set up the camera looking for critters to move into the frame and here is the whole inlet, speaking to me.


Speaking of critters, the first image of an animal I found was of this raven. Within a few hours of setting up the camera, she'd come in to have a look.

Yesterday I noticed a lot of raven activity around that spot, as I watched from my writing desk. They were flying down to the beach and then taking off with lots of calls to each other. I'd forgotten all about the camera. I was getting ready for teaching semester two at uni and thinking about writing and history. So I kinda nodded away my raven observation and went back to my computer. The hound looked interested. As it turns out, when I retrieved the SD card today, one raven had found the camera and was calling others in to investigate. This camera was an event for the ravens. How bloody cool is that?

Friday, July 21, 2023

More camera trap pics


So this is a terrible photo but here is your little ginger pig! Her ginger stripe is on the right side of the frame. It's the only image I've been able to get of her so far. Scattered all around are the remains of her foragings: the crimson shells of bloodroot bulbs and kangaroo bones from the roadside. A few months ago, in the summer, someone hit a roo on the track. In the weeks after, the carcass was dismantled piece by piece and, by the looks of this little pig's grotto, this is where it ended up.

When I first moved to the inlet in the midst of winter, I met some pig hunters on the track. Two car loads of young men with cages on the back of their utes, filled with enormous dogs - whiskery lurchers and brindle mastiffs. 'Gidday love,' the first driver said. 

This is wild and woolly country. Marshes, peat bogs, soaring karris and ancient marri trees. 'Seen any pigs around here?' My dog leaned over my shoulder and growled at the caged dogs. All hell broke loose. I hadn't seen any pigs but thought I could send two carloads of slightly pinned men and their dogs somewhere that was not near my place. 'Yeah, saw one yesterday. About 30 Ks up Chesapeake road!'

On a happier note, here are some camera trap photos of some real live kangaroos. I love the infra red ones for their glowing night eyes and larking about. The last one is taken back at the ginger pig grotto. Composition, yes?

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Dealing with a dog who rolls in a fish kill

 About two weeks ago it was raining hard. We had about 60 ml in a week. The inlet swelled with river-brown water from the massive system fed by three rivers. I was running out of firewood. This time of year always presents me with a sense of lack: crouching over a fire that will not thrive, like an animal trying to stay warm. Not enough sun to power the internet and my single lamp for more than an hour per day. As a casual worker, I'm out of a job for most of June and July, so when the income runs out, gas bottle runs out, my gas fridge stops and so does the hot water.

It sounds grim but it's a reality of living off grid in a remote location. 'I should organise myself for this time of year,' I think every year. This year I lined up a few writing jobs which are tiding me over for the moment. Anyway, with the fresh water pouring into the inlet over the last few weeks, regular visitors have noticed an anomaly.

The sudden influx created a mass fish kill event. At least I'm better off than your average herring. Brownie and Co were filletting mullet on an ironing board down on the beach. They'd set nets the previous night and not caught a single herring. 'They're all dead,' Brownie said, pointing to the dead fish lining the beach.

I walked along the beach for a few hundred metres and found 30 or 40 more dead herring. Shit. Later, other boaters told me there were dead fish on every beach on the inlet, stinking up the reed beds and the sandbars. I could only find herring on the beach, large, almost bull herring. 

So I reported the fish kill to the authorities and warned Brownie to put his nets away. For the next 24 hours I stressed about Fisheries coming out to inspect our nets and hanging about the place. The main thing was that I thought it needed to be flagged. Water authorities got back to me to say it was a fresh water deoxygenation event.

So my issue now is my dog. 

On the first day, I washed her in warm soapy water after she'd rolled in rotting fish, rubbed her dry with an old towel. She immediately went down to the beach and had another roll. I washed her with warm soapy water again. 

Next time, she's getting the hose.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Ginger Sow

 I've just installed the trail camera at a spot on the track where I've seen the cutest feral pig three times over the last week. She is a black pig with a ginger stripe going right around her middle and a row of suckling teats on her underside.

At about the same time I saw her, Jimmy turned up at my house. He's a handsome young man with a disorganised gait.  'Hi Sarah,' Jimmy threw out his hand. 'Look, my car ran out of petrol halfway along the track. Could you give me a lift back there? I have some fuel in the shed.'

The last time I saw Jimmy, he sought my help after he'd bogged his Dad's tractor out in the middle of the inlet. Yes, you read that right. Bogged his Dad's tractor in the middle of the inlet. 'What were you doing?' I asked him back then. 'I was setting nets but then the tractor fell in a swan hole.' 'Setting net from a fucking tractor? Have you not heard of a boat?' I decided to give it a red hot hot go anyway to break the monotony. Jimmy and I got down to the shore, after sourcing several hundred metres of snap straps and rope. The tractor sat out in the inlet like a kinda sad, defeated island.

The operation was an abject failure with me skidding all over the beach on the end of a tow rope, threatening to tear the chassis out of my car at sunset. The next day a few more 4WDs turned up and towed the tractor out. Jimmy was instructed by his family to never use the tractor again.

So when Jimmy turned up the other day, I was grateful for this lesser chassis-destroying request. We drove up the track to deliver petrol to his car. At the point where the track turns into white, slidey clay during rain, I said, 'I've seen a pig around this spot, every other day for the last week.'

Jimmy nodded and said, 'Yeah, last night as I was walking in, I smelt something, like an animal was living around here.' When we got to his car, standing in the middle of the road, he hauled his fuel cans off the back of my ute and got busy.

As I drove home behind Jimmy, I kept thinking of this mother pig, of where she had stashed her piglets, and also of Jimmy's midnight walk along the track. So today, I put a camera trap in the spot where the track get slidey and made of white clay. I'd love to see what goes on there at night.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

The Company


She was standing on the driveway. She was wearing gumboots and a pair of blue crocheted undies.

Andy wasn’t expecting this. As one of TeleNode’s lawyers, he’d spoken to Mrs Agnes Campbell on the phone a few days ago about her husband’s estate. She had sounded like a society wife, grieving maybe, but capably in charge of the behemoth that was her late husband’s sprawling, messy financial affairs. And here she was. Mrs Campbell, topless, holding a shovel in one hand and a chisel in the other.

‘It’s the plumbing,’ she said when she saw his glance at the shovel. ‘Toilet’s backed up.’ Then, ‘It’s easier to shower than wash all my clothes. Sorry, I wasn’t expecting you so early.’

A green hose snaked from the house to a white pipe and piles of black dirt where Agnes had obviously dug around to find the evidence of the blockage. The air was rank with the smell of raw sewerage. Her undress was definitely not about trying to seduce a lawyer.

‘Plumber?’ Andy asked.

‘They won’t come out here,’ she replied. ‘There are the bills. Robbie hasn’t paid them. I’m sure they’d come out, knowing what’s happened but … you know … it’s pride. It’s ridiculous.’

He stared at her face to stop his gaze hitting her breasts, her pale stomach and legs. ‘The Company could pay.’

Monday, May 29, 2023

Tank? Empty

The state premier of Western Australia has just resigned, citing exhaustion. He said his portfolio as premier and treasurer will finish by the end of this week. To paraphrase the words of Aotearoa's  (New Zealand's) former Prime Minister Jacinda Adern, his tank is empty. He's done. He's out.

State Premier Mark McGowan closed off the state from the rest of the country in the early days of the Covid pandemic and it afforded us about 18 months of relative normaility. This sounds weird, I know. But we didn't have to endure many local lockdowns - because the state was also shut off from the world. It was really cool. There was no Covid here. We could move around as much as we wanted to. Nobody got sick from Covid in the early days because it just simply didn't exist here. He did that.

When the federal election happened last year, Labor won on a landslide, mainly on the back of various Labor politicians such as McGowan, who'd fought so hard for public health. His decisions were often unpopular. He'd declared opening borders by a certain date and then abruptly closed the borders again. We in Western Australia were called the 'hermit kingdom' and 'cave dwellers' by right wing pollies and journalists in the Eastern states, merely for being anti Covid. Our geographical advantage was obvs.

So the Premier gave a press conference today, stating his resignation. He didn't cry. His wife looked stoked (Oh boy I can only imagine) and he then bowed out with not a Royal Commission or ICAC review ahead of him.

Good job Mark and I thank you for your service.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Camera Trap

Lately I've been trying to work out how to set up camera traps. This is not a creepy thing ... I live in the forest and would like to see what other critters are getting around at night around my place. A while ago, I strapped a camera trap to a tree close to my house. Tonight I put the SD card from the camera into my computer. Here's what came up.

The cameras are set up with motion sensors to take a picture. This night on the 29th, I walked around the camera to see if it would set off a flash, but it didn't. I walked away, wondering if it worked or if I'd set it up incorrectly. Turns out, I misunderstood infra red capabilities! Derr, Sarah.

Here are some rabbits:

And then, there is me in my ugg boots, today, going in to check the camera trap.

So all we got on camera was a few rabbits and my Ugg boots. But it was a pretty cool experiment. 


Thursday, May 4, 2023

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Pistols at Noon

There's a hut in the bush close to my place. It's called Old Smoky because the fireplace doesn't work that well. Old Smoky is on the same property as mine. It's clad in blue asbestos and corrugated iron and the floorboards are made of jarrah timbers. The windows are not glass but plastic blinds. There is no toilet and only the remains of a gas shower.

The whole while I've lived here, a man by the name of Wally stays in Old Smoky on occasion. He always comes over to say hi and let me know that he's in the vicinity. After that, we leave each other alone. He walks out a mullet net in the evenings and sometimes brings me some fillets. He'll bring a load of split jarrah for firewood and stash it in the old rainwater tank, set sideways, like another hut or shelter but to keep warmth and cooking fuel dry, not people..

The commercial fishermen came one year and moved into Old Smoky. Chicky and Brownie found Old Smoky a welcome refuge from camping on beaches in tents. The hut is on private property but they just moved in anyway. I go visit them and sometimes partake in their moonshine. It's rough liquor and the air in the hut is always smoky and close. Brownie chainsmokes tailormades and Chicky is the one who makes the liquor. Chicky and Brownie sleep on swags laid across iron bedstands.

Last year, another man came to stay in Old Smoky. He was confused and alone, a dislocated product of divorce, a lack of meds and the pandemic. I know he'll hate me for saying this, but that is what I saw. He gave me some soap and incense which was a nice gist and told me he was moving into the hut.

So while I was used to Wally and his respectful ways around Old smoky and while I was used to the fishermen turning up when the inlet opened for netting seaon, this Bear Grylls character was a new one. He was trying to do a Broke Inlet version of the TV series Alone except that it also involved asking me to charge his mobile phone on my solar system's inverter and lend him twenty bucks when he ran out of wine.

So. That was a bit weird and I expressed as much to Wally next time he turned up. He was kind of incensed. Not about me having an odd neighbour but that someone was moving into his hut. It's not Wally's hut but Wally was still pissed. After three weeks Bear Grylls gave up on his plan of living off the land and moved back to Albany. On my trips to the city I still occasionally see him walking up the main street in his camo gear and DriZaBone..

Then the fishermen moved in again. They burnt all of Wally's split jarrah, that load of wood Wally had so covetously collected and stashed. They burnt it in the dodgey fireplace Old Smoky is famous for, over the whole netting season. Wally came back in the spring to find all his firewood gone. So now was he doubly pissed. Not only have people been using his hut (which he does not own) but they've taken all of his fucking firewood! (Fair call)

Wally fortifies the door and puts a padlock on Old Smoky. He plants some tomatos, chillies and a lemon tree over the mullet frames he's buried. This is a territorial war,verified by vegetables. I know I've gone from past tense to present tense but shit is getting real now folks. Bear with me.

Today, the fishermen returned and Wally was waiting for them. He knew they'd be here on the first of May and he moved his whole famility into Old Smoky for two weeks. Brownie and Chicky came up from the beach to see me, after they'd launched the boat and moored it in the inlet. 'Wally's in Old Smoky?' Chicky asked me.

'Yes,' I said. 'Would you like to borrow my tent?'

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The automaton and the writer child

 Re my last post, this is interesting: I love this video

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Using artificial intel in academia and real life

Since ChatGPT came in late November 2022, there's been a heap of chatter in academia about how to go about marking essays. I was talking to a fellow tutor today who has just marked about 150 essays in the sciences department and they reckon about 75% were written using AI. Or that AI wrote these essays. Pick your weapons here.

I can just imagine those dispiriting hours, trawling over essays that have been written by a bot and trying to work out which students have written their own work and whatnot. The standard plagiarism software that crawls the web doesn't work here, so it's up to the tutor to work out whether or not someone has plugged in some commands to a chat bot to create the perfect essay.

So far, with such small classes, I haven't had to encounter it so far. Plus working in the Humanities areas of creative writing and the classics of English literature, the emphasis for essays is on individual takes rather than regurgitating facts. There has always been a bit of essay sharing stuff going on but that stuff is easily picked up.

My feeling is that a lot of students are relying on their final marks, as opposed to actually learning anything. High marks lead to scholarships, placements and doctorate awards. These awards are worth $$$K. So regularly handing in a perfect essay using a chat bot probably works for them. That's my devil's advocate argument. If you are paying a shitload for a degree, then why not monetise the said degree?

Personally, I see AI like ChatGPT as being useful for grunt work, and quite often women's work. That grant application, that letter to a politician, that job requiring vacuuming the lint out of corners. The demeaning or tedious work could be done by a bot. Toilets are a pretty good example. I'm all for bots cleaning our toilets. In education it gets spicier.

In intellectual property rights, it gets spicier still. I can ask ChatGPT to write a story based on Sarah Toa's A WineDark Sea and it will crawl the web, find my content and produce a story. No IPR are attributed to me but the 'writer' can add commands like 'make it funnier' or 'make it more heartfelt' and it will proceed to churn out a blog post pretty much the same tone as me writing. 

The local newspaper has been using AI for a while now. Like I said, women's work. They've been struggling for funding and/or advertisers and this is the easy way for the editor to go. It's ... yes it's awful ... but it's here.