A boring death


Leaving town – two hours in a taxi,
hand clamped to the passport
compartment of my messenger bag.
Late evening head nods and rolls,
repeatedly I jerk awake.

Check-in not yet open,
weighed down with bags,
I hover over tomorrow’s news.
The happening,
I know nothing about,
hasn’t happened.

Aisle seat request granted,
special meal confirmed,
security anxiety as I grapple
and jostle ipad, iPhone,
laptop and kindle onto and
into grey x-ray conveyor.

Relieved of luggage,
I wander duty free,
stare at price tags
on luxury baggage.

Gate opens – wait to board,
last text checks,
kindle chapter read,
press boarding pass
between fidgeting fingers.

Seat found, ritual begins,
everything in place for
the dismissed seat belt sign.


Unclip, reach under seat,
open bag, flight socks on,
inflate neck cushion,
moisturize face and lips,
blanket over me,
eye mask with pinkish purple letters
reads: “Shhh – I’m sleeping!”

Sleep comes easier with experience,
sensory deprivation a must,
no in-flight entertainment,
just close my eyes and
mundane minutes and miles
melt into dreams.

Tonight red-eye sleep comes easy,
I welcome unconsciousness –
flight may pass quickly.
Is it just me? Or does
the whole cabin seem subdued?
I close my eyes…

Slipping into ignorant slumber,
I don’t know who controls the plane,
I don’t know where we may be going,
I don’t know why or what for.
Oxygen deprived sleep steals
all knowledge of this boring
Boeing death.

Having frequently flown via Asia, I couldn’t help imagining and empathising with those passengers on board MH370. It wasn’t my intention to speculate as to what may have occurred, but to reflect on the type of passenger I am. My thoughts are with the passengers and their friends and family who wait on firm news.


How do they respond?


How do they respond?
that’s what she wanted to know.

Eleven ton magnet hummed,
participants brains’ activ-
-ating to pictures of
faces, numbers, objects, words.

How did someone respond
to her research success?

They found a technicality in
musical notation.
Treble clefs had not been
ethically approved.

How did they respond
to this egregious complaint?

University investigated,
University reprimanded.

How did that someone respond
to their complaint’s success?

They wrote to the media,
announced her rebuke,
hinted, anonymously,
that she was involved in fraud.

How did she respond
to media accusations?

She requested her work be audited.
But regardless of the outcome,
reputational damage was done.

So how did she respond
with meaning in her life ripped away?

Her and her supportive husband
made a final protest,
needing to “retire from life”,
they left letters near their
dead bodies.

How did they respond
to such a tragedy?

The university conducted
a posthumous audit.
Eventually it ended –
no sign of fraud in sight.

Justine Sergent was a brilliant and talented researcher who was the first to discover an area in the brain that responds specifically to faces (now known as the fusiform face area). This research influenced my own PhD dissertation and no one will ever know just what we have missed by her early death (she was 44). Further details can be read here. Sadly, hers isn’t the only case of university ethics committees being used for harm, as documented here. Who indeed “guards the guardians?”