The best of The Spinoff this week

Bringing you the best weekly reading from your friendly local website.

Alex Casey: Long blacks for lads, hot chocs for ladies: what’s the deal with that?

“Gendering food and drink is all the rage these days, from National’s sausage sizzle innuendo to Whittaker’s new gender reveal chocolate bars. Blue for boys, pink for girls. Sausages for boys, clueless political chat for girls. It’s made some angry and some hangry, but the madness doesn’t stop at sexy solids. As a viral tweet recently reminded us, inane gender stereotypes can be just as readily applied to hot beverages, ascribing certain masculine and feminine qualities to your lovely morning cuppa.

For example, if I am with any form of man at any form of café, which happens at least once a year, my long black will first be offered to him without fail. Meanwhile, I am left with some milky, milky monstrosity that is frankly sexist because all it wants for my future is for my butt to explode in public. Determined to find out if I was alone in my frustrations, I reached out to hot drink consumers on the world wide web to gauge their experience with gendered java. Here are my findings.”

Alive Neville: Why is there still so much plastic in our supermarkets?

“But single-use plastic, as we all should know by now, is a problem. A big problem. In 2017, the first-ever global tally of how much plastic has been produced, discarded, burnt or put in landfills since the mass production of the stuff began 60 years ago came up with this figure: 8.3 billion tonnes. If that’s sobering, consider this: only 9% of it has been recycled. That’s right, most of it is still out there in some form – sources vary, but it can take plastic anywhere between 400-1000 years to degrade.

Increasingly, it’s in the sea. Each year, 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans and if we carry on at this rate, there will be more plastics than fish in there by 2050.

It’s fair to say it’s bad, then. And it’s been bad for a while.”

Danyl Mclauchlan: The best argument against lowering the MMP threshold? Winston Raymond Peters

“But my main problem with lowering the threshold is that it will also probably save New Zealand First, and it will make the New Zealand First model of politics so much more viable.

This is a model in which you fundraise from exploitative, extractive industries (fishing, forestry), campaign on populist issues (Peters’ flagship policies in 2017 were lower immigration, a referendum to ditch the Māori seats and to remove GST on fruit and vegetables), ditch all of your policies and issues as soon as the election is over, and use your position in the political centre to maximise your personal power.

It means Peters gets to operate as a de facto co-prime minister, he gets to veto any attempts to regulate his corporate donors, he gets to unilaterally change our long-standing foreign policy towards China without bothering to tell the actual prime minister, let alone the Cabinet, his deputy gets given three billion dollars to just give away to whoever he wants, and none of this has any mandate from the public whatsoever. Nobody wanted or voted for any of this, not even New Zealand First’s voters, but here we all are.”

The big moment of owning your first home. Photo: Getty Images.

The Spinoff: Tips for buying your first home, from Spinoff staff who’ve been there

“Buying a home is intimidating. Buying your first home can be terrifying. Once the adrenaline rush from bidding at the auction subsides revealing the burden of 30 years of debt, that exciting moment of owning your first home can leave you feeling like Atlas, a drafty four bedroom villa with renovation potential metaphorically sitting on your shoulders.

To help relieve some of that weight, The Spinoff has put together some tips from our personal experiences of buying your first home. This short guide provides some expert insight on who to talk to, what to look for, and what to do, to help you navigate this big moment.”

Emily Writes: RIP Luke Perry, the TV bad boy we all wanted to save

“Being a teenager is nightmarish but Dylan McKay somehow made it easier. He was “psyched” about everything but somehow his excitability just made him cooler at a time when being psyched about anything seemed a bit over the top.

He sold the absolute falsehood that you would be cool in high school. That you’d somehow do very little schooling and mostly just make out and ride around in cars with boys.

One day you’d get a man like Dylan and after the prom you’d make sweet love. You’d save him from his fledgling alcohol addiction.

Instead you likely lost your virginity to Sam while your uncle played ping pong in the room next door. I don’t know your circumstances, I’m just saying.”

Sam Brooks: Now that’s what we called 2009: Looking back at the monster hits of a decade ago

“No album, no compilation, no playlist could represent that better than the double-album monster that is Now! That’s What I Call Music 31. Thirty-six songs, not a single dud amongst them.

I have to be honest, though. In 2009, I was not the cultured man that I am now. I was in my first year at uni and considered a six pack of KGBs a worthwhile investment. I didn’t know good music.

But now, I do. I’m the culture editor. I edit the culture. I know good music, and I know that I was an absolute trashbag ten years ago. So, in the interest of transparency, here’s what I thought of these songs back then, and what I think of them now.”

Anna Connell: Dear Police et al: Your cutesy social media account is bad and foolish

“The Police argue it helps them “show what police were up to”. But does it really? So much of what the police do is awful, hard, dangerous, often gruesome, and heart-breaking work that requires painstaking attention to detail, integrity, force and authority. It’s not Instagram-friendly so instead we just see the fun, bright-side-of-life vignettes that paint a small, sanitised picture of the real work police do.

That small, sanitised, algorithm-friendly view, often whitewashes away controversy and soothes us into thinking that maybe we don’t need to maintain such  a robust and healthy grip on our rights to question powerful institutions.  There are many who still fear police and hold well-argued views about why they are wary of them. You could argue the relatable and fun police social media activity is a way to counter this fear but in the face of legitimate concerns about police power, it comes off as a bit glib.”

Alex Braae: How freaked out should we be about the measles news?

“I’m not going to go into the various arguments against vaccination, because according to an overwhelming scientific consensus and a massive base of research they’re wrong. But people who refuse to get vaccinated put the lives of those who can’t get vaccinated at risk.

This is not buying into an anti-vax argument either – for some the vaccines themselves actually are dangerous. There are those with severe allergies to components in the vaccine, which means it could kill or severely harm them. For others, getting a vaccination at a certain time can be a bad idea – for example, if they’re pregnant, or have an illness or disease which has lowered their immune system. We can’t blame these people for their predicament, but we can protect them.

How? Herd immunity.”

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Sam Brooks: In praise of Anika Moa Unleashed’s 20 year reunion of TrueBliss

“I’m on the record as being a huge fan of Anika Moa and Anika Moa Unleashed. The show has, time and again, proven her as one of our nation’s finest interviewers. In some ways, she’s the flipside of should-be-a-Dame Kim Hill. There’s a disarming frankness to her that has her interviewees saying more than they’d perhaps planned on saying. She makes the jokes that everybody knows are lingering, and deflates any tension in the room by naming them. It clears the air and makes things more comfortable for her, the interviewee and the audience.

However, I don’t even think Kim Hill could’ve pulled this off.”


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