MediaJune 16, 2019

The best of The Spinoff this week


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

Amanda Thompson: A love letter to my crockpot

Once when I was younger and stupider I thought I didn’t need a crockpot. I thought they were the laughable domain of Tupperware-hoarding suburban housewives. Oh how I laughed at those housewives. A friend actually persuaded me to swap this one for something of mine; it was clearly something of lesser value than this pot, like my soul or a bar of gold, because I no longer remember what it was. My friend perhaps realised she had gotten a bum deal on the swap because the crockpot has outlived not only that memory but that entire friendship. This baby has cooked through some life, man.

Alice Webb-Liddall: A brief history of women removing all their body hair

The 1940s and World War II brought a shortage of nylon, so women were more likely to shave their legs because stockings were harder to come by. Bikinis became mainstream in the late 1940s, and coupled with the popularity of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine, encouraged the hairless pubic area. Hair removal was usually a job for a razor until Brazilian waxes arrived in western countries.

The first salon offering Brazilian waxes in the US was established in the ’90s, and the market boomed after pop culture icons started sporting the completely hairless look, like Carrie Bradshaw waxing her downstairs on an episode of Sex & the City.

Since the 1920s female body hair has largely been under attack, labelled as unnatural, and shaved or torn from the follicle by those of us just wanting to not be singled out as ‘unhygienic’. But recently the social media space has given platforms to women who are pushing against the hairless ideals.

Steff Green: ‘This year I’ll bank over $200k’: a NZ writer on actually making money

“Last year – my first year in business after quitting my day job to write full time – I published five books and grossed $125,976.53. This year I’ll bank over $200k. Next year… let’s just say I have big goals.

I’m not saying that to skite, but because I want writers to know what’s possible. I’m not a household name. I’m not topping the bestseller lists or having gold statues of myself commissioned by foreign dictators or seeing quotes from my books made into Instagram memes. In the realm of indie authors, I am small fry. I am a publishing house of one.

How am I doing it? I’m putting readers first. I’m giving them more of what they want, and having fun doing it. What I’m not doing is clinging to an outdated publishing model from the Great Depression. I’m not in the business of selling stacks of paper bound with glue. I’m giving readers what they’ve wanted all along – stories.”

Al Noor mosque under armed police officer patrol on March 22, 2019. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images).

Anjum Rahman: Thanks for the offer but I’d rather not debate my own humanity

“We, the POC in the room, apparently should have sat and listened to those two professional attention-seekers abuse us and then given them the dignity of a response, for the purposes of ‘debate’. As if they were interested in debate (refer to my last column – they were only here to make money). As if my humanity is a matter of debate. As if my life isn’t already filled with people talking to me or treating me as if I am less than.

As if the solution to marginalisation is to expect marginalised people to debate those who openly practise hate against us. As if somehow we who have the toughness to live through the racism of space and body – to withstand structural and institutional racism along with the casual barbs of prejudice and bigotry – are somehow too soft, too easily offended, too intolerant even. As if we’re the ones who need our minds opened.

These points were delivered as if we hadn’t heard or rebutted them before. As if these same old arguments hadn’t been rehashed over and over and over and over again. Every time someone publishes a racist cartoon. Every time we have a ‘controversial’ (i.e. overtly bigoted) overseas speaker. Every time the Free Speech Coalition gets the whiff of a media opportunity.

We were told that we should have subjected ourselves to these two clean-cut, presentable white provocateurs, and debated with them. Well, where’s the challenge in that?”

Jess Berentson-Shaw: Amber beads are bullshit, and other parenting quackery debunked

“So OK, I have to admit I had no idea what on earth it is that amber beads were supposed to do for a teething child, but since I know a bit about this researching lark, I went ahead and did a bit. Turns out they are supposed to relieve teething pain. Not by chewing on them, but apparently by releasing analgesic oil into the skin when worn as a necklace. The active agent is something called succinic acid and this is only found in true Baltic amber. However, a study of Baltic amber teething necklaces in Australia found that while there were trace amounts of the acid, the only way it was released was when the beads were smashed, and even then it did not have sufficient anti-inflammatory properties to make a difference to teething pain.

There is not a single published randomised control trial to test the claim that amber beads work (always a red flag for bullshit, as usually there will be at least one study on any intervention making such claims). Even if Baltic amber beads worked (and let’s be clear, they don’t) many of the beads commonly sold are not even Baltic amber. The worst part about amber beads is they pose a risk of either strangulation or choking on the beads if the necklace breaks. While this risk may be small, the impact is pretty severe. So really, amber beads: total bullshit.

Evidence it works: 0/10″

Alex Braae: Mitchell McClenaghan dreams of getting back in black

“It’s telling that out of all of the many shirts worn by cricketer Mitchell McClenaghan, his favourite one is still the black shirt of New Zealand. But he’s been forced to watch the Black Caps play in the World Cup in England from the other side of the world; and he has had to find himself a day job.

The fast bowler controversially turned down the offer of an NZ Cricket contract in 2017, to pursue opportunities on the international T20 tournament circuit. It hasn’t been a bad call at all, with McClenaghan recently playing an understated but important role in the Mumbai Indians winning the extremely lucrative and competitive Indian Premier League. In the final he sent down four overs for 24 runs, holding the Chennai Super-Kings underneath the required run rate in an eventual 1 run win.

That was about a month ago. Now he’s coaching people at F-45 gyms around Auckland, without any confirmed contracts to look forward to. He hasn’t got a call up at this stage for the T20 Blast in England, or any of the other various leagues he’s played in around the world. It’s quite a turnaround, from the absurd bling and glitz of the IPL, to getting up at 4.15am in the morning to get to his day job.

‘I’m currently unemployed as a cricketer, so I’m shitting bricks,’ he told The Offspin podcast. ‘I’m not feeling confident about any of it, to be fair. What I’ve learned the most over the last couple of years is that it’s a fickle game.'”

Insulation companies say landlords have run out of time to meet the government’s July 1 deadline. (Photo: Getty).

Don Rowe: Two weeks from the rental deadline, the insulation industry is at total capacity

“The regulations, passed by the National government in 2016, require landlords to install underfloor and overhead insulation in rentals unless it was ‘either physically impossible to insulate, or would require major renovations to do so’ by July 1 on penalty of a $4000 fine.

2018 MBIE report estimated there were between 126,000 and 220,000 houses left to insulate as of December last year, with industry capacity for 50,000 to 60,000 properties each year. Now, six months later, businesses across the country are almost incapacitated by the workload, and MBIE says there are no extensions available under the RTA as it would be ‘unfair to those landlords who have acted in time to do the right thing’.

‘The requirement to insulate was widely publicised in 2016 when the changes to the RTA were made, and Tenancy Services has worked hard to ensure landlords are aware of their responsibilities by running an extensive information and education campaign,’ said Peter Hackshaw, acting national manager, Tenancy Compliance and Investigations.

‘Landlords have had ample time and information to get the required work done and failing to comply is not only unlawful, it also exposes tenants to potential harm by not having a home that is warm and dry enough during the winter months.’

Researchers from the University of Otago estimate poor housing costs the country more than $145 million annually in preventable illness and injury. In 2015 Otara toddler Emma-Lita Bourne’s death was attributed in part to the damp, cold state house in which she lived. Last year Dr Lance O’Sullivan reported visiting freezing homes with water running down the internal walls, where children were contracting third-world illnesses.”

Sam Brooks: I went to a men-only ‘networking’ lunch and lived to tell the tale

“On the day of, I was ready to cosplay as a lad. I’d borrowed some brown khakis from my co-worker, I’d cut my hair short (serendipity of my six-week haircut schedule, but still counting it) and I was freshly shaven. I could be in a Speight’s ad! And not one of the new woke ones, I mean a 90s Speight’s ad!

I got out of my ride share, and walked into acclaimed restaurant Masu for the first time. I was given my cocktail, a Kabosu Moscow Mule, and took a spot at the bar. The bar area, fairly small, was wall-to-wall with guys in dress shirts and suits. Proper dress shirts and suits, we’re talking Barkers and above here. Not a Hallenstein to be seen.

As I stood at the bar, making sure to staunch up my shoulders and elbows as much as possible, I took out my mental woke check-list and did some ticking off. I was primed to catch some casual sexism being lobbed about, maybe a racial slur, or a drop of the f-word (the gay f-word).

And… I got nothing. It’s almost like going into something with the lowest, worst expectations isn’t a fruitful mindset.”

Duncan Greive: The Auckland mayoral hopeful and the journalist

“Using promoted social media posts is hardly novel, yet using them to attack specific journalists over their columns is a new frontier for modern relations between politicians and the media. Tamihere says he considers Twitter to be a beltway scene in New Zealand, and that he will principally use it for his own amusement. ‘You’ll start to see me winding up in it. Teasing folk like you,’ he says.

Marketing consultant and Newsroom columnist Anna Connell drew attention to the promotion, calling it, probably half-seriously, ‘an aggressive and unique Twitter advertising game we could all learn from’.

There are three and a half months until the election.”

Keep going!