Illustrations by Toby Morris

The best of The Spinoff this week

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

Duncan Greive: With $38m on the table, TVNZ suddenly remembers how to do public broadcasting

The state-owned broadcaster has long resisted public service. Yet with $38m on the table, and the government’s relationship with RNZ rocky, moving Q+A to primetime could be be seen as a deftly timed olive branch.

Toby Manhire: Has Simon Bridges trickled to the right of David Seymour and Jordan Williams?

“If Bridges is genuinely now positioning himself as a Trickler, rather than the more mundane explanation of a Monday morning gaffe, he’s trickled well to the right of some formidable local thinkers.

For example, ACT leader David Seymour, a door knocker and a toe-twinkler, but not a trickler. ‘This expression is a pretty standard fantasy of the political left,’ he’s said. ‘Not so much a straw man as the left’s imaginary friend. There is no such academic theory.’

Rightwing blogger David Farrar is all about the mischief and polling for the National Party, but he’s not about to talk trickle down. In fact: ‘The left have invented this theory, so they can claim it is what the right believes in, so they can them campaign against it.’

And Jenesa Jeram of the free-market thinktank the NZ Initative is having no bar of this trickle down nonsense, either.”

Alex Casey: What happens to all the tampons and pads when they leave us?

“My boyfriend rang me that afternoon, laughing uncontrollably after calling out a plumber who was probably, definitely called Barry. Turns out I had blocked our pipes right the hell up with Tammy P’s. It was a job so severe that Barry couldn’t use his regular pump, and had to go home to pick up his super-uber-hydraulic pump that probably looked like this.

The ordeal cost $700 and caused a lot of confusion for me. In the aftermath, I frantically asked every bleeder I knew how they got rid of sanitary waste and if they knew where it went. Some scoffed that flushing is completely fine. Some nearly spat on my shoes for even suggesting a flush solution at all, boasting about carrying their waste tucked away on their person like some sort of travelling womb salesman. Others just shrugged and didn’t want to talk about it at all, which was weird considering we still had at least 25 minutes left on a packed train ride home.

Nobody really had a straight answer, so I set out to discover what really happens when we say goodbye to our T’s and P’s.”

Don Rowe: How an online casino is exploiting a legal loophole to prey on Kiwi gambling addicts

“‘I’ve been trying to stay off the website,’ I told my new friend. ‘I’ve been having problems spending too much of my money.’

‘Mhmm,’ he replied. ‘But have you won major? Have you won big?’

‘No, I haven’t won major or big, I was losing a lot of money and starting to worry about how much I was gambling.’

‘OK, what I’m going to do is, you say you’re losing money, I’m going to try and do my best for you to make that money back and even more.'”

Hannah Gibson: The illness people can’t see: living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

“If I could have ripped my skin off, I would have. My clear, healthy looking skin. This was the thought that preoccupied my 10-year-old mind. I wanted people to see the disease that was making me so very sick. I wanted recognition. I didn’t want to feel like I was faking it because I couldn’t prove it.

I constantly felt like my skin was branded with some invisible ink, a patchwork of question marks nestled among the freckles. I thought, ‘if they could see the pain, they’d want to help me more than they do’. I lost my confidence in doctors who were supposed to make you feel better, to heal the trauma, to ease the suffering.”

Andrew Dickson: I took NZ weight loss pill Calocurb and the side effects were… disturbing

Developed by New Zealand plant scientists and funded in part by a $20 million MBIE grant, Calocurb is being marketed as a major step forward in appetite-control treatment. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? Weight loss industry expert Andrew Dickson gave it a try.

Russell Brown: Bike-curious: A novice’s guide to buying your first e-bike

“If you already ride a bike, especially as a commuter vehicle, you’ll find switching to an e-bike lets you get places faster and much less sweatily. (This was recently proved beyond all scientific doubt by the Herald’s in-house cycle rat Tristram Clayton.) If you don’t currently ride a bike, or you own one but commute by car, this might be what changes that. The cost of the electricity is negligible – you’ll get two months riding or more for the price of that cup of coffee. Also, e-bikes are really fun.

But the “what for?” question is important in another way. Generations of New Zealanders have been sold unsuitable bikes by big retailers, and their lives have been blighted by the experience of trying to ride cheap, crappy, knobbly-tyred mountain bikes on the road. If you just want to ride on the road, buy a bike for that.”

The Spinoff Review of Books: The 50 best New Zealand books of the past 50 years: The official listicle.

“There were fascinating differences between the experts’ list, and the list as voted by our readers a few weeks ago. The readers by and large were suckers for fiction. The experts allowed for a lot more non-fiction, or “important documents”; there were popular studies of who we are and how we came to be, and books which acknowledged New Zealand as a nation built by two peoples, with Redemption Songs by Judith Binney, Te Puea by Michael King, and The Treaty of Waitangi by Claudia Orange all making the top 20. Special mention here for Civilisation at number 30.”

Rebecca Stevenson: Breaking: we’re treating our minimum wage workers like crap

“Ahh, the minimum wage. It can be seen to be either a floor to ensure employers don’t try to pay us for our labour with only the smell of success and a sense of purpose for merely having a job, or as a target that employers must meet.

If you’re looking at the minimum wage as a target, you could be one of the employers unmasked this week as blatantly advertising jobs under the minimum wage rate on job boards targeted at backpackers.

That looks bad.”

Emily Holdaway: Stop butchering te reo Māori pronunciation – our kids are listening

“My son is two and a half years old. He is a blank parchment, ready to absorb the ink of words as they form around him. He can say simple words like truck and clock. He can say less simple words like menstrual cup. He can say kōwhai and whero, though he still trips up over ‘rima’, which sounds more like ‘lima’. But he’s only two and a half. We read him Watercress Tuna and The Children of Champion Street and he parrots ‘pareu’ and ‘ula’. He asks for “the kūmara and kete” book, and we read to him The Kuia and the Spider.

And then we turn on the radio or TV and our efforts are eroded by airwaves full of mispronounced Māori words. Why-cat-oh. Tauw-poh. What-a-what-a.

And my son’s absorbent brain soaks it all up.”

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