The best of The Spinoff this week

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

Angela Cuming: Who the fluff is Blippi??

“If you don’t have young children there’s every chance you have never heard of Blippi, but the video superstar is a hero to millions of children the world over with his fun videos and catchy songs racking up more than three billion views on YouTube alone.

And now, the former US Air Force Serviceman is set to become a household name with a potential Netflix show smartphone app and a live show in the works. So exactly who is Blippi, and why do kids – including mine – love him so much?”

Hayden Donnell: When anti-1080 activism grew noisy, and got ugly

“You get this snowballing crescendo of hysteria and conspiracy and science denial and hyperbole where, in order to keep on getting the likes on Facebook, each statement has to be more fantastical, more hyperbolic than the last,” said Dave Hansford, the author of Protecting Paradise: 1080 and the Fight to Save New Zealand’s Wildlife.

“This is the whole fake news phenomenon. They used to be happy with simply misrepresenting studies or cherry-picking research or just denigrating scientists … but more recently that clown car has just like careered off this on-ramp to crazy town. People are no longer concerned with keeping even one fingertip still on a fact anymore. Now they’re happy to just make shit up.”

Hayden Donnell: Separating fact from fiction in the 1080 debate

Facebook is flooded with rabid anti-1080 activism, but the poison is the only barrier between many of New Zealand’s native species and extinction. Hayden Donnell goes into some 1080 facts.

Madeleine Chapman: A soon-to-be-deleted look at New Zealand politicians’ worst tweets

“There’s no greater marketing tool than the words ‘This Tweet has been deleted’. The thrill of imagining what once was and is no more. Then the smug satisfaction of knowing it will never be truly gone because if it was a Tweet worth deleting, someone definitely screengrabbed it. Tweets never die, instead they’re repurposed into memes that will serve as rebuttals to anything disagreeable the original Tweeter might say for the rest of their cursed online life.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted a video last week with the caption “QT was on fire today [fire emoji] Good work, team.” The video itself was fairly mundane – members of parliament raising their hands during parliamentary question time – but the soundtrack set it apart…”

Leonie Hayden: Let’s not forget that Māori women had the vote long before Europeans arrived

To mark the anniversary of women’s suffrage, we republish this essay from International Women’s Day 2018 by Ātea editor Leonie Hayden – how Māori women can find their way back to equity through the stories of the past.

Danyl Mclauchlan: There’s a solution to the great NZ tax rort. But Cullen’s group can’t touch it

“This isn’t the first or even the fifteenth time some group of experts has considered a capital gains tax as a policy solution to New Zealand’s tax system. Every few years some international agency does an audit of our economy and financial infrastructure (last year, it was the International Monetary Fund) and they always say the same thing: ‘Not bad; we’ve seen worse – but your lack of a broad-based tax on capital is terrible. You REALLY have to fix that because its distorting your economy, leading to dangerous levels of household debt and killing your productivity.’

But nothing ever happens.

What’s the actual problem here? And if it’s so terrible, why don’t we fix it?”

Henessey Griffiths: NZ Idol winner Ben Lummis on fame, hummus and Michael Murphy

“Looking back, 2004 was the golden era for New Zealand television. We were so blessed by great faces appearing on our screens, such as DJ Vinyl Richie, Drew Neemia, Erin Simpson – it truly was the best of times. But since 2004 was such a long time ago, so many of these familiar faces have seemed to fade away into obscurity. As many of these personalities move onto their new ventures of hosting the weather on 1 News, others have seemed to take a step back from the spotlight, while the rest of New Zealand slowly forgets about them.

But I don’t forget.”

NZ FIRST LEADER WINSTON PETERS IN AUGUST 2017. PHOTO BY HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES

Liam Hehir: Why are the woke set not battling to de-platform Winston Peters?

“The year 2002 seems like a distant memory now. If you were around back then, however, you might faintly remember the stirrings of what could have become a cordon sanitaire around NZ First. ACT, which then had some relevance, kicked it off by declaring it would not share a cabinet table with the party. Helen Clark followed swiftly thereafter, citing NZ First’s “offensive and daft policies”.

Since then, of course, Labour has shared power with New Zealand First twice. Between 2005 and 2008, the arrangements excluded the Greens and stopped short of formal coalition. Since the last election, Labour and NZ First have been in coalition (with the Greens in loyal support).

It seems that NZ First is considered respectable now. So what changed? Not NZ First. Shall we review?”

Emily Writes: Bert and Ernie are gay and I will fight you if you say otherwise

“For reasons that will never be known to us, Sesame Street has always denied the fact that Bert and Ernie are gay. But on Sunday, Mark Saltzman – who won seven Daytime Emmys for his work as a writer on Sesame Street – said in an interview in Queerty that our favourite puppet gay icons are in fact, gay. He talked about how Bert and Ernie are modelled on himself and his longtime late partner, Arnold Glassman. The Sesame Workshop put out a shitty statement that erased queers Bert and Ernie, wrongly stating that muppets ‘do not have a sexual orientation’.

The internet exploded. Many people felt the need to argue that the man who made Bert and Ernie was wrong. But he’s not wrong. Here’s a take-down of all the dumb arguments.”

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