The most-read stories on The Spinoff in the year 2018

Amid the millions upon millions of views you gave to us – your friends – here are the stories you read most.

10. Leonie Hayden: Grateful horis and model minorities: why don’t we know we’re racist?

“Lately a lot of people have objected to the observation that cis-gendered, heterosexual, white, able-bodied men are over represented nearly everywhere that power exists, to the point where they now think they are the marginalised group (hint: they’re not).

I can’t help but wonder if it’s the newness of being named. In Western countries, being those things means you are born into a world that uses language that treats you as the default. You’re the only ones that don’t have to add extra words to the things that define you – Chinese-New Zealander, female director, trans mayor, Paralympian.

So when a minority culture has a name for you that you didn’t sign off on – cis, Pākehā – you immediately assume the worst. Is it because you know deep down that the language you use for people that are not like you is derogatory, so you assume it will be the same going in the other direction?”

9. Don Rowe: I got Instagram hacked by the fake Ray-Ban ads, and I’m mad as hell

There isn’t a lot of information online regarding the current batch of advertisements. They’re not, however, the first of their kind. Facebook, the mothership platform itself, was affected by a very similar “Ray-Ban” scam in 2017, 2016, 2015 and we can only assume all the way back to the dawn of time.

Alongside fake Ray-Bans, users on Facebook and Instagram have been exposed to ads offering cheap Yeezy’s, Rolex watches and Luis Vuitton bags, among other luxury goods, for at least half a decade. The legality and liability of the concerned parties is unclear.

In a 2010 US legal case, Tiffany Inc. v. eBay, Inc., eBay successfully argued it was not liable for counterfeit Tiffany products being sold on its platform. Though eBay had purchased Google adspace promoting the fake products, as the company doesn’t take possession of goods, nor does it directly sell goods, the case was not a direct trademark infringement, but a contributory trademark infringement. The court again ruled eBay was not liable, as the trademark right holder has the responsibility to police for infringement, not a middle man or on-seller. While French courts disagreed with the Second Circuit decision, the case set a precedent in US law for online retailers.

How that applies to platforms like Instagram who don’t facilitate the sale of counterfeit goods, instead advertising them, is another question.

8. Emily Writes: An open invitation to Mike Hosking

“So, it seems a bit redundant to write a piece about Mike Hosking’s latest ‘Mike’s Minute’ or whatever it is he actually does. It’s all just grist for the mill I guess. But his latest whatever it is popped up on my Facebook feed and when I saw how many friends were commenting on it, I thought I’d hear him out.

He asked the following question: ‘Is it fair to suggest the teacher responsible for teaching Level 3 Calculus be paid the same amount as the teacher painting pictures with a three-year-old?’

Now, any parent who actually parents will know that early childhood education is no walk in the park and the question is absurd. And ‘painting pictures with a three-year-old’ is not only not easy, but also it’s nowhere near all that a teacher does.

But men talking about things they don’t understand isn’t exactly new so why bother writing this column? Well, dear reader: It’s because I sincerely want to show Mike what kindy teachers do.”

7. Angela Cuming: Who the fluff is Blippi??

“It’s 3am on the children’s ward at Waikato Hospital and my son Henry can’t sleep. His fractured elbow hurts and he’s sobbing as I count down the hours to his surgery. He’s 30 months old, too little for grown up reassurances that everything will be okay, so I pull out my iPhone and, there in the lonely darkness, we begin to watch his favourite YouTube show. The tears stop. And the giggles begin.

The night nurse on her rounds walks in, looks at the screen and smiles. ‘Oh Blippi! I love him. Any time I see a child on this ward, they all watch Blippi, especially at night time if they can’t sleep or they are missing their parents. He’s like their special friend or something.’

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?”

6. Toby Manhire: What the shit is going on with those Clarke Gayford rumours?

“Everyone in media and political circles, Steve Braunias notwithstanding, has been gasbagging like mad over the last month about rumours related to Clarke Gayford, the partner of the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. Most of these conversations have resolved in the consensus that they’re substantially bullshit, with the honourable exception of high level political commentary from pseudonymous Twitter accounts with two followers.

Given the absence of evidence, no one has reported on this scuttlebutt. Until this morning, when David Fisher and the Herald, putting on their best morally upstanding face, broke the seal, in a piece headlined, ‘False Clarke Gayford rumours: Police and PM Jacinda Ardern respond to widely circulated fake slurs’.

The Spinoff, along with everyone else in the media, has been contacted this morning by the prime minister’s spokesperson, and by lawyers acting for Gayford, to stress that the Herald has not included in its report the false and defamatory claims. We’re obviously not going to do that either, although we will simply say this: has anyone ever seen Gayford actually kill a fish?

Here’s what we know so far.”

Tributes to Grace Millane at the roundabout in Titirangi, Auckland. Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

5. Emily Writes: Rules won’t save women

“If we followed the rules, we might be OK. Everyone talked about the rules. Don’t go out after dark. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t talk to older boys. But Kirsty Bentley was just walking her dog. It was 3pm.

Still, we were told about the rules. We all knew them. So why did girls just like us keep dying?

Today, a new generation of girls will head to each other’s houses, to end-of-year school catch-ups, with Grace Millane’s name on their lips, they’ll talk about the rules. The rules Grace would have known too, because she surely had her own list of names from her own home country.

Things don’t seem to have changed for these girls. We learned these rules from the adults around us. They taught us, whether they intended to or not, that the men who killed girls just like us were not wholly responsible. They made us believe that even the youngest girls were somehow partly to blame. After all, they didn’t follow the rules.

I wonder as more information comes out about Grace’s death what will young girls around New Zealand learn from adults? What have they already been told? About backpacking? About being out after dark? About talking to men?

And what will our boys and young men learn? What message will we be teaching our sons, grandsons, brothers, nephews – if adults start talking about the rules? The rules that don’t actually protect women anyway?”

4. The Spinoff: Do not change your clocks: NZ Daylight Saving shift fails due to ‘algorithm error’

“In an emailed statement, Haora Karaka of the New Zealand Office for Births, Deaths and Time, said: ‘Procedures put in place during an overhaul of the official time system in 1998, ahead of the Millennium Bug scare, required that the computer code was re-entered every decade.

‘That was overlooked in 2008 for classified reasons, but when the work was completed earlier this year, a user error saw ‘April’ misspelled as ‘Arpil’,’ she said in an emailed statement.

Jacinda Ardern said the government would take immediate action to address what several bloggers are already describing as the Labour government’s darkest hour. At least one social media user took to Twitter. ‘Messing with the time on a day when kiwis can’t even buy booze shows Socialist Cindy’s contempt for freedoms. #clockup’ said @LibtardNZ on Twitter.

The prime minister said a working group would be convened to look into the mistake. ‘Lessons need to be learned,’ said Ardern, who is pregnant.”

3. Emily Writes: The PM’s baby: all the worst takes so far

“I live in the most wonderful liberal bubble. It is here in my echo chamber that I hide from terrible comments from people with shit for brains. I don’t venture into comments sections anymore; I just don’t want to be knee-deep in pus. I don’t watch Hosking or any other outrage goblins – instead I hide among friends on Twitter. It’s wondrous and I think you should try it.

Because for just five minutes I ventured out and what I came across could win awards in the fucking are you fucking serious these people are actual fucking morons awards.

Here are the worst takes, and my responses. Because we should note down in the anals (yes anals) of history these terrible comments so that one day scientists might research how human-shaped sacks of dick cheese scrapings managed to somehow comment on a Stuff Facebook page.”

Happy Cow founder Glen Herud (Image: supplied)

2. Glen Herud: I founded Happy Cow Milk to make a difference in dairying. I failed.

“I’m a third generation dairy farmer. The milk business is the only business I know. Four years ago I decided to find a way to do dairy in a more sustainable way.

I know New Zealanders want this. They want the land treated better, they want rivers treated better, and they want animals treated better. And they would like the option to buy their milk in something other than plastic bottles.

I founded Happy Cow Milk to make a difference. But last week I had to admit to myself that I failed.

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I made the decision to shut down the business and I faced the hard truth that I haven’t really made any difference at all. So what went wrong?

In a country awash with milk – with so much invested – you’d think a few small changes would be easy. And you’d be wrong.”

1. Danyl Mclauchlan: Breaking news: Clarke Gayford reputation rocked by Herald allegations

“Early this morning the New Zealand Herald published a hard-hitting piece on Clarke Gayford, a fishing show reality TV star and the partner of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The story, which led the newspaper’s website and was announced with a ‘Breaking News’ banner, was written by veteran business journalist and columnist Deborah Hill Cone. It contained a number of serious allegations that raise grave doubts about Gayford’s reputation as a likable guy who likes fishing. Instead, the story alleged, the ‘first bloke’ is “vexing, ‘problematic’ and ‘cringey’. Hill Cone further alleges that Gayford’s first name ends with the letter ‘e’. If the revelations in Hill Cone’s piece are true, Gayford is far from the amicable figure he seems. It raises important questions about how much Gayford actually loves fishing, and whether he is secretly kind of like Betty Draper. You know, from Mad Men.

But an extensive investigation into Hill Cone’s story conducted by the Spinoff over dozens of seconds in the early hours of this morning casts uncertainty on the story’s findings. This in-depth reporting, which involved repeatedly looking at pictures of Gayford looking dreamy and happy suggests that, far from being problematic, Gayford looks like he might be an OK guy. Furthermore, rather than engaging in ‘the political equivalent of manspreading’ – as Hill Cone’s piece explosively claims – these inquiries reveal that Gayford looks kind of like an old friend of mine, which makes me kind of like him and feel instinctively that the Herald should leave him alone. How can Hill Cone maintain her charges against Gayford in the face of these findings?”


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