Miscellany – September

Say what you will about Jacinda Ardern but we’ve rarely seen a polly who slips  so easily into disarming self- deprecation. It’s part of the appeal of the new Labour Leader who can rally supporters to come to the Labour launch at the Auckland Town Hall while adding: “There’ll be a special musical guest – and I’ll be laying out my relentlessly positive vision (is this getting annoying yet?”)

And then after a PS urging supporters to volunteer,  a PPS saying: “Hey Mum… this is me checking you’re reading all of my messages!”


Forget Trump. Think big. Think kitchen sponges. Yep, sponges. The New York Times recently  reported on research which showed that these were bacteria laden and generally resistant to kitchen purification. Enter Infectious Disease specialist Judy Stone, writing in Forbes. She pointed out that the research  involved just 14 sponges. And anyway, she asked, who needs clean sponges? – unless of course you are immuno-compromised. Clean or sanitised is just fine, she  wrote, adding:

“We also share germs with people all the time—while touching telephones or doorknobs, shaking hands, kissing, or having sex. Our toothbrushes sit around for months, breeding bacteria. Why worry so much about a sponge?

“Want to put something dirty close to your face? Try your cell phone. In a study of 200 healthcare workers, 95% of their phones carried nasty nosocomial (hospital-acquired) bacteria—including MRSA and resistant Gram negative bacteria that can cause serious infections”.  Read more at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/.


People are debating the important things in life like… Mike Hosking and the merits or otherwise of having him host political debates. Trouble is, while social media has empowered people, it has also lowered the bar. This feedback on Stuff  says it all:

“You  lost all creditability when you said Fox News lol.” Incredible but true.


Can anybody document hate? Pro Public,  a US website which works for journalism in the public interest,  has worked with the Google News Lab and a data visualisation studio called Pitch Interactive to build a web app that makes it easy to search news stories about hate crimes and bias incidents, and to find and track specific subjects. Here’s just a sampling of incidents from the past month:

But,  in Colorado Springs, residents held a “love lives here” rally in the wake of two hate vandalism incidents.

For more details, check out ProPublica’s Documenting Hate project.


And on  the lighter side:   A dyslexic man walks into a bra…..

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.