On being curious

The worst part of being curious about the world around us is wishing you weren’t so nosey. Take ‘world leaders,’ for instance. Trump and Putin come to mind immediately, but let’s not be too exclusive. Erdogan, Netanyahu, Duterte and Kim Jong-Un are screaming to be let in to the upper echelons of the international Mongrel Mob. And there are countless other certifiable leaders begging to be awarded their patches.

Mugabe’s maniacal stare may be no more but someone equally effective at imposing terror on the populace has taken his place. The constant world-wide attention desired by this tier of dangerously nutty leaders is stymied by a dearth of publicity. They haven’t mastered the intricacies of social media opportunities yet. Being backward in that line myself I can understand their frustrations.

Elsewhere, the good bad news is that to its credit Boston’s Catholic priesthood (USA ) is challenging Ireland’s record for the number of child abuse victims. This is good news because it means the havens for child molesters are becoming increasingly unsafe.

The big news in New Zealand? The free speech haters running Massey University banned Don Brash from taking part in a debate. They could at least  have picked on a credible target. Poor old Don, as if there’s anyone left who doesn’t know what he believes. We see similar views in letters to newspapers all the time.

We have also been treated to a pick and mix gender identity story.  In the Otago Daily Times last month, Scout Barbour-Evans  supports the proposal to make it easier to change the gender on birth certificates. She thinks having Female on her birth certificate is wrong. She stated, “I’m pregnant. My child will be calling me dad.” Beats me.

And while we’re on the subject of  birth certificates, apparently it is going to be made easier for single mothers to collect a benefit without naming the child’s father. Wonderful news for the mother, so long as she can live with the lies she tells her child. Not that calculating mothers are alone in being self-serving.

The media, investors, and others, let out a collective howl of anguish about the minuscule drop in property values this week. This may puzzle less important citizens foolish enough to believe that we have a housing crisis brought on by outrageously high property values. But what do I know about complicated investment stuff? So let’s get back down to earth.

Remember when Varroa mite, you know, the honey bee parasite, was imported? Yes, it does seem a long time ago. And yes, that was before we imported mycoplasma bovis to knock off the cows.  Well, even the mass slaughter of cows can’t hog the headlines for long these days, not with the cracking pace of other bio-security risk imports pushing for attention. The latest being the apple and stone fruit industry. The Ministry of Primary Industries has put out a directive to destroy 47,000 apple and stone fruit plants. There are 32 nurseries and 17 orchardists affected. It seems the risk of imported pests and diseases was not ascertained when this plant material was imported  – six years ago.

Some members of the industry are challenging the directive because the available evidence is paper-based and not an actual biosecurity risk. Which presumably means they’ll be happy to comply when the orchids start rotting.

Okay, I’m being negative. So here’s a positive earth-bound story: My grandson and I were entranced by a big, tank-like machine that was operating in our road the other day. By some magical means of hydraulics and water, this machine, called the Ditch Witch, was sending out a worm-like drill hundreds of meters underground, “Through and around rocks and everything,” without anyone getting a spade out or even a mechanical digger. Amazing!

But here’s what I want to know: When is someone going to invent a toilet roll you can open without shredding it?

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Chris Horan

Chris is a former social worker, probation officer and Family Court counsellor, living in Hawea in the South Island.