One way to blank out the world is to de-clutter, and downstairs, 25 years of papers awaited the shredder.  Up first, old letters,  some humbling, others hateful. I’d written a column for the Listener which upset those who, to put it mildly, disliked Jews - and the  confluence of  dog-eared hate mail along with the slaughter in  a Pittsburgh synagogue  was disturbing. Worse was to come.  The Otago Daily Times reported  a racist  taunt  aimed at  a Southland Philipino family visiting  Wellington.  A woman greeted them by saying:  ‘This country is for white people only…"  So 1950s, but then racism, like rust, never sleeps.

 

1984 on a sunny Auckland day…

It’s  2  o’clock on  a day so sunny that it confounds Aucklanders accustomed to their city’s moodiness. There’s not a cloud to be seen and on the Waterfront Viaduct, families stroll, gorge on takeaways or just sit and, over a drink, watch the passing parade. Not far  away something much darker is on show in the stunning ASB Theatre. It holds  680  –  and is close to capacity.

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Milking Obama…

Crass materialism leapt brazenly out of the closet in New Zealand the 80s.   Money-making was elevated to high social status beyond public service. An American import, the dominance of the mighty dollar had already taken root in other countries. Business finally reached the pinnacle of prestige. Business books proliferated: business management, business leadership, how to succeed in business and, of course, business-speak.

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Alcohol kills nerve cells

Alcohol is a neurotoxin which means it kills nerve cells. Some of these cells are in our brain, and so alcohol kills these too. This is not good news once we already have dementia – we want to preserve as many brain cells as possible. Even without a dementia diagnosis, excessive alcohol has a range of effects on cognition, from mild to severe.

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Miscellany April

First an editorial confession. We’ve been in Oz, but no, there’s no ball tampering copy here, just this:

Condom machine graffiti: ‘ For refund, insert baby here’.

Aussies are not so much a weird as a witty mob at times. Where some residents with dogs might put up a sign saying ‘Beware of dog’, others choose to let passers-by know with much more precision. Take this for example:  ‘My dog can make it to the fence in 2.8 seconds. Can you?’

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Transgender troubles

Laurel Hubbard, the transgender weightlifter who will represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games, appears to be determined to compete yet thoughtful about the concerns expressed by her detractors. She asks them to ‘look at the bigger picture,’ yet seems unsure if the current laws on transgender participation will remain or evolve, perhaps more in line with the perceptions of athletes who look upon her participation as cheating.

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Arming teachers?

It may be that President Trump’s plan for keeping American students safe from gunmen is the right one, or at least the only immediately realistic one. Armed teachers and armed guards in schools is a scary thought from this distance but has anyone else got a better answer?

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Cook Strait Must Go!

In Stuff they ask the big question: is it time for a Cook Strait bridge or tunnel?

What a grand idea! Imagine being able to drive all the way from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Even if there exists no reason for any sensible person to ever visit Bluff. No, I don’t like oysters, thank you for asking.

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The Human-Induced Earthquake Database (HiQuake)

Who would have thought..?   We’re living on an egg shell and the data in this story from the independent  website (below)  confirms how fragile the planet is while indicating the damage done by us.

Nature magazine says that from mining projects to oil and gas operations, human activity has set off earthquakes around the world and in many geological settings.

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On the buses

When you ride on an  Auckland  bus, there’s no such  thing as a typical ride – not if you’re looking.

The entertainment is  not so much in  the city’s  sport  – that  never-ending version of  upmarket stock cars. A U-turn  perhaps – just in front  of the car speeding towards them? No worries. Drivers  career  backwards out of driveways into busy traffic lanes,  or  exit out of  entrance ways to  shopping centres.  Quite a few fancy  they can beat traffic lights too, often  with  predictable  results.  It’s  Auckland.

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