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New Zealand Listener

New Zealand Listener Issue 43 2020

New Zealand Listener is the country’s most respected general interest magazine, bringing you a wide variety of news, stories, columns, reviews, plus TV listings, every week.

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52 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
obesity beaters

If there’s one pandemic issue at least as urgent for the new government as economic recovery, it’s reversing obesity. Even before the discovery that obesity and its complications make Covid-19 exponentially more deadly, New Zealand had achieved the distressing distinction of having the developed world’s second-highest proportion of obese children. Obesity’s fiscal drain – an estimated $625 million from the health system each year – doesn’t capture the worst of its tolls. To let children grow obese is to cruelly limit their enjoyment of childhood and almost inevitably to blight their future. Never fiscally costed is the bullying, lack of mobility and energy, depression, narrower job and leisure opportunities, embarrassing difficulties with situations such as using bus, aircraft and restaurant seats, and the social ostracism. Unicef’s latest annual obesity report found that in developed…

4 min.
gender bender

I agree with many of the points raised by author and scientist Debra Soh (Sex, science and stereotypes, October 17). A person should be able to identify themselves how they want, but it becomes a slippery slope if ideology replaces biology, science and research. Adults may wish to have gender reassignment surgery and are within their rights to make this choice. However, it is irresponsible for any parent to allow a child to start this permanent and life-changing process, rather than just providing a safe environment where they are free to express themselves how they want. Allowing biological men to self-identify as women creates an environment where biological women are at risk of losing sporting events, scholarships and their right to exclusively be around people who belong to a specific group. Although some…

1 min.
quips & quotes

“I’m going to retire and live off my savings. What I do on the second day, I’m not sure.” – Anonymous“USA Today says Trump and his entourage have infected or exposed at least 6000 people across five states – beating the old record set by Mötley Crüe.” – US comic Bill Maher“All too often women are marrying their glass ceilings.” – Caitlin Moran“No is a complete sentence.” – Jane Fonda’s advice to her younger self, quoted in the Week“Very nice, though there are dull stretches.” – Antoine de Rivarol on a two-line poem“You can have good grammar - or you can have friends.” – seen on Twitter“When I split an infinitive, god damn it, I split it so it stays split.” – Raymond Chandler to his UK publisher“Having to read…

1 min.
10 quick questions

1. From which activity does the phrase “hell for leather” originate? ❑ Rugby ❑ Horse riding ❑ Corporal punishment ❑ Early aviation 2. Which of these films was banned in New Zealand when it was released in 1979? ❑ The Amityville Horror ❑ Alien ❑ Mad Max ❑ Life of Brian 3. Digitalis, a medicine extracted from the toxic foxglove plant, is used to treat what? ❑ Tuberculosis ❑ Malaria ❑ Heart conditions ❑ Pneumonia 4. Which of these is a bedroom in an ancient Roman house? ❑ Culina ❑ Piscina ❑ Hortus ❑ Cubiculum 5. Which of these is another name for the prongs on a fork or rake? ❑ Tines ❑ Spurs ❑ Thorns ❑ Spines 6. True or false? A number of dogs survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic. ❑ True ❑ False 7. Which of these is more numerous in Australia? ❑ Kangaroos ❑ Humans 8. Who wrote in their autobiography: “I hate tennis, hate it…

3 min.
back on the rails

As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted by a global pandemic, there is a spectrum of responses to Covid-19. At one end are the deeply fearful – like the woman I encountered on a bush walk during Alert Level 4 who, seeing me approach along a track and with nowhere to go, planted her face in the moss-covered bank, all the better to inhale millions of fungal spores. I wondered if it might not have been less stressful for her simply to stay home, though politeness made me refrain from suggesting it. At the other end of the spectrum are the deeply conspiratorial who think the virus is manufactured, either in a lab – if they concede that the virus exists at all – or in the same TV…

3 min.
the mother of all plan bs

Perhaps because most of my Plan As fail so miserably, I have become a master of Plan Bs. Exit strategies, contingency plans, an extra pack of wipes and a couple of energy bars – whatever it takes to forestall the finality of failure is what’s zipped into my backpacks, both literal and figurative. I still want to live in New Zealand, but I’m starting to think, maybe for the first time ever, America needs me. It started when I was a kid, when I often found myself in places not of my own choosing, and so my first move upon entry was to locate the nearest exit. Avoiding my mother’s crooked finger beckoning me to come and meet someone whose second cousin I went to early childhood education with, sneaking out of…