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New Zealand Listener

New Zealand Listener Issue 45 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.
a show of strength

It can take Americans up to 10 hours’ queuing to cast a vote – but astonishingly, record numbers are lining up to do it anyway. The United States’ presidential election is both horrifying and inspiring in equal measure. Never in modern times have Americans’ democratic freedoms faced such terrible obstacles. Covid-19 social distancing combined with a woefully insufficient number of polling facilities have caused such harrowing queues that they act as a clear vote suppressant. Even more so when confronted with rival militia assembled in some districts to “oversee” the process, some supporting President Trump, with his express encouragement, and some with the aim of ensuring the pro-Trump gun-toters don’t intimidate voters. It would, until recently, have been unthinkable that militia of any sort would be present during voting anywhere in…

8 min.
road scholars

It certainly is an “electrifying time” (Editorial, October 31), but electricity is difficult and expensive to generate even when it’s from a sustainable source and must be used carefully. Yes, some of it should be running cars, but the question is, how many cars? Private cars have been an unmitigated disaster as a means of mass transit, not just because of greenhouse gas emissions, but also because of the high amounts of embedded energy from their manufacture, the number of people they have killed and maimed (more casualties than World War I), the distortions they force on urban design that make their use difficult to avoid and come at the cost of uptake and development of public transport, and their underwriting of an ethos of entitlement to a style of mobility…

1 min.
caption competition

WINNING CAPTION Keith Davidson, Blenheim FINALISTS Cruise: “Katie, back off! Hayley didn’t steal your look; I just like brunettes!”– Joy Malloy, Coromandel Cruise: “Okay, folks – room for only one ego here!”– Mike Hamblyn, Dunedin Cruise: “This movie has a credibility gap this wide!”– Mike Hamblyn Cruise: “Stand back for cruise control!”– Steve Godsiff, Timaru Hayley Atwell: “Remember the script, Tom! It’s demiplié first, then arabesque.”– John McLeay, Hamilton Cruise: “It’s a less impossible mission to part the Red Sea than cross the street et in Rome. But watch me – I’m immortal.”– Maurice Neesden, Paraparaumu Behind every successful man is a woman desperately trying to look shorter.– Judith Johnson, Nelson…

1 min.

“Because of all the Covid restrictions and the travel bans, I had to travel light – I could only bring half of me, and this is the half I chose.”– Adele to the Saturday Night Live audience on her 45kg weight loss“I’m starting to think that the Facebook status update I liked has had absolutely no influence on Government policy at all.”– Roger Quimbly on Twitter“Always be sincere, whether you mean it or not.”– US senator Charles Perry quoted in the New York TimesJazz is the only form of music that the musicians seem to be enjoying more than the audience.”– adage quoted in London’s Times“A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested.”– Tom Wolfe“The broad mass of a nation … will more easily fall victim to a big…

1 min.
10 quick questions

1. What was the nickname of notorious mobster Al Capone? ❑ The Alibi❑ Baby Face❑ The Alligator❑ Scarface 2. Which of these animals are hyenas most closely related to? ❑ Wolves❑ Bears❑ Tigers❑ Mongooses 3. True or false? The phrase “bury the hatchet” comes from the ceremonies of Native American peoples. ❑ True❑ False 4. The 1994 Australian film Muriel’s Wedding is set in which fictional town? ❑ Cooper’s Crossing❑ Fountain Lakes❑ Porpoise Spit❑ Bartertown 5. Which US president claimed: “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal”? ❑ Bill Clinton❑ Richard Nixon❑ Barack Obama❑ Abraham Lincoln 6. Which band’s hit song begins: “In the days of my youth I was told what it means to be a man”? ❑ The Bee Gees❑ Led Zeppelin❑ The Beatles❑ Queen 7. True or false? The word “daisy” comes from the…

3 min.
six and the city

Recently, I had a Zoom chat with Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College epidemiologist whose modelling caused the British Government to announce a lockdown back in March. He looked tired, like a man who’s been grappling for too long with complex figures that, however he adds them up, always make for unhappy reading. Ferguson didn’t appear overly optimistic that growing Covid-19 hospital admissions (more than 800 on the day we spoke) and deaths would be arrested by the Government’s three-tier system of restrictions. With these new guidelines, Liverpool and Manchester had been placed under the tightest curbs, tier 3, with most pubs closed and all non-essential travel ruled out. Elsewhere, large parts of the countryside are on relatively relaxed tier 1, though the whole nation is on an effective 10pm curfew, not to…