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New Zealand Listener

New Zealand Listener Issue 46 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

4 min.
wood for the trees

It’s an awkward thing to have to point out to a new Government with such a commanding mandate, but it’s starting off with two vital policy settings that are badly out of alignment. New Zealand’s climate-change goals are far too reliant on forestry. Instead of reducing carbon emissions, we’re attempting to off set them. Although beneficial for a host of reasons, including soaking up greenhouse gas, forests can themselves become a climate problem. Rock band Coldplay long ago discovered the pitfalls of carbon sinks when, having encouraged fans to join them in investing in a large carbon farm, they discovered 40% of the trees had been left to die. Although this was a cowboy carbon farming rort, it underscores why trees are only part of the long-term solution for climate change. Carbon sequestered by…

8 min.
stroke of misfortune

The November 7 cover story (“Help!”) lists the symptoms of many illnesses for which early recognition and appropriate help are essential for a good outcome. Under strokes, it repeats the standard signs and advice captured in the acronym FAST – facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call emergency services. Having suffered a stroke last December, I can vouch for the failure of such a simplistic approach. I initially suffered from dizziness and slightly unbalanced walking. Two hours later, walking was more difficult and I could not write clearly. At the emergency clinic and at the hospital, they were sceptical that I was suffering from a stroke until they asked me to walk. I now have a right arm with little movement and a poor outlook and I’m gradually regaining the…

1 min.
quips & quotes

“Politicians are people who, when we can see light at the end of the tunnel, order more tunnel.”– UK banker Sir John Quinton“I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means ‘put down’.”– Bob Newhart quoted online about Trump’s supporters“Experience is a terrific teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.”– Minna Antrim, quoted in the Week“Start every day with a smile and get it over with.”– WC Fields quoted in the Independent“I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire engine.”– Kurt Vonnegut, quoted in the Week“We’ve never had anything like this amount of early voting. It’s good because you know what they say – the early bird…

1 min.
10 quick questions

1. Which of these legendary creatures is often depicted at the top of totem poles in North America’s Pacific Northwest? ❑ Wendigo ❑ Thunderbird ❑ Horned serpent ❑ Rain bird 2. Which TV show’s theme song begins: “Baby, if you’ve ever wondered, wondered whatever became of me”? ❑ Gilligan’s Island ❑ The Mary Tyler Moore Show ❑ WKRP in Cincinnati ❑ The Golden Girls 3. Which of these phrases did not originate in New Zealand? ❑ Beyond the black stump ❑ Be away laughing ❑ Pack a sad ❑ Box of fluffy ducks 4. Which of these actors has not played the Joker, archenemy of Batman? ❑ Jared Leto ❑ Cillian Murphy ❑ Heath Ledger ❑ Cesar Romero 5. Which leader popularised the term “iron curtain”, meaning the political boundary in Europe? ❑ Winston Churchill ❑ John F Kennedy ❑ Nikita Khrushchev ❑ Ronald Reagan 6. When Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his cap,…

3 min.
what friends are for

’Twas the weekend before lockdown and everybody in Berlin was planning one last supper at a restaurant or a last night in a bar before everything shut down again on Monday. Germany got away comparatively lightly during spring’s first surge of coronavirus infection in Europe. But this autumn, the Continent’s most populous nation is seeing a frighteningly rapid rise in cases – more than 14,000 a day and climbing – sparking concerns about an upcoming lack of intensive-care beds. Berlin wins the dubious distinction of having the most infections per capita in the country. That’s why, on November 2, the German capital’s bars and restaurants closed again for a month. Cue last weekend’s frenzied, damn-the-torpedoes-style socialising. “It’s like the new apres ski,” a colleague quips, as we pass a line of middle-aged…

3 min.
raising the bar

Where were we? Ah, yes – I was shamelessly promoting my book on Captain Charles Upham VC & Bar, which makes the point that had Charlie been awarded every VC he was entitled to, he would have been Captain Charles Upham VC & Bar, & Bar, & Bar, & Bar, & Bar, & Bar, & Bar. He would have been the Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Roger Federer of courage. As it was, Charlie complained that the sheer weight of all his medals on his chest ruined the cut of his best suits. An additional six bronze bars would have completely herniated his jackets. Since we last spoke, I have been to the Tauranga Arts Festival. One of the organisers, a lovely middle-aged woman called Sandra, collected me from the airport and…