Back Again Talking Rubbish

Recycling woes, Doc Edge Festival, Backbone One and Make It 16.

Kia ora,

So I’m starting this thing back up again. If you’re keen to stay on board, thank you. Otherwise, if you’re shocked to see this in your inbox after such a time, I won’t hold it against you if you want to send this hurtling straight into the trash. More on trash later on in the piece.

Has it really been one and a half years since my last newsletter? I could’ve been raking in that sweet, sweet Daddy Blogger cash this whole time. I suppose I still can. My little one is only two years old… And no it’s wasn’t Lorde’s newsletter that got me back here, though I did buy Days Bay tickets.

Upper Hutt hates recycling, apparently

This probably won’t mean much to you unless you live in Upper Hutt, but the city council have once again decided against kerbside recycling in our latest Long Term Plan despite 53% being in favour. Forgive me while I go on a little rant here.

This is a slap in the face when Lower “Hutt City” has just rolled out recycling bins for every household. Recycling drop-offs are not accessible to those with disabilities and they require you to have a car. Putting aside the fact that recycling is near the bottom of the waste pyramid, this simply shows just how much value we place on our environment.

“Figures released under the Official Information Act show Upper Hutt residents are dumping 175kg of waste per annum in the Silverstream Landfill and only 20 per kg per person is recycled.  In contrast, Lower Hutt recycled 80kg per person.” Stuff, March 2019

In 2019 I attended an evening at Ōrongomai Marae calling to get kerbside recycling back in Upper Hutt. Not only did I get to hongi Eugenie Sage, the Minister for the Environment at the time, but we had councillors Angela McLeod and Chris Carson showing their support, as well as our now Greater Wellington Regional councillor, Ros Connelly.

“That means Upper Hutt City Council will be one of just two local bodies in the Wellington region that does not operate a kerbside recycling service. South Wairarapa, Masterton, Carterton, Lower Hutt, Wellington City and Porirua councils all do so, while Kāpiti District Council does not.” Stuff, June 2021

We share the Silverstream Landfill with Hutt City and while they’re trying to reduce items going to landfill, Upper Hutt just doesn’t give a toss whether a 100% recyclable steel can of Wattie’s Spaghetti ends up in the ground or is turned into something new.

What I’m watching

The Doc Edge Festival is about to wrap up. I managed to check out five docos of interest using their online platform. You have until July 11th. Hot tip: If you’re going to see five films, use the code My5At20 for 20% off.

Wuhan Wuhan is about the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. Rather than focusing on the government’s much criticised response to the pandemic, the doco instead focuses on five individual stories, about the doctors, nurses and patients and citizens in lockdown. It’s perhaps worthwhile knowing this going in.

Before the virus escapes to the rest of the world, we see a mother and her son living in a makeshift hospital, a psychologist lifting spirits, a young couple with a baby on the way, and nurses and doctors working long hours to save their patients.

Sabaya focuses on an ongoing rescue operation in Syria to save Yazidi women, held as sex slaves by ISIS. The documentary follows two men from the Yazidi Home Center who liase with female “infiltrators” inside the camps. The rescue operations, often done at night are tense and the women just get away by the skin of their teeth. Unfotunately we don’t get many glimpses inside the camps during daytime as understandably its much too dangerous, but the women, who are mostly freed slaves themselves, risk so much going back inside. I would have appreciated hearing their stories.

MLK/FBI is a documentary in the classic sense; full of archival footage, documents and interviews. It’s the most footage I’ve actually ever seen of Martin Luther King Jr. and this documentary delves into the FBI’s surveillance campaign to keep a tabs on MLK and his activism.

High Tide Don’t Hide covers the 2019 New Zealand campaign for School Strike 4 Climate. Following teenagers leading the strikes around the country, including national campaign coordinator, Sophie Handford (now elected to the Kāpiti Coast District Council as the youngest council member in New Zealand, at 18). The doco also features campaigners from the coastal town of Thames where their own council is reluctant to acknowledge climate change.

The film also dives into the criticism of the School Strikes being overly White, scheduling the first strike for the same day as Polyfest and not working with Pasifika, when sea level rise, droughts and storms are already taking over islands like in Kiribati. As a result, Samoan poet and activist, Aigagalefili Fepulea’i-Tapua’i, co-founded 4TK (4 Tha Kulture), a Pasifika advocacy group from South Auckland and called out the strikes. In later protests, the School Strikes attempted to highlight Māori and Pasifika voices but from recent news of the Auckland chapter of School Strike 4 Climate disbanding, it’s clear work is still needed.

Children follows five Palestinian children in occupied Palestine, with Israeli soldiers constantly patrolling the streets, provoking, attacking and interrogating its citizens, including children. It is no surprise then that many of these children become mobilized, whether broadcasting via social media or directly confronting the soldiers.

The recent attacks on Gaza have left destruction that will take years to rebuild and the hospitals are still in need of support. If you can I recommend donating to UK-based aid organisation MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians).

What I’m playing

The Backbone One is a gaming controller made for iPhone where you carefully “snap” your phone in place. I do feel like I’m going to break something each time I stick my phone in there. But it’s a solid piece of kit and it works nicely, taking cues from Nintendo with the clickiness of the buttons. There’s also a whole ecosystem, letting you launch games directly from the Backbone app, as well as integrated screen capture and a friends list (not that I have any, le sigh).

The most annoying thing about the Backbone is it’s not stocked by US retailers, let alone in New Zealand. You have to order it directly from their website. Mine was shipped from China and only took a few weeks but that shipping fee was not pretty.

The praise I’ve seen abroad is what convinced me to pick this up. Yes, I already have a Nintendo Switch which does basically the same thing and has a wider variety of games available. But see here friend, I’m “future-proofing”. Yes, that word I use to convince myself I’m not wasting my money on a purchase. Cloud gaming is obviously the future, with Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming (together becoming the Netflix of games) likely to mean you don’t have to purchase a gaming console ever again. Of course, right now New Zealand isn’t one of the lucky participants, but give it time.

So besides playing again through cozy farming RPG, Stardew Valley, and some neat Apple Arcade titles, I also have access to my games on PlayStation 4 using Remote Play, and PC with Steam Link and Rainway. I’ve tried it over wifi from another location in Upper Hutt. It works but it is best connected to the same router, so perfect for sitting on the couch with something else on the telly.

What you can do right now

In keeping with the Doc Edge theme, Make It 16 is a Doc Edge Original, a doco short available for free on YouTube. Based on the campaign of the same name, to lower the voting age to 16.

I’m a supporter of this cause and I have good reasons why. For starters, many 16-year-olds work and pay taxes and already have other legal rights. The point of democracy is to cast a wide net, making sure people of all stripes are involved in the process. Without young people being able to vote, politicians have little reason to back bills that help them. Getting young people involved in civics education early will also help to engage voters and reduce low voter turnout.

As outlined in the doco, New Zealand lowered our voting age to 18 when young people protested the Vietnam War. Climate change is going to dramatically shape our young people’s futures and yet their only recourse is school strikes. Not to diminish the school strikes, as they absolutely do capture attention, but as seen in the film High Tide Don’t Hide, again young people’s voices are still being silenced.

Spoilers, but the campaigners failed at the High Court, with the court essentially saying it isn’t their job to choose between ages 18 and 16, and there hasn’t been enough discussion about the issue. The court didn’t actually have anything negative against the campaign.

The Make It 16 campaign has now launched a petition to once again start the conversation as they take their cause to the Court of Appeal.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, take it right to the High Court.

Michael.