It's been a tough few days for the culture.
Māori Language Week played out in its now familiar pattern. It came and went with much lip service paid to its importance, but no commitment to making it compulsory in schools. Our history, it was announced late in the week, will be part of the national curriculum, but te reo Māori is not to get the same treatment.
Yet it's obvious why this would be a good thing. Just stack up the pros and cons. On the one hand, there are the reasons for being in favour of universal te reo – a blow against colonialism, great for the brain, strengthens our unique cultural identity. On the other hand, there are the reasons against – you're a bit racist.
Sadly, the government continues to resist. The money can't be found. It's being spent on other things. Yet the ROI from money spent on teaching te reo can't be overestimated. The te reo renaissance of the past few decades – as far as it goes - has returned to Māori some of the pride in their culture that colonialism extinguished. A people with pride will thrive and prosper, leading directly to improvements in all those other social measures in which Māori fare badly.
But it wasn't too surprising that Jacinda Ardern failed to come out with wholehearted support of te reo. From housing to a fairer tax system to the desperately needed reform of the penal system, her government has consistently failed to take the bold steps that would make a difference to many of our biggest problems. It does, however, seem to have a limitless supply of Band Aids it can use to make things look better without actually fixing what lies underneath.
I took my lab order form to where I always get my blood tests done and approached the reception desk. But there was no reception to be had. No one was there to do any receiving. Instead, a note I eventually found informed me, I could take a card with a bar code and a number on it, scan the card and wait for my number to be called. Except I didn't want to be called. I had a couple of questions to ask that would require a human to do the answering
Eventually a member of staff emerged from the bowels of the lab. Here was my chance. But, no doubt overworked, possibly underpaid and almost inevitably finding her day frustrating, she avoided any eye contact with those waiting and came and went in a flash. The second time she appeared, I was too quick for her and managed to get a simple answer to my simple questions.
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I'm sure doing away with the role of a receptionist is a great money-saver for the lab. But it's also another step in the accelerating march to remove people from any and all commercial interactions. I for one will miss the element of human contact that's traditionally been part of medical procedures.
The culture took another blow with the backhanded compliment paid us by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who bought two Mrs Mac's pies from a dairy between the Beehive and his private jet following a flying visit. What a slap in the face. Never mind the weirdness that someone who claims to eat only one meal a day should choose to break his fast with a mass-produced pie, the greater worry is that he might judge our world-beating pie industry on these notoriously stodgy items that are actually made in Perth.
And in foreign news, President Trump is considering a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes because they can kill innocent people. Just wait until he hears what guns can do.