The one where you determine your city’s future

Monday 16th September – Issue #15

Shades with Michael J. Gray

Kia ora koutou,

Baby (or Bubble as we affectionately call him) is now getting into everything. That includes yanking stuff off our coffee table and pulling books out of lower shelves. My favourite thing is when he grabs a pukapuka (book) made of thick card, opens to a page, gives the page a few good whacks and then closes it again. My not so favourite thing is when he gets his mitts on a book that isn’t so sturdy and he tears at the pages or attempts to eat them. We’ll make a reader of him yet!

Ezra Whittaker-Powley/The Spinoff

Local Elections

We only get this opportunity once every three years so please make sure in the coming weeks to have your say in the direction you want your city and region to go in. This starts with electing your mayor, councillors, charitable trustee, regional councillor, and District Health Board members.

The Spinoff has a lot of local elections coverage, funded by the member’s program (you’re welcome). They have also released their Policy Local tool. Having previously canvassed political parties for the 2017 election, the tool covers everyone running for local positions (well, those who responded). Covering specific policies it does a much better job than the brief blurb you’ll get in the candidate brochure you’ll be sent with your voting papers. I wanted to attend a candidate’s meeting in person but it just wasn’t feasible. They really ought to do a live stream or recording in future.

Review

2040/Madman Films

2040

2040 is Damon Gameau’s follow up to his glitzy doco on the downsides of sugar, That Sugar Filmand imagines a world in the year 2040 where we have used the technologies and practises of today to reduce the impacts of climate change. But much of these practices aren’t yet widespread so he travels the world to see what he can learn.

2040 is Damon Gameau’s follow up to his glitzy doco on the downsides of sugar, That Sugar Filmand imagines a world in the year 2040 where we have used the technologies and practises of today to reduce the impacts of climate change. But much of these practices aren’t yet widespread so he travels the world to see what he can learn.

Rather than the scare tactics style of climate change films like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Damon’s goal with this film is to go much more optimistic and to find solutions for a world his daughter can safely grow up in. There’s certainly room for both approaches, especially when trying to make change, but this film might land easier on some people who might otherwise only see the hopelessness of our situation and just feel powerless (I know, I’ve been there).

Damon travels to Bangladesh to see how small villages use shared solar power systems to have control over their own electricity. In rural Australia, he talks to farmers about regenerative farming and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere instead of releasing it through destructive agricultural practices. In the United States, he talks to a scientist on marine permaculture and how farming a particular seaweed can rapidly suck up carbon as well as being a food source. Also in the US, he looks at a car-less future and replacing car parking with green spaces and autonomous ride-sharing. 

While some of the special effects are cringe-worthy they do help to illustrate complex systems, but then there are the ones used for just the sake of visuals, like miniaturising an expert to have them speak while driving along a Monopoly board. I understand climate change isn’t the most interesting of topics to talk about but at least have the visuals relate to the actual purpose of the thing.

2040 is a worthwhile film and educational resource. Now what remains is seeing if we can make this ‘fact-based dreaming’ a reality.

Patrick Gower: On Weed/TV Three

Watching

  • With the cannabis legalisation referendum in 2020, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Journalist Patrick “Paddy” Gower aims to change that with a two-part documentary on cannabis in Patrick Gower: On WeedThe first part of which is available now, and covers medicinal cannabis. I’ve not been a fan of Paddy in the past (especially his recent interview with literal neo-nazis) but this doco, at least the first part, was really good. He meets ‘green fairies’ who provide medicinal cannabis illegally, travels to places in the US and Canada where cannabis is regulated and confronts whether, had he known what he knew now, might’ve helped ease his mother’s pain before she died. It’s tough stuff.
Tim Urban/Wait But Why

Reading

  • Wait But Why has been on hiatus but for good reason. Tim Urban has been working on a massive essay collection titled, The Story of Us, all about sociology and why the world is the way it is, complete with his trademark stick figure drawings. The first few chapters are available now and more are being released every week. I love Tim’s work and have truly missed it while he wasn’t regularly putting out essays. The way he explains incredibly complex theories with humorous drawings and diagrams is not to be missed.
     
  • Sasha Borissenko wrote for Noted on taking part in a Landmark course in That time I spent $1000 to better myself and how she feels it takes advantage of people in a vulnerable state. Back in 2012, I participated in the Landmark forum, a refresher course, regular meetings and a local group in Upper Hutt for a while. They say they don’t pressure people to refer on to others but they definitely do and expect you to bring people along to sessions and essentially blame you for taking an experience that has helped you and not wanting someone else to get that too.

    I remember the constant phone calls after the fact too, like a telemarketer that won’t quit until I finally worked up the courage to tell them I didn’t want to be called anymore. Looking back at it now and knowing more about Scientology I can see the similarities; probing your memories to go back to the very root of your issues. There were some interesting ideas sure, but there is no way now I would recommend this instead of proper counselling or therapy.
Telling Lies/Annapurna Interactive

Playing

  • In follow up to Her Story, Telling Lies (iOS/Steam) relies on the same concept of using keywords to search for video files and piece together a narrative. While Her Story focussed on one individual in a police interview room, Telling Lies follows four people out in the world where you can only hear one side of the conversation. I can’t explain why it was so addictive but I finished it in two days, filling up a notepad with names and aliases and keywords to search up later. You would think watching a bunch of jumbled up clips would be a nightmare, but the way this is done leaves just enough breadcrumbs to follow to make sense of it all.
     
  • Celeste came out early last year but this month the team at Matt Makes Games (now Extremely Ok Games), were able to put out one last chapter thanks to the game’s reception and the team’s passion for the game. That’s another 100 levels and 40 minutes of music, for free no less. Celeste is a tight 2D platformer tied together with a surprisingly heartfelt story about anxiety and depression. It transports the basic mechanics of TowerFall into a proper platforming adventure (sans bow and arrow).

    I reinstalled Celeste to get my hands on this Chapter Nine only to not see it when I booted up the game. I wondered if I had to download a separate DLC file or if there was a delay on PS4. Turns out I hadn’t actually finished the epilogue. And to even access it you need to collect four blue hearts that are extremely tough to find (I resorted to a walkthrough to unlock the chapter). I blew through hundreds of lives but eventually made it through the fiery hellscape. It’s a good kind of punishment and from what I’ve experienced of Chapter Nine: Farewell so far, it doesn’t let up.
Music For Staying Warm/Justin Wright

Listening

  • On a recommendation (I can’t remember where sorry), an ambient album by Justin Wright titled Music for Staying Warm. Without vocals and highlighting gentle string instruments, it’s melancholy but still relaxing to write to while we’re coming out of this cool period and into Spring.
     
  • For Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week), a number of New Zealand artists came together to create a compilation album titled Waiata / Anthems, featuring popular kiwi songs re-recorded in te reo Māori. With recognisable songs it’s quite the trip.​

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please consider the environment before printing and start your own kelp farm.

*eats paper*

Michael