A sugar free NZ

March 6th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Joe Bennett writes in the Dom Post:

Boffins at the University of Otago have tested the blood of 3000 randomly chosen people over the age of 15.

Seven per cent of them had diabetes. That’s over 200 people. A further 18 per cent had early signs of diabetes. That’s over 500 people. Together, they’re more than a quarter of the people tested. That’s an epidemic.

Meanwhile, across the ocean at the University of California, more boffins have been bent over the test tubes and the stats. As you’d expect, their study dwarfed the local one.

They analysed the incidence of diabetes in 175 countries. Effectively that means everywhere. And they found that if the amount of sugar in a national food supply goes up, so does the incidence of diabetes. …

As for education, every youth in the country has been bombarded with dietary advice from here to my Aunt Fanny. They’ve been told about five-plus-a-day, the evils of burgers, the wonder of veges, the joys of exercise and the way to radiant health. The result: the chubbiest generation in the history of our species.

So, if people cannot be taught to do themselves good, they will have to be forced. We need to set a date by which New Zealand shall be sugar-free: 2025 feels about right. Then we need to work towards it.

Bennett is being satirical, but I suspect there lobby groups will soon be pushing for this!

Money’s always a good place to start. There needs to be a tax on sugar, a tax that rises automatically and drastically at the start of every year. That’ll get them yelping.

Next comes plain packaging. We all know the sophistication of the marketing buggers, how they hook kids on to brands by association. Well, brands will be dead.

In the fizzy-drinks business, for example, there’ll be no more Pepsi or Coke or Fanta or Mountain Bloody Dew, with their pretty colours and their brand insignia. No, they’ll all just come in plain metal tubes labelled “Flavoured Sugar-laden Poison”.

Schools will become sugar-free zones. In the period before abolition, lollies will be hidden from view in dairies and sold only to over-18s. Anyone supplying sugar to minors will be liable to a fine or a term of imprisonment.

Parents eating icecream in front of their kids won’t just get a finger-wagging. They’ll have their kids taken into care. And it will all be enforced by us, the sugar cops.

Joe shouldn’t write the Green Party manifesto for them!

Waiter vs Waitress vs Waitron

September 22nd, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

An amusing column by Karl du Fresne:

After wittily skewering the pretentiousness that frequently characterises restaurant reviews in newspapers and magazines (and of which I’ve probably been guilty myself), Joe confronts the terms “waiter” and “waitress”.

He notes that the “ess” suffix has fallen out of favour, supposedly because it’s demeaning. Disappointingly, he seems to capitulate on this issue when I would have expected him to put up a fight.

Although acknowledging that he has never met a waitress who said she found the word demeaning, he nonetheless turns his attention to the quest for an acceptable, gender-neutral alternative and comes up with “waiters”.

This term, Joe writes, describes their job precisely and is by definition sexually non-specific. But alas, “it has been deemed unsatisfactory by the people who resolve such matters. It seems that usage has smeared the word permanently with testosterone.”

He then pounces with glee on the preposterous neologism coined to get around this non-problem – namely, “waitron”.

I’ve seen this term used occasionally and assumed the usage was tongue-in-cheek; a satirical poke at the political correctness that now contaminates the English language. How could it be otherwise?

But no; it appears the word is making a serious bid for acceptance. It’s not in my 2005 edition of the New Zealand Oxford Dictionary (though the hideous “waitperson”, a word that almost justifies the reintroduction of capital punishment, is). However we have seen silly, gender-neutral words infiltrate the language before, and a googling of “waitron” indicates it might be gaining ground.

I’m with Joe when he laughs this ridiculous word off the page. He says there are only four words he can think of that end with -ron: cyclotron, electron, neutron and moron. “One is a machine for boffins, two are sub-atomic particles, and one describes the character who invented the word waitron,” he writes. Classic Bennett.

Heh. If someone put on their CV they had been waitron, I would not hire them on principle!

I agree with Joe that there’s nothing degrading about being described as a waitress – or an actress, for that matter. The words waitress and actress simply acknowledge the reality that these people are intrinsically different from their male counterparts.

Does anyone think less of Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep or Julia Roberts for being called actresses? Any discriminatory connotation exists only in the minds of crazed ideologues. …

But there’s more to it than that. The English language is a wondrous tool that enables us to narrow down meanings and nuances very precisely.

One of the purposes of words is to create mental pictures and impressions. A writer or journalist using the gender-neutral terms waiter or actor leaves the reader in doubt as to whether the person in question is a he or a she.

This can be a crucial distinction. If I were to write that I had chatted up a cute waiter in a Courtenay Place bar it would create a very different impression than if I had used the “ess” suffix.

Either scenario is highly unlikely – but it illustrates why people who use words for a living should fight like fury to prevent the English language from being de-sexed.

Someone should start a group on Facebook!