Saturday, August 18, 2018

Another date meme

The meme above was all over social media this past week. It’s cute and clever enough—and irrelevant for this part of the world. Unusually, however, I was able to come up with some ways to adapt it for our reality—and, make it better, too.

Most of the special dates like this that the USA gets all excited about don’t work here because our date format is Day-Month-Year (as opposed to the USA’s Monday-Day-Year). The format used in New Zealand is common to the majority of the world’s countries, and the USA’s, well, it isn’t. However, the USA has always dominated the Internet and the media, so it’s pet memes are widely spread.

However, in this case I think this definitely works to our advantage. Instead of the someone awkward—and frankly inelegant—number sequences of 08/18/18 8:18, we have two far better alternatives.

First option: 18-08-18 at 18:08:18 (6:08:18 pm). That’s the one I personally like. Or, we could have 18-08-18 at 08:18:08 (8:18:08 am). Two chances in one day to have a date meme—top THAT USA!

Seriously, I’ve said many times that I like number sequences, and these are no different—and I really do like the versions for our part of the world much better than the USA’s. Naturally, I didn’t actually observe either.

I think I was awake at 8:18:08 am this morning, but I may not have gotten up then (I don’t pay any attention to that on weekends). At 6:08:18 pm I was watching the TV news. At neither time was I thinking about memes.

But since tomorrow is the 18th in the USA, it’s still important to get to say that—for once—we got the better date meme. Next time, maybe I’ll be able to make my own meme, too.

Advertising NZ diversity

New Zealand’s banking sector has been making great strides in promoting diversity in their business, and one of the areas that’s most visible is in their television advertising. In fact, TV advertising in general is more inclusive in New Zealand than many other countries, and that, too, is especially true in bank ads.

The ads that banks run are typical of much of the advertising on New Zealand television: The ads depict people of many different backgrounds, including different cultures, different races, mixed races, and LGBT+ people. This is a relatively recent change, and very subtle.

I’ve only seen TV ads in New Zealand for the couple decades I’ve lived here, so I don’t know what was on before that. And, when I first arrived, many of the ads were originally for the UK, USA, or Australia. The ads made for New Zealand have reflected both Māori and European people, with Pasfika people featuring, too. But it’s recent years we’ve seen immigrants included, and LGBT+ people, too. Again, banks are leading the way.

Consider an ad from last year, “Bank of New Zealanders” from the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), New Zealand’s second-largest bank by assets:

The ad shows varieties of different New Zealanders, and at 24 seconds we see woman look at her phone and then run out of a lecture hall. What that’s about becomes clear at 43 seconds. The first time I saw the ad was literally a, “Wait, what?!” moment because, to be honest, I don’t usually pay that much attention to ads until I see something that I personally connect with.

Last month, ASB, New Zealand’s fourth largest bank by assets, began running a very unusual series of ads, especially the 60 second version:

The 30-second version is a little less odd:

There's one scene that stood out for me, and those people were in one of several 15-second versions of the ad:

I haven’t seen that particular 15-second version, and I also don’t know whether it’s been broadcast on TV or not. In fact, the only 15-second version I remember seeing is a severely cut down version of the first three—and it doesn’t include the couple that caught my attention [WATCH].

These ads aren’t particularly unique, but they are ads that are on television right now (apart, maybe, from the 15-second one I’ve included in this post). Also, all NZ's biggest banks have included diversity in their advertising; they’re just not running ads that include LGBT+ people at the moment.

The important thing about this is that the ads in this post are representative of how diversity is shown in TV ads in New Zealand, regardless of industry. At the same time, though, what makes these ads particularly notable is that they’re from banks, which traditionally are slow-to-change businesses. If banks can adapt to the diversity of modern New Zealand, it’s no surprise that other industries do, too.

New Zealand is not perfect by any stretch: We still have people who complain about diversity, or just particular groups. As a society, we have a long way to go. But the fact that diversity is being shown in even bank ads shows how far we’ve come in embracing our modern New Zealand. And that’s definitely worth advertising.

Friday, August 17, 2018


Today the “Queen of Soul”, Aretha Franklin, died. One of those rare people who are can be talked about using only one name, Aretha was loved by generations of fans. She will be missed, but she also left a huge legacy.

I thought about what to say, since I usually comment on the death of someone well known, but I don’t have any relevant personal stories. Also, I wasn’t exactly a fan, even though I liked a lot of her songs. When I was a kid, living in a middle class white Republican bubble, I even kind of disliked her because I perceived her as being a Democrat. I grew up and everything changed, and my appreciation for her grew, too. I learned what an important symbol and inspiration she had been for so many [Related: “In Franklin’s anthems, women heard an empowering message” By Jocelyn Noveck, AP]. That in itself matters a lot.

All of the people who loved her and her music would be far better than me in commenting on Aretha’s death. Like President Obama, for example, who said this on his Facebook Page:
America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father’s congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.

Aretha may have passed on to a better place, but the gift of her music remains to inspire us all. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. Michelle and I send our prayers and warmest sympathies to her family and all those moved by her song.
I’m sorry that Aretha has died, and even though we all knew it was imminent, it’s no less sad. But she left us with a huge legacy, so many great songs. That’s such a great thing, something we can return to anytime we want. That’s the thing about beloved performers. They may leave us bodily, but their work will always be with is, and because of that, so are they.

Farewell, Aretha. You earned that Respect.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Animal day

Today was an animal day. Well, most days are, actually, because they often do things that are endearing, interesting, funny—on just filled with life. Any or all of those are good.

Last week, I ordered our groceries online, but this week I shopped in person, and at a branch I don’t normally go to. But it was necessary because the furbabies needed food, too, and there’s only one place I can get that.

I buy their food at a pet store chain, and they have locations in both Pukekohe, where I usually go (and prefer to go), and also in Takanini. However, Bella’s specialty food is only sold from a vet, and only the Takanini store has a vet. So, I had to go to Takanini.

It’s actually a very annoying thing: The food Bella eats is designed for her kidney condition, but there’s no drugs or restricted substances or anything like that in it, so there’s no reason it can’t be sold literally anywhere pet food is sold. By restricting sales to a vet, it creates artificial scarcity, which keeps the price artificially high—very high, in fact. I could order the dog food online, but not the cat food—that vet thing again.

So, I had no choice but to go to Takanini. I’ve written before about the area and why I don’t like it as much as Pukekohe. In fact, there are only two stores in Takanini that aren’t in Pukekohe (a Bunnings Warehouse and the pet store with the vet), so I rarely need to go to Takanini.

I got home slightly before school let out, unpacked the car and put the groceries away, and gave Leo his new (synthetic) bone I’d also bought. He absolutely loves chewing the old one we have, one I originally bought for Jake many, many years ago. I bought the new one because every once in awhile Sunny chews on it, and Leo doesn’t like that. Another reason is that we bought the old bone when Jake had nearly chewed up his original one. I think we waited too long, and Jake never really “took” to the new bone. I thought maybe having two on the go at once might make both those things better. Maybe.

I even played with the dogs this afternoon, so when Nigel got home late afternoon, they—Leo and Sunny in particular—were still riled up. Leo had Sunny chase him around the yard at breakneck speed, which Nigel enjoyed watching. It’s nice to see them play together like that.

All four furbabies get along well, actually, although Bella can sometimes get a bit grumpy these days. She really is getting older.

And that was my animal day: Most of what I did was because I needed to go to a store I don’t normally go to, and that was for Bella in particular. It turned out to be a good day. The furbabies always make it a good day, actually.

Love, New Zealand Film – and more

The video above is an ad promoting what some of the money spent on New Zealand’s Lottery goes to. The video above is about the films that have received NZ Lottery money, but there’s more—a lot more—to the story.

There are several ads that promote different things that NZ Lottery money funds. All of the profits—the money left over after expenses and, of course, paying out prizes—goes back to fund things for the benefit of New Zealand. Film and television production is one of those things (and, full disclosure: I haven’t seen all the films in the ad, and I don’t even know what some of them are).

A related video series called “Good On You” talked in more detail about things Lotto helps fund, though they weren’t ads as such. For example, the latest one, about funding for various projects that help Kiwi communities:

Last year the TV ad that was running was about funding for community sport, and that ad used a different approach than the ad about film funding:

When the ad about New Zealand film first started airing, I meant to share it, and then forgot—probably because it stopped playing frequently on television. It recently began airing again, and when I went to the Lotto New Zealand YouTube Channel to get the video, I saw the others, and, well, one thing leads to another, doesn’t it?

There are people who don’t approve of Lotto because it’s a form of gambling. It’s not about moral objections (though we have a tiny minority who do object on those grounds), but, rather, because some people can develop gambling problems. Lotteries promote what I’ve heard called “unreasonable expectations” because most people won’t win the big prize. While most of us would think that fact was obvious, there are some who worry a lot about those who don’t understand the long odds.

There’s an old saying that one should never gamble more than they can afford to lose. Most us, though by no means all, can afford a little flutter on Lotto. For most of us who play, Lotto is just a bit of fun, a small investment in a fantasy of what we might do if we did win, even though we know we won’t. But, what if we DO!

And, because people do play Lotto, there’s money available to be distributed to communities and creative efforts all across New Zealand. And they’ve made some pretty great ads along the way, too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Twitter’s twilight?

Twitter seems to be lurching from one public relations disaster to another, but growing tired of shooting itself in the foot, it now seems to be aiming squarely at its own head. The service may now be in terminal decline.

Twitter used to be my favourite social media service, something I frequently mentioned here on this blog. There used to be all sorts of interesting conversations, along with silliness and even useful information. It was, in other words, varied and even eclectic, but positive overall. Those days are over.

I don’t when Twitter started turning into the toxic sewer it’s become, but I really noticed it in the run up to the 2016 US elections when there were so many people being so horrible—or, so it seemed. It turned out that the toxicity was coming from Russian government trolls and bots trying to sow hatred and division to make it easier to elect the Russian government’s chosen candidate, the Republican nominee who ended up become president.

Even after we learned about the extent of the Russian interference, Twitter didn’t change. Like a well that’s been poisoned, it was very difficult, even impossible, to make Twitter safe again. It’s never recovered, and the anger, bitterness, and aggression, from the Right and the Left alike—has continued apace.

To be sure, Twitter had problems long before 2016, and people were horrible to other people before then, too. In 2014, for example, Green Party supporters in that year’s New Zealand elections were horrible to Labour Party supporters, who all too often returned the favour. And Twitter constantly resisted any and all efforts to get them to take responsibility for harassment and bullying carried out on their platform, and, more recently, their slowness to deal with hate speech.

But now their downfall may be coming because of something that is both surprising and not at the same time: Twitter’s staunch refusal to ban the insane conspiracy freak who was booted off of Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and even Disqus (the commenting service I use for this blog). This is surprising because, to be blunt, that guy ain’t worth it. It’s not surprising, however, given Twitter’s laziness about dealing with hate speech and also harassment: The lunatic has been victimising the parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook, but that’s apparently acceptable to Twitter.

The other reason that Twitter defends the lunatic is that they have been the constant target of rightwing activists who moan and complain, as the always do, and claim they’re “victims”, as they always do, because, as they always claim, they’re being “discriminated against” because they’re conservative. Yawn.

In response, particularly in the wake of the rightwing’s latest rage over imaginary demons, the fake “Twitter ban” controversy, Twitter is reportedly mounting a “charm offensive” to win over rightwing opinion leaders. They can’t woo rightwingers and ban the lunatic at the same time.

What is a good and decent person to do? Activist Shannon Coulter came up with a creative response: A mass blocking of all Fortune 500 corporations active on Twitter—in other words, reduce Twitter’s ad revenue:

The way it works is that Twitter users subscribe to Shannon’s list of accounts, all of which are blocked. Then, if Twitter bans the lunatic, all the account will be automatically unblocked. Simple. But I have a feeling this is the last stand before mainstream Twitter users start leaving the service.

The problem here is that if Twitter abruptly reverses itself and bans the lunatic, the Right will explode in fury, as they always do, and even those who despise the antics of the lunatic will nevertheless express outrage and declare that Twitter has “proven” their pet conspiracy theory, namely, that Twitter “hates” conservatives. Yawn.

On the other hand, if they don’t act, mainstream users—and especially anyone even slightly Left of Centre—will conclude that Twitter values rightwingers—even lunatic rightwingers—more than mainstream people. They’ll vote with their keyboarding fingers and leave the service.

So, no matter what they do, Twitter will lose users and the ad revenue those lost users represent. If they don’t ban the lunatic, they’ll be seen as having no integrity and/or courage. If they do, they’ll be accused of—well, lots of stuff, most of it unhinged, as always. This has the makings of a death spiral for Twitter.

Facebook, meanwhile, is facing its own share of harsh criticism. The main thing saving them is that they’re not AS bad as Twitter, but they’re also slow and reluctant about dealing with problems, so they could get themselves into similar problems—IF there is a replacement for Facebook. The lack of an alternative is probably the main thing that’s saving them at the moment.

For the first time since the social media age began, it’s possible to imagine it ending. People like the social interaction with friends, and if a service came along that figured out how to cater for that without repeating the mistakes of Twitter and Facebook, it could become the next king. Or, people might just move on. If that seems impossible, then just think back to the time before social media: We managed then, so we can manage again. Maybe.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

In support of our teachers

Tomorrow, New Zealand’s primary and intermediate teachers are going out on strike for the first time in 24 years. They are seeking greater pay rises than the Ministry of Education has proposed, as well as more non-teaching time to reduce burnout. They’re worth every cent they’re asking for—that’s not in dispute. The question, as always, is where will the money come from?

The video above from the NZEI, the teachers’ union, puts the current reality for teachers into sharp focus: Fewer people are training to become teachers, which will inevitably lead to shortages of New Zealand-born and trained teachers—especially when we factor in the teachers leaving the profession due to low pay.

The government says it has no more money this budget year, but they promise to make progress on making up for nine years of neglect under the previous National Party-led government. I have no doubt they will. But in the meantime, our education sector remains in crisis.

I’m a strong backer of unions—I was in one for a time, after all. However, this is the second high profile strike after nurses went on strike last month. Those are two areas that National cut funding for when it was in government (a fact they continue to deny, using weasel words to explain away the falling funding brought about by moving shells around). However, there’s something that really bothers me: Why NOW?

National was in power for nine years and they cut finding for both education and nurses, yet the unions didn’t strike. Why not? It was probably reasonable to fear retaliation, but had they gone on strike then, they may have been able to prevent some of the damage the National government’s underfunding caused.

By striking now, so early in the Labour Party-led government, they help reinforce the news media pundits’ narrative of the new government being incompetent and unable to govern. Had they waited as much as a year, of course, it would have already been in the run-up to the next election, and that would be worse.

So, my complaint is really just why didn’t they strike under National when it could have helped prevent so much damage?

Nevertheless, as I said, they deserve every cent they’re asking for—and far more. I hope they get what they want, and soon. But I also hope they don’t damage the government too much in the process, because the harsh reality is that they’ll do far better under a Labour-led government than under one run by National—although, Labour does have to prove that. I hope they do prove it.

The video above screened on TV tonight; I don’t know if it was a one-off or part of a larger campaign. But I think it’s very effective and deserves to be seen.

An unusual week that was

There have been many times I’ve mentioned being busy, so that’s not an unusual thing. It’s also not unusual to be swamped with work or projects around the house. This week it was all of that, plus one more: We went out three nights this past week. That combination was very unusual—but nice.

On Monday night, Nigel and I went to a screening of the documentary Celia about Celia Lashlie part of the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) at ASB Theatre, which is down at Auckland’s waterfront. It was the first time we’d ever been to a film in the NZIFF, so that alone was a treat (though the seats were surprisingly uncomfortable).

Celia Lashlie was a former prison director who went on to become an author and social justice advocate, particularly in the area of poverty, breaking the patterns that lead children of poor families to prison, and so much more. Her approach was often confrontational, sometimes combative, and always with a ring of straightforward truth.

The film was made by Amanda Millar, a former TV journalist who I knew from her work on TV3’s versions of 20/20 and 60 Minutes. The film is very well made, but the point, of course, is Celia’s work and legacy. I think that all MPs should see the film so maybe they’ll stop doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Wednesday night we went to dinner to celebrate Nigel’s sister’s birthday. It was nice to get together with family, and to have a nice Japanese dinner. That was on Auckland’s North Shore, not far from where we used to live.

And, of course, on Saturday we went to see Celene Dion at Spark Arena, which is in Parnell, near the waterfront. That was a big trip for us, too.

The fact is, we rarely go out—even to dinner at our nearest café. There’s really no reason for that, apart from the usual (busy lives and being tired in the evening). So going out three nights in one week, and needing to drive a hour, more or less, each way, it turned out to be a very big deal.

Add to that the fact that we both worked on the garage the weekend before we went to see Celia, and I helped Nigel with a couple smaller projects during the week, and my having a work project to finish, and it was a an unusually busy week because it was in unusual ways.

Oddly enough, I was more tired today than on Monday. I’ve always heard that such things hit us two days later, not the next day, but I always thought of that as being merely anecdotal, but, if it is, it’s always applied to me, too.

It’s a new week now, and even though we’re in the middle of that week as of tomorrow, I hope to make real progress on the garage. I expect to have more to say about that soon. Once that project is done, I have plenty of others line up behind it.

First things first. And, a quieter week this week will be good, actually.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Seeing Celine

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Yesterday, Nigel and I went to see Celine Dion in concert at Auckland’s Spark Arena, the first time either of us had been there. Auckland is the final stop on her “Celine Dion Live 2018” tour of Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. I didn’t say anything about this on Facebook until we got there, and even then I expected I might get some negative reactions from Facebook friends, not that I really cared. I also didn’t really know what to expect. It turned out that both ended up being really great.

Now, I have to admit right up front that while I like Celine Dion, and know many of her songs really well (and like them), I nevertheless wouldn’t call myself a “fan”, which means that I’m not devoted or excited about every new release as I am (or have been…) for other artists. However, because I like her work, I wanted to see her perform live.

We arrived VERY early, because of emailed advice Nigel got form the promoters, and because we found parking right near the arena. We grabbed a quick fast food dinner, and joined the queue outside the arena at around 5:45pm (I think). After a long wait, which included bag searches and a body scan with a handheld scanner, the doors opened about 6:30pm or so. We went right to our seats.

Our seats turned out to be very high up and to the side (stage right). We were so high up, in fact, there were only a few more rows between us and the very top-most row. And, it as very steep—so much so that I, who can’t stand heights, really worried about going down the stairs when we were leaving. In fact, I didn’t leave my seat until the concert was over.

A little after 7:30pm, the opening act began. That was Véronic DiCaire, a French-Canadian singer and impressionist I’d never heard of. She had a nice voice and really good range, and many of her impressions of famous singers were good. The set was—okay. It didn’t wow me, but I didn’t dislike it, either. That ended a little after 8pm.

A little after 8:30pm, Celine’s concert began. She was in fine voice, hit all the notes with ease, and was energetic. She also walked to the sides of the stage and sang to those of us seated at the sides (something Véronic never did). She did mostly songs I knew, and a few I didn’t. She also did some songs I’d not heard her do before, like John Farnham’s 1986 hit, the power ballad “You’re The Voice” [WATCH/LISTEN to his version]. That and other songs surprised me because I hadn’t really known that she could do rock vocals so well.

As is her way, Celine also talked a lot to the audience, which was sometimes corny, but also kind of endearing. It also seemed natural, as if no matter how many times she’s said something similar in a show, each time she makes it up fresh as she goes.

When the main part of the show ended, I knew what the encore would be, since she hadn’t performed it in the show (and I won’t name it because there are more people who will see her in Auckland). And she did a second song a cappella, and then it was all over. I forgot to check my watch, but it was after ten, closer to 10:30, maybe.

After a very slow exit out of the arena, we got the car quickly, and out of the carpark quickly, and then hit near gridlock on Auckland streets as we tried to get to the motorway. We ended up getting home just past midnight.

Celine was last in New Zealand back in 1996, but we couldn’t go. Nigel had just started a new job, and I was still at my first one, having only arrived to live in New Zealand in November of the year before. The stars, as it were, just weren’t aligned.

So, this time we didn’t miss the chance. It was also nice to go to Spark Arena, which is nice inside that food and drink stands had good offerings at surprisingly good prices. Now that we’ve been there, we’ll know what to expect the next time we go.

Because we arrived so early, and entered as soon as the doors opened, there was hardly anyone inside the arena. In fact, it didn’t really fill up until the last 10 or 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. At the bottom of this post are two photos I took of roughly the same spot. The top one I took at 6:37pm, and the bottom one right after the opening act was finished (8:09pm). It gives an idea of how full it was. Spark Arena holds about 12,000 people, and the concert was sold out.

I’m keenly aware that some people can’t stand Celine Dion, for a variety of reasons. I don’t care about that, obviously—Arthur’s Law. Besides, I have a history of liking artists others don’t. Even so, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see negative comments on my Facebook page. However, I got none, which these days is unusual enough to be worthy of mentioning. Naturally, the people who really know me (in real life or online only) were no doubt happy that Nigel and I got to have a nice night out together, something that’s not all that easy to manage with our busy lives, and because we now live up to an hour’s drive from central Auckland.

So, we had a great night out, and really enjoyed the show. We’d go see her again—though if her next show is in 22 years, that may be pushing things a bit.

Spark Arena at 6:37pm—the doors had only been open a few minutes at that point.
8:09pm, after the opening act and before Celine's concert. The arena is full.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Meanwhile, in New Zealand

This was news in New Zealand. Not about the bouncing sheep—that’s common enough, though the trampoline is optional. Instead, it was the fact that the video became so popular so fast. People watch the darndest things.

Still, it's interesting that RNZ took it seriously enough to explain that sheep commonly jump, and why. Why did they do that? Was it because of the extent of the urban/rural divide in New Zealand these days, that many people have never seen sheep on a farm except on TV? Or in viral videos? In any case, it's extremely comforting that this is news in New Zealand.

Banning the bags

Today the New Zealand Government announced that the government will be phasing out single-use plastic bags. The video above was posted by the New Zealand Labour Party on their Facebook Page, one of the few videos that’s actually embeddable. However, the video itself isn’t actually important: The action is.

“This year 65,000 Kiwis signed a petition calling for an outright ban.” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “It’s also the biggest single subject school children write to me about.” I bet it is: Kids get the importance of taking even simple actions better than many adults do. This action shows that this government is serious about its role as kaitiaki (guardian) of our environment.

The move was applauded by Auckland Council. Councillor Penny Hulse, Chair of Council’s Environment and Community Committee, said, “With hundreds of millions of plastic bags being used only once by Kiwis each year for an average of only 10 minutes, the desire to reduce our plastic waste and the call for action from the public to protect our environment is loud and clear.”

The Leader of the Opposition said predictable things in predictable ways, such as, “Kiwis were reducing their plastic usage because it’s the right thing to do. They didn’t need to be told what to do…” which was never the point. Banning single-use plastic bags is about the final push to eliminate them, something that only regulation can accomplish. He claimed credit for the reduction in plastic bag use, even though the previous government actually did almost nothing about reducing the number of single-use plastic bags used; their main—and very useful—contribution was to develop a programme for people to recycle soft packaging, including the bags. I use that system all the time. But that only deals with disposing of bags, not reducing their use in the first place.

This government’s move is great, but not needed for me. I switched to reusable bags years ago, and, as I said a few days ago, even the supermarket chain I get online orders from also now uses reusable bags for deliveries. Over the years I’ve also collected reusable bags given away for free by companies wanting to promoted themselves, so I’ll be all set once single-use bags are banned everywhere.

There have been questions raised about how small businesses will cope. I think the best analogy is 2012, when New Zealand changed its give way rules at intersections. Critics predicted mayhem, but it never happened. Instead, people adapted—as they always do. If people can adapt to changes in the way they drive, then I’m confident they can adapt to always bringing a shopping bag with them. Or, businesses can always switch back to paper bags.

I think that the move will create opportunities for businesses. Some will want to give out branded bags to increase awareness of their brands (or just reinforce them). Others will offer special bags for particular purposes, such as mesh bags for produce, or a special bag to protect potatoes, or one for onions. (I've noticed that similar ones on Amazon list the weight of the bags so the purchaser knows it's minimal, which is important for stuff we buy by weight).

There’s also an opportunity to create more “man friendly” bags, since a lot of them are clearly designed to appeal to women. That made sense in the early days, because women were the ones who did most families’ grocery shopping. Being generally more socially aware than men, they were also more likely to use reusable bags for all sorts of shopping. Now that men will need such bags, whether they like it or not, it would be good to have more options that are either more masculine or, at least, less feminine. I’ve heard many men say they feel uncomfortable using reusable bags because they consider them too feminine (or maybe they think using them is feminising? That’s a different problem). In any case, it makes sense to remove the last little barriers to using reusable bags.

But, like I said, this really won’t affect me, because I’ve already switched (apart from produce bags, like above; that’s next). However, I may need to remember to take a bag when I pick up a few things at a small shop somewhere, though many of them already use paper bags (like the chemist where I get my prescriptions). This move by the government will help end the era of disposable bags, and that’s good for all of us.