Scoop Review of Books

Archive for November, 2009

The Hidden Life of What We Buy

Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: travels to find where my stuff comes from, by Fred Pearce
Eden Project Books
Cradle to Cradle: re-making the way we make things, by Michael Braungart and William McDonough
Ecological Intelligence: knowing the hidden impacts of what we buy, by Daniel Goleman
Allen Lane



Everything we buy has a hidden life.

This life occurs before the product gets to us – as the raw materials are extracted or grown, as the product is processed or manufactured, as it is transported to us. It occurs while we own the product – through the energy it consumes, or the toxins it emits. It occurs after we have finished with it and sent it for dumping or recycling.

But when we buy product we are not told about these costs. In general, the companies that profit do not have to tell us. Nor, generally, do they have to take full responsibility. They may not even be fully aware themselves of the impact of their products, either on the environment or on people’s health and welfare.

Each of these three books is an attempt to address this issue – to explore the ‘life cycle’ and ‘environmental footprint’ of the stuff we buy: one by telling us about it, one by arguing that we should be told more, and one by offering a solution.

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Today sees the announcement of wine writer Michael Cooper’s Best Wine Buys of the Year, with both the red and the white picks coming in at under $20.

Eradus Awatere Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 took out the crown for the best white and Michael says at $18.99 this weighty, rich and rounded wine is priced sharply.

The five star red, Thornbury Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2007, again offers unrivalled value for money.

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Killing Greg Shackleton Again and Again

Shirley Shackleton was married to the late Channel Seven reporter Greg Shackleton, one of five Australian television journalists who were killed in Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor in 1975. Shirley has asked the Scoop Review of Books to re-publish the following article (which first appeared on The article refers to Shooting Balibo by Tony Maniaty reviewed below.

I’m trying to think what to do about a recently published book – there is not much choice because of the laws of defamation. It’s ironic, anyone can print what they like and get away with it. Why? There is no protection in law for the dead, that’s why. A live person cannot even use the D word against someone who is assassinating a dead person’s character because of the likelihood of being charged with defamation. Since the D word does not exist in law regarding a deceased person, it cannot be used to defend them.

The Oracle who wrote this book D’s my husband in every possible way.

Greg Shackleton can be described by a whole raft of D words. Determined, dashing, desirable, delectable, decent, dedicated and Daddy. However the only word that matters is dead.

Because of this book he has to die over and over and over again.

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Classic Aerial Photos Published

A celebration of the classic aerial photographs of New Zealand taken from the 1930s-70s’
Whites Aviation was the Google Earth of its day; the images captured were equally awe-inspiring, sought-after, iconic.

Whites Aviation went on to become a household name in post-war New Zealand. Whites Pictorial Reference of New Zealand and its spin-off books were pored over in homes throughout the country and sent to friends and family overseas. The walls of many homes, farms and businesses were adorned with the company’s aerial images that combined incredible detail with a romantic new angle on a familiar world.

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The Therapeutic Uses of Ache

Poet and doctor Glenn Colquhoun gave the following extraordinary oration at this year’s meeting of the Royal College of General Practitioners conference in Wellington. Glenn has kindly agreed to let us republish it.

THE Wolffian ducts are embryonic structures in mammals. Under the influence of testosterone they form the internal genitalia of the male: the epididymis, the vas deferens and the seminal vesicles. They also have a role in the generation of the kidney as well as of the Mullerian duct, a precursor of the female reproductive tract. Disturbances of testosterone metabolism give rise to a number of disorders affecting their development including complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, 17B hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency, LH receptor mutations and 5a reductase deficiency.

Most of this I learnt this in medical school. I don’t know why I remember it now. More useful information has long since disappeared but the Wolffian ducts remain a magnificent testimony to the fact that I once knew something, a great pyramid perhaps, hinting at a previous civilization. I regret few people with disorders of their Wolffian ducts have ever been patients of mine. In fact, apart from a few of the old favourites, I don’t often see much of what I learnt about in medical school at all.

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