Letters December 29 2012

by Listener Archive / 20 December, 2012
Hair loss; Coronation Street and Professor Brian Cox.

COPING WITH HAIR LOSS


I agree with dermatologist Dr Ian Coutts: get a proper diagnosis before going to a hair treatment clinic (“The bald truth”, December 1). When I had a consultation with a “hair specialist”, the trichologist looked at my scalp and said I had male pattern baldness. I was then told their treatment would improve my hair and stop it falling out. The trichologist was pushy, saying I needed to do something before I lost all the fine hairs. I was told the products were natural, with no chemicals or side effects. So I agreed to the treatment, paying about $4000 over about 10 months. But I was devastated to see how much hair I was losing. When I rang the company’s head office to explain my situation, I was told to stop using the product. The replacement product did no good, either. By this time I had lost half my hair. I was then told this happened to only 4% of clients. Clients should have this explained to them before they accept treatment. I stopped all treatment 15 months ago, but I am still losing hair, although not as fast as before. I also believe I can’t have a hair transplant now, as the treatment stopped my scalp from supporting new hairs. This has ruined my life. I have been depressed and every morning I’m reminded of what I’ve lost. As Dr Coutts says, “the industry is based on making a profit”.
Name withheld

I can verify that hair loss is often hereditary. Old family photos clearly show that my father’s hair loss at age 30 was similar to what I had around that age. But few people seemed troubled. And this brings me to a quip my father used to repeat when the subject arose: “You’ll notice that men lose their hair on the head, which indicates overwork of the brain. For the same reason, women cannot easily grow whiskers. Overwork of the jaw.” Or is that too gender-provocative today?
Owen Brown
(Napier)

REACHING FOR THE STARS


I thoroughly enjoyed Diana Wichtel’s interview with Professor Brian Cox (“Star man”, December 15). A remarkable man who appears to be succeeding in making science exciting, engaging and understandable to the public is a rare gem, and I fear we have no New Zealand equivalent. The Government is keen to increase the number of graduates in sciences and engineering, and rightly so. But I can’t help thinking that its methods are flawed – there can be all the science placings in the world, but if students aren’t interested, they will not fill them. Perhaps, rather than directing universities to enrol more students, the Government should direct broadcasters to screen television that’s more intellectually stimulating than The Block Australia or Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The article referred to a range of programmes such as Wonders of the Universe and Wonders of the Solar System. Why aren’t these broadcast free-to-air in New Zealand? They are surely more likely to encourage interest in science and engineering than America’s Got Talent.
Declan Thompson
(Ellerslie, Auckland)

DIAGNOSIS DANGER


In “When caring is dangerous” (December 8), a researcher used the term “the worried well”. This is a term I wish the medical profession would abandon. It arose in the 1980s when HIV/Aids first surfaced and knowledge about risk factors, virus transmission, treatment and survival rates was starting to be gathered. Many people were alarmed. The term has now passed its use-by date. Why can’t GPs be a reliable source of information and advice? Many health problems are asymptomatic. For example, you can’t know if you have high cholesterol or (most of the time) high blood pressure. If you have a family history of something, it’s a good idea to visit a doctor. I was able to start taking medication in my forties for a genetic problem that caused my father’s death at age 45. I don’t dispute that over-diagnosis and over-treatment happen.
Penelope Scott
(Kenmure, Dunedin)

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY


I applaud Dr John Pickering (of the University of Otago’s Christchurch campus) and Marsden Fund chairwoman Juliet Gerrard for their courage in speaking out on the status of Government funding for science and technology. In a Radio NZ Morning Report interview, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce correctly stated that Government funding for science and technology had increased over recent years. What wasn’t stated was that since 2005 New Zealand’s position relative to other OECD countries for gross expenditure on science as a percentage of GDP has declined to 23rd out of 30 (Government Economic Indicator paper, 2011; New Zealand and the OECD, Statistics NZ, 2005). Sandwiched between those of Italy and Spain (both poor performers in the EU), New Zealand’s contribution sits at just over 60% of the OECD average, hardly “close to the average”, as the minister claimed. New Zealand ranks 24th out of 30 OECD countries for business contribution to science and technology, only one place down from gross expenditure – hardly an argument to suggest this is the reason for the decline.
Doug Mountfort
(Nelson)

‘CORO’ CATCHUPS, PLEASE


The situation with Coronation Street has become untenable. TVNZ needs to start playing more episodes to catch up with the UK, instead of slipping further behind. I haven’t been able to watch since I arrived back from the UK a year ago. Catching an episode recently, I was shocked to see Tommy Duckworth had only just arrived on the Street – I’ve already witnessed his next 10 shags, at least. Since ITV doesn’t broadcast online outside the UK, my only joys now come from asking a fellow fan “By the way, is … dead yet?” when he irritates me, and anticipating the cleverly obscure allusions Diana Wichtel manages to insert into her Television column. Incidentally, many may agree that the climactic scene of Skyfall was a poor imitation of Mike Baldwin and Ken Barlow’s final moments together. This well-written, witty serial deserves more screen time.
Rosie France
(Devonport, Auckland)

UNHAPPY ENDINGS


I have great respect for Ann Packer as a reviewer, but her choice of the 13 best novels for teenagers in the past year left me feeling dispirited. Two dealt with cancer, then we had a beauty queen attacked with acid, a tongueless survivor of Taliban atrocities, a reincarnated murderer, a girl on the run from a murderous stepfather, a whole French village massacred by the Germans in World War II, a life of unspeakable abuse, a conscientious objector suffering brutal punishment in World War I, and teenagers on different sides in the Warsaw ghetto. If teenagers aren’t depressed already, just give them something to read. I’m delighted my granddaughter (12) and grandson (9) are avid readers. But if a diet of death and disaster lies before them, I feel just a little wistful for the demise of My Friend Flicka and even Sue Barton: Student Nurse.
Linda Burgess
(Northland, Wellington)

ELECTRIC CARS


Peter Kammler (Letters, December 15) omitted one option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector. Compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles give off about 20% less in carbon dioxide than petrol vehicles. This is a result of the different chemical compositions of methane and petrol. Although New Zealand’s leadership in this technology in the 1980s collapsed, there are now 15 million CNG vehicles in the world (compared with 4.5 million electric vehicles). However, it is surprising that Kammler, living in a country town, did not mention using horses for transport. Horse emissions of greenhouse gases are minimal because of natural recycling – grass to horse to excreta/compost to grass.
Garth Harris
(Waiheke Island)

A GOODLOOKING CORPSE


No one is built to last and we all die. Alcohol kills prematurely, but so what? If you live to a ripe old age, the chances are you will end up in a rest home sooner or later. Ever been to a rest home and observed its residents? I have. Hell on Earth for those residents who remain sentient, and can see and hear well. Have a tipple of what you enjoy and perhaps die relatively young, but leave a good-looking corpse. When are we to be rid of do-gooders? Trouble is, they mainly infest universities and have tenure, so they can stir with no threat to their job security.
Ken Martin
(Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt)

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM


It is time apathetic New Zealanders woke up to the dangers of a written constitution based on biculturalism (“Queen & country”, November 24). One look at the Review Panel should cause alarm – half the panel are Maori, even though they are only 14% of the population. Asians outnumber Maori here, but where are their representatives? The Government’s “consultation” process is a $4 million sham. The Maori Party-led review is engineered to deliver a predetermined recommendation by introducing a new written constitution that recognises the Treaty as our “founding” document. The implications of this are alarming and profound. A Treaty-based constitution would enshrine Maori privilege, turning non- Maori New Zealanders into second-class citizens. The panel claims the Treaty has an “accepted position as the founding document of New Zealand”. This is untrue, as the Treaty is not part of our constitution and has no legal status. University of Canterbury law lecturer David Round has been quoted as saying: “Constitutional power and the right to the co-governance of New Zealand are what the Maori elite have been seeking all along … Unless this review is discredited as a political power grab by the Maori sovereignty movement, New Zealand stands in a position of grave risk.” Maori have been singled out as needing special segregated consultation. This is the same strategy used during the build-up of the Foreshore and Seabed law change. The process is a disgrace.
Mary Brooks
(Tauranga)

UNSOUND IDEA


No, no, don’t let them reduce the volume on TV advertising. How will we know when to press the mute button?
Barry Grant
(Riccarton, Christchurch)
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