Finland’s PM Sanna Marin. Image credit: wiki-commons.

Updated: 16th June 21

New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern has received high praise for her leadership during the pandemic. Early travel restrictions and prompt lockdowns were effective circuit-breakers and spared New Zealand the catastrophic waves most of us have endured. Ardern communicates with clarity and compassion. It’s easy to see why she’s adored.

However, while singing her praises myself, the sceptic in me started to weigh in:

“Hasn’t she also had everything in her favour? New Zealand being a hot, wealthy, easy-to-isolate island nation, who got their 1st case weeks after things went bananas for everyone else?”

Favourable outcomes often come hand-in-hand with good luck…

A Playful Guide Through the Wilderness of Sex & Gender

Image from iStock

Trying to disentangle sex & gender feels a bit like trying to diffuse a bomb. Without proper training.

And — I’m a straight, white, man.

God help us.

Sex & gender can be minefields. Problems include:

  • Notable disagreement among academics regarding the definition of gender.
  • Sex & gender being used interchangeably in everyday speech.
  • Gender having a loaded history. Prominent men have consistently used dubious interpretations of sex differences that put limiting frames on women.
  • It being unclear the extent to which biology influences gendered behaviour.
  • Minority sex and gender groups having many complex issues to contend with — including…

A week of celebrations, good food and housemate rivalry

We’re all going a bit lockdown crazy in my house.

At one point, I walked in on Jenny and Polly giving Lola (Cockapoo) a haircut. They were, “Making a Valentine’s Day card for Louise.”

I backed out of the room slowly.

Coping strategies have mainly involved food. Rukmini Iyer’s Roasting Tin series is my new religion.

No more pans. No final 5 mins of chaos. Just get everything ready — pop it in the oven — watch Netflix while it cooks. Game changer!

A few months ago, our bubble introduced a weekly Come Dine With Me on Friday nights. When…

And trends to watch in 2021

2020 was rough. COVID not only exposed weaknesses in our societies — it also reversed our strengths in 3 major ways:

#1 — Countries with more advanced healthcare were more vulnerable

Image by Sira Anamwong on Shutterstock

Two observations pull in different directions:

  1. Countries with more advanced healthcare have longer life expectancies.
  2. Older populations are more vulnerable to coronavirus.

Overall, this means higher death rates in countries with more advanced healthcare.

Grouping nations of similar ages shows this clearly. The chart below represents 151 countries, in 5 age groups, with example countries shown:

photo: istock

At first glance, male and female responses to COVID seem notably different.

Aside from the usual Trumpian ramblings,

“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

Blunders such as Boris Johnson’s,

“I was at a hospital where there were a few coronavirus patients, and I shook hands with everybody,”

compared with Jacinda Ardern’s,

“Some countries talked about herd immunity as a strategy. In New Zealand, we never ever considered that. Herd immunity would have meant 10s of 1000s of New Zealanders dying and I simply would not have tolerated that,”

certainly place female leaders in…

Justin Trudeau — Photo credit

In 2015, Justin Trudeau appointed a gender-balanced cabinet for the first time in Canadian history.

When asked why he replied,

‘Because it’s 2015!’

This was generally well-received and Trudeau became a symbol for male feminism.

His vision was admirable. So why were many feminists unhappy with his approach?

A closer look at the details shows how he could’ve achieved political balance by highlighting the effectiveness of women in power.

Women in power

There is a strong relationship between the percentage of women in parliament and the happiness of a country.¹ Given the impact of policy — some causality is likely.² …

Higher percentages of black votes for Trump are misleading.

I’ve seen a few articles claiming that Trump made gains with black voters in the 2020 election.

This vox article states,

One of the surprises in the election is that President Donald Trump actually improved his standing with Black voters over four years ago.

Well — no.

The percentages are misleading because voter turnout increased. It’s comparing slices from different pies.

He goes on to question the Democrat’s strategy with black voters. Some of this may have merit — but he doesn’t quite understand the maths.

I looked at data from several sources and have chosen a few typical ones…

5 tips for navigating difficult conversations.

Image from

Do you engage with people who disagree with you?

How does it go?

Sometimes? Badly?

It’s frustrating. When ideas converge, we make progress.

The more we agree, the better we feel.

Behind layers of confusion, defences, and misunderstandings, our fundamental needs are the same. We’re hard-wired for connection.

So what goes wrong?

Why it’s hard to agree

While writing my last post, I read a great piece about protecting group identities¹. I found clarity in these paragraphs:

Social identity theory posits that people derive some of their sense of identity and self-worth from their group memberships (including gender, race, religion, politics, or even sports teams)…

Mark Larsen

Promoting the effectiveness of women in politics.

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