Wednesday, 22 March, 2023

Kindness makes a comeback; Japan’s pepper grinder obsession; Mr Beast alive and kicking; and get ready for Ramadan.


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Today’s Quick Links: 

The world’s happiest countries for 2023 mapped:

Explore the World Happiness Report data:

Why Ramadan is the most sacred month in Islamic culture:

What is Ramadan? BTN:

Laars Nootbaar brings ‘grind-it-out spirit’ to Japan and WBC:

Team Japan grinds the pepper after Nootbaar hits a triple!:

Mr Beast has not died:

World Water Day:

Seal pup learns some skills:


Dig Deeper:

Why Finland and Denmark are happier than the U.S.:

Breaking the fast – Delicious Ramadan Recipes:

The meaning and history of memes:

Why are online death hoaxes so popular?:

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Being kind is back in fashion … and you wouldn’t believe it, but apparently the COVID pandemic has made us all nicer.

That’s the findings at least of the World Happiness Report – a yearly report that ranks all the countries of the world according to how happy its citizens say they are.

And in something of a surprise: it appears that the COVID pandemic led a rise in kindness – with the report finding that people have been kinder to strangers in the last three years.

You see, every cloud does have a silver lining ..

So – let’s get to the nitty gritty. Which countries are the happiest in the world – and crucially, where did Australia and New Zealand come on the happy list?

Australia has been ranked 12th happiest country in the world, New Zealand the 10th happiest country in the world – with Finland sitting once again at the top of the happy table, coming in at number one.

The Scandinavian country – whose long, dark, harsh winters apparently don’t affect its citizens general sense of well-being – came in ahead of Denmark at number 2, Iceland at 3, Israel in fourth position and the Netherlands as the fifth happiest nation on the planet. 

Rounding out the top 20 was Canada at number 13, the United States at 15 and the United Kingdom at 19.

Countries were measured for happiness according to factors including life expectancy, how rich a country was, how much it spread that money among its citizens, what freedoms they had and how kind they were to one another. 

So which are the least happy countries in the world at the moment? That unfortunate title belongs to Afghanistan




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops. And today we’ve landed in … well … lots and lots of countries. As today marks the start of Ramadan – a very important month in the lives of people of the Muslim faith.

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar – and during this whole month, hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world fast during daylight hours – which means they don’t eat or drink while the sun is up.  

Maybe some kids and their families in your class will be observing Ramadan this year.

What’s the point of not eating, I hear you ask … it’s a way of demonstrating their faith, but also a way of being reminded that there are many in the world who don’t have enough to eat each day. 

Once the sun sets each day, families will often get together and have a big ol’ meal … imagine how much your tummy would be rumbling by the end of the day! And many people have a big morning meal before the sun rises too. 

And then, at the end of the month, there will be a three-day festival – where families come together and lots and lots of food will be eaten.

Ramadan Mubarak to our Muslim listeners! 




Have you heard of Lars Nootbaar? No? Don’t worry, neither had thousands of Japanese baseball fans until recently, but he has quickly become a household name. ‘Why?’ you ask. It’s partly down to his signature move, ‘the pepper grinder!’

Lars, whose dad is American and whose mum is Japanese, is the first non-Japanese born baseball player to represent Japan in the World Baseball Classic, which is an international tournament played by teams from 20 different nations. Lars, who lives in California, usually plays as an outfielder for the Saint Louis Cardinals and when he thinks his team is doing it tough and needs to dig in, he puts his fists together and mimics the twisting of a pepper grinder, urging his team to ‘grind it out!’

This has caused such a sensation in Japan that fans are bringing their actual pepper grinders along to the games as a tribute to Lars. However, the Japanese High school Baseball Federation is not so impressed. When a player for Tohoku High School imitated the move after a successful play on the weekend, an umpire told him to stop. The Federation say that “the fun should come from the game.” [party favour blow] Cracked pepper anyone?




Every Wednesday, Squiz-E the Newshound sticks his nose into Squiz Kids HQ to let us know what fishy things he’s sniffed out on the internet. And this week, Squiz-E’s twitching over last week’s fake reports that the world’s most popular YouTuber Mr Beast had died. 

Now: before I go further: Mr Beast is not dead. He is well and truly alive. But for a brief moment on social media last week – many people believed that he had died. That’s because an anonymous Twitter user who often re-posts memes and troll posts and has over 250,000 followers – posted a photo of Mr Beast saying that he had passed away. 

And thousands of people not only believed it – but immediately shared it. And so before you could say STOP. THINK. CHECK – the fake news had spread all over the internet – forcing Mr Beast himself to come out and tell the world he was fine.

It’s once again a reminder that we can’t and shouldn’t believe everything we see, read or hear on the internet. Just because its on Twitter or Instagram or TikTok doesn’t make it true. 

Clever Newshounds always know to check whether something they’ve seen on social media is true before believing it. 

Good work Squiz-E … you’ve done it again! 


RECRUITING (insert break)


(sound effect of man sobbing) You hear that? That’s the sound of me sobbing at the news that Amanda has decided to take a little break from Squiz Kids from next term. 

I know right? We’re going to miss her so much! But because I’ve got to be strong, and because Squiz Kids just keeps on rolling along – I’m recruiting to replace her. 

I’ve stuck a link to the job ad with all the specs in today’s episode notes. It’s a pretty specific skill set we’re looking for – how do you replace the irreplaceable afterall? – but if you’re a big person who thinks they’ve got what it takes to step up to the Squiz Kids microphone – who has all the experience and skills we’re looking for – we’d love to hear from you. Check out the link to the job ad in today’s episode notes.



This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. What dining table accessory have lots of people been taking to baseball games in Japan?
  2. What’s the name of the Muslim holy month that starts today?
  3. Which country has been named the happiest in the world, again?





It’s March 22 – today is World Water Day … and it’s also International Day of the Seal … which go quite nicely together when you think about it .. 


It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today… Eve and Matisse from Port Melbourne, Roman from Elermore Vale, Ava from Clairvaux, Aoife from Googong, Bonnie from the Blue Mountains, Matilda from Noosa, Amelie from Sutherland North, Stella from Sutherland, Jack from Mayrung, Elijah from Sunnybank Hills, Remy from Melbourne, Makayla from Burpengary, Azalea from Gordon, Jon from Sale, Zara from Sydney and Miss Brooke from Cannon Hill. 


Classroom shout outs go to… Class 1/2 and Mr Brown at St Cuthbert’s Catholic School in Lindisfarne, class 3/4M and Miss Mcfarland at Mount RiverView Public School in Penrith, class 3 Blue and Miss Horne at St Michael’s Catholic Primary School in Lane Cove, class F3 and Mrs Lanello at Hammond Park Primary School, class 3W and Miss Swain at St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School in Holsworthy and classes 6K and 6B with Miss Kim and Mr Browning at Bella Vista Public School. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Pepper grinder
  2. Ramadan
  3. Finland