The Power of the Press

( - or, more precisely, the Might of the Media )

Here are some stirring examples of the news media's ( mediae ? ) carrying out their duty to enlighten the public on matters of serious public concern. The appearance of a few items not from news media might perhaps remind us that humans are journalists after all.

Most of them are from the New Zealand Herald. It should not be inferred that other publications are less guilty; it is not the Herald's fault that it's the only newspaper I read regularly.

Indeed, the Herald has been doing its best for many years to get rid of readers like me, but unfortunately there is no realistic alternative.

The later items are fairly consistently formatted; the earlier items are scraped up from here and there, and I appear not to have taken into account when I wrote them that I'd want them nicely laid out according to a scheme I would devise several years later. Well, you don't have to read it.

( This sorry collection does not exhaust my views on the print media. For anyone strange enough to want it, there is more. )

New Zealand Herald,
1997 February 5 :
"I don't accept his apology. It's come after the fact, and he can stick it."
 He wants an apology before the fact ?
New Zealand Herald,
1997 February 8 :
"His methods were devious but straightforward."
New Zealand Herald,
1997 February 10 :
"Permission permitting, Dr Ala'i hopes to conduct the research this year."
New Zealand Herald,
1997 June 30 :
"New Zealand's last-surviving Victoria Cross holder, Jack Hinton, will be buried with military honours at a State funeral in Christchurch on Wednesday."
New Zealand Herald,
1997 November 8 :
"All creditors had, or were about to be, paid, she said."
New Zealand Herald,
1998 February 17 :
"He went on to report that in the 45 days of the Gulf War, 56,133.32 tonnes of ordinance was dropped on Iraq - exceeding the 47,777.78 tonnes dropped in the 45 months of the Second World War. ... much of the ordinance was coated with depleted uranium ...."

 Those are remarkably precise numbers. And perhaps he really means "ordinance" - not even our worthy allies would be likely to present our ( naturally unworthy ) enemies with tens of thousands of tons of guns.

The first clue in the typically bad crossword ( species kiddies' toy, but at least making the attempt ) on the same day was "As decreed, I go in the artillery (9)".

New Zealand Herald,
1998 May 6 :
"MERGER CLOSE : A merger between the Waikato Polytechnic and the Auckland Institute of Technology is expected to be finalised this week."
 - followed by circumstantial accounts of meetings of working parties, a joint statement from the heads of the two organisations, and a quotation about "processes to complete".
New Zealand Herald,
1998 May 7 :
"NO MERGER PLAN : The Auckland Institute of Technology has no plans for a merger with the Waikato Polytechnic or the Central Institute of Technology ....".
 We understand that anyone can make a mistake, but you'd think someone would notice; in fact, there was no suggestion on May 7th that anyone had ever said anything different !
Radio New Zealand news,
1999 June 29, 1 p.m. :
"... too much methane reflects an excessive concentration of all gases in the atmosphere ...".
New Zealand Herald, 2000 :
 The New Zealand Herald lived up to its proud reputation, even surpassing itself by maintaining a steady stream of thick newspapers almost entirely full of drivel. One item of the drivel which caught my eye ( well, I did look for nuggets of gold, without much success ) was an article bewailing the waste of good trees on unnecessary books, which I thought they could with advantage have taken to heart in a more personal way.

There was also an indication that time travel had been perfected; an article purportedly written in California and printed in the Herald which we received on January 1st expressed satisfaction that nothing untoward happened at the turn of the year; as we received the newspaper when it was about midday in California on December 31st that could be seen as surprising. It was reassuring to know that nothing was going to happen. I imagine that time travel works only with drivel.

New Zealand Herald, 2001 January 2 :
 The front page of New Zealand's premier newspaper ( it says ) told us that the sea was cold, and someone had lost a boat. There were also notices of four articles within: a painting turns out to be an oldish masterish, a horse won a race, a supermodel is in New Zealand, and there's a serial of a novel.

So it's peaceful here. But that was with Jerusalem even closer to explosion than usual, the northern bits of Europe and America covered in deep snow, Indonesia rapidly going out of control, and all the usual things rumbling along.

- and page 2 is completely ( apart from the advertisements ) devoted to short notes on stories elsewhere in the issue, which is a great way to fill up yet another page with no material.

- and in part 2 of the paper,
two curiously contradictory headlines :
"Black clouds over peace" and "From Bondi to Belgrade the year dawns in hope".
 Perhaps you can't get from Bondi to Belgrade through Jerusalem.
New Zealand Herald,
2001 May 10 :
"Every year rubbish weighing the equivalent of 166,666 elephants, or about 500,000 tonnes, is collected in Auckland ...".
 We infer that elephants are pretty carefully calibrated these days.
 "All stock MUST go but only while stocks last".
 Not really the Herald's fault, as it was in an advertisement. I'm not sure why I saw it, because after long practice I skip over most advertisements, but still ....
New Zealand Herald,
2002 March 22 :
"The annual number of deaths of Maori men remains more than twice the level of other New Zealand men, despite years of Government action to improve Maori health."
 The Maori population is something like 15% of the total. Perhaps every Maori man dies ten times, or so ?
New Zealand Herald,
2002 May 11 :
"Within his first few days in the House in 1984, ... Mallard was attacking Merv Wellington ... Mr Mallard charged that Mr Wellington had fashioned 'an unprecedented record of confrontation with the people and groups he supposedly represented'.

Unprecedented until now, perhaps."

New Zealand Herald,
2002 May 13 :
"The former Portuguese colony ... is struggling to recover from the decimation of 80 per cent of its infrastructure ..."
 From the context, 80% has disappeared, not 8%.

 - and on the same day the Herald contrived to print two versions of the same story, from different sources, apparently without noticing - and precisely back to back on the same sheet of paper.

New Zealand Herald,
2002 June 22-23 :
"Tonight at 7.30pm Mullins opens the North Shore Arts Festival ..."
 Notice the date; it was a weekend edition.
page G7 :A full page article headed "Cool, clear water" : "... and in Putaruru it's among the purest in the world ... A new supply from the nearby Blue Spring ... now provides most of the town's water ..."
page A3 :"Putaruru was still under a state of emergency last night after torrents of stormwater swept through the town on Thursday night ... the town's water reservoirs were seriously depleted."
 - which is fair enough, but no one seems to have noticed, as neither article refers to the other.
New Zealand Herald,
2002 August 24-25 :
"The numbers add up to an ugly equation : more competition and fewer resources to fight it."
  - two wrongs don't make a right; likewise, two inequalities don't make an equation. And while two equations can "add up" to an equation, any number of numbers adds up to a number.
New Zealand Herald,
2002 October 24 :
"We chose this caring profession because we enjoy helping sick people from cradle to grave."
 That was in a letter.
New Zealand Herald,
2002 December 20 :
"... Iraq's weapons dossier contains omissions ..."
 Reminiscent of "As I was going down the stair I met a man who wasn't there ...".
New Zealand Herald,
2002 December 31 :
"Sergeant Vince Ranger of the Whangamata police there would be no excuse for people drinking in public."
 - which finishes the year consistently.
New Zealand Herald,
2003 May 7 :
"But a severe shortage of dental therapists meant that ... children might not be able to be seen every 12 months".
 I am alarmed at the implication that we are surrounded by invisible children. Presumably the dental therapists are falling down on their job of teaching the children to be visible, though I don't recall needing lessons myself; my ability to be visible has never been in question, so far as I know.
New Zealand Herald,
2003 May 15 :
Under the headline "Paper enjoys rising circulation" : "The Audit Bureau of Circulation survey .... puts the Herald's average sales at 210,910 up from 210,841 a year ago.".
 That's about 0.03% - a good deal less than the growth in the population of Auckland in the same time. And they were so excited about it that they repeated the same news on May 17 - with the additional ( I think; I might just have stopped reading the previous report in disgust ) information that
 ... recent figures showed a growth in average daily readership of 41,000.
 Those 69 copies certainly do get around.
New Zealand Herald,
2003 May 15 :
"Thirty premises were visited by an underage volunteer in unsuccessful boids to but cigarettes.".
 The mined goggles.
New Zealand Herald,
2003 May 20 :
"Deborah Coddington is Act's broadcasting spokesperson, not Rodney Hide as stated in an NZPA report yesterday."
 In the "Corrections and Clarifications" column. I imagine that she's pleased; commenting on broadcasting would be much easier than being Rodney Hide.
New Zealand Herald,
2003 June 5 :
"... in Britain ... Kofi Annan was the most highly rated world leader, with the support of 72 per cent of the population, 1 per cent more than the Prime Minister."
 - so 72% think Kofi Annan is the best world leader, and 71% think Tony Blair is the best world leader. At least 43% think they're both the best world leader ? ( Or perhaps it means that 71% of Tony Blair thinks that Kofi Annan is the best world leader ? )
New Zealand Herald,
2003 June 6 :
"... Mike Noel-Smith and Rob Abernathy were trying to row 7000km from ... Australia to ... Madagascar.

... Noel-Smith was knocked unconscious when he smashed his head against the side of their 7m boat during a fierce storm ...

'I certainly think I'd like to have another crack at it ...', Noel-Smith said."

New Zealand Herald,
2003 July 22 :
"A plan intended to increase safety risks is having the opposite effect, groups say."
 - that gets odder the longer you look at it. In the same issue, there was an article about some idiots who had poured nitric acid into parking meters. The ever-helpful Herald, doubtless fearing that nitric acid was a notion as far beyond the grasp of their readers as it was beyond that of their reporter, offered these additional facts to help us understand the article :
  • Nitric acid is a colourless and highly corrosive liquid.
  • It is a key raw material in the production of ammonium nitrate for fertiliser.
  • It is also used in a variety of manufacturing processes, including the production of industrial explosives, dyes, plastics, synthetic fibres, metal pickling, and the production of uranium.
  • It can be used as a rocket propellant.
  The first had something to do with the article, in which the corrosive effect was not mentioned, though it does tell you that if you had touched the meters and then touched your eyes you "could have been blinded", and also that nitric acid was "used to make nitroglycerine, blasting caps, and ammunition". The other items are irrelevant.
New Zealand Herald,
2003 July 23 :
"... Judy Kirk said it was a scheduled board meeting. '... There will be no decisions made. If the board decides there is anything to be done ...'"
 - showing that the National Party board of directors can decide things without making decisions.
Radio New Zealand announcer,
2003 July 23, 5.58 p.m. :
"It must be six months since I played something from this disc, which must be some kind of record."
 - to show that the old ones really do happen.
New Zealand Herald,
2003 August 18 :
"Offer ends 30 September 2003 or whilst stocks last."
 What, again ? - that was in a Telecom advertisement.
New Zealand Herald,
2003 October 4 :
"My father, a farmer for more than 50 years, is one of the most compassionate farmers I have met, as are most farmers I know."
 From a letter. Well, it's possible; suppose the set {farmers I know} is composed of three subsets, {not compassionate}, {very slightly compassionate}, and {slightly compassionate}, with all farmers indistinguishable in compassionateness from other farmers in the same subset. ( There must be at least three subsets to justify the superlative "most". ) If the first two subsets had one member each, and the third had three or more, including "my father", that would do it.
New Zealand Herald,
2003 November 3 :
"Temperatures have plummeted by 15 degrees in the last two days, from around 32 degrees to -1, ...."
 - that's from a report about the North American sub-continent, so an immediate hypothesis is that they've switched from real degrees to the mediaeval sort half way through the sentence, which is a very odd thing to do, but I did mention the American connection. Unfortunately, 33 Fahrenheit degrees is 18.33... real ones. We may never know the true story.
New Zealand Herald,
2003 November 3 :
"A trough of low pressure clears leaving ... a cool southerly flow. This is gradually displaced ... by a high building across from the Tasman Sea."
 - from the weather report. And ( fair's fair ), not being an enthusiast for weather forecasts, I wouldn't have seen that if the next day's Herald hadn't pointed it out.
North Shore Times Advertiser,
2003 November 4 :
"Bush destruction penalty 'too harsh'"
 - not exactly hilarious in itself, perhaps, but I first interpreted the headline as referring to the US president, which was what "Bush" meant in headlines just then. ( In fact, it was about a man who was clapped in jail for destroying a significant area of native bush without proper authorisation. )
New Zealand Herald,
2003 November 12 :
"Levels of lead in onions and radishes often exceeded 10 micrograms per gram ... dried coriander contained more than 39mcg/g of lead. That could lead to people ingesting more than the daily safety limit ... of 15g a day for children ..."
 Do you know any children who eat 1.5 tons of onions a day ? About half a ton of coriander might be easier, but it would still take a pretty determined child.

( Though perhaps there are some. Some time after November 12th, the Herald carried an article to the effect that some part of the New Zealand medical system dealt with five - I think - children less than twelve years old who weigh more than 150 kg each. I weigh a bit less than 90 kg. This is not intended as an amusing comment. )

Radio New Zealand news,
2003 November 13, 9.00 a.m. :
"... after an accident which left nearly four people seriously injured ..."
 - well, I think that's what she said. It's what I heard. If it were a press cutting, I could look again.
New Zealand Herald,
2003 December 6-7 :
"... the [New Zealand secret] service apparently did not have the technology to pixilate officers' faces ..."
 - what technology does it take to make officers' faces "somewhat unbalanced mentally" ? ( The meaning comes from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, because the word isn't in my dictionary and the Merriam-Webster will look up words for anyone through the internet, thereby upholding the worthy USAian principle of freedom of information; I would have preferred to use the Oxford English Dictionary, because I'm biased, but the OED won't look up words for you unless you pay, thereby upholding the Napoleonic theory that the English are a nation of shopkeepers. )

( Explanation, as some readers might not be familiar with the alternative, and it lets me work off some more pig-headed opinions : ) From the context, they mean "pixellated", which is a disgusting apology for a word invented by illiterate computer graphics practitioners. A "pixel" is a useful contraction of "picture element", and means one of the dots of which pictures on computer screens are made. Unfortunately, "pixellated" does not mean "converted into pixels" but "with the colour of comparatively large ( usually ) square blocks of pixels distorted to a single colour to make the true image unrecognisable in that area".

New Zealand Herald,
2004 February 16 :
"Since ... December 1999, the number of intoxicated young people being admitted to Auckland City Hospital's emergency department has risen every year.".

- and, in the same article :

Numbers of intoxicated 15 to 19-year-olds
treated at Auckland City Hospital's emergency department.

2000       136
2001       134
2002       129
2003       140

New Zealand Herald,
2004 also February 16
( obviously a good day ) :
"Significant numbers of men ... are going to Australia for radiation therapy.

A fifth of the patients who have taken the Australian option since December are men. The rest are women ...".

 - who are, presumably, not significant ?
Computer Science Demonstrator Workshop 2004 ( Notes for Computer Science Department laboratory demonstrators ),
February 27 :
"7. Food and drink in the lab : Only water bottles are allowed to be consumed in the lab."
 It doesn't say what you're supposed to do with the water - or, for that matter, how you tell the water that it must not be consumed.
New Zealand Herald,
2004 March 26 :
"The bomb ... was found by a railwayman half-hidden in the ballast under track ... on the line from Paris to Basle".
 Ah, the continental ways. British Rail was never as thorough as that. But, on the other hand, why "half-hidden ? Why not conceal him properly ?
New Zealand Herald,
2004 April 8 :
"Cameras would not be hidden or covert ..." ... "But as New Zealand switches to hidden cameras ...".
 Yes, they're the same cameras.
Massey University Auckland
Graduation programme
, page 19,
2004 April 22-23 :
 Nice to catch the opposition in flagrante delicto, particularly the English Language centre. And it's their comma, too. ( I don't spend hours poring over such documents, but this one was lying on our table after one of Jill's friends had graduated. )
New Zealand Herald,
2004 May 29 :
"... Catherine Masters, whose front page revelations about mist reatment ..."; "Political co rrespondent John Armstrong ..." ( and much, much more )
 Not screamingly funny in themselves - but the article in which they appeared was headlined "Herald picked as best daily". I remark that if the Herald really is the best daily, all the other papers must employ illiterate incompetents of a rare order of genius.
New Zealand Herald,
2004 June 7 :
"An astronomical event not witnessed by any living person will occur tomorrow, and a group of students and teachers from New Zealand will be among those lucky enough to see it."
 Does that mean they have to become "not living" ? ( And they're pupils, not students, but that's a vitally important distinction that was lost when university students were in effect degraded to pupils. Further rant on this topic here. ).

( There is an alternative interpretation : that the astronomical event has not been witnessed by any living person because it hasn't happened yet. I can't quibble with that, but if the Herald thinks it's newsworthy things are even worse than I thought. )

New Zealand Herald,
2004 June 19-20 :

       get a matching brief

 That was an advertisement, somewhat reformatted to preserve the effect of the original with less obtrusive typography. I can think of four interpretations of the second line :
  • 1 : You get half of an undergarment. In my vocabulary, "briefs", like "trousers", does not come in the singular. One garment is, so to speak, a pair of them.
  • 2 : It is directed at female lawyers. In this case, "matching" is a bit of a problem - but I hypothesise that it is a simple spelling mistake with the first letter inverted; it should be a "watching brief". That makes much more sense of the text, but not of a related illustration.
  • 3 : Vocabulary has changed. It is true that this is a specialised area in which I do not claim expertise ( yes, there are one or two ), but I have applied for advice to my local expert and she supports my view.
  • 4 : The writer is illiterate. Surely the Herald wouldn't put up with that ?
New Zealand Herald,
2004 July 13 :
"Before that he chaired the board at the local primary school for three terms, two as chairman."
 And the other as ... ?
Toothpaste packet,
undated :
"Colgate contains Micro Particles of Calcium."
 For those who have forgotten their chemistry : "Calcium is a silver-white metal ... It decomposes water at ordinary temperature, with rapid evolution of hydrogen." Do you want to put that in your mouth ? ( Source : G.S. Newth : "Inorganic Chemistry" ( Longmans, Green & Co., 1905 ), page 578 - which shows that the information has been around for some time. ) The list of ingredients does admit to "Dicalcium phosphate dihydrate", which is not all that far away from bones - so it might be more honest to say "Colgate contains Micro Particles of bone.", which is at least closer than calcium. Unless, of course, you're happy to say that sugar contains micro-particles of carbon.
ACM TechNews Alert,
2004 August 11 :
"Little attention has been paid to the decline of women pursuing degrees in computer science and engineering ..."
 A wise woman will obviously avoid such a degree. It is fortunate that Jean's degree is in Mathematics and Statistics. Certainly she is showing no sign of decline.
ACM TechNews Alert,
2004 September 3 :
"Experts expect demand for domestic robots that function as caregivers, assistants, and companions to explode as baby boomers approach their autumn years ...."
 It does seem entirely fitting that baby boomers should want exploding companions.
Minutes from Meeting at a church
not a million miles from Devonport,
2004 September 18 :
"Events Team report back. Daniel presented his plan for the the Celebration event to be held in the church grounds. Borrow a stage possibly from Devonport Primary. ( Daniel to investigate ). Bruce to investigate hiring a Marquis. ( Duncan to follow up on this ). ...."
 Good to see that the nobility are still appreciated, even in the aggressively ( not to say wildly unrealistically ) egalitarian New Zealand.
New Zealand Herald,
2004 October 12 :
"Howard intends unleashing a logjam of stalled legislation."
 The Australian Prime Minister, on being returned to office, precipitates an attempt on the world record for compact mixed metaphors.
New Zealand Herald,
2004 October 23 :
 The quoted text is perhaps not too surprising, as it is present ( I first wrote "it appears", but it doesn't, does it ? ) an arbitrary number of times in every issue. I quote it because there is, practically speaking, nothing else to quote for twenty pages in our copy of the newspaper. A complete twenty-page section was printed in gradually varying tones of dark grey, dark blue, dark purple, and dark green. That is, all of it, apart from a narrow white margin along the outside edges of each sheet. Just visible - through the mess, darkly, as it were - one can perceive vague structures which might just be printing, but hardly any is legible. Fortunately, it is the motoring section, so no information is lost.
New Zealand Herald,
2004 November 16 :
"Our number could be half what we say it is, but I don't think it's going to be much more than that."
 So why did they say it was ? ( From the context, the "not much more" applies to the "half", not the "number". This seems to be an epidemic; I've noticed several examples in the last few weeks. )
New Zealand Herald,
2004 November 18 :
"... there is no evidence that this property is, or is not, contaminated as a result of any former horticultural use."
 It is absolutely certain that every property is, or is not, contaminated. Who needs evidence ? ( The assertion was to be added to the official information about around 5000 properties round Auckland which had once been farmland on which various chemicals might have been used. At the time of publication there was a row going on about that. )
and also : "Queensland also deleted royal references in legislation."
 That was from an article about Australia's eagerness to forget about the Queen. You'd think they'd have to start by changing the name.
New Zealand Herald,
2004 November 25 :
"There's more life in a bucket of dirt than on the entire planet ..."
 Where did the "dirt" come from ? - or, from another point of view, which planet ? There's no indication in the article that any planet other than the local one is under consideration. ( Or is there ? The use of "dirt" to mean "soil" - another epidemic, I think - seems to me to be USAan, and that sometimes seems like another planet. Fortunately in more ways than one, I don't have time to elaborate on that notion. )
North Shore Times,
2005 April 21, page 25 :
"Students grapple with Einstein's E = mc2"
 So, apparently, do typesetters, and lose. That was a headline; the same text appears twice in the article body, in one place attributed to the Royal Society. It isn't a typesetting problem - later in the year there was mention of the dreadfully poisonous gas CO2.
New Zealand Herald,
2005 May 25, page A3 :
"... the hormone auxin ... which is released with exposure to the sun or the pull of the earth's gravity ..."
 Does he mean nothing happens until the plant comes within range of the earth's gravity ? - where was it before ? - and how do they know ?
New Zealand Herald,
2005 June 22, page A3 :
"The focus was on keeping the fire away from the silos of caustic soda and sulphuric acid, said Nelson fire senior station officer Rob Allan.

'If they do combine under a fire situation the gas that's produced is mustard gas', he said."

 But where does the chlorine come from ? Plenty of carbon is a fair guess in a fire, but is chlorine guaranteed ? Alternatively, if your job title was "fire senior station officer" you might be a bit confused too.
World Book Dictionary
( came with our new computer ) :
"subtlety, noun, pl. -ties.
1. subtle quality.
Ex. Guides cannot master the subtleties of the American joke (Mark Twain). His style is artfully simple and flowing, his portraiture full of subtlety and charm (Atlantic)."
 I had not previously been aware that Mark Twain was known as the American joke, and was not sure that Mark Twain's style was appropriately described in terms like simple, flowing, subtlety, and charm. I worked it out eventually; clearly, I cannot master the subtleties of the World Book Dictionary's typographical conventions. I wonder what Mark Twain would have said about the American sitcom.
New Zealand Herald,
2005 July 12, page A14 :
This one is a little complicated; please be patient. The Herald occasionally publishes an article giving the story behind one of its classified advertisements, chosen for its "human interest". Not all of these are gems. The advertisement was displayed, apparently as a photograph :
  "LOOKING FOR RELATIVES of the late William Godwin who died on 31 Jan 1878 from injuries received whilst on fire petrol. ...."
 One might think that in an article published in the Herald, chosen by the Herald, and written by a Herald reporter, they'd have chosen a Herald advertisement which didn't have a spelling mistake - particularly as the article immediately to the right of that one started with an item poking fun at another publication for printing the headline, "Pallet-tempting advice". No, it wasn't intended as a joke.
Radio New Zealand News,
2005 August 2, midday :
"He expects up to 1200 hamburger patties to be rolling out of the gates within three months."
 He's just reopened a bakery, and has an optimistic view of the future. I hope the patties are in some sense confined, and that the rolling is metaphorical.
New Zealand Herald,
2005 August 4, page A3 :
"David Lange has now become one of the 500 New Zealanders who annually undergo lower-limb amputations ..."
 Do their legs grow back again within a year ?
New Zealand Herald,
2005 September 3, page A6 :
"After a few difficult years, X and his wife Y made an agreement to stick to their marriage vows."
 Why should the agreement be any more reliable than the vows ?
Large advertising notice outside
Britomart railway station
2005 September 15, below the clock :
"Time is moving on ....", with a picture of the clock.
 - but the clock had been stopped at 10.45 ( 9.45 ?) for some weeks.

( Shortly after I noted that, the clock started again. Perhaps I wasn't the only one to notice. Or perhaps there are people who read my SPC while yet unborn, so to speak ?)

45 cent stamps,
been around for some time now
but I've only just remembered to write it down :
"150 Years of Stamps 1905-1955"
 - I'm sure it must mean something more sensible than that, but there's nothing on the stamp to suggest what that is.,
2005 November 15, on the "thank you" page :
On Nov.13, visitors who clicked on the "Help a Child" button helped 980.4 children get and stay healthy.
 - Please join in and get the number over 1000; that should get rid of these embarrassing fractional children. ( Might it be significant that on 2006 January 2 - still January 1 in the laggardly USA - the corresponding message read "On --, visitors who clicked on the "Help a Child" button helped -- children get and stay healthy". Is that better or worse ?)
New Zealand Herald,
2005 December 30, page A2 :
"... there was a heavy 15ml rainfall about 2 am in Whangaparaoa."
 - The headline was "Flash floods hit Mission bay", and there were pictures of flooded roads. It is true that Whangaparaoa is not near Mission Bay,
New Zealand Herald,
2006 January 16, page A2 :
"It will take 12,000 cubic litres of water to keep the garden's recirculating water features active."
 That's about an exhibition going to the Chelsea flower show. ( That's Chelsea in England - not Chelsea just round the corner where the sugar works are. Is ? Sugar factory is. ) I don't really believe that it's going to be nine-dimensional. ( - and see above. )
Advertisement in letter box,
2006 April 14 :
"Live healthily ever after."
 This promise of eternal life arrived, appropriately enough, on Good Friday. However, this is nothing to do with your old-fashioned religious stuff - this is an advertisement for some sort of bank account, or bank card. ( I can't tell you much more about it, because I wasn't sufficiently interested to open the packet. I will remark that it comes from ASB Bank Limited and Southern Cross Medical Care Society. I will further remark that "ASB Bank", being interpreted, means "Auckland Savings Bank Bank". Perhaps it's significant of something that on the back there are references to Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty; the fairytale theme is at least suggestive. ) I am curious to know whether, if you accept their offer, your estate can sue if you ever die.

Me, I'll stick with the old-fashioned religious stuff, if only because it's far more credible.

New Zealand Herald,
2006 April 28, page A5 :
"The study showed that many New Zealand mothers found it impossible to balance commitments to both family and employment and so had fewer children or none at all."
 I am intrigued by the notion of mothers with no children at all, and wonder why they have more commitments than other women in similar positions.
New Zealand Herald,
2006 May 10, page A13 :
"Snoring is now thought to affect about half the adult population. Research from Sweden shows that about 8 per cent of women are habitual or chronic snorers, and that 15 per cent of the over-50s have a problem. Over a 10-year period, the number of male habitual snorers went up from 15 per cent to more than 20 per cent."
 One can devise a rather large number of interpretations of that text, but I think that the only one that makes any sort of sense is to suppose that "affect" in the first line has nothing to do with the numbers which follow, and even that gives problems.

Of course, it might always be that "half" comes from 8% + 15% + 20% = 43%, which is nearly a half. That would work provided that the population was composed of people who were all simultaneously women, male, and over 50 - and that none of them snored for more than one of those "reasons".

It is fair to add that the Herald blames the ( British ) Independent. That makes it twice as stupid. ( By the miracle of the internet, I've checked; the Independent article - May 9 - is much like the Herald version, and I can't find any additional evidence. One wonders, though, why the Herald suppressed the information that snoring is to some extent reduced by playing the didgeridoo - though not the tuba. )

New Zealand Herald,
2006 June 12, page B2 :
"The agent was spruiking several rare books, including the six-sided miniature leather-bound Koran ...."
 The text is accompanied by a picture purporting to be of the Koran in question. It is clearly octagonal. No, I do not know what "spruiking" means, though I can guess from the context. The article originates from Australia, so perhaps it's an Australian usage. I would not dream of suggesting that the Australianness of the article has any connection with its author's inability to count up to eight.
New Zealand Herald,
2006 June 28, page A17 :
"Bruce Logan was a former founder and director of the Maxim Institute."
 1 : What is a "former founder" ? If you founded the Maxim Institute, surely you're a founder for ever. How can you become not a founder ? ( - or, to look at it in another way, how can someone else later become a founder ?) One can imagine circumstances in which one might on mature reflection wish that one had not founded something or other, and some might think the Maxim Institute could reasonably be a something, or other, of that sort, but once you've founded something you can't get out of being a founder even if it founders.

2 : Fortunately, we don't have to worry about it, because it doesn't say that Mr Logan is a former founder; it says that he was a former founder. This implies a second level of negotiable history which I strain to grasp. You work it out. No, you needn't tell me, unless it's funny.

New Zealand Herald,
2006 July 12, page B3 :
"Ulaan Bataar" ... "Ulan Bataar" ... "Ulan Baatar"
 - all in the same article. At least there are no repetitions. It used to be Ulan Bator. The Herald attributes the article to the Telegraph Group; inspection of the Telegraph Group's web site does indeed reveal a generally similar article by the same author, dated July 11th, but refers only to Ulan Bator.

( In the next day's "Herald", a shopkeeper who displayed a sign advertising "FRIUT" was held up to ridicule. Pots and kettles ? Glass houses ?)

New Zealand Herald,
2006 August 16, page A6 :
"... marina supporters had grown old waiting for the project to start, and some had died. Many of those supporters were in court yesterday ..."
New Zealand Herald,
2006 September 14, page A16 :
"Iron meteorites are heavy and can contain 715 per cent nickel."
 That would certainly make them pretty heavy, but one wonders about the name.
New Zealand Herald,
2006 September 15, page A15 :
"New Zealand has the highest per capita ownership of vehicles in the world : 3.2 million and increasing each day."
 No wonder there's never any room to put anything in the garage, though it's only fair to add that there seems to be only one motor vehicle there. I wonder what happened to Jean's other 3,199,999 vehicles, not to mention mine and Jill's. ( No, I don't want to know - we've nowhere to put them. Wondering will do. )

It's also tempting to speculate on ownership of vehicles outside the world, but I won't.

New Zealand Herald,
2006 October 16, page A2 :
"Transit holds the first of a series of information weeks tomorrow at North Harbour stadium ...."
 That's an impressive example of saving time.

Alan Creak,
2007 June.