Some questions best left unanswered

July 30, 2012

One of the first rules journalists learn is that good news stories should answer all the Ws – Who, What, Where, When, Why and hoW?

The ODT has a story about rangers rescuing a seal in a G string at Lovers Leap.

Two questions it doesn’t address are whose G-string it was and how it got from the owner to the seal.

But there are exceptions to every rule and there are some questions best left unanswered.

Another potential Darwin Award

July 21, 2012

A train ran into a car which had been abandoned on the railway line in Oamaru:


Officers tracked down the man’s address through his car’s registration number and found him at home.

They say he told them he had been taking a shortcut home along the train tracks, as he often did, when the vehicle became stuck.

A short cut along the train tracks in a car?

Definitely a potential candidate for a Darwin Award.

Candidate for Darwin Award

July 7, 2012

A Masterton ma n lost sight in one eye  after trying to find out if a nailgun could pierce bone.

Ever wondered if a nail could pierce bone? A Masterton man apparently did, so he placed a nailgun against his forehead and pulled the trigger to find out.

The nail shot into his skull, pinned his beanie to his head and came to rest behind his nose.

“He actually walked himself into the hospital and was laughing about it,” said Vicki Hookham, charge nurse manager at Wairarapa Hospital’s Emergency Department.

“It turned out they were seeing if it would go through the bone,” Ms Hookham said.

“Needless to say, there wasn’t a lot of brain function going on before or after that decision.”


Definitely a potential candidate for a Darwin Award.

Which century is this?

January 13, 2012

The surname Beer could well give you a penchant for brewing but it doesn’t guarantee you entry into a home-brew competition:

Rachel Beer, 36, this week tried entering her home brew in a competition at Saturday’s upcoming Lake Hayes A&P Show only to find out it’s a “blokes only” contest.

“Who cares if I have or haven’t got balls?” Beer fumes. “At the end of the day a home brew is a home brew.”

Beer, whose tipple is called ‘Beer’s Beer’, was told by the chief steward she could enter but wouldn’t be judged.

Someone needs to tell the show committee it’s the 21st century.

Hat Tip:Credo Quia Absurdum Est

Which century is this?

September 6, 2011

The third comment left on David Farrar’s Stuff column starts:

Diversity is important but women need to understand that the majority of hard, business decisions are necessarily made by men, and this applies to Parliament as well.

There are several things I could say about that but it’s time I got back to the kitchen.

Earthquake prediction reporting another nominee for Bent Spoon

August 29, 2011

NZ Skeptics awarded their 2011 Bent Spoon for journalistic gullibility to all media outlets and personalities who took Ken Ring’s earthquake predictions seriously.

The Bent Spoon was awarded telepathically by those gathered for the annual NZ Skeptics Conference which, appropriately given the winner was held in Christchurch at the weekend.

And there’s already another nominee for the next award. TV3 is reporting Ring’s predicting another big earthquake for Christchurch at the end of September.

He does qualify the prediction:

On his website, he says there is a “potent” lunar alignment in the last week of September, same as the one that existed at the time of the September 4, 2010 quake.

“Indeed, it may not happen, and we all hope not, but the main players will be in position,” he says. “For example we might observe that Dan Carter and Ritchie McCaw are on the field, but that does not guarantee a win.”

And the report does include this:

A 3 News analysis of Mr Ring’s predictions earlier this year failed to show any evidence he was able to accurately predict earthquakes, and even his long-range weather forecasts did no better than chance.

Given that, why bother reporting this latest prediction? There is no news value in further predictions from someone whose predictions have been proved inaccuarte and even with the qualifications giving the prediction coverage is taking it seriously.

The Herald report is even worse, it doesn’t bother to report the unreliability of his previous predictions.

All media should ignore his predictions as the unscientific guess-work they are and anyone with any doubts should read, or re-read, David Winter’s scientific evaluation of the predictions.

Rules are rules

April 9, 2011

Just a few miles into a train journey a wheel bearing became overheated and melted, letting a metal support drop down and grind on the rail, creating white hot molten metal droppings spewing down to the rail.

An alert crew member noticed smoke about halfway back in the train and immediately stopped the train in compliance with the Rules.

The train stopped with the hot wheel over a wooden bridge with creosote ties and trusses.

The crew tried to explain to higher-ups the danger this posed, but were instructed not to move the train.

They were told that the Rules prohibit moving the train when a part is defective.

They did as they were told and stayed put on the bridge. It caught fire and burned down, taking the train with it.

Don’t ever let common sense get in the way of a good disaster.

This came in an email, I have no idea if it’s true but a knowledge of rule-bound organisations makes me think it could be.

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