Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bruce Logan is risen from the grave

It is all very well you having your human rights but, mark my words, it will lead to sodomy (it's alright; it's Safe For Work, honest it is; just click that link; you know you want to). So says Dr Muriel Newman, whose brief history of Human Rights takes the reader on a breathtaking ride from the last stop before the Finland Station to the Rainbow Room of the New Zealand Parliament. Sorry, is it just me or is it really (a) cheap and (b) nasty to exploit the natural homophobia of your readership to get their attention?

And what is this "human rights movement" of which Dr Newman speaks? Was there some Vast Liberal Conspiracy that demanded and got Human Rights for the Homosexualists? Or did the gays themselves go out and themselves the simple right to not face criminal charges for acts of consensual sex? And let us not forget, while we are at it that the Homosexual Law Reform Act was passed into Law only in 1986, which was not long ago: the year of the Pet Shop Boys' West End Girls, Europe's The Final Countdown (sorry Sam, sorry everyone, for the earworm) and Swing Out Sister's Breakout.

And what exactly is Dr Newman's point? Well it is this: apparently there are two forms of Human Rights, the Anglo-American kind and the Continental sort. The rugged, manly Anglo-American notion of Rights is about ensuring that people of money remain rich. The cowardly, snivelling Continental strain is about such fripperies as education, welfare, pensions, health care, public housing and the like. These are all well and good but can lead to Socialist Capture (oh capture me, you Swedish Model, you).

And it is not just the pooftahs who benefit from these Rights. It is also the Wimmins: "who could have imagined, for example, that those early calls for an end to discrimination against women would have resulted in feminists successfully undermining marriage and the family, not to mention marginalising boys and men." Ah well, at least those marginalised boys and men can do gay things without being arrested.

But read on further and you find that Dr Newman's intent is more evil still: she has put Bruce Logan back together and look, he walks! The celebrated word thief is risen from the grave and hark, he still prattles on about the United Nations. Not that he makes much sense – "Human rights are derivative they are not foundational – but at least he is using his own words.

Craig has more to say about Mr Logan.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just a post about cupcakes

I expect you are wondering where I have been. I'm sorry: I was kidnapped by feminists and force-fed cupcakes. These things happen.

Well almost. I did attend The Hand Mirror's Suffrage Eve Debate, where cupcakes were served. It was rad; and fem, although not rad fem. Candidates who were women talked about women's issues to audience of mostly women. I did a quick headcount and counted that a full twenty-five percent of the heads were red, which just goes to show that redheads are feisty (a media term for women of character).

Then we ate cupcakes, lots of them. Afterwards I felt somewhat as Cool Hand Luke must have done after eating all those eggs without so much as a dash of Thousand Islands Dressing (it's a Paul Newman reference: try to keep up). However, the next morning I woke with a craving for cupcakes. They are the new P (incidentally, on the cover of this week's Listener is the question "did Hitler use P?" Answers on a postcard to the usual address, please).

Anyway, to the point: one of the candidates at Suffrage Eve was Ms Nikki Kaye, who aspires to be MP for Auckland Central. She spent most of her allotted time acknowledging. She acknowledged the audience, the women in her family, the women who helped make the National Party what it is today, the men in her family, the audience members who disagreed with her, the women of Federated Farmers and so on. She probably acknowledged the cupcakes. I know I did. I acknowledged each one in turn, in much the same way that Noble Savages gave thanks to the spirits of the noble beasts they hunted and ate. Later I acknowledged the Great Cupcake Spirit, perhaps because I had consumed more coloured icing than was good for me. The cupcakes were made by Arna, Julie and Steph, women of character all of them, as is Anjum Rahman.

Anyway, back to the point. Without wishing to be unkind, and fully acknowledging my loyalty to the present and future incumbent of the Auckland Central seat, I could not help but feel that Ms Kaye is a little unversed in the ways of politics. It is not just that all the acknowledging seemed to be a clumsy means of ingratiating herself with the lefties. It is perhaps a little more that she didn't have a great deal to say. She did have a big blue folder, which she consulted at length; but it did not seem to contain a lot, which doubtless is in line with National's policy rationing policy. She did make much of the breast cancer drug Herceptin, claiming that it was outrageous that the Government was refusing to fund it; Ms Kaye was seemingly unaware that the Government does not make drug approval and funding decisions, these being the responsibilities of Medsafe and Pharmac respectively. Such was Ms Kaye's rancour in the face of the facts that she went on to challenge anyone in the audience to defend the absence of funding for Herceptin. This is the sort of act which Sir Humphrey Appleby would have called 'courageous.' And sure enough, one of the audience turned out to be a health professional from Middlemore Hospital, who defended the decision with facts aplenty.

I saw Ms Kaye speak again on Sunday, on Waiheke Island. The event, a meeting about the increase in ferry fares, was disappointingly deficient in cupcakes. Ms Kaye was predictably deficient in facts. At least the coffee stall at the ferry terminal sold cupcakes, very good ones at that.

Despite these shortcomings, Nikki Kaye at least has a fan. And it is none other than Bridget Saunders. Only this Sunday past, Ms Saunders had the onerous task of evaluating Fashion Week. She chose the novel approach of listing her opinions of the best and worst of everything, so readers were treated to Best fashion tip, Best looking front-row presence, Naughtiest front-row behaviour (oh, she is a one, that Bridget, always spotting naughtiness), most grievous front-row error and so on and on and on. There were two pages of this drivel. And in amongst it all was this:
Most popular political presence: Nikki Kaye. She's a Tory, up against Judith Tizard running for Auckland Central but she's hardcore green. (She dragged herself off a 22-hour flight from London last weekend to go straight to Waiheke for talks about rubbish disposal before heading to the Qantas Media Awards. Anyone else would have gone straight to bed).
I mean, like Oh.My.God. Its Nikki Kaye. Amongst all those glittering fashionistas, one face shone like a beacon in the night, that of hardcore green tory frequent flier Nikki "no sleep till Grey Lynn" Kaye. Lol. Wut?

Wut indeed, since this is not the first time. Ms Saunders has gushed about Ms Kaye on several occasions. And I am not the only one to notice. Over at Metro, where they gossip about the gossip columns, Brendon Cole reprinted this gush
It was great to see National Party candidate, NIKKI KAYE out (28, very smart, very caring, very cool!)
"Was it really" asked Mr Cole. Quite. After all, Ms Saunders is supposed to be providing tittle-tattle about Beautiful People for the leering classes, not outpourings about someone who is not exactly on the A List. And over on TV3's election Blog, Sylvia Giles noticed that Ms Kaye was lucky to "secure favour" with Ms Saunders. Everybody is talking about it.

In a previous episode of the Fundy Post, I quoted Ms Saunders dropping Ms Kaye's name into the conversation (incidentally, Ms Saunders also quoted That Nice Mr Key: "John Key is betting on an election date of October 18. He says it won't be November as the US election is on November 5 and no matter which way that goes, it will be bad for Helen." Perhaps Mr Key should have stuck to placing bets of the Forex kind).

So what is going on? What is it about Ms Kaye that has so entranced Ms Saunders? Ms Kaye is not famous, she is not Beautiful (in the high cheekbones and high heels notion of Beauty favoured by the gossip columnists), she does not appear to be rich and she is not a high-achiever. Her previous political experience is negligible and her CV is underwhelming: she went to London on her OE; she worked in transport. Mind The Gap.

In order to learn what is going on, we must recall a previous chapter of Hard News, in which Mr Brown reveals that Ms Saunders is a confidant of Mr Cameron "Whaleoil" Slater and that Mr Slater can be more catty than Colin. So what, you might say. But then you probably have not read a rather revealing post by Silent Running about a righties' bloggers' drinks held in July. Let me direct you to this paragraph:
And then Whale and Hamish solemnly told Stu and I (we naieve young men..) about how we should give up on the noble golden dream that is ACT and instead try to infiltrate their National party with good people. That's what we all talked about at the last blogger drinks too (which I also made it to) and they then proceeded to actually do it with Nikki Kaye (who joined us) in Auckland Central electorate.
Let us now join the dots: Ms Saunders is the confidant of Mr Slater and Ms Kaye is his Creature. It is the Axis of Oil, not so much a vast right-wing conspiracy as a bizarre love triangle. Ms Kaye was infiltrated into the Auckland Central nomination, which explains the mutterings of discontent that have been coming from some Tory quarters. It goes some way towards explaining why Dr Jackie Blue did not receive the nomination, which surprised most of us looking on from the sidelines. It also puts some perspective on Ms Kaye's claim that “there weren’t many people that would’ve given me the odds of being selected at 28 in a seat like Auckland Central but I backed myself and fought my way through it.” With a little help from your friends, dearie. The connexion between Mr Slater and Ms Kaye also throws some light on his claim to have received a secret internal poll which shows Ms Kaye doing terribly well. My sources tell me this poll is imaginary.

Feel free to comment. However, before you out me as a member of the Vast Leftwing Conspiracy, I should out myself: I am a friend of Judith Tizard and a member of her campaign team. I am also employed in her office to do very dull non-political tasks. I should also declare, on the Register of Extra-Parliamentary Interests, that I recently received from Judith a donation of muffins, which were delicious.

Operator Please:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Teenage lust

The New York Times has a fascinating piece about Chile's sexual awakening, which just goes to show what happens when governments try to suppress sexuality. Accompanying Dirty pictures are also available for the post-literate.

I only link to this because the likes of Family First and their family of fundies are constantly shouting for suppression; and they will be doing a lot more of during the election campaign - you mark my words. But it simply does not work. You try to stop kids doing something and they do it even more. Every parent knows that, surely. The same phenomenon happened in Spain after Franco died. It always happens that way.

Not, of course, that the politics of the fundies and the tories are evidence-based; quite the opposite. It is all about those jerking knees, not about facts. Such was shown recently when that nice Mr Key presented his revenge policy to a conference of professionals. His answer to teenage crime is boot camps, which do not work. The professionals were understandably annoyed. Nice Mr Key was upset that they did not understand him (what was he thinking?) and wailed "they actually do work." But, as I said before, they do not. If they did, the likes of Mr Key and the oh-so-scholarly and visionary Maxim Institute would be able to come up with case studies, evidence, that sort of thing. But there is none, because boot camps are no more than the concrete reaction to the seething desire for revenge on young criminals: "teach them a lesson, give them discipline." So send them to camps where they can get fit and disciplined - necessary qualities for their future lives in the criminal gangs that they will meet in the camps.

But then who needs facts when feelings will do? Well, the righties want some facts to support their feelings, but there are none. So they sulk and claim that there is a mean and unfair conspiracy of lefty social worker do-gooder academic ivory tower type people. But that is not enough, so they make up their own facts, like that Paul Cameron did when he could not find any social science to support his prejudice against gays. Either that or, as Mr Key did, they simply repeat what everyone who works in the professional areas knows to be untrue, as if saying it often enough would make it true.

Of course, righties know that if you say something often enough, it takes on a quality parallel to being true: a state where it appears to be true and the truth appears to be false, if it is known at all. Such a parallel reality can be found on the troll farm which is uthink, where the resident Epsilon-minus Semimorons grunt to one another, seemingly under the impression that it was the wayward youths who were booing Mr Key, not the professionals charged with their care. Really. It is no wonder that the likes of Mr Key can become leader of the tory party, when his supporters are this stupid.

Let me tell you another. An Olympic athlete and his mate walk into a bar and beat up a customer, apparently for wearing a pink polo shirt - an obvious sign of sexual deviancy. And what happens? The athlete gets diversion and name suppression; and he gets a scholarship to do more athletics at the taxpayers' expense. Shall we wait for the Sensible Sentencing Trust to complain that celebrities get away with hate crimes because of name suppression? Shall we wait for Family First to protest against homophobic violence?

Nah, it's not worth the anticipation.

Remember, remember

That nice Mr Key has made a lot of doing those Youtube things on his website (which, oddly, was inaccessible at the time of posting). I know he is trying to look folksy and relaxed and down with the yoof but he comes across as rather peculiar. I suspect he is really doing the videos because he cannot write. Anyway, he seems to have started something, because here is a video about him and that nice Dr Smith; and it works with the sound off, so you can play it in the Library.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Here comes your man

Blair has an excellent idea which we should all endorse: bring back Brash

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman

I don't doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., she doesn't just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself. She doesn't just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn't just echo McCain's pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child.
Gloria Steinem discovers Sarah Palin.

Readers' Digest

Today at 1230ish the PM announced the date of the General Election. As a service to the reading public, the Fundy Post has published the full text of the PM's announcement below. The announcement amounts to 1302 words, nine of which are interesting. As a service to readers with a low boredom threshold, here are those words: the general election will be held on 8th November.
I have called this press conference today to announce the date of the 2008 General Election and the timetable of events which will unfold from the dissolution of Parliament. This election is about trust. It is about which leader and which major party we New Zealanders trust our families’ and our country’s future with. This election is a choice between a government which has shown it can make the tough choices and an opposition which flip flops on almost every major issue which emerges. It is an election between a government which takes principled positions and an opposition which says what it thinks the audience in front of it wants to hear. It is an election about who can be trusted to take our nation ahead to a prosperous and confident 21st century, where all our families and communities can thrive. In this campaign we in Labour will be talking about our vision for the future of New Zealand.Labour is ambitious for New Zealand. National is ambiguous. We will promote our plans for innovation, upskilling, infrastructure development – including broadband rollout – and trade negotiations to drive the economy forward. In the next few weeks I will be announcing significant new policies in critical areas such as health, education, and housing. We will be promoting bold initiatives to lift the educational achievements of young New Zealanders. We will be promoting our major sustainability initiatives, following the passage of the emissions trading legislation. New Zealand is now a world leader in its action programme on climate change. Labour will keep it that way. We are committed to keeping up the fast pace of Treaty settlements, and to building a 21st century New Zealand inclusive of all ethnicities and faiths. We will continue to prioritise the arts, culture and heritage sectors as they contribute so much to defining New Zealand’s unique identity of which we are so proud. I lead a government which over nine years has brought about a remarkable transformation for the better in New Zealand’s economy and society and boosted the pride and confidence we New Zealanders have in our nation.There are still big challenges ahead of our country. Our government must lead New Zealand through a time of international economic turmoil, the challenges of an ageing population, and the need to keep improving health and education services and our infrastructure. Labour has continually rolled out big and new policies to take New Zealand families and our country ahead.In this last term we’ve •Rolled out cheaper doctors’ fees across New Zealand so that families no longer have to think twice about taking their children to the doctor.•Ensured that Working for Families helps 370,000 families with the costs of bringing up children and lifted more than 130,000 children out of poverty.•Introduced Twenty Hours free Early Childhood Education - saving many families more than $70 a week per child.•This year we are funding one teacher to every fifteen new entrant children in our classrooms to give small children the best possible start at school.•In tertiary education, interest free loans have been critical for our students.•For older New Zealanders, the lift in the rate of New Zealand Superannuation along with increased rates rebates and now a range of entitlements through the Gold Card have made life easier.•The introduction of KiwiSaver has given New Zealanders the chance to save for their first homes and for greater security in retirement.•The shared equity scheme joins Welcome Home Loans as a new initiative to help New Zealanders in to their first homes.•More than 2,500 police staff have been added to the force over nine years, and still more are budgeted for.•We’ve massively increased investment in all aspects of our nation’s infrastructure – schools, hospitals, road and rail and public transport, and broadband roll out.•We’ve been determined to keep our country clean and green and protect our unique environment. The emissions trading scheme, the biofuels obligation, the renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives, put New Zealand in a leadership role on these issues. It’s not in our country’s nature to be mere fast followers. Our record on the economy is strong with New Zealand well positioned to come through the current international downturn.Unemployment remains at low levels by Western world standards, workforce participation is high, and the Crown’s balance sheet is strong. Labour has negotiated the biggest trade deal in New Zealand’s history – the FTA with China – and has worked hard to open markets for New Zealand exporters. We’ve cemented in New Zealand’s reputation as a principled and constructive international player across the wide range of issues confronting the international community. Our time in office has seen a renaissance of arts and culture and a surge of interest in our nation’s heritage, in no small part due to the importance we have placed on boosting these sectors. We’ve worked hard at home to promote reconciliation through the Treaty settlement process, to work in partnership with Maori as Treaty partners, and to support the inclusion of all ethnicities, faiths, and cultures in our society. While there have been recent terrible murders, including of serving police officers, the facts are that overall crime rates are at their lowest levels in a couple of decades, and that serious offenders are serving longer jail sentences under Labour. Overall, Labour takes pride in what it has achieved with and for New Zealanders. We’ve shown that we will take the hard decisions and that we will stand up for New Zealand’s interests at all times.I will be asking New Zealanders to cast a positive vote for a future they can trust.Nothing is more important. A lot is at stake for New Zealand families. The policies our families, young and old, have come to rely on are seriously at risk. National has attacked every major Labour policy aimed at making life better for New Zealanders. They attacked Working for Families, interest free student loans, 20 Hours Free early childhood education, cheaper doctors fees, KiwiSaver, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, and our affordable housing initiatives. Any professed conversion on these policies lacks sincerity. National can’t be trusted. They attacked our government’s buy back of Kiwi Rail and the Air New Zealand shares. They’ve attacked us on climate change policy.They attacked us for staying out of the Iraq War. Their record shows that they stand for a radically different and backward looking New Zealand, and not for a 21st century future for our people. Worse, their now not so secret agenda includes •Selling Kiwibank and other state assets •Borrowing recklessly for tax cuts. •Privatising ACC •Imposing expensive tolls on our roading system. Add to that National’s stated policy of •Pouring more investment into private schools rather than public and integrated schools •Weakening workers’ rights •Undermining cheaper doctors’ fees •Scrapping much of Labour’s new tax incentive for business R & D and all of the major investment we are making in the future of our major pastoral and food export sector. It’s clear that National and its leader cannot be trusted with the future of New Zealand. New Zealanders have everything to lose from electing a party which won’t tell the truth about its policies and wants to put the clock back. I look forward to fighting this election campaign. The future of New Zealand is at stake. Labour has shown through its record in office that we can be trusted with the future of New Zealand. National’s evasiveness, flip flops, and secret agendas show that it can’t be trusted. I have advised the Administrator of the Government today that the date for the dissolution of Parliament will be 3 October. Writ day will follow on 8th October and nomination day will be on 14th October. The general election will be held on 8th November

Guess who's coming to dinner

Remember the Section 59 debate? I know, it seems so long ago but you will remember the photo of the PM and John Key together, after Mr Key had eventually decided that he would support the removal of Section 59 from the Crimes Act, so parents who assaulted their children would no longer have a Get Out of Jail card. Remember Mr Key acting on principle, not for popularity?

Forget that image. In fact, give it to Winston (not Peters; Smith) so he can put it down the memory hole straightaway. It wasn't that way at all. It seems that Mr Key was not acting on principle. In fact, as he told the Family First Forum on the Family (a little alliteration is a dangerous thing), Mr Key supported the Section's removal because "it was clear that Labour was going to force the bill through anyway." Ah yes, that would be it. So what are Mr Key's principles? Answers on a postcard, please, to the usual address.

At least we know that Mr Key will axe the Families Commission and give the money to community groups. At least, we think we do, because he later said he would do no such thing, seeking merely to rebalance the Commission. This is what happens when Mr Key veers away from his written speech. Oh dear.

So (we ask again with a note of despair in our voices) what are Mr Key's principles? It seems he has not seen any evidence that the Crimes Act without Section 59 is not working. However, if the result of the upcoming referendum says that people are against it, he will have to listen. Stuff the little children; its the votes that matter.

And what about the Fundies? Did they not demand a Families Commission? Yes, they did and Peter Dunne got them one. But it was not that kind of Families Commission they wanted. They wanted one that would make lesbians illegal, not one that supports parents. That sort of Families Commission is too PC.

Helpfully, Mr Key understands their concerns. He likes the work of Parents Inc, run by Ian Grant (did I just hear thunder?). Parents Inc is not unlike the Families Commission, except the Commission advocates for families while Parents Inc sells them stuff. And Ian Grant has previously made his opinions known about gays and civil unions, as The Red Queen reports.

No doubt some of the organisations represented at the FFFF will be interested to hear that Mr Key will divert public funds to fundies. Here are those organisations:
Sensible Sentencing Trust, Campaign for our Children, For the Sake of our Children Trust, Viewers for Television Excellence (VOTE), FamilyLife NZ, Focus on the Family, Christian Scholars Network (Otago University), DPYK (Drug Proof Your Kids), Family Life International, Grandparents raising Grandchildren™ Trust, Voice for Life, Family Education, Network,Voice Waikato, Society for Promotion of Community Standards, Family Integrity, Maxim Institute, Right to Life NZ, Prison Fellowship of NZ, Vision Network, HandsOnEqualParent TRUST, Australian Christian Lobby, Voice Hibiscus Coast, GCC Public Affairs Group, Franklin Christian Lobby, Voice Helensville, Courageous Women, Family TV, Homes of Hope, MOPS (NZ) Inc
Some of these names may be familiar. Perhaps Mr Key's true political mentor is the Fundies' Friend, Stephen Harper

More Belle and Sebastian, this time for Kate:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quark, strangeness and charm

1. Quark. I suppose somebody had to do it and who better than Bad Science to collect references to the Large Hardon Collider? There could be a movie in this. As Kim Hill's listeners and Ghetsuhm's readers will know, there is a rap.

2. Strangeness. Apropos also my last post, there is another Fundy Post.

3. Charm. Hawkwind and Marc Bolan:

The Earth may lack content due to technical difficulties

Yay me. In a moment of vanity I was searching for references to this blog on Internet and found that the Fundy Post is in the National Library:
Litterick, Paul.
The Fundy post [electronic resource] - [Auckland, N.Z. Paul Litterick, 2006-] - Began with Nov. 4, 2006
Archived by the National Library of New Zealand. - Description based on first issue ; title from home page (viewed on Apr. 22, 2008). - Latest issue consulted: Apr. 14, 2008 (viewed on Apr. 22, 2008). - Links from archived instances of this website to other websites are non-functional. Archived instances of this title may lack content due to technical difficulties. Nz - Personal blog of Paul Litterick. - Mode of access: World Wide Web.
1. Litterick, Paul--Blogs. 2. New Zealand--Blogs. 3. Blogs.
I particularly like the bit about archived instances lacking content because of technical difficulties, an excuse I must use when I fail to post anything for days. Speaking of lacking content, the New Zealand media probably did not tell you that the National Library is to be redeveloped. Yay Judith.

And yay the Large Hadron Collider for not destroying Earth.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Blues are still blue

I am a special new fan of National Billboard 2008, the fun and fast way to create your own tory ads. Here is mine own modest proposal.

Here's Belle and Sebastian, for Jordan:

Monday, September 08, 2008

Cars and girls

In which my friend Clive reviews some familiar marques.


McCain, you've done it again.

Which of us (and I know it is not me) could resist a headline like Heart sisters' Palin song anger? Hapless Hockey Mom Sarah Palin abuses the intellectual property of Ann and Nancy Wilson, the frontsisters of 70s band Heart. And what's more (and the Fundy Post may be the only blog to report this factoid) Heart were a band of Vietnam draft dodgers.

You know, if I wanted to make a blue-collar sitcom or a funny-yet-touching chick-flick, I could not think of a better storyline than that of a Hockey Mom in a small Alaskan town who takes on the good ol' boys and becomes Mayor, then Governor in the next series and then Vice-President, having been picked to run by an amiable but befuddled candidate who probably had someone else in mind. The lead role would be played by Julia Louise Dreyfus. The son who went to I-raq to fight the A-rabs would not come back. The President would not make it through his first term. You know how these things roll.

A few months back, I was talking to [namedrop]John Gray [/namedrop], who thinks McCain will win the election. He may well be right, which means this sitcom plot becomes reality TV. Crikey. Which could mean Maureen Dowd's prediction comes to pass; or that everywoman will be wearing those spectacles; or that Frank Rich's estimation of McCain will prove true. And if all that happens, Obama's mob will have only themselves to blame.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Sunday in the life

For several months, dear reader, I have been carefully studying every edition of the Herald on Sunday, in order that this august organ might reveal its secrets. I strove to find the essence of HoS, the elements that make the Herald on Sunday the award-winning success-story that it is today, a paper loved by its adoring readers and feared by its envious rivals. Reader, I believe that my quest is now over. I can now tell you the secret of HoS.

The fundamental particles of any Herald on Sunday story are these:
These particles can be found as singletons or in combination with one another. Some examples: a simple tragedy is the story of a carload of teens being killed in a crash somewhere in the Waikato; a simple property story is one about falling house prices or falling houses; a simple celebrity story is something about Paris Hilton, the well-known simple celebrity.

As noted above, these elements can be found in combination. A possible tragedy-property story would be one about an elderly couple who put their life savings into the hands of a shonky property investment company. Celebrity-property stories are about the lifestyles of the rich and famous, which are endlessly fascinating. Celebrity-tragedy combinations happen all the time and are too numerous to list. The principle celebrity victim of tragedy is Jen, who is on the covers of the women's weeklies every week, having suffered yet another misfortune in the last seven days; she took on this role when Nicole's life suddenly became much more fortunate and so much less interesting; soon it may be Jen's turn to pass this role on to a less fortunate actress.

Very rarely, all three elements can be found in one story, an event of great import, which journalists liken to the alignment of the planets or The Perfect Storm (an appalling movie but a great metaphor). One such combination was the cover story of the HoS for the Sunday before last. It reads thus:
Toni Marsh's brother suffers head injuries at reality star Aja Rock's apartment
As you can see clearly, everything is in place. Now I should emphasise that I do not wish to make light of this poor man's accident, only to observe that it was the lead story. And the reason why this accident, one of many that happen every day, was selected to be the lead story is that the victim is the brother of a celebrity and that his accident occurred at the home of another, a home which is illustrated with the story.

For the benefit of readers who do not take an interest in celebrity lifestyles, I should explain that Toni Marsh is a Weather Girl, a job description which means that she is a grown woman who reads the weather forecasts on the television news. For the benefit of readers overseas, I should explain that New Zealand is a country where very little happens. This is a good thing, because most things that happen are bad things. But it does make this country news-poor. On the other hand, we are weather-rich: the climate is always doing something interesting. Consequently, much of our news broadcasts are taken up by weather forecasts; the people who read these forecasts are among our most valued celebrities.

I am afraid I cannot tell you much about Aja Rock. I understand she was imported from overseas. I believe she is one of those faux rock starlets, the sort of woman who impresses men with IQs in double figures as being a bad girl. I think she is mostly famous for being unsuccessful. I seem to recall there was something to do with someone called Tommy Lee who was in a band called Motley Crüe which had an umlaut (why are there no umlauts in the word 'umlaut?') and tattoos. For some reason Ms Rock is in New Zealand. I could be wrong about any of these things but I cannot be bothered to look her up on Wikiwhatever.

The third player in this drama is the apartment, the "terrace" of which lacked a handrail. I know neither Ms Marsh nor Ms Rock but I do know this building. It is on Great North Road, among the car yards and service centres. It was built as an office building. It is a drab, ugly building on a drab, ugly road. I cannot understand why anyone would live there, let alone someone with pretensions to social success. I suppose it is convenient when you want to get your Ferrari fixed.

Now, I may not know or care much about celebrities but I do know about architecture. So, in what may be the first instance of this blogeur doing journalism, I visited the scene of the accident. Clearly, the three journalists assigned to this story know nothing about architecture. The building has no "terrace." It has a flat roof. There is no balcony: a balcony, by definition, has a handrail or balustrade; had there been a balcony, there would have been no plunge and therefore no tragedy. There is no apartment. Downstairs is a bathroom showroom; upstairs are empty offices. It is a work in progress. If Ms Rock and her partner are living there, they must be roughing it.

The man who fell from the terrace without a handrail is of little interest to the story, other than his accident being the cause of it. He is not famous. His accident would have gone unnoticed by the HoS, had not the property from which he fell been that of a famous person and had he not been the brother of another famous person.

Of course, other events do happen in New Zealand but they lack the essential elements for the Herald on Sunday and so will be found somewhere between the ads in the middle pages, if at all. The Emissions Trading Scheme, for example, is not HoS material. It may be very important but it is not interesting. The tragedy of teens dying in a car crash, on the other hand is not important but is interesting. These unfortunate people are of no consequence to us; we would have not heard of them had they not died tragically. But the tragedy of their deaths makes them newsworthy in a way that legislation which affects our lives and the planet's future can never be. Similarly, the reasons why shonky investment companies keep falling over is much less interesting than the stories of people who have lost all because they invested in these companies. They are perfect HoS material, unimportant but interesting stories.

One could, if one had the time and patience as well as a grant from the Marsden Fund, plot these news stories on a matrix. Its axes would be importance and interest, one being important/unimportant, the other being interesting/uninteresting. A story would fall somewhere between these extremes (I really am overexplaining this; I will stop now). The result would look like that political compass thing that everyone has on their Facebook profile to show how socially liberal they are.

I think the Litterick Matrix (as it shall now be called in perpetuity) would show that News is not so much about facts as feelings. Only stories that evoke appropriate feelings are newsworthy. So it really doesn't matter that the planet is on the brink of catastrophe. It matters that a celebrity somewhere is suffering.