Hard News by Russell Brown

People's Voices

So the Blues are history, and the Kiwis will, in all probability, get a towelling in Newcastle tonight. Which leaves us with Camillia. If, having missed the top three last week, she departs NZ Idol on Sunday, it will all have gone terribly wrong.

There are some interesting demographic dimensions to the Idol vote, as demonstrated by the AC Nielsen survey published yesterday. Camillia was picked by the most respondents (36%) to win the contest - but the survey profile (all New Zealanders 15+) is not that of the Idol voting public, as the Nielsen spokesman noted:

"Michael was picked to win by 18% of people but with his popularity amongst females, especially those under 15 who are higher users of text messaging, his chance of winning improves considerably, especially as a higher proportion of females have watched the show, in particular 94% of all 15-24 year olds."

Hence - despite having sung 'Dock of the Bay' like it was a radio jingle, and his irritating performance tics, Michael finished above Camillia and, probably, everyone else on last Sunday's voting. Idolblog is, naturally, on to it - asking its readers If Michael is in the Grand Final who will you vote for?

This might get out of hand. I'm thinking that our house might even have to break out of cool, distanced media-commentator mode and actually vote in the damn thing. Scary.

Meanwhile, Paul Litterick of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists has shown a good deal of enterprise in using the Maxim Institute's email "wizard" to send 76 publications a letter regarding … the use of the email wizard. I don't have a link yet, but it begins:

This letter was sent to you using the Maxim Institute's letter writing wizard: http://www.maxim.org.nz/letter/ Your publication is one of many that can be accessed from this page.

We wouldn't normally use this sort of tool, particularly one provided by the Maxim Institute. However, we are sending this letter to demonstrate how Maxim manipulates the letter writing process.

Newspapers and magazines provide space for readers to express their opinions. This is an essential and long-established aspect of free speech, giving readers the opportunity to comment on issues in the news. Maxim has exploited this opportunity by providing its supporters with the means to send letters to many publications at once …

Top wheeze!

It appears that we may finally be in on a trade deal with the Asean bloc. The usual suspects will object, but an Asia-Pacific trading community makes good sense. Fran O'Sullivan had an interesting column yesterday on moving closer to Asia - and being harangued by a bumptious American trade hawk. As she points out, our policy independence helped us negotiate last week's trade deal with China. The People's Daily was certainly showing us the love this week.

BTW, I found that last link via a new New Zealand-based meta-news site called TeWorld.net. Is that anything like Te News?

Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, makes an intriguing and detailed argument in Fortune this week, under the heading A Conservative Case for Voting Democratic.

Stuart Marshall contacted me in search of a plug for his Our Hero's project, which is seeking private donations to take more old soldiers to the Monte Cassino anniversary. The website is here - although I can't escape the feeling that it should be "Our Heroes". On a related topic, I think the EPMU needs to pipe down about "Mondayising" Anzac Day. One of the special things about the day is that it's immovable.

It'll be a bit inconvenient this year for the owners of bars and pubs, who'll be ending their Saturday night trading at midnight. Meanwhile, establishments that can describe themselves as entertainment venues will be allowed to party on. I expect there'll be the usual trail from the clubs to the dawn ceremony on Sunday, which is sort of nice.

Tom Bennion pointed out this spatially-based music-match site. Kinda cool, although I don't think I'll be using it a lot.

Boston-based expat Johnny Wharton has a new blog called New Zullund New Unglund.

A word: you are all free, of course, to email NZ Pundit and enter Gordon's competition. But I'd ask that any communications on account of Hard News not be of an abusive nature. Let's try and stay on an elevated plane of debate.

The Wire was good again this week: I talked to James Griffin about Serial Killers (you might want to tape it on TV One while you're watching the league tonight) and Jack Vowles about Voters' Veto the new AUP book about the 2002 general election. But I decided that the best candidate for transcribing was Simon McCallum, who runs the computer game development course at Otago University and is involved with the forthcoming New Zealand game developers' conference. Damien Lay's working on that at the moment and you should be able to read it on Monday. Till then, have fun …