Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 11. 1965.
Sirs,—I am constrained to reward Mr. Morris for his perspicacity. Right-ho, Mr. Morris. Saturday night behind the gasworks and we'll see what you are made of.
One thing: take a taxi—don't walk—you'll need all the energy you've got!
M. H. Snell.
Sirs,—We now have an almost completed library. We even have, provided in the foyer, racks and racks of cubicles in which to leave our bags. The racks are perhaps a little too close and the swing doors have certain fiendish tendencies. However, the inconveniences are not great.
All around the alcove in which the cubicles are there are heaters; on the floor is carpet; all along the front is a bench; and on the bench are Bags! Big bags, little bags, new bags, old bags, but infuriatingly and invariably there are bags.
From the first thing in the morning when there are few bags —and never have all the cubicles been filled—all through the day these downright antisocial lazy swine insist on leaving their ruddy great bags on the bench.
The least they could do is put them on the floor if they are incapable of exercising a little common sense and consideration. The gaps between the racks are too narrow to allow lingering there. So a thoughtful architect provided a bench for us to rest our books on while we put our bags in the cubicles—and what happens? The Bench is piled high with Bags.
It seems that there are always some people who are so selfish, lazy and antisocial, that they find themselves incapable of observing the smallest consideration for others.
S. P. M. Henderson.
Sirs,—I should like to correct you on your so-called "Antarctic Factor" reported in your edition of July 18. I have never heard of the particular phenomenon under the name of the "Antarctic Factor." It is, in fact, more widely known as Finagle's Law or Finagle's Factor, and even more widely as Murphy's Law, which states with regard to anything at all: "If anything can go wrong with it, it will."
Now, in Forum on July 20, Mr. Llewellyn made an interesting speech in which he claimed that ever so many millions of Yankee dollars were invested in lollipops, one Wellington City Council rubbish bin, and twenty views of President Johnson's navel, instead of being spent on a real Mars probe. These millions of dollars were in fact victims of Murphy's Law.
The full story goes something like this: A blueprint of the accompanying drawing was shown to various aerospace and military industries, and tenders were called. The piece of hardware illustrated is the Blivit Mk 4 (despite what Mad Magazine calls it) and is designed for locating loopholes, that is, for finding applications of Murphy's Law. On inspection, it will be noticed that the Blivit is itself an application of Murphy's Law.
It is believed that one company (whose motto is: "The impossible we can do, it just takes a little longer") actually produced a solitary copy of the Blivit, the only one in the world. The engineer responsible unfortunately is now in a nursing home, quietly raving. This pioneer effort was put into that WCC dustbin, and is now lost to the world for ever. Those millions of greenbacks did not become lollipops, but went into the restoration of a certain company's expense account bank balance.
Anyhow, the point is this: whether or not that company set out to do so, it established beyond doubt that Murphy's Law is operational in politics, law, draughtsmanship and engineering.—M. F. Park.
NZ Press Inept
Sirs,—M. von Dadelszen claims that we have in New Zealand "only a mediocre press," and he's right. But he seems to think that it is in spite of NZPA. which he has praised without really considering its adverse effects. It's not just, a question of a small paper being rapped over the knuckles for showing initiative, it's also a question of Journalistic opportunity.
Mr. von Dadelszen believes that the NZ press, though it may "lack thoroughness, penetration, and the initiative to look beneath surface announcements," is at least preferable to those like the American or Australian, "where there is extreme competition." Preferable to whom, Mr. Dadelszen?
Presumably to the politicians, because it certainly isn't to the journalists, and the public, heaven help it, doesn't know any better. The truth is that, although the American and Australian papers are highly competitive, they do produce good journalists and columnists, and, what is more important, they keep them.
New Zealand produces some good journalists, but it doesn't keep them. And why? Because there is virtually no opportunity. How many New Zealand papers have permanent overseas correspondents? Very few, because NZPA squashes the need for them, and in so doing it shuts the door in the face of a journalist who wants to make a name for himself.
And that's only one aspect of it. If the New Zealand press is to improve, it must create better opportunities for its journalists and it must pay them better wages. Few good journalists are going to stay here if they can get more money and better opportunities elsewhere, as the number of New Zealanders working on Sydney and Melbourne papers demonstrates.
The New Zealand press needs competition and it will get it if Rupert Murdoch ever goes into high gear. When that happens there are good chances that our newspapers will improve—if only because our ex-patriate journalists will come home to take advantage of the new opportunities.