31 October, 2008

The old man is definitely not snoring

So here's the thing.

Sometimes I just don't understand people.

I was reading an article on the New Zealand Herald website, titled "Storm brewing over TV forecasts". The article discussed a number of people who were frustrated that the TV weather forecasts predicted stormy weather up north during Labour Weekend - stormy weather that never eventuated. The poor forecasts caused many people to not go up north during the long weekend, thus causing losses for the local economy. So the local mayor is demanding an apology from MetService for getting the weather wrong. An apology that MetService isn't giving, as well they shouldn't. We all know that weather forecasting is completely imprecise and sometimes they do get it wrong. It's just part of the trade-off that we all know we are making - most of the time we know what the weather will be like (and that's better than never knowing), but sometimes they will get it wrong. They do their best to get it right, but sometimes they allow for a butterfly in China flapping its wings, and the butterfly decides to sleep in. Not their fault.

But the article ends with this brilliant little passage:

Fiona Foote, of Doubtless Bay Information Centre in Mangonui, confirmed a large number of people cancelled Labour weekend accommodation because of the weather reports.

"By Saturday, people were just plain not turning up," she said.

"We're only a small village; tourism is basically all we have to offer. If tourists don't come it's a big blow."

Ms Foote said Mangonui often suffered from inaccurate forecasts as a result of not being mentioned on nightly TV weather reports. She's been pressing TV3 for inclusion.

Now this poses some key questions. Firstly, how is it possible for somewhere to suffer from "inaccurate forecasts as a result of not being mentioned"? Surely if you're not being mentioned in the forecasts, then there are no forecasts to be inaccurate.

But more than that, in an article where people are complaining about the inaccuracy of the TV weather forecasts, why would this woman be actively trying to get included in these forecasts, especially if just one erroneous prediction is enough to decimate the local economy and plunge the village into twenty years of poverty and starvation?

But more than that, do you know where Mangonui is? Have a look at the map. It's, like, nowhere. When Ms Foote said that it's a "small village", it looks like that was a pretty accurate description. Yet she apparently thinks it's reasonable for her to expect the national televised news to dedicate precious time every day to giving the five residents and two tourists in Mangonui an inaccurate forecast of the weather. And then when TV3 put Mangonui on the weather, then Cooper's Beach will want to know why they haven't included, and before long the entire news hour will be dedicated to just telling every single tiny little insignificant village in the country what their weather will be like, and pretty soon the TV3 news will be irrelevant because we watch the news to find out what's happening in the world, not to find out what the weather is like in Cable Bay.

I mean, I get that this is where this woman lives, it's important to her, she wants to know what her weather will be like, and she wants to ensure that people continue to visit the area, which I'm sure is very nice. But I don't understand how anyone could possibly think it is reasonable to expect the national news to dedicate time every night to the weather in Mangonui. How is it possible for people to have such a completely skewed vision that they can't even comprehend that a national news programme may have different priorities than a tiny 10-street town? How do you get to a point where you can't see how unrealistic that expectation is? Sometimes I just don't understand people.

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